For the past couple of weeks, WHSAD SYEP students have been researching skyscrapers’ design and constructions. Starting last week, students started designing and building not only the skyscraper, but the environment surrounding the structure. The students had a lot to keep in mind in order for their projects not only to look visually the best, but also to be realistically functional.
The most important requirements are listed below:
- The skyscraper had to be at least 10 stories
- A footprint of at least 500 square feet and no more than 1,000 square feet
- All items such as benches,trash bins, etc have to be up to scale ( 1″= 5′)
Additionally, all projects would be evaluated in these 5 categories.
- Overall Impression
(Each category is worth 1-5 points)
Evaluators Thoughts on the Projects
Judging is not my forte. When it comes to deciding who the final winner is, I’m always stuck between all the options. I want everybody to win because I know everyone has put in all or at least some of their effort. I know how it feels to lose or not get first place, because it feels as if your effort was wasted or not appreciated, but there has to be someone on top. This is what was going through my head while walking around the group’s models and listening to their presentations of their work. At first, I didn’t know who was going to win. All of the models looked very well crafted and it looked like the students had time and consideration put into them. Some groups had stronger presentations, some had better designs, and some had better accuracy. But Like I said before, there has to be a winner.
After all the presentations were complete I had my mind set on one particular group, Fable Architecture Firm. My thoughts were that this group knew what they were doing. Their presentation was on point, and their design was more creative than all the other groups. This group took the time to create a highline and elevate their main building while all the other groups chose to keep their spaces flat. This one aspect of their project captivated me and led me to believe that they were the best group out of all of them. But my fellow judges thought otherwise. While many also believed that Fable Architecture Firm would win, after some discussion, it was clear that their group wouldn’t be at the top.
Well why was this? Each group had to be carefully examined and rated for 4 key categories, presentation, creativity, design, and accuracy which refers to the realism and size of scale. The project was to be created based on a 1 inch to 5 feet scale, and depending on how closely each group followed that scale, they would get a corresponding rating. Following this, we decided to look over the projects again after the presentations were done and all the groups had left before setting our final decision. Most of us thought that Fable Architecture Firm would win without a doubt, but after more careful inspection of each project, we started thinking otherwise. What complicated the matter was the rating system itself, while it looked standardized with each category having a 1-5 rating, this system was very subjective. For someone a 3 might be completely different than for the person next to them. It was difficult to judge the projects just through numbers, and by the end of our discussion, we found ourselves naturally shifting towards a more holistic evaluation of each project. Through this we were able to deduce that the group AIO had actually created the better model. While the ‘wow’ factor of Fable Architecture Firm still stayed with us, it was clear that AIO had created a more accurate and realistic model that followed the scale closer to any other project. After examining Fable Architecture Group, it was clear that they had some glaring issues that most of us didn’t take into consideration until the later discussion. These issues included not following the scale in some areas, having the building raised and without an entrance, and the highline which was supposed to be a highway but had traffic lights and a complete absence of railing on one side. While small, these issues added up to drop Fable Architecture Firm from first place, and to crown AIO as the winner.
I enjoyed being a judge from a mentor’s perspective. Getting to look at the projects from that standpoint allowed me to feel as if not only my voice mattered but that I was sharing some kind of light as well. Hearing the students explain what these concepts were and the significance they have was a great feeling. It gave me reassurance that our architectural future may just be expanding in front of our eyes. Me as well as a handful of my fellow mentors were selected to judge focusing on four major categories, creativity, originality, accuracy, and details. We each had our own way of critiquing the projects, but I focused my grading around the originality portion. I feel as if a design with more originality is easier to have stand out in a significant way due it often being more unique or more complex than others.
When discussing with my fellow judges, we came to a realization that we haven’t considered every detail within each project. Our orders between first, second, and third were continuously altered and I didn’t mind due to this showing our thinking process. The grading topic that helped us make a precise decision was accuracy. What we discussed was us coming to find out that the majority of these projects were not to scale. For example, some people figures in their projects were almost as tall as their trees. But these were minor errors that can go a long way in their architectural career. Therefore, we felt as if that was a very significant piece to mention. Having mistakes such as the one I’ve mentioned being brought up early may allow growth in their skill sets as well as limit mistakes. To sum things up, being a judge is something I’m more than happy to be for projects such as this one in the near future.
