…the Interstates have knit us together in subtle and unanticipated ways. Just as the railroad first introduced us to the country a century ago, so the Interstates have opened it up to everyone. Their very popularity has confirmed our love of the road, which is really a love of exploration. We are still pioneers, seeking new horizons from the driver's seat. - Nick Taylor, Travel Holiday, August 1990
Coursework this semester will focus on the American highway system both past and present. We will explore the history, geography, and importance of the US highway system in American culture. We will then relate this information to the practice of Architecture through a series of projects emphasizing the concept of motion and establishing a connection to a specific geographical context.
Route 66 Projects
Route 66 was once considered an essential artery, its travelers a measure of America's pulse. - Christina Crapanzano, Time Magazine
Route 66 represents a cross section of the American West, ending in a destination representing hope to many seeking a better life. It is the background for the stories of writers travelling across the country in search of an American identity. Nicknamed “America’s Main Street”, the highway has come to represent the unique, nostalgic, and quirky allure of America’s car culture. These projects were an investigation into this identity and how it can be represented and enhanced through architecture even as the historic traces of this famed road are slowly being erased across the country.
To explore the ties between architecture and Route 66 culture, Advanced students desiged a live/work residence for an individual or family that was given the job of caretakers for one of Route 66’s more famous monuments – Cadillac Ranch. This project combined elements of typical residential living with the traditional idea of work within a domestic setting (i.e. the American Farmer). As part of the design problem, students were required to address the relationship of their residence to the monument and the interaction of public and private zones within the site.
After researching the various geographies encompassing Route 66, Practicum students selected a region along the highway in which to develop a roadside structure for a specific site. The clients for this project were the residents, tourists, and enthusiasts that frequent Route 66. Students reviewed the stories behind the historical boom and the modern nostalgia of the highway to identify the characteristics of Route 66 culture. Students then created a building and developed a design solution that responded to these uniquely American cultural and geographic conditions.
Freeway Onramp House
"A unique client has approached you with a unique project." Students will be designing a house for an individual on a site that is located in the interstitial space of a major freeway. This unusual site condition will provide a challenge to create usable and inspirational architecture. For this project, students will be tasked with developing a unique client identity that will drive their design.
Dallas Mixed Use Building
As one of Dallas’ first commercial districts for African-Americans and European immigrants, Deep Ellum is one of the most historically significant neighborhoods in the city. - Deep Ellum Community Association
The Deep Ellum neighborhood in Dallas has long played a significant role in the City’s history and culture. Currently this neighborhood, once celebrated for its uniqueness and diversity, is in decline. Beset by unfavorable development trends, crime, and long-time physical separation from downtown Dallas, Deep Ellum is entering an age of self-evaluation where its future and vitality within the urban landscape is in question. For this project, students will be required to develop a solution reconnecting and revitalizing this neighborhood using a single architectural intervention in the form of a large-scale mixed use building. Deep Ellum has long been separated from Downtown Dallas by the elevated I-345 expressway. To address this problem based on the existing conditions, students are permitted to utilize the space under the highway as part of their solution and are encouraged to incorporate innovative uses and structures within this typically restrictive and regulated space.