I recently participated in the Air Force Village architecture competition. The task was to design a new multi-faith chapel for the campus of Air Force Village, a large community for retired Air Force officers in San Antonio, Texas. Although I was not named one of the finalists, I was very happy with our design. This is the first board of the competition entry, showing the building elevations, an interior rendering and site plan:
The chapel consists of two interlocking parabolic barrel vaults made of standard pre-manufactured metal forms, like those used to make quonset huts. The main chapel is in the larger vault, the side chapels and auxiliary spaces in the smaller one. The chapel is connected to the Health Center, and along with the Town Center building, makes an entry court for the community.
This the second board of the submission showing the building sections, aerial and night views and building plan:
The chapel was connected to the Health Center by a low, curving narthex and administrative wing. One of the design’s most successful portions, in my opinion, was the large, open-air porch that makes the exterior entry to the chapel. Looking out on the courtyard, the entry porch serves as the public face of the chapel and is meant to complement the other two large existing buildings, the Health Center and Town Center. The three buildings combined were meant to manifest the community’s commitment to the spiritual, physical and social lives of the inhabitants.
There is a page on the blog with more drawings, some text and bit more detail.
A couple of years ago, I entered and won an architecture competition sponsored by Pangea Organics Products. The task was to design a sustainable community to include the small Pangea factory, farm fields, housing, and some retail and civic uses.
Using the basic elemental metaphors of earth, wind, fire and water, the project centers around a series of natural gray water recycling ponds. The buildings were a fairly eclectic mix of strawbale and earth-sheltered housing types gathered around common courtyards and communal buildings.
Chicago-based artist Carrie Iverson, my sister-in-law, collaborated with me on this and I hope to again on future ventures.
Pangea Organics makes really amazing, completely organic bath and body products in Boulder, Colorado and is enthusiastically committed to envisioning a more sustainable path for making and living.
Drawing by Mark Gerwing, 2005.
Earlier this year I collaborated with Mary Guptill, Nick Fiore, and my wife Kate on an architecture competition for a section of Charlottesville, Virginia. The competition was to look at two blocks just off the downtown pedestrian mall including the weekly farmer’s market. Our solution was to place primacy on the market and a creating a park to contain it, giving it life throughout the week. The remainder of the site was designed as on-grade retail spaces, upper office and residential spaces and a below grade parking structure.
Unfortunately the juror committee choose projects that radically increased the amount of retail and residential space, at the sacrifice of the market. The selected schemes developed the two blocks significantly higher, 6-8 stories, than the surrounding 2-4 story buildings. I think we all felt very strongly that the new construction should harmonize with the existing range of buildings, not dominate it.
And, we really believe that the opportunity to make significant public spaces, green spaces, in a section of the city without any, surely should trump conventional development.
I am dissappointed that we did not win (although we were chosen among the public’s top ten favs). However, I would not have increased the density of building on this site to do so.
Competition boards by Mary Guptill and Nick Fiore, 2007.