Site Scrutiny is a design methodology that uses a critical understanding of site and history to produce architecture that is rooted in place and promotes unexpected experience. This thesis explores the methods of Site Scrutiny through the design of a contemporary project on the historic industrial riverfront of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fundamental ways of addressing site and history return projects that maintain the status quo. Alternatively, Site Scrutiny is interested in how extensive investigation of site and history can lead to a hyperlocal contemporary architecture.
Site Scrutiny references three authors to situate itself in architectural discourse. Christian Norburg-Shulz establishes the meaning of place, James Corner communicates methods of uncovering hidden potential, and Rem Koolhaas details the juxtaposition between appearance and performance. The themes of Site Scrutiny can be identified in precedent projects such as Mosquito Bottleneck by R&Sie(n), IAAM by Hood Design Studio, Expo 2000 by MVRDV and the Wexner Center by Peter Eisenman.
This project used the methods of Site Scrutiny to develop a hyperlocal contemporary architecture in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The process involved the extensive research of historical maps that exhibited an ever-changing river lined with industry. Representation served as the primary tool to investigate these changes in form and program through time. The project juxtaposes existing infrastructure with past programmatic relationships, resulting in spaces that promote unexpected experiences and are rooted in place.
What my time at KCAD meant to me
Over the course of my time at KCAD I have been able to expand and translate concepts from my undergraduate degree into a new field. From Human Centered Design to Architecture, the importance of a critical understanding of historical and contemporary context have become imperative to my design process. KCAD has allowed me to work in conjunction with community stakeholders and local professionals to ensure my work translates from the educational realm to the professional. Following graduation, I plan to begin practicing architecture in Chicago and continue working towards becoming a licensed architect.