Design Week is an annual Payette tradition when we as a firm collectively explore projects we have worked on during the previous twelve months. Over the past few weeks we have recapped the presentations given by our colleagues.
Each Payette project has a complex set of problems that have an equally complex set ingredients for solutions. I was interested in drawing out and studying the one main move—the star ingredient—on the interior of our buildings that holds the project together. In this series I will look at the interior worlds of the following projects through the lens of their main strategy of Surgical, Infill, Carve and Tetris respectively. Through this exercise I gained an appreciation for Payette’s work with complicated project types that must be rigorously planned while creating interesting spaces for people to inhabit.
Bryn Mawr Park Science Center Phase 2 is a 50,000 SF renovation, currently under construction. The Phase 1 addition and renovation was completed in 2018. Phase 2 is further broken down into more complex phases as each part of the existing science building is surgically worked on, keeping the building functional during the semester. This year saw the completion of four of these spaces—each giving the campus and its science community much needed upgrades.
The Library Reading Room in particular stood out as a space that captures the nature of the surgical renovation—parts such as the fireplace, wood boxes under the window and the lights remain from the original design while the plan of the room itself has been opened up and the new wood millwork does a great job emphasizing the height of the space.
Boston College Service Building is a 15,000SF renovation project and is an extension of the human centered engineering program from another Payette project right next door—245 Beacon Street.
What makes this project particularly challenging is that the service building is the central heating plant for the campus and must remain functional during and after construction. I understand this project as an infill project because it removes what it can and makes strategic use of the spaces available. The more experimental labs—material analysis and scientific exploration occupy the high ceiling areas (currently used as a vehicle repair shop for the campus) and the computer-based programs of digital experience and active learning occupy the tighter spaces.
Upon closer inspection of these spaces, one can see how the infill needs to negotiate with the heating plant and influences the design strategy. Some of the shaft spaces directly connect to an actual steam tunnel under the building—which is pretty hardcore.
The CA team is now persistently working through all the surprises that come with the reality of the gutting a complex, old building for an infill project. Nonetheless we look to this BC project and the Bryn Mawr project above as sustainable examples of innovatively using existing buildings.
Holyoke Soldiers’ Home is a 380,00SF veterans care home in Holyoke, MA.
The interior of this project must negotiate with two main things: the sweeping iconic exterior form and the Veterans Affairs Small House Model, which was intended to cluster three 10-resident houses around a community center. These two ideas are resolved with a carve out of the center that neatly splits the three spokes of the building to three homes on each floor. The laminal space created by the carve takes on the social and flexible programs such as kitchen, living room and various alcoves. It further creates leftover chunks of mass that act as service programs for each of the houses. Furthermore, the carve eventually expresses itself to the exterior with more cutouts on the skin.
Drexel University/Wexford Science + Technology College of Medicine Research Building is a 392,000SF fit-out project near the Drexel University campus in Philadelphia situated as part of a masterplan for a vibrant innovative science hub.
The plan of the building is essentially two angled bars with labs and offices. Write-up and social spaces are in the middle gap of the two bars enforcing the idea of collaboration in the middle zone of the building. The plan was developed to be very modular in order to maximize flexibility.
The project really gains both complexity and fun in housing several different research departments—each with their own adjacencies and future flexibility requirements. Through intensive space planning exercises, the team used the established modules to Tetris together the organization of the programs. The team then introduced the idea of double height spaces in the middle zone of the building. Which when thought about with an overlay of the Tetris could prove to be an exciting highly collaborative interior.