Project: Clinton St. Studios

Location: Syracuse, NY

Year: 2010

Program: School of Arts

Advisor: Michael Piper, ARC208

At the heart of downtown Syracuse, Armory Square hosts much of the city's cultural life, from shopping, cafés, restaurants and bars, to galleries and museums. As a proposed satellite campus for the university, the aim of this project is to engage with the publicness of this area on one level, and to create an environment that fosters learning and interaction within the studios.

The process of design included pulling from the surrounding context to better integrate the building within the urban fabric. As a heavily used parking lot for many of the businesses along S. Clinton St. and W. Fayette St., an objective from early on was to preserve this condition as much as possible. Beginning with a massing strategy, filling the site and completing the block would allow the project to operate within the urban fabric. This mass acts as a public plinth and contains all of the project's public and semi-public programs such as a café, library, gallery space, and an auditorium. Lifting the mass to align with existing datum lines and supporting it with large trusses minimizes the building's footprint and enables the preservation of the existing parking space. At the south of the building along Walton St., the plinth ramps down to the ground to provide pedestrian access along this populated corridor. Interspersed throughout the plinth are light wells that provide natural daylight from above. The exterior facade is sheathed in a rusted perforated metal to tie in with the city's extensive use of brick and other materials.

Addressing vertical elements of the surrounding site, a tower is extruded from the plinth and houses the more private programs such as classrooms, studios, and offices. Each program is separated and composed in a way to produce a hierarchy of spaces that are tied together visually. Offices overlook the double-height studios, which overlook classroom critique spaces. This group of overlapping program, repeated vertically, creates a sectionally rich and engaging learning environment. Large apertures puncture the facade of the tower to bring in natural daylight and offer varying views of the surrounding cityscape.

© Shawn Conte 2014