La Rocca

La Rocca

La Rocca was the final project that I worked during my undergrad career in the Catholic University. During this project I co-worked with Faridun Saidov for designing a proposal for the Arlington County fire station #12. The project required us to design a twenty thousand sq ft building which needed to follow a strict program because of all the necessities of the firefighters. A complete design drawings set was made to practice professional documents for construction. During this studio we had 5 meetings for developing the design with Barnes Vans Architects which is a firm that practice traditional architecture in Georgetown, DC. The site given was a steep slope located next to a river and a main road with a big bridge. When analyzing the design for this building the main idea was to make the best relation of living vs working. Monasteries are buildings that created a harmony between working and living and it uses a central organization for achieving it. A lot of people depend their lives from this people so the building design needed to have the most efficient and fast response time. and by having a central organization we know that no matter the place located the max response time would be the same.

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The name La Rocca means stone and it comes from our precedents that it is the name of a type of castle in Italy. Fire stations are buildings that are meant to last and they need to have low maintenance which is the reason to all the envelope being stone and brick being the most prominent interior materials. We also thought about how the building could change in the future so we created a simple parti which it is easy to modify to any program necessity. The parti consists of four towers. In the front (east elevation) there would be all the public amenities including any community spaces. In the center a big open bay would be located with two symmetric circulations while in the back (west elevation) it would be a more private area with all the amenities and necessary rooms for the firefighters.

Being a firefighter is one of the most stressful jobs in the world which made us think in ways we could help this people through the deign. Biophilia or connection of humans with nature can reduce stress and enhance productivity making nature views and outdoor connection one of the priorities in our building. All the major amenities and rooms are facing the west elevation to take advantage of views towards the river which we know that it is not probable to change while placing the building in a safe location from river flooding. We also made the rooms under the bridge to reduce the amount of sound from the road and to increase the privacy. During the building design we also thought about the mechanical, plumbing and electrical. The structure of this building is a steel superstructure with a stone and CMU envelope and a concrete substructure. La Rocca is a building that its intention its to be efficient with any program while having a design that will look good and last for a long time while using local and renewable materials and resources.


Towers for the arts

Towers for the arts was the final project for my sacred space and experimental studio with Julio Bermudez during the fall of 2019. This project was a team effort which I co worked with Simon Talago to create a unique and experimental building. The studio project was a free program, but we needed to create a building that could change people emotions and feelings. The towers started from the first picture  that introduced the idea of movement and underground construction. Our intention for this building was to create a structure with curve walls to mimic some amazing spaces from nature like sand stone caves created by the Arizona deserts like in the second image (not mine). Other elements from nature that we intended to connect was how termites create their habitats which uses natural ventilation to have the perfect temperature in different times of the year. Termite towers uses a central organization with the main room bellow ground and uses the tower as a ventilation duct which can be closed or open like in the third image (not mine).

The main plan was taken from the painting on top which is made out of acrylics on a 30 x 30 wood canvas. The painting main ideas was to have 4 different rooms that each will be intended to a specific type of art including paintings, sculpture, new media and in the main center space the performance arts. The circulation intended was to have one big stair going down which will connect different platforms or terraces going all around the space. The first scheme had a smooth connection of the towers to the ground and between each tower. This option made a lot harder to see the terraces from outside while only form the opening in the center. The model was 1/16 scale and was made by laser cutting the towers every one feet to get precise/accurate forms to the ones intended. The only straight lines used are in the stairs steps every other forms uses curves including the form of the stair to incorporate movement.

The final scheme used the same tower forms and idea of one main entrance than the first option, but some changes were made to how its connected to the ground and how people circulates. One of the biggest changes was the use of eight different terraces that connect the towers and levels to make the circulation a lot easier. The main terraces is in ground level which transports people through the whole site having entrance to all the towers. There are 4 underground terraces and 3 above ground. Each tower also intended to transport people between levels by stairs and elevators. The site given was a 80 thousand sq ft located in 3rd and I street park near the southwest waterfront (WARF) of Washington DC . The site had a parallel pond park which we wanted to continue using the same language of circulation and forms.

