dave stasiuk architectural design works

Design Development

The Design Development Technical Studio at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institure calls for students to identify a schematic design initiated by a professional architecture firm for the purpose of better understanding and negotiating the design development phase of a major architectural project.  In this case, the Hafjell Mountain Resort designed by the Bjarke Ingalls Group (BIG) was selected.  Based only on the images available from the design architect’s website (which can be viewed here), our team adapted our own polemic and development strategy for accessibility, code and program assessment, enclosure, structure, materiality, constructibility and synthesis through our own proprietary BIM system.

The Hafjell Mountain Resort is a negotiation between the conflicting conditions of an artificial interior hotel environment and the natural conditions of an exterior environment which independently serve as attractors to a mountainside winter-sport destination. The prototypically strict delineation between hotel and mountain, interior and exterior, above and below, recreation and residence are blurred to produce an integrated architectural experience of mid-slope inhabitation. The hotel exists not on the landscape as an object, but as an instrument of interaction between the human body and an extreme environment. Whereas object hotels often separate inhabitants and environment, Hafjell iconographically, materially and formally unifies seemingly contradictory conditions. Oppositional dichotomies such as: warmth in the cold, levitation in gravity, vision of without from within, motion in permanence, light in a long darkness, level programming on a sloped condition, are resolved into a singular built form, rather than arranged as mere adjacencies. The hotel embraces contradiction, deriving opportunity from the extreme conditions of the site.

BIM Development

The key to the development of our digital model was utilizing the data connectivity available between Bentley Generative Components and Microsoft Access Database System.  Effectively, the geometry of the entire complex can be described by combinations of 9 meter cubic bays and a simple arc switchback. Through repetition of these two elements, the entire hotel and condominium complex can be constructed. By harnessing the capability of Generative Components to recombine and array these moves with Access’ capacity to record the geometry, we forged a system that enabled us to generate our floor plates, multiple facade assemblies, and some of our structural elements entirely through C# and SQL scripts, breaking the primary 9 meter cubic bay into smaller elements, first split into three stories, and then broken into program bays 4.5 meters wide and facade bays 1.5 meters wide.

This was useful for a number of reasons.  Perhaps most importantly, it enabled us to effectively deal with a contemporary manifestation of the corner problem: because the hotel’s interwoven geometries create floors of different lengths that separate and meet up together, the facade and structural bays – left at equal lengths – would fail to match up when the different floors merged with one another.  We were able to systematically engage our facade bay system such the structural bay at the point of reconnection on each floor “found” its nearest neighbor on each adjacent floor and reorganized itself to match up.  As a result, there are extremely slight variations in the lengths of the bays around the points of reconnection that are not immediately visible to the naked eye, but each facade bay matches up exactly with the ones on each adjacent floor.

Systems Development

The chief structural system we engaged in developing was the truss required for the condominium bar buildings that snake down the mountain to effectively bridge from one side to the other.  In order to manage the long span condition, we imagined each bar as a single, three-story truss.  This way, we were able to give the entire structural system the depth it needed. The truss was essentially doubled near the middle of each bar building, with enough space left between each one to insert the stair systems required for the maisonette condominium units that occupy each bar building.

We also developed a glazing system that dynamically engages the Nordic environment in order to optimize daylighting conditions.  The articulating assembly is comprised of two glass panes with a built in light shelf and opens on vertical tracks.  The upper pane is attached to a torsion spring that brings it out at 90° from the wall when opened.  This also brings the light shelf up and installs it as a dynamic shading system.  Thus, during the winter, the window is closed and the light shelf serves to introduce more daylight deeper into the building, but during the summer when the window is open, the light shelf is transformed into a shading device to restrict overheating. Additionally, it was necessary for us to detail the various construction assemblies.  These include the integration of our glazing system with a dynamic louvered facade system, as well as general requirements for structure, enclosure, insulation and finishing.