Acting as judges for the work of other students is a bit weird but interesting. It’s weird because you don’t want to be too harsh but at the same time not go too soft on them. And it also is interesting because you get to see the work that they have worked on and how far their creativity can get them. Many of the skyscraper designs were pretty simple. Each group arranged them using plastic pieces and created different heights for each structure. Most of them also had different designs for the top parts. Skyscrapers that had some pieces on the top gave me the look of incomplete buildings or “still in construction” while the ones that had completed floors obviously were done. Depending on how the students wanted the surroundings and environment of the building they had placed the structure either in the corners or the center of their project board. One of the details that I noticed is that each group had to choose what the purpose of their skyscraper was whether it was residential or commercial.
Every presentation was good, and we judged based on presentation and creativity along with an overall grade of how well they did. Most of them showed creativity for the surroundings and my favorite ones were the one that has the bridge and AIO’s because of the details they did for the outside and the little buildings they did with colored paper. As we were looking at each project we noticed that each little detail looked cute and they were all good attempts at making cars, trees, people and ducks. We actually saw a little person made out of clay that looked like a small Michelin man with his arms stretched up and his legs spread apart which caused us to laugh because of how funny it looked. Another funny thing we saw was the clay ducks because one of them had a really big beak and it was causing it to fall over. Overall it was a really fun experience.
Based on these 3 evaluators thoughts, AIO’s skyscraper project, was crowned the winner. Under the next heading, the members behind the AIO Skyscraper will explain their inspiration and processes of project.
AIO’s Members Thoughts on their Skyscraper
In the skyscraper model project I mainly had influence on the building itself. The surrounding plaza was mostly done by Ingrid and Oscar. Our group did not have any plan before we started building anything. The lack of a plan caused our group to spend a lot of time not doing anything. We almost took down the skyscraper because we didn’t use the materials wisely.
But in the end we ended up having a design that looks like a proper plaza beside the paper buildings we added at the end. I think even though we had no plan and no sketch, we still did a good job with making the plaza’s design make sense. Also our group had many different moments where we could have messed up the design. While making the skyscraper model, we almost ran out of connectors. We had to start removing certain parts while we had most of the floors done in order to be able to build the last two floors. And while the plaza was being made the skyscraper model disconnected at the bottom which made it take more time to finish the project.
The model my group and I worked on is called A.O.I. We made a ten story building that would be an office and we also decided to make a green area/meeting space, and a shopping center near our building. My partners and I came up with an idea to make a fountain in the middle of the meeting space and put benches around it. This idea was inspired by a park called “ Zuccotti Park”. We got inspired from this park because it was aesthetically pleasing. While building it, my partner Oscar had an idea to put squirrels in it to make it look more realistic.
While building the park I decided to make it look more unique, so I’ve made the green area into a shape of a bean and made them in three different sizes. My partner Oscar decided to call it the “Beanery”. We painted the whole green space green and decided to make it look more aesthetically pleasing by adding flowers into it. My partners made a swing and slide to add on into it and they also built the roads and cars.
At the end of building this model my group and I realized we had to consider time since we weren’t able to finish a part in the model. We rushed while making the shopping center since we didn’t have enough time.
The development of our skyscraper and plaza was a bit complicated. We had many ideas we wanted to achieve but the materials and requirements made it challenging. However, we managed to build our plaza and make it the way we wanted.
We decided to start with the meeting area. I really like fountains and that was one of my first ideas. I was inspired by a fountain in Manhattan with benches around it and trees. We thought it was an ideal meeting place where people can enjoy the view with shade given from the trees. We used clay for the fountains and benches and added trees using tissue paper and sticks.
Next we decided to do the green space along with the roads and sidewalks. We thought that since our building is residential, there might be parents with kids. So we decided to add a park to the green space. We wanted to make it aesthetically pleasing by adding flowers and trees. I added a swing set, slide and chairs near the pool. We then started to add the road and sidewalk. Once we agreed to add it in a certain place we began making traffic lights, cars, and white lines for the road. We tried to make it as neat as possible.
Lastly we had an empty space in one of the corners of our project. We were running out of time, and we needed to add something there. In the end we decided to use paper and shape it in rectangular prisms and add it to that corner. We agreed that the place will be a small town where shopping can be made. I added people as one of the last touches, and we were done.
Overall, this project was fun to make. Sometimes it would be frustrating and stressing when things would fall or not stick very well. However, all together we helped each other and tried our best to finish it.