Author Archives: isaacae

Final Reflection




The focus for this studio was Urban Mobility, and how traffic flow and congestion, and public transit systems in Cincinnati could be architecturally addressed, with the driving consideration of the coming of the IoT, autonomous vehicles, and the technological redevelopment of traditional transportation infrastructure.

Our site was a very relevant and significant one located at the edge of the current high profile redevelopment plan for the Avondale area, known as the Innovation Corridor along the regularly active roadways MLK, Reading, and 1-71. They are planning a 3 phase project consisting of office, hotel and retail developments, 450,000 square feet of Class A office space and 1,800 parking spaces for employee, guest and client use.




For this process we used Tobii software which uses a monitor mounted camera designed to track eye movement. We had two rounds using still images of our progressing projects that every student in the section sat at the monitor and viewed for about 5 seconds per image. The average data would be compiled and the diagrammatic results would be overlaid over the images.

For the first test I didn’t have a whole lot yet developed in way of design, due to recently reworking the main concept, but I just had basic single surface forms of where volumes and opening would generally be situated. The mistake I made, which largely sabotaged the first round was that I had model people and busses in my images (for scale sake) which are very distracting to the human brain do to our natural neurological tendencies to be primarily anthropomorphically attentive. So I hardly got much design feedback.

However, when it comes to that last image of the western front end of the building where one could see a stretch of canopied frames for sky-lighting down the length of the building’s ceiling, I expected there to be interest. A simply suggestive element of circulation also got some fair looks, indicating that humans are always looking for a way to move through their environment and get from one vantage point to another.

By the second round I had the primary structure and the stepped promenade/platform largely complete and it seemed as though both won the eyes. Particularly I got to notice how the eye naturally likes to browse the depth of a space hanging around particularly the mid to back ground portions. I also noticed that contrast or complexity in the immediate foreground were also significant. This further informed the sweeping design language of the interiors as they would call the eye up through the building. Having evolved a long period of time amidst the complexity of nature, it seems as though we enjoy a level of that in our architecture, especially in today’s technological age. Aesthetics is a real thing that is having and has certainly had a real effect on the psychology of modern society, and some might revile any sort of extravagant exploration into such a territory, perpetuating the so called tried-true, or maybe tired-true, which research has shown has contributed to depression in particularly metropolitan areas. We are wired for nature and a level of unpredictability in our visual experience. And when it comes to the future scenarios, I wanted to make sure that the regularity and simplicity of autonomous technology would not totally shield people from natural light, visual and physical stimulation and open, connection to nature.


Virtual Reality

This was an amazing experience to get to actually design for a full 3D walkthrough which I wish we had made more time to flesh out the details of. Unreal’s game engine software really brought my concept to life with the perfect lighting and material textures, without having to normally go through the hell of trying to get sunlight, interior lighting and texture mapping, etc. from 0 to 100 in still frame rendering programs let alone waiting the time out for render process overall… It took about 90 percent of the pain away in that aspect and gave me the time back to integrate my design perfectly with our modelled site, and add in the necessary details that on the macro rarified scale I wouldn’t as naturally account for. Experiencing a virtual space through time and with a sense of physics is an element that cannot be neglected for the future of design. On top of that it provides a human perspective that is often not there in the modeling software. Game engine software and virtual reality can help designers envision and realize more ambitious projects and to a certain decent degree of realism test their efficacy.



Sometimes I have difficulty in getting to a resolution for the complexity of my designs, but this semester we only had to focus on a single project and building which allowed me to slowly develop and grow into my design ideas.  Considering my personality, I could very well be an anomaly, but I do know my process tends to be exponential and a bit slow in the beginning. I always start off in the terrain of philosophy and metaphysics and arrive at the most potent motifs for my formal and functional approaches. As I hit the drawing board (Rhino, and Maya which I’ve grown in using this semester) hesitate longer than I should, but in the end never allow myself to let myself down. As the design progresses, my excitement reignites as I see all the pieces coming together in harmony.

