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project no.5: community center

Located within a block of New Haven adjacent to the famed Louis’ Lunch, the site for this project sought a community center which allowed for growing and preparing of food for the neighboring areas. In order to meet this demand, this project utilizes rooftop gardens in order to create accessible spaces for growing, congregating, and consuming. The design of the building itself focuses heavily on the linear, horizontal elements of the space by creating long cavities for occupation. Though the kitchen, dining room, and entrance area are all one relatively non-linear space, the subdivision of the grand area through the use of long tables, counters, etc. allows for it to feel longer. This, along with the use of a very horizontal section and elevation, counteracts the squarish plan. 

Another important adder of length is the entrance area ramp which leads to the upstairs areas. This ramp, and the visual emphasis on it through its occupation of a glass box, is centralized in an effort to focus on accessibility, not pridefully, not in a grandiose way, but in an attempt to make useable the rooftop gardens to all. This is further developed by the placement of the ramp at the front of the building, visible to pedestrians on the street and also immediately accessible upon entering the space. The length of the ramp, too, further emphasizes the horizontality of the spatial elements. 

The rooftop area is dedicated largely to the garden for growing plants and food. It is able to accessed through the doors separating the interior from the exterior, and is visible to the enclosed rooms through the inward-facing windows which make up the second floor’s inner walls. The large windows, as well as the doors, make for a blending of the inside and the outside in an attempt to find nature and organicism within a city landscape.

Another important element of this design is its acknowledgement of and brave insertion into the urban façade. The fabric of the streetscape is incomplete in this area, so this building seeks to patch a hole; where it could have occupied the space behind Louis’ Lunch, instead it sidles up adjacent to the iconic landmark, and addresses the street and sidewalk head-on. Its concrete façade addresses the road and becomes a part of the urban fabric, both elevationally and in plan. 

Pencil on paper; Wood & acrylic; Rhino & Photoshop.

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