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Fire + ︎ Studio Seven

ARCH 487
Fall 2019 ︎

Los Angeles

Linda Taalman

Eric Olsen
Matthew Gillis

Scrap Marshall

Work by B.Arch students Angel Escobar & Christopher Madrid-Gramajo

Fire +

The typology of the fire station as architecture begins as a piece of essential infrastructure within the city, whose design is driven by pure functionality of efficiency as an emergency resource. The fire station has also garnered attention as piece of sculptural architecture, most notably the Vitra Fire Station, Zaha Hadid’s first built project, and even anonymously with the eerie simplicity of a fire training tower which simulates building fires for training drills. This year’s comprehensive building studio takes on the program of the fire station, in the wake of two years of devastating fires throughout California, and locally in Los Angeles with the Woolsey Fire. The reality of our urban condition which exists on the edge of a wildlife and wildfire zone (wildlife urban interface), prompts a reinvestigation of the fire station as Fire +. The Fire + program will expand upon the fire station to include today’s necessary civic needs for a meeting place, rescue and relief space, and training center for urban and wildlife fires.

For the first 4 weeks students will develop the primary conceptual design for Fire + in terms of research, site, conceptual logic, passive design, program and form. Through a series of analysis and design studies students will conceptually develop the site and program given through critical analysis of precedents, analysis of the site, passive design in response to the site conditions, and thoughtful development of the program into clear massing strategies.

Work by B.Arch students  Karla Sandoval & Kevin Lugo-Negrete

Site Analysis

The studio positions itself within the boundary condition of the Wildlands Urban Interface Zone* at the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The Woolsey Fire in 2018 severly impacted a vast area of the SMMNRA and Los Angeles, and Malibu specifically. Los Angeles Fire Station #23 is positioned at the gateway (along the PCH) to Malibu and the SMMNRA, where wildland meets development and Sunset Blvd spills out to the Pacific.

Students will document and analyze the site conditions, collecting data from city GIS resources and on site observation. After collecting relevant data and research, interpret the data sets by drawing a series of 3d and 2d site plans that describe the forces acting on the site that you will use for developing a design on the site.  Students are expected to use publicly available resources such as Navigate LA, ZIMAS, and GIS mapping systems to obtain specific data and dimensional information.

Work by B.Arch students  Kevin Flores & Joseph Monck

Each team is required to develop a site model, a site plan and site analysis that clearly interprets site data so that it can be used in the conceptual design of a building. Students should analyze the site through a series of site plan diagrams that interpret the site through layered drawing and a physical site model.

Understanding the site is critical to understanding the problem of the studio. Each site has regional cultural and climatic parameters, local microclimate parameters and highly specific multisensory forces that affect the occupation of the site by a given program. Each student is expected to collect research on their site through empirical observation (field work on the site) and data collection and drawing to document their site and interpret these parameters and forces acting on the site. The site analysis must include a clear understanding of the climatic and microclimatic conditions of the site and should identify the problems and potential of the site.

Work by B.Arch students Ulysses Hermosillo & Micol Romano

Program and Massing

The fire station typology is ideally suited for a comprehensive studio in that it is relatively fixed programmatically and is somewhat ancillary to the everyday public realm. Rather than fixating on provocative programmatic juxtapositions or transformative sociopolitical arenas, the architectural design effort can be directed more toward spatial, material, environmental, and tectonic innovations. This is especially important in comprehensive studio, where our goal is simulate architectural practice and to zoom in as closely as possible to the real systems and assemblies that make up a building, all while maintaining a fundamental conceptual clarity. The speed of the semester and its pragmatic emphasis requires that by necessity we set aside some architectural issues to be engaged in other studios, and forge ahead with a strong but narrowly focused range of interests. More than in any other studio, the design effort will be extremely accelerated, so it is vital to the success of your project that you make design decisions expeditiously and commit to them.

The proposed facility at Los Angeles Fire Station #23 will be equipped to respond to the unique emergencies of the site due to its proximity to the entrance to the Santa Monica mountains and beach (Will Rogers, Sunset and Topanga beaches). Due to these adjacencies the firefighters stationed at the facility are trained in mountain and water rescue, and additionally they use the surrounding park and beaches for training. In addition to supporting the ongoing training of personnel for such events, the building and site design should also provide them a meaningful sense of community and connection to site. Much like a monastery or college dormitory, a fire station is unique in that the architecture supports all the daily life rituals of a very particular group to engender a sense of common identity. In addition, the exposure and prominence of the site means that this fire station is well positioned to engage the civic realm in innovative ways as well.

Work by B.Arch students  Leonardo Acevedo & Matthew Negrete

The site of the Fire Station is unique in that it is the gateway and entrance to a frequently used hiking trail, Los Liones Trailhead, that is connected to both Topanga State Park and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area. The fire station will include an additional program that serves the larger community.

Drawing a proposed conceptual strategy integrating program and site with passive design strategies, students are to develop specific massing studies in response to the detailed program. Primary passive design strategies include orientation, massing, and consideration for primary openings to the building interior. Secondary passive strategies should be developed for local micro climatic conditions.

Students should develop a series of massing study models and diagrams to quickly determine potential relationships between interior program requirements and the larger site. Students should test a variety of shapes and scales of modules to achieve the desired ratios of exterior envelope and interior volume, interior to exterior space, interior program and environmental qualities such as light and air.

Students are to develop a vocabulary of building massing modules for the site in response to the site and passive design analysis. Refer to the program brief to develop massing that incorporates all the elements of the program. Model a series of minimum 10 massing strategies to fit within your site model.

Simultaneously students should develop program massing diagrams for each scheme showing all the program on the site and how the programs organization will fit on the site and meet the programs needs.

Catalog Description

Systems Integration: The interrelationships of the properties of materials, structures, environmental systems, building envelope systems, construction technology, building cost control, and life-cycle costs as they influence design decision-making are examined. A comprehensive and integrative process is presented. Lecture, three hours a week.