Master’s NavCenter
Schematic plan - February 15, 2004 - 3d Model
Matt Fulvio and Scott Arenz built this 3d software Model of the Master’s NavCenter in early February over a 10 day period. It was developed directly from my hand drawn Notebook sketches and computer-drawn schematic Floor Plans [link]. As this work was done, we used the exercise to dialog on many aspects of the design and, of course, the software allowed us to explore the concept in detail. While there remain some anomalies, that were not worth the time to work out, it is clear from this experience that this concept can work. We are, in actuality, somewhere between Schematic and Preliminary in its development.
Recently at Master’s, following the development of the Model, the D/B/U Team set metrics in terms of costs and time-to-build that will form the basis of our design development. We decided to pursue this design until we learn how to build it or a better one evolves out of the process. As has been noted elsewhere [link], this work deliberately pushes the state-of-the-art in many areas. It has to in order to fulfill its mission and be the appropriate [link] expression of the aspirations of the Master’s community. The task ahead is not to design and build what we know (at this time) we can accomplish and afford. No, the task is to learn how to build what in fact we need, what expresses our journey ahead, and what develops our ability and capacity to accomplish the even greater challenges of the future. The masthead of this piece is made up of two elements: a statue by Gary Lee Price [link], which expresses the vision of Master’s of their students as master-learners who can accomplish everything in life that they set out to do. This image is superimposed of an image of the NavCenter which is our promise to ourselves and the students that we will ask nothing of them that we do not demand of ourselves. The purpose of any NavCenter is to provide the place, tools and processes that facilitate (to make easy) the achievement of a communitie’s highest aspirations. It is always true, of course, but in this work it is a critical foundation of our process ahead: the means and the ends have to be tightly integrated; the connection between them made explicit; the spirit of the enterprise must (and, of course always does!) be embedded into every aspect of the journey. Frank Lloyd Wright expressed it this way: what a man does, that he is. What we build and how we build it is what our children will learn. The aspirations we set for ourselves will guide them as they choose their own quests.
During Wednesday the 11th through Friday the 13th of February, the concept was shared by me with a variety of Master’s ValueWeb [link] members: administration, teachers, board members, architects, builders, and so on. We explored the idea from the standpoints of build-ability, costs, public impact, schedule, relationship to the future new Master’s Campus (thus the “exit strategy” from this property) and how the design captures the energy, spirit and intent of Master’s Academy. In doing this, we initiated the formation of the Design/Build/Use Team that will fulfill this dream. Notably absent from this dialog were local community groups and the children themselves. This visit was possible because it was a school break for staff development days. With the next visit, the interaction will expand to community and to the children who are, of course, the ultimate users. participating in this adventure and its continuation to the new campus will be made part of the student’s daily life and curriculum.
Master’s does not present itself as a religious school. It is explicitly based on Christian values and metaphysical orientation. These are not pushed nor are they expressed in a dogmatic way - as is so often the case with many educational institutions based on specific religious, philosophical or scientific contexts. A wide range of perspectives are not programmed out of the intellectual life of the teachers and students. This is not a place that teaches exclusion or being against - it is a place that is focused on a vision that it is for and intent on bringing that vision into reality. The Master’s values simply are the foundation by which life is lived in this environment. Like any authentic [link] work of architecture, these values must be embedded into every aspect of the design, organically, as are those aspects related to the times, the place and the future that this community wishes to build. In this sense, this piece of architecture is like a church even though it is not a church. It is, perhaps, more church-like than many modern churches that seem to be some combination of shopping center, airport and country club rather than a place of contemplation. In Hebrew, “to worship” means to work for; the root of the word “religion” means to connect back (to). The NavCenter has to “connect back” as it “works” to create a new future.
