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.

Working as a Team on Architecture Projects 3x30 and 4x30

Working as a Team on Architecture Projects 3x30 and 4x30

Introduction

In my freshman and sophomore years of architecture school, I remember spending most of my time working alone in my dorm room and getting stuck at every new design challenge. I would sit and stare at my desk, hoping that an idea would magically appear in my mind so that I could sketch it on my blank sheet of paper. Hours would pass and no progress would be made on my projects. In fact, I would be anxious about my next class and even more confused about my ideas for the project.

Once I entered my junior and senior years of architecture school, I decided to spend all of my time in my studio and shared computer labs. As I sat at my desk and worked into the evening, I noticed that my colleagues would walk by and ask me about my project. Soon, I started walking around the studio and asking everyone else about their ideas and how their projects were coming along. These simple discussions would eventually lead to questions about my friends’ projects and about my own.

Eureka!

By talking to my friends about my project and asking for their opinions, I was able to articulate my thoughts into fragmented sentences that would eventually gain clarity through the discussion. I was also able to generate a deeper understanding of my design concept through questions that emerged from every discussion. Most importantly, I found that I was happier and having so much fun when I was working among my friends and colleagues.

Generating design ideas with a team

For projects 3x30 – One Seneca Tower and 4x30 – competition, I asked a few friends of mine, who are currently in various years of architecture school, to join me in designing these projects. With both teams, I developed a project brief for our first meetings and included thought provoking questions to begin our design discussions. I also included various images and satellite views of each project site to give everyone a sense of context.

During the design discussion with 4x30, the team reviewed program requirements of the project and quickly moved to developing design concept for the competition. We began refining everyone’s ideas by asking thought provoking questions and debating the concepts that work best within the context of the project. Within an hour, we were able to distill a vague concept into a clear and focused design statement.

Similarly, 3x30 – One Seneca Tower’s group discussion started with a broad overview of the building’s history, current situation, and surrounding site context. After living in Buffalo, NY for many years, I was able to quickly navigate through Google’s bird’s eye satellite view and point out specific areas of recent investment. As the students listened, I noticed them writing down notes and they were asking questions throughout the project description.

Once I was done with the project overview of 3x30, I asked the group some very specific questions regarding the types of programs that they could envision in the skyscraper, whether or not the façade should remain or be removed for a new exterior aesthetic, what kinds of public amenities would work on the lower levels of the building, and even the types of retailers, companies, and people they could see in this building. This discussion took off and we were able to generate a list of programs and locations throughout the building.

Working Individually

With every group project, it’s important to use the discussion time to develop a list of tasks and delegate them to everyone in the group. In 4x30 – competition, we divided the project into multiple buildings and each member was in charge of one or two of them. We reviewed the programs that would be included in each building and pulled out the trace paper and pens to sketch our ideas. As each person verbally explained their idea, I passed them a sharpie and trace paper so that they visually walk us through their imagination. Once this sketching session was complete, we went our separate ways to design our buildings.

Project 4x30 Competition Sketch

When project 3x30 – One Seneca Tower entered its discussion phase, we developed a series of tasks for the two students and began sketching our ideas. The focus of this particular project was to design a renovation of this particular building and to help the students learn how to use Revit. So I reviewed the basics of the software and showed them the tools they would need to develop the model. We also discussed design ideas for the façade of the building in relation to the programs. Then, we went our separate ways and both students decided to work together to develop a fantastic Revit model and physical models of our façade ideas.

Project 3x30 One Seneca Tower

Project 3x30 One Seneca Tower

Independently finishing 3x30 and 4x30

After meeting every weekend for a month, we were able to have deeper discussions about each project and begin focusing on designing the interior spaces of every building. Without these group discussions, the design concepts of both projects wouldn’t have been developed as quickly and there wouldn’t have been as much momentum with each project. We were also able to reach a point where the projects have a sense of clarity and needs to be explored further in a complete Revit model.

As the students prepare for their finals week in school and getting ready for their study abroad trips, I made the decision to take over both projects and work independently to develop them to completion. My focus for the month of May will be on developing 4x30 – competition’s Revit model to completion and preparing it for rendering in the first two weeks of June. I’ll be working on 3x30 – One Seneca Tower’s Revit model simultaneously with the competition. My plan is to have both projects completed by the end of June with project descriptions and graphics.


Lesson Learned on Time for 3x30 – One Seneca Tower

Lesson Learned on Time for 3x30 – One Seneca Tower

Why every architect should be patient

Why every architect should be patient