The smells of freshly unwrapped trace paper and laser cut chipboard are in the air. Which means one thing… Our students are back! We are thrilled to welcome our 13 fourth-year architecture students from Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design for the Center for Design Research OpenLab Boston Studio.
Across several courses, including an integrative design studio, fabrication seminar, and professional practice course, the OpenLab Studio will offer the experience of working in an architecture firm and introduce the students to the concept of Research as Practice.
Students started the day with an office tour and introduction to our Building Science, Space Strategies, Fabrication, and Design Viz teams. Payette President and Virginia Tech alum Kevin Sullivan, FAIA introduced the students to the firm’s core values and wide assortment of projects and approaches. He presented the semester’s common theme of exploration and iteration, highlighting Northeastern’s ISEC and Land’s Sake animal barn as two vastly different but equally impactful learning experiences.
The semester-long studio prompt will study Boston’s Chinatown, with OASIS, a neighborhood health and community center in an in-fill site in the center of Chinatown. The ground floor program will include an urgent care clinic and diagnostics screening center. The remainder of the 67,000 SF GSF building will be determined by the individual teams following a period of contextual analysis. The students will work in pairs to propel the themes of sustainability, embedded nature, and community-centered design into a deeply realized and complex project.
We hit the ground running, literally, with a walking tour of Chinatown with the Asian Community Development Council. We learned about the deep history of the community, and how residents have been affected by changing policy and development. Students will next translate their research of the neighborhood into unique mappings and diagrams.
Last year’s studio affirmed our deep commitment to education and teaching, and brought such energy to our practice. We can’t wait for what new work and lessons emerge from this semester.