Spring 2014
Professor: Ewan Branda PhD, James Michael Tate


Overall Studio Insight:
In a contemporary architectural culture, form is posited as merely one possible option, a fork in the path defining an architect’s ideological and professional progress. We are therefore told as designers we must choose our allegiance to formal autonomy, program, social engagement or advanced technology.

As a counter-argument, this studio proposed form as an overarching disciplinary problem encompassing all others. Students were asked to consider the role of architectural form in the construction of corporate identity through the alteration of an existing building in Pasadena’s Technology Corridor.

Focusing on the formal concept of deformation, we looked to architectural history as well as to contemporary digital culture as a guide to how we might inhabit the subtle zones located between the responsive and the willful, the automatic and the authored, the indeterminate and the deterministic, the imagistic and the performative.

Launching Point
For my thesis I tasked myself with creating an RFP (response for proposals) and competition with a set of guide lines to follow for a technology based company seeking a physical identify. In an age where brick and mortar companies originate from basements they struggle creating a physical presence in the world. The true intent behind my thesis emerges as a result of the restriction set in place.

Request For Proposals
“The Organova Corporation
6275 Nancy Ridge Dr.,
San Diego, CA
Sept 3, 2013
To: Saul S Archila
Re: Request for Proposals (RFP) for ideas competition
The Organovo Corporation is accepting proposals from consultants to write a brief and a design a supporting online advertising campaign for an architectural ideas competition. The resulting competition will solicit entries for the design of a Research and Development facility to support the development and testing of 3d Printed Human Tissue , a product that is part of the company’s core technology mission.

As an advanced technology company, The Corporation encourages architectural designs that make use of computing technologies in both the design of the building itself and the creation of a distinct and recognizable corporate identity. The competition brief should solicit entries in which architecture plays a key strategic role in the company’s transition in the public eye from existing solely as an entity in cyberspace to a part of the bricks-and-mortar physical world. We believe that a company’s physical environment plays a key role in creating its corporate identity.

The Corporation has always been committed to promoting the city and urban life. In this way, while this new facility’s primary operations demand privacy and security, we envision this complex as an integral part of the urban landscape and civic life. Moreover, our environmental policies are such that we encourage the re-use of existing buildings. It therefore assumed that the the new facility will make use of architectural and natural resources. We are looking for a facility in the Pasadena area, and we are particularly interested in the historic center. Recently, we acquired the Bank of America building at Marengo and Green Streets in Pasadena. This building, originally designed by Edward Durell Stone for the Pasadena Redevelopment Agency and completed in 1974 is part of the region’s modern architectural heritage, but it is also neutral enough that we feel a bold approach to its alteration is appropriate. We are, however, open to proposals for the re-use of industrial buildings in the area between S. Arroyo Pkwy. and Raymond Ave., from Del Mar Blvd. at the north to Glenarm St. at the south. We encourage you to submit written questions to our online question-andanswer board (available shortly). We look forward to receiving your proposals for this ideas competition: it promises to be a landmark event in not only the history of our company but in the culture of building in the Los Angeles region.

Keith Murphy
Director of Special Projects”

The Competition
Organovo Bio-Medical Research Facility Competition Brief
Re-imagining replicated patterns for specific functions

“Replicating native form and function for greater predictive capabilities”
– Organovo Holding Inc.

“Not the object but the process to generate the object”
– Michael Hansmeyer

Organovo, a leading biological research company that specializes in the replication of human tissue using 3D printers is seeking proposals for the new construction utilizing an existing building for a corporate facility dedicated to pre-clinical and clinical trials.Currently we focus on developing a range of structurally and functionally accurate bio-printed human tissue models. We have achieved our greatest strides in research through the investigation of hepatocytes that replicate and fully restore livers to their original state by recreating geometries defined by the existing matter. The competition proposal needs to create a space that can facilitate the exploration of recreating geometries through the simplification of the existing environment and test them for human compliance.

Our ultimate goal is to create a cooperate facility that works homogeneously to create an environment that synchronizes directly to both the needs of the surrounding environment as well as itself. We have been heavily influenced by Cedric Price’s Fun Palace philosophical ideal for “environments that would anticipate and accommodate change” as well as Rob Ley and Joshua G Stein’s Reactive-VOID that reacts to the fundamental principle of reacting to users on a personal level using the architecture as the primary medium. Utilizing light as a transformative, juxtapose its characteristics of composition, visibility, modeling, focus, information, intensity, direction, movement, reaction to textures, color, radiant energy, luminous energy and sources. Please explore all the potential qualities that light can have on environments from both an introspective and externalized outlook on the rest of the environment and how this can replicate pattern for specific functions.

We anticipate that the proposal will generate conditions to break the barriers between the highly diversified suburban and industrialized zones. This should be addressed by creating socially interactive spaces for educational purposes that can explain to the surrounding community the benefits to our new proposal for the future of medical research. The proposals need to take on the existing urban attributes just as the hepatocytes do to fill in the missing matter through the recreating of geometries. The systems proposed both structurally and systematically need to have the capability to exponentially reorganize to reacting site. The city of Pasadena has a long history of keeping building maintained historically, with this in mind the language of the building should address this but still create its own identity within the context of the city.

