ARCC Newsletter 38-1 Spring 2014

Keith Diaz Moore, PhD, AIA (University of Kansas)
ARCC President


ENQUIRY,/The ARCC Journal Architectural Research extends a call for submissions for the 2014 edition of the journal, Vol 11, No 1 (2014).
The submission deadline is August 1, 2014.
Full details at:
ENQUIRY Call for Submissions

ENQUIRY/The ARCC Journal of Architectural Research has several open editorial positions including Managing Editor and Associate Editor.  Interested parties will find full details at:  
ENQUIRY Call for editors

GEOCON II:  Design, Drilling and Equipment April 10, 2014
To best serve the industry, we have organized a single day conference in which participants will be able to exchange technical notes, develop understandings and share experiences with design, drilling, and equipment issues related to geothermal ground source heat pump technology.

The morning sessions of this day-long event will include presentations from industry leaders followed later in the day by an interactive panel session and tours of the 47-building district-scale ground-source-heat-pump geothermal heating/cooling system at Ball State University.
Details at:


ARCC is now accepting nominations for the following awards as part of its 2014 Awards program:

  • James Haecker Distinguished Leadership Award
    Recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the growth of the research culture of architecture and related fields.
  • New Researcher Award
    Acknowledges emerging figures in architecture and environmental design research.
  • Mary Kihl Distinguished Service Award
    Awarded for exceptional service to ARCC.

More details on each award, including application requirements, can be found on the ARCC website at For full consideration, nominees must be affiliated with an ARCC member institution in good standing.

All award applications are due April 1, 2014. Electronic submissions should be sent to Dr. Michelle A. Rinehart (

The Architectural Research Centers Consortium is pleased to announce the fifteenth annual:
ARCC | King Student Medal for Excellence in Architectural + Environmental Design Research.
Named in honor of the late Jonathan King, co-founder and first president of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC), this award will be given to one student per ARCC member school. Selection of school recipients is at the discretion of the individual institutions, but will be based upon criteria that acknowledge innovation, integrity, and scholarship in architectural and/or environmental design research. The award may be made at either the graduate or the undergraduate level.  Deadline for nominations is April 7, 2014.  Full nomination details at King Medal.

2013-14 King Medal Recipients
A complete list of 2012-13 King Medal Recipients with their project titles can be found at 2012-13 King Medal Recipients.  The projects represent impressive array of research in both breadth and depth.


Brad Guy, PWC Eco-Park Program $39,612 grant for calendar year 2014 by Prince William County, VA to assist development of environmental research and education center at Prince William County Sanitary Landfill.

Brad Guy, Salvage in Detroit: Opportunities for Optimization through Action Research. Funded by the Kresge Foundation via NextEnergy.


Ball State Partners with Chevrolet

Ball State and Chevrolet are partnering to validate a new methodology for verifying large-scale carbon reduction. Chevrolet has chosen Ball State University in Indiana as a key partner in their campaign to support clean energy efficiency initiatives. The auto company’s partnership with Ball State and support of campus carbon reduction projects in general is part of its broader commitment of preventing up to 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the air over the next five years.  BSU-Chevrolet Partnership


Philip Plowright. Revealing Architectural Design: Methods, Frameworks & Tools. Routledge, 2014.

Introduces the reader to architecture from the point of view of domains and syntax, techniques of creative and analytic thinking, and issues of relevance. It is an advanced primer connecting design thinking and decision-making to constant, underlying frameworks that create the architectural design process.

Linda Groat and David Wang. Architectural Research Methods - Second Edition, Wiley, 2013.

Substantially revised and updated from the first edition. A key text for researchers of architecture and the built environment.

Kathleen James-Chakraborty. Architecture Since 1400,University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

A cross-cultural history of the built environment that highlights the diversity of design visions across the globe.

Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka. New Architecture on Indigenous Lands, University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

This analysis of recent Native building projects in Canada and the western and midwestern United States shows how tribal identity is manifested in various distinctive ways.

Julio Bermudez, editor. Transcending Architecture: Contemporary Views on Sacred Space, The CUA Press, Washington DC. (Expected Fall 2014)

Hollee Becker. Structural Competency for Architects. Routledge. (Expected mid 2014)

Brad Guy. Design For Adaptability and Deconstruction. John Wiley & Sons. (Expected 2014)



CriticalProductive V2.2: Autumn 2013: Beyond Curating

CriticalProductive is an independent biannual academic journal of architecture, urbanism, and cultural theory that covers progress, scholarship and design work on the city, processes and economies of urbanization, and the cultural issues that impact the representation and consumption of urbanity.

