A Shell house on Green Lake Nov21


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A Shell house on Green Lake

The fall 2012 Arch 400 studio “ A Shell house on Greenlake” is in full swing. The title is a bit misleading as the project is not just about a shellhouse (even though that is the focal point), it also incorporates space for sailboats, kayaks, canoes, park-goers, families, a café and maybe even a coffee shop.  Located at south Greenlake, the existing structures house a daily onslaught of over 150 kids, coaches and staff. The existing program is packed into The Small Craft Center, an array of outdated buildings erected in the early 80s below an exoskeleton of tube trusses,  and into the bowels of a section of stadium originally built  for the Aqua Follies during the first Seafair in 1950.  Regardless of the cramped space, the Greenlake rowing program has been successful nationally for many years.

Greenlake Small Craft Center Site

The new program will include public space, a small craft center, boat storage, and outdoor space totaling 20,000sf dwarfing the existing program.  Led by Dan Stettler, the thirteen-member studio has produced two separate bound booklets including case studies of thirteen other shellhouses, in addition to historical precedent studies of rowing, and its regional significance at UW and Greenlake.  The studio has met with both the Seattle Department of Planning and Development and the Parks Department to flush out some of the many site and program constraints. The precedent studies and program research has provided numerous opportunities to resolve complex site restrictions which hasn’t been a large component in previous studios.

Frostbite Regatta shell staging area

Shell storage at stadium

It was fitting that the mid-quarter critique was on Halloween as fellow students and I weren’t sure whether we were in for a trick or a treat from the esteemed panel of practicing architects, program faculty, and UW alumni.  At the end of the day everyone was given choice nuggets of information to better their project and further resolve the many aspects of their project. This last week, the studio presented individual   ½” scale sectional tectonic models. This was a culmination of many hours of work in studio for the majority with great success. The large scale models are a great tool to see which parts of the project are successful and which need more attention. The models are an opportunity to relate the spatial qualities and provide an invaluable snap shot of the project.

½” scale tectonic review at Gould Court

½” scale model exterior detail

½” scale model interior detail

Working in studio prior to the large scale model critique.

This studio comes in waves and is quickly gathering momentum for the final crit. With all the hard work, this quarter has flown by and it’s hard to think that the end is just a couple short weeks away. In my experience, this studio and program has been one of the more challenging and rewarding of the last year.

Written by Flynn  Wienker 

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