THE FIRE STATION
The Major Building Design Studio is the final studio in the core sequence, a capstone of the curriculum at A.UD. While this is a team taught studio and faculty members share a common theme, each faculty member develops both a singular brief and project site to explore and develop that theme providing students with a set of focused option studios in the Spring of their second year. The studio focuses on the integration of programming, site planning, urban design, structural and environmental control systems, and architectural expression as they might be appropriate to building scale and presented in graphic and model form. This studio is organized around a large complex multifunction program with an urban component – this year, a fire station. As an integrative design and research problem, the thrust of the studio is toward the precise architectural translation and materialization of abstract cultural forces and demands (i.e codes, markets, and socio-economic groupings) and considers issues such as the relationship of new development to existing urban fabric; how contextual and cultural forces inform design; and the complex interfaces between program components, constituents and drivers (i.e. public, private and hybrids).
The Fire Station is a public building where architectural issues are both expressed and realized in a modest way. Its organization is also typically perfunctory, as befits its function. And yet examples from Venturi and Scott Brown’s Fire Station #4 to Zaha Hadid’s Vitra Fire Station demonstrate that there are opportunities for architectural ambition given a more ambitious client and the ability of the designer to be very canny in the management of what is usually a very constrained budget. Accordingly, the studio is structured around three central themes over the course of the quarter.
1) Origins / Research / Analysis
The fire station has a very defined set of constraints while having a unique mix of program. It must accommodate everything from revolving living paces to the storage and maintenance of large equipment. In addition to graphic standards for required spaces, the primer should also outline and foreshadow each student’s method of exploration—whether in response to function, context, identity, or a combination.
2) Organization / Program Disposition
The fire station has a very clear organization that is often expressed in the plan dimension, but can occasionally also be sectional. The most banal set of activities, the storage and maintenance of equipment along with their adjacencies and separation are all important considerations. Small innovations, for example the use of Murphy Beds in the residential quarters can have consequences in the overall layout. This part of the term will focus on the exploration of how to dispose of the station’s components in interesting if still functional ways.
The fire station is an iconic shed. It is an ordinary yet highly functional building that has a visual presence in the community. As such, the verbal and visual arguments are as important as the design considerations of each project.