General Location:
The site is located just south of the Huntington Hospital between a suburban and an industrialized zone of Old Pasadena; this provides a multitude of opportunities utilizing the convergence of these distinctly different zones. We would like to reuse the current Municipal for Light and Power located on the corner of S. Raymond Ave. / 43 E. Glenarm St. by means of functionality through technology, in other words design not the form but rather the process to create the form. The breakthroughs in technology that have seamlessly bridged the gap in medical research are to be employed to break the barrier between suburban and industrialized zones.

Immediate area:
Directly north of the Municipal of Light and Power is the home of Hometown Pasadena, an organization dedicated to building community awareness. Directly to the East of the site is the Art Center’s South Campus which originated in “a courtyard of buildings on West Seventh Street in Los Angeles” to now a former aviation wind tunnel which opened its doors in 2004. The school is currently looking to enhance and expand their industrial and transportation design programs. Alongside the College is the metro link gold-line that links Pasadena to Union Station in Los Angeles. Union Station is the primary departure point for all public transportation in the city of Los Angeles. Directly to the West of the site is the Pasadena Premiere Surgery clinic,
an office dedicated to plastic surgery. Along with the clinic is an array of commercial buildings that include popular food establishments and small financial corporations. Directly to the South of the site is the Pasadena Glenarm Department of Water and Power Station no. 9. In March of 2009 the city adopted the Integrated Resource Plan which ensures responsible electrical
service and energy independence from 3rd party users through 2030. This plan seeks to replace existing infrastructure that currently houses inefficient generating units. This includes replacing cooling towers located directly to the east of the infrastructure. These alterations to the surrounding site should suggest the hierarchy for the process to create form.

Existing Building:
The history of Municipal of Light and Power for the city of Pasadena extends back to 1906. The city desired to create a foundation for an independent power rather than purchasing it from Edison. Between the 1920’s and the 1930’s there was a mass amount of growth in the city of Pasadena which lead to an immediate need to expand its infrastructure. In the 1970’s there was another need to expand the city’s Light and Power infrastructure that resulted in the construction of dispatching center no.9; a series of power generating units (capable of producing 45,000 kw), cooling towers and distribution/dispatching with an array of switchracks. The dispatching center currently sits on a site that is 180 feet wide and 400 deep wide, the center is two stories measuring 85 feet wide and 60 feet deep; for a total of 10,200 square feet.

Site Constraints:
Currently the site is under many restrictions based on the zoning codes of Pasadena; as an IG-SP-2-HL56 zone. This zoning code states that under Pasadena Law the site is considered a general industrial zone. As a general industrial zone the following program can be added (please note that any program listed cannot be added to the site): Private/Semi Public Caretaker units, clubs, lodges, colleges (non-traditional), commercial entertainment, cultural institutions, electronic game centers, internet access studios, park and recreational facilities, schools specialized in technical skills training, street fairs, bank and financial services, offices accessory to primary use, office for medical facilities, medical research and development clinics, retail.

District Setback Requirements:
The minimum area and width is to be determined through a subdivision process. There is currently no restriction on the maximum density of the site. The front and corner lot of the site must have a 5’ minimum setback. The sides (Eastside & Westside of lot) as well as back (North side of lot) must maintain a 15’ clearance without disturbing the encroachment plane. The maximum height for any renovation/ extension/ new building construction is 45 feet.

The site has two major infrastructural buildings located on the site and a series of switchracks filling in the site. Only the building located in the Southern corridor of the site may be demolished from its Northern face as an extension. The remaining infrastructure must remain intact and functioning to serve the city of Pasadena for its energy needs.

Program and Performance Requirements
As a company dealing primarily with cellular biology the design needs to accommodate for a biosafety-level 2 facility as stated by the N.I.H. (National Institute of Health). The existing facility currently holds a 10,200 square foot structure, the extension to the facility needs to accommodate an additional 50,000 square feet of enclosed programmatic space (see figure 5).
The site details specify the maximum building footprint for the proposal as well as the height restriction designated by the city of Pasadena zoning code. The program must set aside an additional 10,000 square feet (open or enclosed) designated to breaking the barrier between the zones, with a program listed in the district requirements.

Criteria for Judging
Criteria for the judging of submissions will include: Light as the primary medium of exploration, successful creation of a modularity system that adapts to the environment as well as existing program, innovative designation of spaces that create informal encounters between all occupants, successful distinct cooperate identity within context site and successful creation of
space that breaks through zoning. The final entry must include a 2 minute interactive animation that distinguishes how the designated facility will react to the site based on lighting changes from the context of its environment.

This project for the Organovo Corporation, which specializes in developing 3D printed human organs, explores the relationship of the artificial part to the organic whole. Avoiding the temptation of bio-mimicry, it reconsiders instead the late-20th century Megastructure as a model for the architectural organism. In place of Megastructure’s discretely changing, overarching framework of modular units, this project proposes instead an overarching part, which is grafted into an existing electrical switch-rack station located in Pasadena, California. Here, a form of pure artifice suggests a missing whole, a mechanistic dream of Megastructure unfulfilled.

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