Movement was the main idea and it was achieved by trying to design some unique forms that make you feel movement from any direction that you would approach to the building. The picture above on the left was the inspiration for the idea of movement. The image was made by taking a picture of a bent mesh and using repetition while rotating to make the illusion of movement like the flapping wings of a bird. The sketch below on the left explained the early idea of how we wanted to create a underground spaces. The different steps or terraces created the feeling of moving spaces while having some unique structure extending above. The second sketch below on the right was made on top of a early digital section which explains how the towers would connect to the ground and the relation of the triple tower. This drawing was inspired from a section of a heart. The triple tower is intended to display the paintings and because it does not have any straight walls the paintings will hang from the ceiling or walls. In the lower level of the main heart tower there would be a private area for the artists or the backstage. The materials intended was to have a concrete structure skin while all the inside and floors would be covered with thin wood planks. The final model was 3D printed and wood was used for the terraces. This experimental project if built it could revolutionize the way people imagine or design by having a so unique space that communities can gather to get inspiration from others.


Buzzard Point Tower

Buzzard Point is a developing area in the south of Washington DC. A lot of new commercial and residential buildings are being planned to be constructed because of its proximity to downtown DC. During 302 design studio the professor assigned groups of 3 to design a new master plan. I co-worked with Michael Njo and Ryan Saidi. Each student also needed to choose a residential building to develop individually. The master plan main idea was to decrease the buildings foot prints to create more public and green spaces because the value of cities are in their community spaces. We also wanted to respect the historic city grid while incorporating it to the new bridge that is planned for crossing the Potomac river. The man made canals encouraged people to walk from the stadiums towards the waterfront while also creating better experiences for the buildings that surround them.

Buzzard point tower is a 10 story high building with a main concept of maximize the amount of views that the building will have towards the water/river. The shape of the building was carefully design to create great views through the whole building while incorporating 2 towers with a atrium and bridge to connect them. The first scheme consisted of following a strict grid in plan and elevation to reinforce the structure while in every facade that did not followed the grid it will be transparent like what happened in the bridge, terraces and behind the smaller tower in the front.

The second and final scheme incorporated the same building shape and grid only that it did not had a pronounce square grid in the facades while incorporating a linear aesthetics which made the building look less heavy. This new idea was took from the model above which inspired me to do the design a lot simpler because sometimes less is more. Other major change was the direction that the building was looking because one of my team members changed his building footprint and shape from what was planned which changed the views from my building. Reacting to this change the building was mirrored increasing the amount and view quality from the building.

Creating a building that each floor have different plans and shapes created a lot of difficulties in finding efficient and safe ways of designing the circulation and rooms layouts while following the grid. The building program consisted of having commercial spaces in the first floor while having a lobby for each tower. In the center a two stories atrium connected the two towers and included different entrances and a fountain. The apartment sizes depended on the quality and amount of views that it would create making the reason of why the duplex where located in the small tower near the river. In the big the size of the apartment depended in the direction in which it was looking. The bridge that connected the towers in the last level intends to have all the building amenities which will also include a infinity pool in the top terrace to made great views possible for any user to enhance their experience.


Underground retreat

Underground retreat was a partners studio assignment in which I co worked with Karla Rivera. A specific space in Catholic University campus was given to design a writing retreat. The design ideas intended people to connect with nature (biophilia) while having all the amenities needed. When we visited the site we noticed that the space given was really near a frequent used road which caused a lot of sound and lack of privacy. The site was in a cliff with a 30% slope and surrounded by a forest. Going underground solves a lot of problems from this site, including the lack of privacy because by placing walls next to the building edges will create views only to nature. Sound can also be reduced but being so near the road will always create some disturbance. The main entrance is a stair which takes you to the front door. Inside there is a bathroom, kitchen, sofa, desk and a terrace lounge which includes a fire place. This building consists of 2 terraces one covered and a big outdoor terrace which is intended to promote people to go outside and embrace in nature while also having a path to walk through the woods.

The three different models made show how the project evolved during time. This design was based in trial and error and the final design is the combination of the best ideas while also using the best technique for model building. The models are made from chipboard and foam. The main purpose was to explain the relation of the building with the site. Spaces if done well they can transmit ideas to people and even create changes in people lifestyle and their ways of thinking.