CriticalProductive V2.2: Autumn 2013

Beyond Curating

On whose authority is design work on the city screened, curated, installed, exhibited, and exposed to the larger public? The museum is just one of many venues where the public can examine built and speculative work on the city. Arts expositions and installations, film and media festivals, and biennials offer alternative venues for presenting and discussing urbanscale work. Curators adjudicate what the public sees and navigate the politics of the institutions they work for, whether these are museums, other cultural institutions, or independent nonprofits. CriticalProductive invites scholarship and creative work on the expanded role of curators (and curatorial thinking)—the problems and constraints they must
address, as well as potential opportunities. Is there sufficient public engagement with speculative work on the contemporary city? Do public exhibitions of work on the city reflect the diversity of the constituencies that they purport to represent?
Submission deadline (extended): May 07, 2013
Submission guidelines can be found at
All editorial content is blind peer-reviewed.
Submissions may be sent via email to:

3rd Annual International Conference on Architecture

10-13 June 2013, Athens, Greece
Call for Papers and Participation
The Architecture & Engineering Research Unit of the  Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER) will hold its 3rd Annual International Conference on Architecture, 10-13 June 2013, Athens, Greece. For further details, please go to the conference website: The registration fee is €300 (euro), covering access to all sessions, two lunches, coffee breaks and conference material. Special arrangements will be made with a local luxury hotel for a limited number of rooms at a special conference rate. In addition, a number of special events will be organized: A Greek night of entertainment with dinner, a special one-day cruise in the Greek islands, an archaeological tour of Athens and a one-day visit to Delphi.

The aim of the conference is to bring together scholars, researchers and students from all areas of Architecture. Areas of interest include (but are not confined to):


•              Individual buildings and building types

•              History of architecture and the built environment

•              Architectural theory

•              Developments in construction

•              Town planning

•              Allied arts such as painting and sculpture

•              Social Research examines the people who inhabit and use the spaces of architecture

•              Technological Research studies the physical materials, methods, elements, systems, and science of architecture and the design and construction processes

•              Environmental Research investigates the physical context of architecture, opening timely questions about the influence of society on environment

•              Cultural Research studies place-making and the norms of the inhabitants of natural and built places past, present, and future

•              Organizational Research examines the ways in which individuals and teams collaborate in the practice of architecture and in the client organizations

•              Design Research considers the processes of shaping and making of places

•              Educational Research examines the pedagogies of architecture and related fields


Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words (using email only to: by 11 February 2013 addresses to: Dr. Nicholas Patricios, Head, Architecture & Engineering Research Unit, ATINER & Professor of Architecture, University of Miami, USA.Abstracts should include: Title of Paper, Full Name (s), Affiliation, Current Position, an email address and at least 3 keywords that best describe the subject of your submission. Please use the abstract submitting form available at Decisions are reached within 4 weeks.

If you want to participate without presenting a paper, i.e. chair a session, review papers to be included in the conference proceedings or books, contribute to the editing of a book, or any other contribution, please send an email to Dr. Gregory T. Papanikos, (, President, ATINER.


The Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER) was established in 1995 as an independent academic association with the mission to become a forum, where academics and researchers - from all over the world - could meet in Athens to exchange ideas on their research and to discuss future developments in their disciplines. Since 1995, ATINER has organized more than 200 international conferences, symposiums and events. It has also published approximately 150 books. Academically, the Institute consists of five Research Divisions and twenty-three Research Units. Each Research Unit organizes an annual conference and undertakes various small and large research projects. Academics and researchers are more than welcome to become members and contribute to ATINER’s objectives. The members of the Institute can undertake a number of academic activities. If you want to become a member, please download the form (membership form). For more information or suggestions, please send an email to:

Posted in 37-1 Spring 2013, Conferences | Tagged Athens Institute for Education and Research, ATINER,

Call for Papers: International Symposium on Urbanism, Spirituality & Well Being

Call for Papers
International Symposium on Urbanism, Spirituality & Well Being
Exploring the Past and Present | Envisioning the Future

June 6-9, 2013
Glastonbury Abbey, Hingham, MA & Harvard University Divinity School, Cambridge, MA

Sponsored by the Forum for Architecture, Culture and Spirituality, the Harvard University Divinity School, the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment.

The International Symposium on Urbanism, Spirituality & Well Being will convene experts in the fields of architecture, landscape design, urbanism, religious studies, public health and other related disciplines to address leading-edge global culture and urbanism issues from contemplative, spiritual, philosophical, design and ethical perspectives. The 2 1/2 day program of scholarly presentations and panel discussions is sponsored by the Harvard University Divinity School, the Harvard School of Public Health and The International Forum for Architecture, Culture and Spirituality. The symposium topics include scholarship on the history of cities and architecture planned according to spiritual motivations or principles; the contemporary built urban environment and the plethora of forces that shape it; and the meaningful, sustainable and spiritual prospects of future urban life that nurtures meaningful, sustainable, and spiritually inspiring built environments and architecture.

