AIAS Forum Recap :: New Year's Eve

AIAS BAC Goes to FORUM 2011 :: New Year's Eve in Phoenix, AZ
by Jean Yau, BDS Candidate, Chapter Secretary 2011-2012

As we go forward in to the next year, 2012, let us remind ourselves why we commit our daily lives to the world of architectural design.

Many people would say that religion, or better term nowadays, "prayer," is the single most honest action people can make and one can see this action in many created churches or pavilions, one like the Phoenix First Assembly Prayer Pavilion. I visited this site with the intention of being entertained by a contemporary idea of prayer, instead it was more experiential and traditional idea of light and refuge of reflection.

DeBartolo Architects designed its 65-acre campus; a series of modern buildings: an early childhood education center (completed in 2000), a youth pavilion (2002), and a children’s pavilion (2004).  The final piece of the master plan: a prayer chapel, Prayer Pavilion of Light.

The chapel’s atmosphere is conducive to meditation and appropriate for events, providing city views, mountain tops and courtyards around a glass box.  This pavilion’s design is truly serene and integrated with the natural environment from the base of the hill to a zigzag path that gradually ascends to the pavilion.

Problem: a glass building in the desert?  Solution:  Exploring various shading strategies – a double fa├žade; interior with tripled glazed trusses, and exterior with laminated frit glass and cantilevers off the trusses.

I had the opportunity to visit the Phoenix Art Museum.  The Museum has served over fifty years as the main attraction of Phoenix’s art and cultural community, providing the people of Arizona with unique art from around the world and amazing cultural experiences. However, the art itself wouldn't be displayed so highly if the site and building construction were not considered in the design process.

A fact about Arizona is that the buildings are built onto the landscape and because of its wide open area of the desert, they are expanded or sprawled across along with their parking lots.  The front entrance was placed on the border of Central Avenue where it acted as the "main corridor" of Phoenix, but the door later moved to the North side of the building to have a connection of the parking area.

Problem:  Massive parking were entries to a building and part of the street.  Solution:  Moved parking and entrances to allow accessibility to change route and not to expand on other parcels of Phoenix, eliminating the urban sprawl.

Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century exhibit is being held in the Phoenix Art Museum this month as well. Through the original trace papers and models of Wright's architecture, brings upon inspiring green building, like concepts of energy, materials, site, climate, space and technology in the urban planning. Unfortunately, the Museum didn't allow photos of these. To see more photos of our trip click here.

Finally, to give you a sense one of many highlights of AIAS FORUM, is our annual Beaux Arts Ball on New Year's eve.  After all the tours, workshops, lectures, and seminars, the next best opportunity is to end the year with all our new friends and peers around the U.S in one room, and to begin with them as creative thinkers that share an architectural goal in addressing PROBLEMS our generation faces and continue to face, so us student designers can find SOLUTIONS for our future.

New Year's eve in Phoenix, AZ, we celebrate with food, music, knowledge (history, materials, design, collaboration, etc.) and good company at the Bentley Projects (once a linen laundry warehouse but renovated into a spectacular gallery with exposed trusses and original brickwork) making a strong connection and relationship as we discuss and exchange information about design.

Happy New Year's everyone!  Visit AIAS BAC on Facebook or AIAS on the Student Development Blog for Chapter information, and for National information.