Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Year: 2014 Academic work at Columbia University Critic: Keith Kaseman, Raul Correa Smith Type: Culture+Entertainment
Unique in the nature, magnitude, complexity, and diversity built into its infinite intensities and cultural ranges, Rio de Janeiro is both truly amazing and impossible to suitably describe. Working on a large open site in Rio das Pedras, this program can be best described as an intricately woven, inside-out, medium-to-mega-scaled spatial matrix that primarily supports a commercial market and recreation activities. As such, the design prioritizes potential spatial configurations from the outset, iteratively developing spatial matrices that may invite ideas and questions for what such a place might ultimately be. In other words, the program is inherently spatial, and we will obsessively explore such articulations throughout the entire semester.
This notational map shows the layers, density, accessibility and connections of the site. With the hint of a porous space, we could expect it to be a social activities sponge.
TIME AND DECAY
Location: Manhattan Year: 2013 Academic work at Columbia University Critic: Toshihiro Oki Type: Transportation+Infrastructure
“I think, therefore I am.” 17th century philosopher had this keen insight into the significance of consciousness. However, in today’s costuming society, economic value seems to be the prime concern for people, leading to the collective apathy and unconsciousness. It’s radically important to have a space for thinking in the dense city, especially the financial district of Manhattan.
People always learn from the consciousness of time. The phase of the moon reminds people of the inconstancy of life, and the infinite of the nature and all livings can also be a hint of the limitation of human life.
By showing people the time, both its transience and eternity, it might help people rebuild the consciousness. In this redesign of Pier 11, the concept of time was carried in every detail including the tide’s effect on the space and the different decaying process to different materials.
Decay used to be poverty, abandonment, violence...
Decay now is beautiful, nostalgia, aesthetic...
MOON, TIDE AND TIME
Moon changes the phasis and the tide goes up and down. Time is everywhere near us.
The site is located in the current Pier 11, at the end of the Wall Street and close to the Brooklyn Bridge
Pier 11 is at the interaction point of different people. Runners and cyclers go along the river and pass it; tourists from Wall Street take a turn here and go to Brooklyn Bridge. And people go to IKEA take the free ferry here.
HIGH TIDE, LOW TIDE
During the high tide, the pier will be flooded at certain places while the basic ferry service is guaranteed. During the low tide period, all the parts of pier will be shown and the decay could be traced.
MIRROR THE SKY
Location: Cupertino, CA Year: 2013 Academic work at Columbia University Critic: Michael Bell, Zachary Kostura, Brian Lee Type: Housing+Research
With the design of the Apple Campus 2, we can say that Silicon Valley is undertaking the realization of an architectural identity. This studio’s work is specific to United States at a time when changes in energy costs have instigated an inevitable rise in housing density and its proximity to mass transportation, creating a critical moment to explore the potentials of smart boulevards but also new opportunities for the future density.
The growing density is an inevitable issue. Looking into this emptiness, one can always read more and sense more. So the opportunity may just lie in the perceptual density instead of the statistic density. How to introduce the sky into view and how to achieve more perceptual openness is the main task in this case.
DESIGN THE OPENNESS
The exposure of the sky is important. From the previous comparison between street views of Cupertino and New York, we could see the sky could release stress and extract people from the dull life for a moment. When all the other things fade, the sky will always be an exit for inner anxiety. In this case of designing a new type of houses, the idea is to replace part of the normal wall with reflective material to get a reflection of the sky.
Reflection in reflection. The fuzzy chrome walls offer an opportunity to see oneself in the neighborhood and touching the sky. One could gain a view which he never had chance to see. With the profound infinite reflection, one can enjoy mediation and get a more sensitive sense of the surroundings and existence.
Gowanus, Brooklyn 40,000 ft2 Completed / 2015
Professional work at LEESER Architecture
LEESER Architecture was enlisted to transform an underutilized industrial building into office headquarters for a next generation tech company.
This warehouse conversion to tech hub will be occupied by Genius Media, with adjacent space used as a collaborative workspace for Cowork.rs (also designed by LEESER Architecture). LEESER Architecture used a dichroic film at the glass walls and polished metal
laminate millwork to energize the former industrial space for this hip, young startup. Designed with an understanding of how today’s office environments function, the space is simple and organized yet highly dynamic.