Using Maya animation tools, I got the chance to literally design within the motif with which I was concerned- Movement and Fluidity. I learned after the irritating curve period how to record frames through space on points of polylines and parametrically manipulate them to achieve an organic and kinetic structure similar to the language of Calatrava which I would later drape using Zaha’s approach to concrete paneling to represent the visual streaming together of these moments.  I understood that this particular design would have to carry the responsibility of introducing and emotionally, practically, preparing the community for a more fluid and technologically immersive and interconnected world.

My initial intuitions are always to consider the active circulation and how the relevant elements would connect from the live context into the static heart of the spaces. I needed to express this motif in the transit paths and so I began to envision autonomous vehicles and their elegant trails of energy flowing smoothly in from the congestion of the I-71 off-ramp separating off into Metro and Public AV wings, and then effortless connecting back into the lanes of the bounding streets. The metro being mass transit, I realized, needed to be connected efficiently to the main streets of MLK and Reading to ensure the smoothest departures involving no stops or turns. The Public AV Wing roads connecting to Whittier street which is low traffic were to offer the necessary flexibility and experimentalism allowing the first autonomous cars to be shown off and enter and exit from the main roads with grace and a sense of privacy.

The flanking garages peeking from the landscape are lower key since they are primarily storage and repair spaces however on the Public AV side along with the space for public parking AV parking and Repair and Bike Rental, there is a covered open space for a farmers market set up in which vehicles could utilize in an efficient drive thru manner along the right side of the street while regular pick up and drop off could occur on the left hand side and easily pass by.

Embodying the essence of futurist paintings 20th century, the main building then radiates upward and outward from the off-ramp as two streams or energy gradually forms two adjacent wave crests representing the two separate wings. As the structural frames proceed onward, they intersect in the middle, representing the IoT generating the unique HVAC space and enclosed program housing the “Inter-Net-working” functions such as the main Ticket ‘N IoT Tech office, auditoriums, café on the ground platform, exercise spaces with a plethora of equipment and area for yoga/calisthenics/Zumba/Tai-chi classes etc., on the second floor, and conference and transportation research offices on the third. These open stretches of spaces encourage socializing and not staying in one spot. As one critic appreciated, the optimal experience of my design is one of Movement which would be literally emphasized and promoted throughout from the vehicles to the bodies of the public – visually celebrated from the ground floor with a suspended running track that circulates around the entire second level.  This fulfilled the motif of balancing the immersively sedentary use of advanced technology with the healthy intimacy of bodily movement and exercise. This coupled with the farmer’s market and open landscape surrounding the architecture would expose and provide to the community healthier more holistically conscious lifestyle options.

P6: Round 1

Protected: P4-Concept “LIGHT+ FLUID + ORGANIC”

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Protected: P2-Traffic Flow

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The term Smart City applies to a city that is designed for sustainability and minimized environmental impact by relying on streamlined and adaptive systems through the IoT, or Internet of Things. One relevant example of a Smart City business model is the intentional infrastructural development between the software industry and the town hall of a city where computer applications for improving the efficacy of city management services (e.g. waste and water management, pollution readings, traffic light performance, etc.) could be integrated1.

With the IoT would come more efficiency in especially Urban Mobility where transportation vehicles would become autonomous and potentially cut down on traffic congestion, pollutant emissions, and accidents of human error. According to McKinsey Global Institute big data reports, the following trends are projected to have the biggest impact on the development of integrated mobility in cities4:

⦁ Shared Mobility: (Current services such as Uber and Lyft compete with public transit as well as private vehicle ownership)

⦁ Autonomous Driving: (Promises improved road safety, reduced transportation costs, and expanded access to mobility through increased trips)

⦁ Vehicle Electrification: (Since the explosion of electric vehicle sales between 2011 and 2015, from 50,000 to 450,000, through subsidies, falling battery costs, fuel economy regulations and product improvements – battery costs are expected to continue dropping to below $100 per kilowatt-hour, which would allow EVs to achieve cost competitiveness with conventional vehicles.)