Site Views
View from the West looking across the highway:
The North side (from East to west) is most exposed view into the NavCenter while the other sides are more “contained” by the existing buildings. This works well for several reasons. North light is the greatest unobstructed source into the complex. South light will be filtered by the various “Tree” tops. East and West light is available for controlled solar gain at different times of the day. The NavCenter, besides being a place in which to create the future Master’s Academy, deliberately “drives a stake into the ground” by declaring, by example, just what the essence of that future is intended to be. This is ”not your father’s school” and there is no making a mistake about it. This design declares to the world an intent that there is no backing away - compromise is driven out of possibility; the challenge remains.
View from the North from access road:
In these “shots,” the model is superimposed over the existing structure and grounds. The existing building and landscape have been left as they presently are. Of course, in reality, this will not be the case and care will be taken to alter both existing structures and landscape as is appropriate. The extent that this will be done is a factor of time, budget and program which will be determined by the “exit strategy” from the property when master’s moves to the new campus. If the move is accelerated and/or the existing school is sold to a church or school, the modifications to the existing structures will be relatively modest. If the move is delayed and/or the property is transformed into an Incubator, Office Hotelling Environment and commercial NavCenter the modifications will be relatively extensive. The profit created from this phase of the project will be reinvested in the New Campus.
View from the East:
The space, on the right of the new Elevator/Stairway tower, now occupied by temporary building is a prime candidate for future development. There are several opportunities for the expansion of both recreational and office-learning spaces on the existing plot, as well as, for expanded parking. this work can be done with little loss of open grounds or negative impacts. The existing facility can easily be turned into a world-class conference facility of 3,000 persons - modest in size but high in amenity and functionality.This may well turn out to be the best use after Master’s moves. There are, of course, community and traffic issues that will have to be dealt with. The strategy is to design with the outcome use to remain as a school; and, to demonstrate, by experience, the potential value to the surrounding community associations.
Various Model Views and Notes
View Looking Down:
The suspended Courtyard cover has been partially removed to show the structures below. This view illustrates the roof plan view. North is at the top, the grammar school on the right and the high school on the left. At present, the area in between existing structures is not used. This area will become an enclosed landscape with the NavCenter rising out of it supported by four tree-like geodesic-like structures that are “planted” in the “L” of the Courtyard.
View Looking North West - Bird’s Eye From Parking/Entry:
This illustrates the extensive amount of roof landscaping surrounding the 2nd Floor. It also shows the relative size and height of the four structural “Trees.” The basic circulation strategy of the layout can also be seen providing the NavCenter access and egress from all four points of the compass with the West and South providing the main entries. In this way, the entire school “engages” with the NavCenter which, literally, sits at the heart.
View Looking North from Existing Roof Deck:
The second floor of the NavCenter is level to the existing roof area of the grammar school; it spills out onto the roof as required and provides access to extensive roof landscaped areas. This view show the covered Courtyard (to the left) with the opening roof tops of the Multipurpose rooms, the Elevator/Stairway tower and trees #3 & #4 in the background.
View Looking West From Over Grammar School Gym Roof Top:
The full scope of the 3rd Floor can be seen from this viewpoint; it is suspended from Trees #3 & #4. The second floor extends past the third floor line in several places creating a flat glass-roofed “box” that extends out onto the existing roof deck. The wire suspended glass roof over the Courtyards is “held back” and connected to the NavCenter with similar flat roof panels.
View From 2nd Floor Up to 3rd Floor Looking West to the Mountains:
The Model, as represented here, shows the basic structure and shell of the building. It does not indicate the finished interior with Armature [link], WorkFurniture [link] and the full range of materials and finishes. A sense of how these component might be formed can be imagined by looking at the VA Salt lake City NavCenter [link] and the VCH Executive Offices [link] projects.
View Looking South Into Covered Courtyard:
Tree #1 is overhead and the existing High school Gym to the right. The Multipurpose Rooms in the covered landscaped Courtyard have roof “peddles” that open to the protected landscape. The Courtyard is conditioned to stay within a 40 to 90 degree temperature range. The existing classrooms and new NavCenter spaces can open to and be shut off from it as required.