Brooklyn is the creative heart of New York City and a hotbed for its startup scene. As such, the borough has experienced a growing need for flexible workplaces able to accommodate entrepreneurs. The owners of COWORKRS, who have two Manhattan locales where individuals and teams can rent desk space, recently opened a new Brooklyn location to meet some of that demand. They hired Brooklyn’s own LEESER Architecture to turn part of a former industrial building into a collection of workspaces worthy of the borough’s most promising businesses. The firm gave Kontor a first look at the project.
In a gritty neighborhood near the Gowanus Canal that has recently seen a wave of development—complete with a vast Whole Foods—COWORKRS found a raw space with tons of rough charm, including exposed joists and brickwork. (COWORKRS shares the building with Genius Media whose office LEESER also designed.) The architects aimed to give the sprawling, 47,000-square-foot space a sense of unity while maximizing leasable work areas. “COWORKRS has a very dense program,” says the firm’s founder Thomas Leeser. “The major challenge was to give their space a sense of community, even as every square inch was scrutinized.”
His solution was a staircase.
Leeser and his firm threaded a dramatically angular series of stairs through the space. Using origami-like folds, they frame common spaces on each floor—even extending to become a communal table on one level. “It’s the one element that’s a new insertion in the existing structure, and it’s the one element that literally connects the three levels,” says Leeser. It also allowed the firm to tuck open space beneath and around the circulation in places that would not have been suitable for rented work areas.
The designers had the stairs finished with bright colors—an eye-popping Yves Klein blue on the outside and teal on the inside—that contrast sharply with the building’s brick and timber bones. From some angles, their abstract geometries appear almost flat or like an Ellsworth Kelly painting. “The space was quite beautiful and quite raw,” says Leeser. “We wanted to maintain the original character, but we also wanted to have the community space really read as distinct from the workspaces.”
Bands of color and lighting set into the floor outline the circulation and common areas, adding focal points to each level. “The lighting acts like a drawing defining the communal spaces,” says Leeser.
The designers placed offices able to accommodate teams around the perimeter of the space. Individuals can also set up shop in common areas, where they have a variety of places to work.
Each level has its own defining set of features. A skylight on the bottom floor, which is partially below grade, brings daylight into offices, while the ground floor opens onto a terrace.
The designers inserted a large kitchen, styled with the same hard edges as the stair, near the entry.
Utilizing the space carved out by the stairs as common areas allowed the architects to reserve more of the floor plan for leasable workspace, without sacrificing a sense of connection among the businesses that inhabit them. “Communal space is very important to the identity of COWORKRS, and you need open space for that,” says Leeser. “The goal was to create enough of that openness.”
Brooklyn, New York 1,200,000 ft2 2014
Professional work at LEESER Architecture
LEESER Architecture was engaged to develop a vision for the 1.2 million sf addition on the Macy's Downtown Brooklyn parcels. The iconic 910 foot high tower will house 230 condos and 468 rental units. The tower is added on top of an existing building, preserving the existing Art Deco style facades. This design also allows retail stores such as Macy's to remain open during construction. A two tower mixed use complex is designed on the opposite side of Macy's, providing 200,000 sf retail space, a public plaza, 248 condo units and 308 rental units.
A 52-story condominium tower that will soon begin construction on the southeast corner of 30th Street and Fifth Avenue. Permits for the project were filed early last month, and now YIMBY has obtained the first actual rendering of the glassy building, which is being designed by Rafael Viñoly.
Victor Homes is developing the site after picking up the assemblage for $99 million last year, and Lend Lease is helping finance and co-develop the project, which will have a total cost of $400 million.
DOB permits show the 52-story building will stand 705 feet tall, with 141 condominiums units splitting 209,087 square feet of space. Residences will average nearly 1,500 square feet apiece, and the project will also include 7,900 square feet of retail space on the first two floors.
Apartments will range from two to four units per floor, besides full-floor units on the eighth, 49th, and 50th stories. Amenities (including a lounge, fitness center, library, and spa) will be located above the retail space.
