Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to document his journey to design 30 projects by the age of 30 (May 2020). His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

Final proposal for 3x30 One Seneca Tower

Final proposal for 3x30 One Seneca Tower

After working on project 3x30, One Seneca Tower with my two friends, we finally completed our Revit model, rendered out the views that captured our ideas, and developed our final graphics for the project. Just like any design phase of an architecture project, seeing all of our hard work come together in a complete set of graphics makes all of our trials and tribulations worthwhile. Check out our final design proposal for 3x30 One Seneca Tower here!

As architects, we’re often working in a bubble throughout any phase of an architecture project and sometimes we feel as if we’ll never be able to finish the design or build out of a project. With One Seneca Tower, there were times when I began losing sight of our final vision. However, our weekly meetings and working sessions helped us by constantly repeating our end goals and setting smaller weekly objectives to finalize the project.

Ultimately, our vision for One Seneca Tower remained the same throughout the project and we were able to finish by the end of 2016. Here’s our design concept that remained true throughout the project and why I think it’s important for teams to constantly restate their visions, goals, and objectives for any architecture project.

Our Design Concept

Throughout the One Seneca Tower renovation project, we brainstormed several programs that would work within the massive building with over one million square feet of space. We decided the building would be mixed-use with boutique shops and restaurants along with a public museum on the lower levels of the tower and adjacent high rise structure. This would bring high end fashion and cuisine together in an exponentially growing area of Buffalo and the museum would be a public attraction for both locals and tourists in the downtown area.

From the 4th floor to the 20th floor, there would be new high end offices that would provide spaces for both national and international companies that are looking to move to the region. The remainder of One Seneca Tower will be luxury condominiums, which will have high end finishes and balconies that are able to be fully enclosed during colder times of the year and vice versa.

One Seneca Tower Programmatic Distribution

Regarding the façade of the building, we determined that the costs of removing and replacing the entire sand colored concrete façade panels of One Seneca Tower would be very high. As we brainstormed our decision, we realized that the existing brutalist façade could act as a structural layer that we could use to apply a new façade system. We decided that the existing façade pattern would remain and we would wrap the concrete columns and beams with white glazed terracotta panels. These terracotta panels will be triangulated in its form and create a dynamic aesthetic through a faceted panel design.

One Seneca Tower Terracotta Panel System

The importance of restating visions, goals, and objectives for any architecture project

Throughout the entire design process of One Seneca Tower, we were meeting every weekend to review our progress on the project and to determine the next steps. While working on One Seneca Tower, both my friends and I were swamped with our own personal work; my friends were working on their design studio projects for their Senior year of architecture school, and I was working on several projects at the firm where I’m employed.

Needless to say, we were all juggling so many design ideas and concepts for several projects in our minds. For every meeting, we were developing our designs in Revit and preparing some discussion points that arise from the design process. During a few of our meetings, we felt as if we were just trying to finish placing components in the Revit model to finish our part. In short, there were days when we were working on completing our tasks without a deadline or series of upcoming tasks in mind.

To prevent this mindset from arising in our team, we would come together at the end of every work session and discuss our vision for the project, our goals (which includes a timeline for completing our individual set of tasks), objectives for the upcoming week, and offering one another some help if they had other deadlines in their life.

From experience, I’ve found this simple exercise to be the most important part of any architecture project team meeting. In particular, the very last part of the exercise where team members are asked if they’re feeling as if they’ll need any help in completing their tasks and others who might be able to assist those people is of utmost importance. This simple gesture fosters comradery and optimism within the team because everyone will strive to do their best, work efficiently, and offer to help others so that we can achieve our architectural vision.

Conclusion

Working on project 3x30, One Seneca Tower, with my two friends has been a fantastic experience because of the optimism of the group and our similar work ethics. Although the project took a month longer than we anticipated, we reminded ourselves at our final meeting that this was an extracurricular project where we only met once every week.

At the end of project 3x30, One Seneca Tower, I’ve realized how important it is to have a team with similar work ethics, motivation, and sense of humor among many other traits to work on large projects. Working along, I wouldn’t have been able to brainstorm as many design decisions as we did as a team and I wouldn’t have learned the importance of delegating tasks. I’m also happy to have worked with my friends on a project and share our common passion for design.


Project 7x30 Field of Light Design Proposal

Project 7x30 Field of Light Design Proposal

One Seneca Tower Rendering - Trials and Errors

One Seneca Tower Rendering - Trials and Errors