By Lauren Hale
Our studio professors have assigned a case study analysis that is due in a few days, so I figured I would share what a case study is and then talk about the project I have been assigned. Architects and designers are constantly referencing what has already been done to learn about what is successful and what isn’t for that particular building type. In our current studio, we are charged with designing one piece of a masterplan of three city blocks (which we also design ourselves, in teams of three). Our masterplan has an urban context and is located in Chicago, IL, right next to the United Center. Currently, it is parking lots with the train track going right through it. We have to design, on our own, either a hotel or residential component that is part of our group masterplan. Since we are dealing with mass transit, mixed-use urban context, our professors have assigned us examples with similar program for us to study. I was assigned the New Brunswick Transit Village in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The New Brunswick Transit Village is referred to as transit oriented design (TOD). The intention of a TOD is to fully incorporate all modes of transportation and make them easily accessible to residents, visitors, and in this case, students. Rutgers State University is just a few blocks away. So the site design incorporates the Amtrak station, buses, bikes, cars and pedestrians. It is also classified as a mixed-use project, which basically means what the names insinuates. There are multiple programs in one building. There are 15 storeys which are comprised of 200 condominiums, along with commercial spaces for businesses like the Rutgers University Bookstore, office spaces, and a parking garage. Probably the most crucial part; however, is the direct physical connection to the Amtrak station and the newly implemented pedestrian walkway, which runs the length of the facades of the commercial side of the first floor. Without these two components the entire project wouldn’t be easily accessible to students. Only the lucky few college students have cars, at least from the two universities I have attended. I walked everywhere for the first three years of my undergrad at the University of Illinois. Designing the sidewalks for human scale activity is very important. It’s all about the feel you get walking down the sidewalk. We have all walked down a sidewalk or an alley or any other path and wished we hadn’t turned down that way. So an inviting pedestrian space is key and it seems this project was striving for that.This project also filled a gap in the city and connected important neighborhoods. The older part of the campus is now connected with all the new developments in a way that makes students actually want to use it, and hopefully live within it. Here are some drawings: