Vincent James and Jennifer Yoos of VJAA recently spoke at IIT and gave a lengthy presentation on their research of "skyways" around the world. They didn't pose any conclusions, and i don't think I will here either, but they were fascinated with them. At he end of the presentation someone proposed that overpasses are detrimental to street life because it displaces activity. James and Yoos countered with the High Line, and argued it depended on which activities in particular areas are displaced as to whether an skyway/overpass/viaduct will have a detrimental effect. They posited that the High Line represents another layer, in fact a lost layer, of leisure activity in an otherwise dense and rugged neighborhood of west Chelsea. I thought it was an interesting take on why the almost comically uber-loved High Line works, and just maybe that this idea of layered and supplemented activities could work in places other than idiosyncratic New York if the right needs were identified.

In the days after I have noticed quite a few Viaduct projects pop up and have been thinking about the different ways to to approach these (typically deteriorating) linear pieces of infrastructure, many of which have a strong physical and psychological presence in their respective cities. The High Line is so brilliantly simple because it simply switches the intended use of its program: people instead of trains. No fuss, no muss, just make it fun and pretty and let it do its job all over again. I think that what is so exciting about the High Line is that citites everywhere could see themselves easily do the same thing with their aging viaducts for a fraction of the cost of tearing them down, actually turning them into an economic engine, not to mention a public asset. Some day, when Chicago and the CTA finally throw their hands up in desperation and frustration, this is what the L will become.

Then there is this beautiful idea out of London by Undercurrent Architects that proposes a reuse of the close to 10,000 arches created by the viaducts throughout the city. This re-programming of this largely defunct infrastructure is pretty convincing, especially when it is this well done. A energy analyst has to love the thermal mass provided by the viaduct, and its "green" cred is also bolstered by the material savings and recycling as well. Lets just hope it doesn't leak.

On the complete other end of the spectrum is this project by my friend Noel Turgeon. Sort of a Mega Viaduct, it turns the infrastructural typology on its head from the get go. People, not heavy traffic, go on top and inside the massive structure, while the existing heavy industry traffic (truck, train, barge) pass underneath perpendicularly. This solution is also responding to the need of leaving the meager "natural" areas around the industrial site undisturbed. The huge building/dam/bridge attempts to tread lightly while it lofts its program over the site, and does a pretty good job with its dynamic form. Theoretically this inverted, programmed viaduct could perform in a number of different locations, although I think the warning of James and Yoos would be well headed by all skyway supporters: don't supplant what is already there, supplement with what is lacking.
Grupo Cuatro! Here is what our international super-squad came up with in 5 days. Not too shabby, I like how bold the proposal is and that it at least gets a reaction. It was a lot of fun learning from the different group members and sharing with them as well. Hopefully we'll get a change to go back. download PDF for full presentation.

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4 days down here in Chile and it has been a blast so far. Always good to come back down to South America, and so far, always in a different place. We have taken a number of trips with the Workshop and Friday's was to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar where our site is. It's a beautiful place and I would love to come back in Summer. The Workshop starts in earnest tomorrow and then its sprint until Friday. And all in Spanish, I might add. This is going to be exhausting!
As promised, a little look at my friend Noel's Masters Project. It is the re-imagining of what the old abandoned Chicago Post Office could become. Pretty wild, but we need these kind of provocative projects to get the collective blood running, especially for adapting or re-using infrastructure at this scale. The Share IIT website is on the fritz right now so I will include the link to his Masters Booklet in a bit.
Spring show went really well and was a pretty good turn out. We all went to Logan and Vija's building where their families threw an awesome party for the grad students (Thank you guys!). Awesome tacos (as usual), great views and great people. it was a fun night. Everyone is coming in this week and graduation on Saturday. I might have a more meaningful post about the end of school, but until then it feels good to be done!

Pics of the finished 3/4" section model. It was a blast to build, and i think it turned out pretty well. When I put the photo of the section next to the drawing I was surprised how close they looked, although I suppose that's the point. And, the interior pictures look better than my renders! hope to get everything up on the main site soon.
This is what we are reduced to: a man, in a suit and tie, resorts to sleeping under his desk for 20 min before his final review because in the past 3 days he has gotten 6 hours of sleep. He is not lazy, he has not procrastinated, he simply does not have enough time. . This is not rare. This is common. But it is almost over!
Final presentation over, final pin-up looming. Need to finish the model and some images within the presentation. Click the Acrobat icon to download the presentation.
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I couldn't leave IIT without doing a huge section model, it just wouldn't be right. Frame done, just floor, walls and roof to go. Yes the bolts are modeled, but only where you will be able to see them and only because it describes the construction process. And I couldn't help myself.

A group of my classmates are doing a design/build studio for their Masters Project and are looking for some help raising funds. Its for a great organization in Fuller Park. Click on the video below for more info, and visit the Kickstarter page here for more info and to donate!