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University of Kentucky College of Design presents 12 architecture projects

Our latest school show from students at the University of Kentucky College of Design includes a car depot that functions as a wellness centre and a housing community built from repurposed material from the railroad industry.


Other projects from the undergraduate and postgraduate students include a farm in Kentucky designed to mimic the surrounding environment’s patterns and digitally-manipulated collages referencing Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Wonderland.


School: University of Kentucky College of Design
Courses:  Undergraduate and graduate studios
Professors: Angus Eade, Anne Filson and Jeffrey Johnson, Jill Leckner, Mike McKay, Brian Richter, Gary Rohrbacher, Jason Scroggin, Mike Silver, Brent Sturlaugson, Martin Summers and Stephen Slaughter and Regina H. Summers.

School statement:

“The School of Architecture at the University of Kentucky College of Design offers a four-year undergraduate pre-professional degree and a Master of Architecture degree. The students featured in this festival represent the breadth of our two programmes, with a particular focus on our recently reconsidered undergraduate first-year spring studios, where we have fully integrated digital design and fabrication technologies.

“The theme of the spring semester for the first-year undergraduate studio sequence was to consider the notion of ‘Object and Field’ and how it relates to the negotiation of small-scale programme, inhabitation, and context. In addition to our pedagogical emphasis on the integration of digital technologies, the other undergraduate and graduate projects selected also represent our school’s commitment to engage local issues, such as housing and urban development, that also relate to broader contemporary challenges confronting the discipline at the regional, national, and international level.”


Rehabilitated Railroad Communities by Tori Vaughn

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky has long been an ideal laboratory for architectural study. Our state’s cities, small towns, and landscapes offer multiple scales and conditions for engagement and intervention, while its distinct heritage, industries, and propensity for innovation provide a wide range of challenges for architecture students to explore. The Commonwealth Studio gives every Master of Architecture student an opportunity to pursue a self-directed, research-intensive design project as a culmination of their architectural education. Students explore contemporary ‘local’ issues that have global relevance and impact, proposing architectural solutions that positively impact home and beyond.

“Rehabilitated Railroad Communities is a housing development situated on the R.J.Corman Yard in Lexington, Kentucky. The project endeavours to reuse and repurpose materials and equipment from the railroad industry, like shipping containers and train wagons, to minimize environmental impact. The remains of an existing railyard will serve as the skeletal infrastructure for the new community.

“The R.J. Corman Rail Yard now accommodates a green, urban neighbourhood of diverse homes, people and plants. This walkable community is bursting with nature and nearby to many Lexington hot spots. The diversity of housing densities on the site allows for many different demographics of people to call this neighbourhood home. Including all enables the neighbourhood to support a multi-cultural, racial and generational community. The units and aggregation could be adapted and replicated to fit railways and rail yards across the commonwealth and the country.”

Student: Tori Vaughn
Course:  second-year graduate
Professors: Anne Filson and Jeffrey Johnson


Sawmill Pavilion by Chase Faulkner

“As part of a multidisciplinary grant team, students designed a pavilion to shelter a portable sawmill on the University of Kentucky’s campus. After completing an analysis of user needs and site constraints, students also proposed additional functions for the pavilion and its surrounding landscape.

“Limiting the main structural components to mass timber products, the pavilion is intended to showcase the possibilities of building with wooden slabs produced by the sawmill itself. The research and design from this project will be used as a starting point for a future design-build studio in which the pavilion will be constructed.

“This project is intended to curate movement and frame points of interest on the site. This is achieved by using a series of folds to expand and contact volumes that accommodate different scales of programmatic spaces. The faceted cross-laminated timber panels are free to disobey the grid and respond to different constraints by regulating the glulam beam structure. This creates an interactive lighting quality that changes with the variable density of incisions within solid panels. Outside of sawmill operations, the project will serve as a new social hub for students on campus and a link between educational buildings on the site.”

Student: Chase Faulkner
Course:  second-year undergraduate
Professor: Brent Sturlaugson


Toolpaths V Ascend by Ben Thornton

“Toolpath studios explore future architecture and construction from the vantage point of the post-industrial designer. Students discover their agency as designers for a time in the not-too-distant future when they’ll collaborate directly with intelligent machines. Through the design of a door, staircase, and window, students discover the parts of a whole.

“The students investigated how architecture can be shaped to make relationships within other architectural entities and among humans, natures and technologies. Students experiment with additive and subtractive digital fabrication techniques at the scale of architectural details, using integrated design, engineering and manufacturing tools that collapse the distance between design and production.