View Looking South:
The vertical scale is emphasized in the NavCenter. This is necessary to get the spaces up into the light, to make them “read” from around the building and to provide a long viewpoint and horizon for the 2nd and 3rd floors as is appropriate to their function. Symbolically, the NavCenter is the future rising out of the industrial past.
View Looking West at New Entry and Elevator/Stairway:
From the parking area, Trees #3 and #4 just barely show over the existing buildings. The new Entry, Stair and elevator core components will provide a great deal more focus, utility and ceremony to the existing children’s drop-off and pick up area which lacks adequate amenity and security. The elevator will allow entry to the NavCenter independent of the school when required.
View Looking North East - Bird’s Eye From Above Highway:
The NavCenter is about 15% of the total mass of the complex; it completes and augments what is already there bringing it into a fuller expression of the building’s function. Enlarging some exiting windows into glass doors, removing selective walls, adding skylights, landscaping, casework, WorkWalls and artwork will complete the transformation of the whole.
View From High School GYM (with Gym removed from the perspective):
This perspective shows the various floor levels interacting creating a total of 8 different levels. Prospect and refuge are afforded. Sub-spaces are created by different ceiling heights, and the areas formed by vertical openings. A high variety of views, some into courtyards, some on to roof decks, some to the mountains, are provided each appropriate for the adjacent function.
View Moving Closer Towards the Third Floor Area - Tree #4:
The 3rd Floor is suspended from Trees # 3 and #4. In this view, it is possible to see how the Tree Houses are positioned in relationship to various internal areas and to the outside; they make a “room within a room” - self contained yet capable of engagement with the activities around them making up their landscape; separation and integration are layered and user controlled.
View from Meditation Tree House to Group Interaction Tree House:
In Pattern Language [link] this is a variation of the “Zen View” pattern. The internal and external glass skins are made up of transparent, translucent and colored elements of various sizes some of fixed, some operable. Combined with screens of various materials and patterns, this glazing becomes the means to control sight, sound and temperature between areas.
This design is truly a cybernetic forest [link]. It is a tightly integrated organism. It is a series of clustered, recursive shells each a complete system in itself, each extending the function of the other - an integration of process, tools and environment to support learning, creativity and incubation. It is symbolic and fact-based, a social statement and an efficient support system for focused work activities. It employs mega-structure strategies [link] on an intimate scale. While unique, it represents a long history of development with many antecedents [link]. To be accomplished, it requires the kind of effort and performance that Master’s holds as its educational ideal. The process will be documented in the PLS system [link] and the learning codified for use in building the new Master’s Academy Campus. We are building a knowledge-base and a ValueWeb [link] as well as a structure.
The flat-earth, low-variety box-like environments that make up the typical place of learning do not contain within themselves sufficient space, utility, expression and adaptability to satisfy the requirements made necessary by the new world of education and innovative workplace [link]. Nor do they inspire or instruct. The result of any educational process is the formation of citizens who will live and work in the future. What kind of future [link] are we preparing our children for? What design assumptions [link] do we hold about this future? How are we passing these assumptions - known to us or “hidden” - on to ourselves and future generations by the environments we build and the way [link] that we build them? What are we teaching by our own actions? What limits [link] are we setting? What kind of world do we project?
Authentic Architecture [link] must be an appropriate expression of time, circumstance and place. At the same time, it must express universal values and timeless forms. If it does not do this it fails as art [link] and becomes merely a creature of utility. This will not do. A great city is one you want to walk in. A great building is one you want to touch, one that facilitates your many tasks and moods, one that provides you new ways of seeing the world and understanding your own place within it - a great building transforms the context in which life is practiced and therefore invites you to transform your own sense of what and who your are. Because this work is grounded in the past, the present and a possible future, it can bring context to the transition that is taking place in education and how Master’s is working to transform it. One trans-forms things by first transforming self.
posted: February 14, 2004 • revised February 20, 2004 • copyright © 2004 Matt Taylor
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