In this article, WHSAD 2021 graduate, Martina Rojo, writes about her experience in the Bushwick Generator design competition. To see the highlight video, click here:
What is your project?
My project is Bushwick Generator w/ Heritage Equity & HWKN. Our mission is to create a concept and design for the activation of the building’s base and underground floors. The Bushwick Gem will be a center that will encourage interaction between neighbors and building tenants.
Who is/are your stakeholder mentor(s), what is his/her/their professional title(s)?
My stakeholder mentor is Jessica Knobloch. She is an architect working with HWKN
What are some suggestions the stakeholder mentor(s) has provided (be specific!)?
Jessica has been a great mentor to me and my team. She has told us to improve details such as explaining as much as we could, writing from all of our points of views, and having a clear point so we make sure that everyone understands the presentation. Additionally, when it comes to our ideas, she told us that even if our ideas were good. There were things that we had to keep in mind, such as the traffic flow between stores on the ground floor, the size of each store depending on the retail products, keeping space between the offices and the retail space. When we started working on our AutoCAD, Jessica gave us the advice to be creative when creating the furniture for the restaurants because just using cad blocks might not always help, so we started to mix shapes and make different designs for the kitchen such as the kitchen in the middle of the restaurant. Another idea was to use the columns in the building to create things such as tables, so we made these long tables using these two columns in one of the restaurants. She also told us to be aware of the space we have, suggesting that if we have a window, we shouldn’t place a big closet on that side of the store.
She also gave us a lot of feedback when talking through our presentation, to not say things like “um” or take long pauses. She told us to try to have what we are saying ready so we don’t have to improvise or make it up as we go.
How have you implemented the feedback that you have received (be specific!)?
My teammates and I implemented all the feedback that we have received, such as showing pictures of the building and the reason behind our title, adding more pictures/diagrams to the layout, adding pictures of people that show our data based on the community, explaining why retail places are added or removed, scaling the bubble diagram, adding an entrance and the reason for it. For workshops- having some sectioned off spaces/split up, considering the fundamentals of the project, how to manipulate the space, how do we make people feel safe, and how will people interact with one another. All these helpful suggestions were specifics for essential places throughout the building and as well as the overall presentation. The feedback helped our Bushwick Gem unique so it would make the bigger picture look better.
How has the feedback from mentors affected your professional process? For instance, when reviewing your data, what have you learned from mentors that you now look for in the data?
The feedback from my mentors has affected my professional process by helping me become better at my presentation skills and AutoCAD skills as well. Jessica always wants us to be unique, so bringing different ideas will make us better when creating a project. When reviewing a project for example, I know to always explain myself because others who don’t know about the project might not understand what I’m trying to portray in my presentation, such as why we named the building “Gem building” or explaining why were changes made to the floor plan. Also, being ready for questions and having our ideas and speech ready when presenting is another facet of the work that we did and that we will continue to use in the future. Questions such as why certain things were placed on the building such as a bookstore or a vintage shop or why I made the closets on the side of the stores made us consider the rationale behind decisions and anticipate perspectives of clients in our designs.
What was some feedback that you received from your final presentation?
Richard Bearak had some very interesting comments on the presentation such as not mixing cocktail tables with the eating tables because it didn’t give the right idea of our concept. He also commented on some of the storage closet designs in the retail spaces because the closet space might take away area used for the retail.
Matthias Holwich from HWKN had some very complimentary comments on our ideas and presentation such as saying that our idea for the workshops was very powerful. He also suggested that we consider who would operate these workshops as we should be aware of the big corporate companies and consider going with more local businesses that have less of a self-serving motive. Another thing he commented on was one of our restaurant designs as it had the kitchen in the middle. He said the design reminded him of one of his favorite restaurants in Jerusalem.
Toby agreed with Matthias on how our ideas were really good and very motivating for the people in the neighborhood.
Winston Von Engel connected with what everyone said about our ideas but also said that we could change some of the stores to make this building even more interesting for people to come in such as the bookstore.
I did think that we had some good ideas, but we could’ve always done more. I know some things mightn’t have been well explained, but overall, I thought that they liked what we did and they liked our ideas. Maybe we should’ve given the floor plan design a little more thought but it seemed that everything was well received.