“This project serves as an exploration of the capabilities of and design process for Fusion360s generative design workspace with the final goal of a more efficient cantilever stair. Using a steel-structured cantilever stair as precedent, the structure of the stair was broken into seven chunks comprised of smaller structural members. Each structural member was custom-designed using only the loads on the member and a target of minimizing mass as form driving forces. This focus on minimizing mass based on required loads is visible in the final stair with members toward the bottom with higher compounded loads having higher mass than those above that are supporting a lower load.”

Student: Ben Thornton
Course:  first-year graduate
Professor: Gary Rohrbacher


Interspersed Pastel Commorancy by Trey Barnes

“The theme of the spring semester of the first-year studio sequence is to consider the notion of “Object and Field” and how it relates to the negotiation of small-scale programme, inhabitation and context. These parameters are opportunities to think critically about the work we generate and respond to these architectural design problems with innovative solutions.

“The studio begins with a set of experiments that seek a working relationship between solid, void, and pattern to develop a geometry that is responsive to the conditions of inhabitation, programme and site.”

Click here to watch the animation.

Student: Trey Barnes
Course:  first-year undergraduate
Professor: Jason Scroggin


CloudForm Pavillion by Katherine White

“Working with a local Bourbon Distiller, the studio proposes a pavilion as part of a farm and distillery masterplan with a focus on visitor experience, bourbon production and history. Students were charged with exploring procedural and parametric design methods focused on formal geometric variety, combination, aesthetic, flexibility and adaptation to programmatic constraints.

“Design elements or ‘components’ developed during the investigative phase of the studio provided a baseline condition in addressing the physical constraints of the project programme. This allowed students to explore tectonic relationships, materiality, spatial quality and site-specificity in a contemporary context. Interoperability remained a key theme of the studio, challenging students to address the design prompt using a wide variety of digital methodologies, visualization, animation and digital-physical fabrication techniques.”

Student: Katherine White
Course:  first-year undergraduate
Professor: Brian Richter



Forma by Lauren Henning

“The goal of the Forma studio was to test various thermo-former techniques to achieve an emerging formal typology. The unexpected outcomes were desired to search for something unknown and without preconception – allowing the thermo-forming process to influence the outcome of the form and surface condition.”

Student: Lauren Henning
Course:  first-year undergraduate
Professor: Mike McKay


Kentucky Distillery Event Pavilion by Isaac Peck

“Students worked with community partners to propose event structures on a farm in Kentucky as part of adaptive reuse of an existing farm into a bourbon distillery. This project explored an adaptive skin system by creating a series of layered and woven aggregated systems of wood that mimic the naturally occurring and humanmade patterns of agricultural landscapes in Kentucky.

“The patterns were deployed across the skin, creating a porous envelope that defines the event space for programmatic use while seamlessly blending into the pastoral landscape. The varied texture and density of the skin similarly filter light to the existing trees and barns on the site. The pavilion brings new life to the existing farm while rooting itself in the atmospheric experience of agritourism through its materiality, organic form and referential patterns.”

To watch the animation, click here.

Student: Isaac Peck
Course:  first-year undergraduate
Professor: Jill Leckner


Wonderland by Sarah Coviello

“The studio explored formal and spatial combinations. Through a reading of Alice in Wonderland, students produced collages that considered narrative, imagination, contradiction and the theme of normal vs abnormal. These Wonderland collages were further abstracted through pixelation and digital manipulation, selecting one to develop as a 3D topography. Next, they made physical and digital ‘balloon animals’ inspired by characters and or their characteristics.

“This new fluid language contradicted the pixelated topography, requiring operative combinations, piling, stacking, or nesting relationships between part-to-whole, object and field. A narrative sequence of spaces and programmes – scenes from the book – defined movement and occupation while questioning scale, space, and gravity within the digital design environment. This project aimed to free imagination and thinking by immersion into their Wonderland.”

To watch the animation click here.

Student: Sarah Coviello
Course: first-year undergraduate
Professor: Regina H. Summers


Space of Contemplation by John Stegman

“Students were asked to design a space for contemplation using a double-curved and ruled surface for a fictional site designed using Twin Motion. A CNC foam cutter and a FormLabs 3D printer were used to both conceive the formal structure of the project and to create physical models.”

To view the animation click here.

Student: John Stegman
Course:  first-year undergraduate
Professor: Mike Silver


Apex Lexington: Automated Electric Car Depot Network and Community Wellness-Fitness Centre by Cameron Mitchell, Kamryn Moore, Sydney Rocha and Jacob Johnson

“This studio investigated the evolving problematics of emerging transportation systems and their spatial, material, cultural, and environmental consequences. The studio sought to develop schemes that give back to the community, unlike much of the earlier paradigm of transportation infrastructural works – many of which had deleterious effects on underserved communities and coincided with red-lining, social bifurcation, and racial inequity.