⦁ Internet of Things: (Smart Cities movements are opening up new opportunities for urban infrastructure and mobility where software systems provide trip planning and guide autonomous vehicles based on real time conditions)

⦁ Infrastructure: (It its projected that by 2050, the percentage of the world’s population living in cities will increase by two-thirds, pressuring changes in transportation infrastructure favoring public transit, ride-sharing and bicycling over conventional car ownership.)

⦁ Decentralization of Energy Systems: (The rise in small solar and personal energy systems could accelerate EV sales by reducing the cost of electricity, and increasing its sustainability, which could also lead to a reduction of demand on grid, lowering the prices of electricity at peak times and freeing vehicle charging capacities.)

The key building block technology for this shift will be wireless connectivity according to Navigant Research in their Transportation Outlook: 2025 to 2050. By 2025 they forecast that 1.2+ billion vehicles are expected to be involved in the IoT. The baseline of these systems is real-time data-collecting and data-responsive technologies which would operate cyclically through feedback loops (e.g. like a thermostat controller which both changes the temperature of the house and confirms/reads the real time temperature.) These types of features are known as Complex Adaptive Systems which mirror the organically adaptive nature and behavior of current cities3.

CAS theory describes an analysis of systems that are energetically open and manifest emergent structure without top-down management. CAS are composed of Agents (basic interacting parts), which process the resources and energy collected from the dissipative boundaries of the system, and manifest effective self-organization through these gradually evolving feedback loops/processes. Agents are not necessarily intelligent, but essentially use the general Darwinian mechanisms (variation, selection, and retention) to gradually select fitness-increasing behaviors within the system. Agents can also interact with and steer each other’s behaviors causing new behaviors to emerge globally which are unpredictable based upon the individual agents. (e.g Flocking birds, stock market booms and busts, organization of the World Wide Web, etc)5.

The theory though considered an offshoot from General Systems theory (optimizable closed systems) and Cybernetics theory (negative feedback open systems) diverges from these in that it describes CAS systems which, though bounded and internal are also dissipative. Such system manifest emergent structure while appearing to violate the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. It is here, that the responsiveness to positive feedback through its openness to energy inputs, causes small input changes to cascade and amplify into new structures. CAS can be extrapolated upon historical and contingent conditions, and yet exhibit varied trajectories­­­­­5.

The following are the most essential characteristics of CAS:

⦁ organized through flows and interactions;
⦁ subject to non-linear and historical processes;
⦁ adaptive and evolutionary;
⦁ comprised of a diversity of agents;
⦁ described by scale free/nested mathematical hierarchies;
⦁ characterized by self-organizing and emergent features.

The era of computational innovations has ushered in the ability to simulate CAS and examine CAS over the traditional scientific and engineering methods which rely more heavily on separability and isolation. With also the rise of quantum physics, science and engineering industry have found it no longer suitable to assume that the world is predictable and directly reducible to the responsible laws of nature. Therefore in matters of urban mobility, the need for technologies that can foresee emergences and adapt along with these organic systems are inescapable2.


Works Cited

1) Bermejo, Cocho, et al. “Adaptive & Morphogenetic City Research Laboratory.” Cumincad. 2018.
2) Gershenson, Carlos. “Improving Urban Mobility by Understanding Its Complexity.” Arxiv, 2016,
3) Research, Navigant. “The Future Is Now: Smart Cars And IoT In Cities.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 June 2016, -cars/.
4) Sustainable Brands. “AVs, Shared Mobility, IoT to Shape Future Urban Mobility, Says New McKinsey Report.”, 2017,
5) Wohl, Sharon. “Complex Adaptive Systems and Urban Morphogenesis.” Architecture and the Built Environment, 2018.