Daniel Libeskind Studio

DAY 1. Getting to know one of the most influential architects in the world and be able to create a project together was the best experience during my career in The Catholic University. During studio 401 with Julio Bermudez the Walton “Guest” critic was Daniel Libeskind. We spent three days working together for creating a small space with a unique experience. Daniel presented different types of art that we needed to connect to our designs. From two different paintings we could choose the painting that connected the most with the poem “There is a solitude of space”. The project was in partners but all the work presented is individual because we choose to each connect with one painting. I choose Melancholia (1514) by Albrecht Dürer because of how the picture incorporate different elements from the poem like the sea going to infinity. I also found a strong connection in how solitude of the sea or death can be connected to being sad or with melancholia even for angels souls

DAY 2. The Second day started with pinup critics for explaining our first ideas to Daniel Libeskind. After understanding well the different pieces and their connections I felt that the best way to transmit my ideas was through a painting. The painting name is “Finite Infinity” and was made with acrylics in a 30 x 30 wood canvas. The main idea of this art piece was to mimic the infinity of the sea and the sky, but also trying to avoid solitude by using repetition. I investigated about infinity rooms and different techniques used to create similar experiences (all precedent images are not mine). Yayoi Kusama was able to create 4 wall rooms which could change human emotions. The 4 diagrams below are analyzing how reflection inside of a circle works because I wanted to incorporate the two figures (Circle and the flat faces figure) from the painting by Albrecht Dürer. The main idea presented was to create a three dimension infinity room by designing a shape which will make all the faces have mirrors with a parallel connections to create infinity repetition in all directions.

DAY 3. The final day we presented to Daniel Libeskind our finished designs. It needed to include representation drawings and a model. When analyzing the best figure that would work the biggest factor was to have parallel sides which include figures like the parallelogram, rectangle, square, trapezoid, hexagon, and octagon. I choose the octagon because it matches the number of faces (4 in each side) in the flat cuts figure from the painting Melancholia. The pavilion was made by incorporating a octagon in plan and in elevation to create a grid with a total 500 sq ft. In each side there is a triangle opening connected with a glass bridge to create a path. The dark matte finish in the outside and reflective inside is intended to mimic the amethyst which contrast perfect to create a balance or harmony. While seeing your own reflection into infinity in all directions the feeling of loneliness could be lost making the infinity mirror illusion the best technique to create the prefect space of solitude.


Wave walls

Wave walls was a individual project for my studio 201 were I had the liberty for designing anything. This project was my first experimental design where I started to thinks in forms and structures that have unique ideas. Being unique is key for creating your identity and for me experimenting spaces that are different is the best way to finding the type of architecture language that you want to use. This project started with sketching for finding forms that created questioning. Wave walls consists of different structures which have different angles curves and thickness. They intend to create a path which people would need to follow. The final design intended to have underground caves where the structure columns would be visible from above. There would also be some vertical connection which will help support the walls. The model was made by creating molds and filling them with concrete. The base is made out of foam and was carved to create the same experience. This space intends to break the rule that walls need to be straight for creating good structures.



Angular was the first architecture project that I designed by myself. The project ideas was to use a base with nine squares to design a building or pavilion. Some changes could be made to the gird but the essence of the nine squares should been prominent. This studio started with hand drawing all the plans and axons to get a real scene of what was planned to be designed. It was required to first do three different hand drawn designs before choosing the final proposal. Angular take the name from the different position, directions and angles that the walls have in the front facade. The nine squares almost didn’t changed only repeating the same grid to make the ceiling proportional bigger than the center square. The building have two floors with stairs in the outside while the second floor only goes half of the covered area. This allows to have a double ceiling in the front facade which consists of a floor to ceiling window. Next to the front entrance a ramp runs with the same slope than the stairs while in the opposite direction the main facade wall runs with a different angle.

The final design had some changes like the implementation of a curve wall bellow the outdoor terrace which was incorporated for practicing different techniques while learning how to use digital model making. Learning how to use different types of modeling programs was one of the purposes of this studio. The requisite was to build the same model in Sketchup, Rhino and Revit. After the studio I understood: Sketchup (Top render): Fast modeling for detail finishes. Rhino (Left Render): Great for complex forms like curve wall used. Revit (Right Render): Easy building of precast components, but time consuming to customize.


Parc De La Villete Recreation

Parc De La Villete folies was designed by Bernard Tschumi as part of an urban project in a 50 acre park outside of Paris. During the 1980’s twenty-six pavilions made of metal and painted bright red were placed on a grid as points of reference that help visitors gain a sense of direction and navigate throughout the space. The goal of the assignment was to understand the different materials used in a specific given project by recreating a precise model. Folie L4 model is made out of wood and cardboard in 1/4″ = 1′-0″ scale. One of the walls in the model is open to see the steel beams and the concrete foundation used to create this unique structures.




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