Location: Manhattan Year: 2012 Type: Culture Individual work at Xian Dai Architecture Design Co., Ltd., Shanghai
The satellite town of Laiwu is calling for a cultural center catering for public requirement and artists activities. The site is on the main axis of the city and adjacent to the Central Park. Main functions include public library, conference center, artists’ workshop, and gallery.
This design focuses on the continuity of the city landscape axis. With the sunken plaza and pedestrian roof, the cultural center would achieve easy accessibility and highly openness, embracing all kinds of cultural activities and generating this satellite town into a vigorous cultural center.
The site is on the main axis of the city, neighboring the central park on the north and office buildings on both east and west. This design is more of a landscape architecture rather than a pure building. The shape is derived from the required accesses on each direction. Sunken plaza is the core of the public space with the pedestrian roof spreading around it. Most of the roofs are accessible. Owing to this, there is no clear boundary between building and environment. And this is the goal of this design.
Second Price in WISE Competition 2013 Location: Qinchuan, China Year: 2012 Partner: Du Liting
World population is aging, especially in less developing areas. As their children leaving for big cities, the elderly are left behind, along with the poor infrastructure and empty life. The life style in rural district differs from what is in urban areas. Smaller social network results in a much more diverse relationship. Neighbors could be relatives, coworkers and friends. To support such multi-relative relationship and allow it to take place, the quantity and quality of public spaces should be valued.
In this design, a series of illuminating cubes distribute along the valley, functioning as both the illuminating system and public spaces for all kinds of activities. Some of the cubes are altered from unused houses and others are newly created. The elderly will have more opportunities to blend into the neighborhood as well as the tourists. Life of the elderly is thus lightened and regenerated.
MAPPING AND DRAWING
The architecture form in Qinchuan is the traditional Chinese Hui style. Every unit has a courtyard in the middle of it for better lighting and ventilation. A family owns one or two of such unit depending on the economic level.
Qinchuan is a typical Chinese village according to its architecture style and life style. The elderly consist a large percentage of the village population and the reason is complicated. No jobs, low income, poor infrastructure, those all drive youth to leave village for a better life in city while the elderly are just left behind. Since Qinchuan belongs to the Qiandaohu Tourist Region, we see opportunities in regenerating this village.
POPULATION AGING PROBLEM
The chart in the left page shows the high percentage of the elderly comparing to the national average statistics. Aging problem seems especially worrying here in Qinchuan. Most of the elderly insist on the custom of working on the farm, the life style they led for life long. Getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning and go to bed in the 8 or 9, they always staying with themselves and fail to blend into the community. One important reason is that there is no illumination system along the river. There derives the idea that creating public spaces with the illuminating system.
DAILY ACTIVITIES AND FUNCTION REQUIREMENT
Research is carried among different groups of people based on the population distribution. Daily activities and routes are traced down and cataloged. By putting need of different people together, a synthesized map of function requirement could be arrived.
While mapping and drawing in the village, a research was also carried on the room occupancy. The result show that more than half of the houses or rooms are vacant since those young people leave the village and seldom come back. Designing started from the studying of hosing types, seeking for a method to reuse those spaces.
According to the two methods, a typical house was chosen to be the example of alteration. Part of the first floor is removed and a 3m×3m×3m illuminating cubic is inserted into the site as a corridor aside the river, leading people pass by to the public space under the old building. The cubic is constructed by U-Profile glass, which has a high light transmittance. Wooden columns are replace by steel ones, and some of them are hidden in the interior part of the first floor. The stair to the second floor is removed to the remaining part of the first floor.
ILLUMINATION CUBES, MUDULAR BUILDING UNIT
The illumination cubes are set into three modular units, 3m×3m×3m, 6m×6m×6m, and 9m×9m×9m. Volume fits to the need of spaces at different site, resulting in a thoughtfully arrangement of the whole illuminating system.
Old, young, and tourists are brought together in these well designed spaces. No boundary between local and foreigners, no gap between old and young. The elderly could well blend into the society, finding their own interest, and realize their own value.
Cubes shed lights in the shallow water, and the lightened river echoes with the milk way up there in the night sky. Tranquility spreads among the village.
This is the view from the beginning of the village. The cubes illuminate the road along the river, elegant and peaceful. Some teas and some shows, the elderly will never get bored.