“The Hybrid Functioned Building Programme includes: car depots – automated parking structures with charging, fueling and servicing capacity; an outdoor fitness and recreation centre made for exercising and wellness; and energy harvesting for capturing and storing ambient sources with a particular emphasis on solar technologies.

“The Apex facility provides two alternative routes to reach the observation level. One way is a processional stair that offers views of the busy street and the ropes course and climbing walls on the site’s interior. The other option on the opposite edge of the area is a gondola that provides a way for all types of users to reach the peak and observation deck, ensuring accessibility while providing a compelling spatial experience. The gondola route offers views to the adjacent train track while fully displaying the parking structure.

“Along with the main facility, we have created four other sites in strategic locations around Lexington so everyone can have easy access to similar facilities and to ensure minimal wait times for vehicles that service the community at large. Glue-laminated timber structures are used to support the massive ropes course that sprawls throughout the site, offering a fun way to get outside and exercise.

“The vertical supports of the ropes course mirror the trees on the opposite side of the site, creating a formal relationship between nature and our human-made intervention to integrate the building with its site further. Apex vehicles enter the parking structure through an underground tunnel, keeping it out of the way of the recreation space. Once at their designated parking section, a platform will be called to pick up the vehicle. This operates along with a grid system that allows it to travel to the ground to pick up the car, then return to its original position to store it away.”

Students: Cameron Mitchell, Kamryn Moore, Sydney Rocha and Jacob Johnson
Course: second-year undergraduate
Professor: Angus Eade


Encompass by Eliza-Kate Carter, Megan Kidd and Alyssa Ramsey

“This studio challenged three-person teams to design mixed-use housing in Cincinnati’s West End. At an urban seam between historic neighbourhoods, the site has a tumultuous history defined by local and national racist public policy, redlining practices, urban renewal and current pressures of gentrification. Multi-unit housing in this context needs to address inclusivity and clarify community within this context.

“Other themes explore patterns – organisational, material, graphic – and formal relationships (combinations, operations, seams, gaps) to test legibility in an urban form by simultaneously articulating part-to-part relations and strategically obfuscating edges and seams. These ideas go beyond disciplinary issues of aesthetics, form, and space, to include how individuals define their corporeal edges and construct their public, communal, and private identities.

“Cincinnati’s complex urban history balkanized neighbourhoods through reconfigured infrastructural edges driven by racist public policy. The disparity between neighbourhoods was amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Encompass was designed as a heterogeneous and supportive community, where access to flexible work and open-air leisure spaces close to home encourages new forms of community. Using the adaptive, operational techniques of Professor Summers’ Disruptive Continuity exercise, part-to-whole relationships attempt to define specific local conditions while camouflaging and expanding other urban readings.

“Designed as vertically organized micro-communities within the larger whole, our team produced local identity while simultaneously connecting the public spaces to the larger civic body. The street-level edges are eroded by the public program, inviting the city into a porous, mixed retail space – stitching the site to its context as a hub for commerce, leisure, and living within the West End neighbourhood.”

Students: Eliza-Kate Carter, Megan Kidd, and Alyssa Ramsey
Course: third-year undergraduate
Professors: Martin Summers, University of Kentucky and in an advisory capacity Stephen Slaughter, University of Cincinnati


Cultural Restoration by Destini Chenault, Taely Freeman and Connor Guy

“The essence of this housing project revolved around the restoration and amplification of a cultural hub located on a site in the West End neighbourhood district of Cincinnati, Ohio. The West End was historically a rich black community erased for the construction of Interstate I-75.

“Two major buildings adjacent to the site, known as the State and Regal Theatre are unfortunately used to serve as the cultural hub of this neighbourhood. This project aimed to promote a new hub that encouraged reflection, community and interaction between a variety of people.

“The project used a variety of abstract objects that formally combined with one another to carve a large, axial pathway through the site, encouraging circulation from the nearby FC Cincinnati Soccer Stadium to the Over-The-Rhine District in the East. Commercial programmes such as restaurants, bars, and retail stores were located along the perimeter while cultural centres such as a museum, amphitheatre, and the new movie theatre were nestled within the centre to produce an overall micro city for the residents that lived within.

“A variety of unit types were designed according to the location of residential districts along the Western border of the site to allow for privacy. Various studios and workspaces occupied each floor to reinforce ideas of collaboration and allow local artists-in-residency to share their work.”

Students: Destini Chenault, Taely Freeman and Connor Guy
Course: third-year undergraduate
Professors: Martin Summers, University of Kentucky and in an advisory capacity Stephen Slaughter, University of Cincinnati


Partnership content

This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and The University of Kentucky College of Design. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.


Source: Rooms - dezeen.com


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