The symposium will begin with a keynote address on Thursday, June 6th, followed on Friday by peer-reviewed paper sessions and a keynote address, both of which will be conducted at Glastonbury Abbey. On Saturday, the symposium will be conducted at the Harvard Divinity School and include invited speakers and panel discussions by leading experts in the field. Sunday will include a concluding session, the ACS business meeting, and an excursion to be announced.

The deadline for 1,000 words paper proposals is January 14, 2013

For information regarding submission specification, symposium location, cost, format, and themes, go to:

Organizing Committee
Nader Ardalan, ACS/Senior Editor, GSU, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Thomas Barrie, ACS/Professor of Architecture, North Carolina State University
Harvey Cox, Hollis Research Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School
Ahmed Ragab, Watson Assistant Professor of Science and Religion, Harvard Divinity School
John D. Spengler, Professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation, Harvard School of Public Health

Reclaim + Remake Symposium: Call for Abstracts

Reclaim + Remake Symposium, April 11-13, 2013
“Waste is a Resource in the Wrong Place and Time”

Call for Abstracts
Deadline: November 12, 2012
This conference is proposed to bring together the most innovative practices in education and research for current and future reuse and recycling of material resources in the built environment. Abstracts for presented papers and designs are welcome from designers, educators, researchers and advanced university students who are engaged in knowledge creation and dissemination for the responsible use and end-of-life management of building material resources.
Abstracts should be 300-500 words.
To submit please go to:

Symposium Director: Bradley Guy
Center for Building Stewardship
Crough Center for Architectural Studies
School of Architecture and Planning
The Catholic University of America
Washington, DC

King Medal 2011-12 Recipients

ARCC Member Institution Student Name: Project Title:
American University of Sharjah CHAM K. ENBASHI Re.Form.atting the Hinterland: Time Machine Prison
Arizona State University* KURTIS J. D’ANGELO Ground Modification Techniques to Improve Thermal Performance of Buried Ground Heat Exchangers in Ground Coupled Heat Pump Systems
Auburn University QIAN DENG Open Systems Design in Landscape Architecture
Ball State University* MICHELA CUPELLO Healthcare Facility Design for Flexibility
Catholic University of America MATTHEW THOMAS VARGAS Retrofitting Landscape
CERES-Ball State University WES STABS EP|3C Design Process: Optimizing Energy Performance with Climate, Context and Client
Curtin University KIM VALAS Capturing the Ephemeral in Passage: A Cinematic Means of Understanding Place
Florida A&M TROY WILLIAMS Reinforcing Social Interaction: A Mixed Use Development in Tallahassee Florida
Foundacion de Diego Sagreda FRANCISCO JAVIER CARABANO RODRIGUEZ Arquitectura Popular y de la Arquitectura Vernacula
Drexel University JOSHUA T. LESSARD Transient Typologies
Georgia Institute of Technology YEONSOOK HEO Bayesian Calibration of Building Energy Models for Retrofit Decision Making Under Uncertainty
Howard University* JAMEL WILLIAMS Orthos
Illinois Institute of Technology MAHSA NICKNAM Performance Based Generative Design Approach for Long Span Roof Structures: Multi-Objective Optimization, Toward the Integration of Energy and Structure
Judson University JASON CHERRY Monitoring of the Harm A Weber Academic Center
Kansas State University LYNDSEE JOHNSON Pediatric Palliative Care House
Kent State University PRIYANKA RATHI Optimization of Energy Efficient Windows in Office Buildings for Different Climate Zones of the United States
Lawrence Tech. University* OZLEM DEMIR Sustainable Urbanism Methodology for Postindustrial Districts in North American Cities
Louisiana State University MICHAEL JOHNSON Architectural Boundaries Informed by Environmental Models
McGill University LEILA MARIE FARAH Food Paths, Architecture and Urban Form: A Case Study
Mississippi State University SCOTT PENMAN Rural Sustainability
Montana State University ERIN CHAMBERLIN Freedom Housing: Design Thinking for Nairobi Kenya
North Carolina State University JAMES G. GRADY A Simulation Tool Utilizing Parametric Primitives for Climate Based Dynamic Daylighting and Energy Analysis
Norwich University* MELISSA JENSEN Sustainability and World Expositions after World War II
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute BESS KRIETEMEYER Dynamic Design Framework for Mediated Bioresponsive Building Envelopes
Ryerson University MICHAEL LANCTOT Indices of Force
Temple University* BRENDA MARGOLIS Dynamic Dwelling: The Active Potential of Flexible Housing in an Evolving Urban Condition
Texas A&M* PASQUALE DE PAOLO A Question of Method: Architecttura Razionale and the XV Milan Triennale of 1973
The Pennsylvania State University MOONDEEP PRADHANANGA Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster + Case of Hamer Center for Community Design
Virginia Polytechic University KONGKUN CHAROENVISAL A Prototype BIM Integrated Decision Support Structure for Green Roof Selection and Design
University at Buffalo ROBERT B. GARLOW Thermal Interrelation: Investigations into Bi-Material Lamination
University of Calgary* RICHARD COTTER Liminal Landscapes
University of Hawaii at Manoa DAVID YEN Japanese Timber Frame Methodology Alternative Solutions to Hawaii’s Built Environment
University of Idaho RONALD C. POLINTAN MI: Modular Intelligence
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champ. ALBERT OCHSNER Air-Frame and Power Plant Instructional Facility: Parkland Community College
University of Kansas* JULIE WILLIAMS LAWLESS Social, Psychological and Physical Structures of a Temporary Living Environment: Creating Sense of Home
University of Manitoba YOSHIHIRO YABE Urban Fragmentation in Winnipeg
University of Maryland LOUISE PARLIN MEYER The Promise of Small Cities: Connecting Urban Residents with the Environment and Their Community in Portland, Maine
University of Memphis MARIO WALKER Memphis Art Park Project | Design-Build Sharecropper House | Playable 10 Art Design Competition
University of Minnesota* MOLLY EAGEN 100 Days Without Oil: A Story of the Lessons Learned From Attempting to Live in a Resource Balance
University of Missouri TILANKA CHANDRASEKERA Digital Orthographic Projections in Architectural Representation: Augmented Reality Based Learning
University of Nebraska LINCOLN MICHAEL HARPSTER The Ontological Performance of Sustainable Design
Universtiy of Nevada-Las Vegas FLORIN IULIAN COSTACHE Cooling Performance of a Wet Roofpond System in Las Vegas Nevada
University of New Mexico KIHEI MAYER Town and Site Analysis of Crownpoint
University of North Carolina-Charlotte WYNN BUZZELL The Pervasive Pattern: A Biomimetic Design Method
University of Oklahoma ANNA B. PRICE The Effects of Tom Pendergast’s Political Machine on Kansas City
University of Oregon EMILY MCGLOHN A Comparative Study of Climate Based Design of Building Enclosure
University of South Florida BRIAN WEST Finessing the Fire
University of Southern California SHIH-HSIN EVE LIN Building Information Modeling
Uinivesity of Tennessee VALERIE FRIEDMANN Ecorevelatory Landscape: Phenomenological Design of Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge
University of Toronto MATTHEW SPREMULLI Land Management Tribes: New Species of Symbiotic Architectures for the Great Plains
University of Utah RYAN BUNDY Research into Laminated Timber - Integrated Technology and Architecture Center
University of Waterloo MARIANNA DE COLA 80 Fathoms Deep
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee SAHAR SADAT HOSSEINI BALAJADEH Re-Imagining the Past: Staging Authentic memory in Tehran’s Ferdowsi Square
Posted in 36-2 Fall 2012, Awards | Tagged 2011-12, King Medal, student award

