It is time

This design sought to address two major issues prominent in this existing MAX stop; respond to the elements and create safe public spaces for transit riders and future developments. Though presently the surrounding area is mostly undeveloped, a projected 30 year plan of the site proposes much development both north and south of the MAX lines.

Residents of the area claim wind is the largest elemental factor which must be dealt with. Barriers, while effective for blocking wind, also create secretive spaces difficult to see from multiple vantage points. This design utilizes horizontal timber slats spaced evenly to allow clear vision through the structures. Removable, pre-formed acrylic panels will create a transparent wind barrier, and are removable in case of damage or if vandalized. The timber wall system also acts as solar protection, allowing low angle sunlight (mornings, evenings and winters) while deflecting harsh, mid-day summer light.

Much of the area surrounding the site is impervious pavement, creating runoff storm water. In the years to come, future developments may choose to address on-site water treatment, helping Gresham create a sustainable image. This design works toward that goal by creating terraced bio swales, which will filter runoff water from the surrounding site, before it reaches the water table. The curvilinear forms created by the platform mimic the water’s meandering movement through the soil, providing a promenade leading to and from the MAX lines. 

The plaza acts as an extension of the MAX platform, creating a zone of influence between the exchange of riders on the platform, and what will eventually become developed areas. Sunken below Civic Drive and the MAX lines, the plaza will have added protection from noise created by these major transportation conduits, and will also create a sense of arrival, defining the three different spaces. As pedestrians arrive to the site, they will experience the meandering motions of water as it percolates through filtrations systems, much like how the bioswales on site function. Ascending to the platform, one will find ticket dispensers, valuators and trash receptacles integrated in the timber walls, creating a clean transition from walkway to seating area. Lower level timber slats project out further than the others, creating benches for resting while awaiting the next train.

A full scale mock-up of the wall section showed surprising strength in the wood, fully capable of holding heavy objects on each level. Though a larger steel structure would no doubt be required to hold up a roof, much of the lateral forces would be transferred into the acrylic panels, and supported by the footing of columns, set in concrete (as shown in the typical wall section). The model also shows solar properties inherent in venetian blinds, allowing sunlight through at an angle, but deflecting more direct light.

In the future, I would like to employ full scale mock-ups into my design process. I have read about studies Foster and Partners have utilized in their designs, and low and behold, their projects work. I think the exercise was very beneficial to me as the designer of the project, though it would have been nice to have had time to react to the lessons I learned in the study. Full scales, or any scale with the actual materials, of course become far too expensive, for any student, very quickly. This too, will prolong any real investigations to a time where a client can absorb some of the costs…

Having said all that, I took this studio to work on my ability to design public spaces. I have always felt large, open spaces were a particular challenge for me. I was happy with the investigations I explored during this project, and relatively happy with the product. I felt I had successfully designed a MAX platform and public plaza in ways which seemed both expansive and intimate, at least far better than I have in the past. This personal agenda of mine, combined well with a major focus of this studio, material studies and designing at the detail level. Focusing in on the properties of a single material, for instance, forces a designer to understand the strengths of the particular material, and which other materials will compliment it, giving support in areas a material may be weak. Steel for instance, was a necessity for my structure, due to its strength in tension and ability to create stability without bulky structure systems. Timber was a great contrast to the cold, hard steel, helping create a warmer interior to the platform area. It was difficult dealing with the program of this project, but I know I will, as with most of my studio experiences, continue to draw lessons I have learned this quarter and apply them to my life afterwards. It is time to exhale. It is time to go forward. It is time to step away. It is time to analyze. It is time to remember what we have accomplished. It is time

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~ by billkirkwood on December 4, 2009.

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