Process-UDBS - Carnegie Mellon University


Urban Lab

The work done by the students in the 2008-2009 UDBS started in the Urban Lab studio, discovering and analyzing Wilkinsburg. The students began to understand the geographical, cultural, and socio-economical factors that permeate the borough. From there, the students used their analysis and started to draw conclusions to what the citizens of the borough wanted for their neighborhood. These conclusions were tested in a series of community meetings where feedback from the residents were taken into account for the eventual design of the Hamnett Homestead Sustainable Living Center (HHSLC).


By the end of the semester, the students had a solid undestanding of what the citizens of Wilkinsburg wanted for their community and the following semester was used to design a plan that would factor those ideas in the Hamnett site. These designs included a phasing plan for the entire site in accordance with the client's wishes as well as the comments from the community meetings. A large focus for the designs, however, were two aspects of the Center that would be constructed first as part of the site's transition to be the HHSLC. The porch was one aspect, stemming from the observations of the porch culture in the area and the need for a structure that would not only kept in mind those observations but also created a new typology for the site. The greenhouse was the second aspect, allowing the sustainable and urban farming purposes of the program to begin as well as create another opportunity for the HHSLC to have another typology unique to the site.


By this time as the the end of the Spring semester, the students had created construction documents detailing the necessary processes to create these two important aspects of the Center. The following summer would be spent physically building the porch, a practice in understanding the construction aspect of architecture as well as an opportunity to discover the amount of information and knowledge that would be needed in creating a complete set of construction documents. The porch was constructed at a temporary location, Construction Junction, allowing the students to discover all the aspects of how a construction project works without the input of a professional contractor. The porch will be permanently construction on the Hamnett site during the Fall 2009-Spring 2010.