what is architecture in the fourth dimension

[Charrette Write-Up Courtesy of Paul Lukez and Nick Caruso]

A detailed discussion of the charrette and the resulting schemes can be found at the blog Transburbia, a site sponsored by Paul Lukez Architecture. Paul Lukez, the firm's principal, also moderated the charrette. Click here for a direct link to the blog post.

"Last month, teams from Payette, Cannon Design  and Shepley Bulfinch contended with this issue at Build Boston’s Architecture in the Fourth Dimension conference moderated by Paul Lukez and organized by Stephen Kendall and the CIB W104 Open Building Implementation Group. Using the underutilized terrain between the McGrath Highway and remaining rail lines, all three teams took varying stances to showcase examples of open building design; from large scale regional configurations to the fundamental details of open building theory. Using a common goal to develop a mixed-use center of offices, labs, and other amenities for Somerville, a spectrum of outcomes showcased how the dense Boston suburb could expand its city fabric eastward through highway realignment, flexible building layouts, new transit stations, scaled additions, and landscape design.

For Payette, the design of their community started with the realignment of McGrath itself, which when first built was designed to jog by the existing industrial structures near the rail lines and closer to Union Square. However today as the highway’s role and perception has changed; shifting the roadway eastward and expanding Union Square to the old rail yard tracks has become optimal, thus defining Payette’s open space programming, landscape design, and grocery store anchor right from the start. In contrast, Cannon focused on designing a new form based development pattern and grid within the site’s existing constraints. They also explored the site’s sectional links in relation to transit, new public/private connections, and the existing public ground plane. Alongside these strategies, the team transformed McGrath into an urban boulevard between the new intervention and existing Union Square fabric. Finally, Shepley Bulfinch’s open building theory analysis led them to a distinct master plan process of small scaled development over time, much in the same vein as Union Square’s growth and expansion over the past 300 years. Through a framework of various stone walls, the plan would extend the finite detail and scale of Union Square to the rail yard tracks."

Above: The three schemes viewed in plan on the site in East Somerville, Mass.

Above: Cannon Design's Scheme

Above: Payette's Scheme

Above: Criteria developed by Shepley Bulfinch's team in response to the challenge of 'buildings that last'.

• Dr. Stephen Kendall, Conference Chair; Prof., Ball State University, Joint Coordinator, CIB W104
• Michael Gibson, Conference Co-Chair; Assist. Prof., Ball State University
• Dr. Jia Beisi, Assoc. Prof., University of Hong King, Joint Coordinator, CIB W104
• Dr. Kazunobu Minami, Prof., Shibaura Institute of Technology, Tokyo; Joint Coordinator, CIB W104
• Dr. Shin Murakami, Prof., Sugiyama Jogakuen University, Nagoya; Joint Coordinator, CIB W104
• Michelle Jiang Yingying, Secretary for China Affairs, CIB W104. michelle.jyy@gmail.com

Visit the 2008 Open Building conference website: Education for an Open Architecture