Location: Helsinki, Finland Year: 2014 Invited Competition Architects: LEESER ARCHITECTURE
Four-person Team, participating in all design phases including conceptual design, modeling, rendering and graphic design.
Location: Beijing, China Year: 2013 Published Undergraduate Degree Project Type: Commercial/Historical Districts Regeneration
Tianqiao District has long been an important area in the history. It used to a vibrate area famous for street art, but under the rapid urbanization it gradually grows into a slum. Regenerating this area is inevitable and urgent.
How to regenerate the historical district in Beijing is the main issue drew in this project. Locating on the main axis of Beijing, Tianqiao District has long been an important area in the history. It used to a vibrate area famous for street art, but under the rapid urbanization it gradually grows into a slum. Regenerating this area is inevitable and urgent.
Creating interior outdoor space is the core operation in this design. In order to fit into the urban context, this design took the ancient map of this area as the initial building lots, and then operated a series of wiping out and reorganization to fit in the function.
Continuous open space with shelter is the main idea. There is no clear sense of inside and outside. Bridges and stages connect every single building together with a huge glass canopy overhead to prevent rains and winds. People can easily get around to check different performing. Except the performing, there will be some other supporting commerce like restaurants, and a lot of relating space like galleries, art stores, rehearsal rooms, artist studios.
Location: Dongying, China Year: 2012 Type: Office Intern at Xian Dai Architecture Design Co., Ltd. Design/Digital Modeling/Drawing/Presentation
Keda Group is the largest private enterprise in China’s infrastructure construction industry. Recently, they are conceiving to build a new headquarter in Dongying, Shandong Province for the further development of the enterprise. The office complex consists of two office towers and skirt building around them. The four-storey skirt building will be a national bank and related offices. There is a shifting courtyard between every two floor, which enable to generate the whole office tower into a more vibrate working space.
Location: Prague, Czech Year: 2012 Critic: Martin. J. Barry, Henry Hanson Type: Landscape+Infrastructure
This design is trying to ease the competition between tourists and residents on both space and infrastructure in old town Prague .
The main operation is to build a transportation hub connecting important traffic nodes in the neighborhood. It works as a pedestrian system through which everybody can find a short cut to his destination without intercross to other’s route. At the same time, people can see and be seen at different heights, creating a positive interaction between tourists and resident, instead of interference.
The site is located in a triangle district adjoining residential area and favorite tourist spots. With metro station and tram stops nearby, the traffic condition is complicated. Different routes and activities are interfered by each other.
Listed on the left are fifteen of all possible routes in this system. Owning nine entrance and fifteen connections, the systems is able to separate people to different route but, at the same time, bring people together in the same pedestrian system and the market on the ground field below the system.
Like a fairy tale, it contributes to the Prague tourism system and benefit local residents as well. This is more than a transportation hub. With efficient accesses and communication, people are able to build a harmony relationship towards others, and more important, towards nature.
Location: Hangzhou, China Year: 2011 Academic work at Zhejiang University Critic: Xiang Chen Type: Museum
Time passed away, yet it left traces on the earth. Buddhism explains how the world functions through the concept of Samsara. It means the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
In this design, a core loop corridor is created to present the abstracted concept of Samsara. Sharp contrast on material and space scale gives visitors strikes, helping to understand the spirit of Buddhism.
Located in the old district of Hangzhou, the site adjoins a civil square, a flower market, and a traditional commercial street. Visitors could get to the designed museum via a gentle slope.
Buddhism was introduced to China from India in about A.D.1. It is the major religion in China with 183 million believers, consisting 18% of the whole population. People believe in Samsara, and it works as the basic understanding of the world.
Samsara, the core doctrine of Buddhism, means the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
CONTRAST ON SPACE SCALE AND MATERIAL
Loop corridor and meditation atrium consist the core of the architecture, organizing the spaces around it. Atrium is accessible only on the first floor. People can get to it after a narrow, cramped lane.
V-Ray for 3D Studio Max Year: 2013 Academic work at Columbia University Instructors: Phillip Crupi, Joseph Brennan
In this project, a lakeside house was designed and developed through some specific views. The goal is to achieve some moody renderings to express this house.