Cranbrook Center for Wellness
2009 University of Cincinnati Studio Project
A 10,000 square foot wellness retreat, located on the campus of the Cranbrook Academy, just outside of Detriot, Michigan is the product of this undergraduate design studio. The project culminates in the synthesis of precise design strategies (hand, body, and site), rather than a complete building.
The conceptual design originates with the overwhelmingly powerful site forces, the formal linearity and grid-like nature of the immediate site and its interaction with the human experience of that grid. The core of the building reflects upon the grid, while the roof forms reflect upon the human; spaces for program inhabit both forms. The central core becomes structure, a massive truss clad with prefabricated, insulated panels that easily accommodate openings where necessary. The truss/circulation core passes through, over, and under the programmed spaces, distributing guests, workers, light, air, and structural rigidity, amongst other things.
The initial process (depicted here) evolved almost entirely in diagrammatic and model form. The collection of work is classified into three groups, listed with each picture and described below:
A collection of models constructed to develop a focus upon the detail component of architecture. The "Hand" section models depict various bays of the building, at 1/8" and 1/4" scale. The importance of structure, the layering of skin, and the connections between the building's spaces are emphasized here.
The "Body" models are a set of iterative 1/16" = 1'-0" scale volumetric study models. The volume is derived from an intertwined set of variables: a formal grid that composes the site, and the informal cone's of vision held by those arriving at the site. The volumes are additive when based upon the grid (the building spine) and subtractive when based upon the cones of vision (lightweight roof forms, subterranean spaces).
The "Site" diagrams and models are built at 1:40 scale, and depict percieved and implied site forces. The diagramming of these forces, aligned with the detail experiments found in the "Hand" section models, led to the form of the building witnessed in the "Body" set of models.
Site study model illustrating the three levels of the building.
Section study model.