Iterative Resilience: Synchronizing Dynamic Landscapes with Responsive Architectural Systems

Meredith Sattler, Louisiana State University

The Disaster-Rebuild-Disaster Cycle

On September 1st, 2008 six foot waves hit Grand Isle, Louisiana, destroying numerous buildings in their path. Caused by Hurricane Gustav, the storm surge rolled right over most of this seven foot high barrier island. This storm, the sixteenth to cause major damage to buildings and infrastructure on Grand Isle since the 1893 hurricane (which killed nearly 2,000 people with 130mph winds and 16ft storm surge), not only devastated the island, but shifted its entire landmass northeast. A week later, Hurricane Ike made landfall, delivering another round of destruction (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Grand Isle is 7’ Above Sea Level at its Highest Point
On a typical day (above) most of Grand Isle’s land mass is within feet of sea level, but maintains defined boundaries between land and water. After Hurricanes Gustav and Ike (below), those boundaries dissolved as water and sand penetrated into the interior of the island. U.S. Highway 1 is seen here completely inundated with former beach sand (from the left side of the image).

Between major hurricanes, Grand Isle is hit by smaller storms on average every 2.2 years,i rendering it a particularly challenging geography for permanent occupation. Yet close to 1,300 people still insist on calling the island home, and thousands choose to vacation there. Historically, Grand Isle was an island paradise full of orange groves, exotic birds, and resort hotels where wealthy New Orleanians would escape summer malaria-transmitting mosquitos. Today, people are drawn to the island by its relatively cool offshore summer breeze, abundant fishing and crabbing, and its beach, the only “resort beach” in the state. It is as close to an island paradise as one gets in Louisiana.

But this paradise of devastating forces, unstable ground, and cyclical change is one where residents experience geologic time unfolding in seasons, not centuries (see Figure 2). Under the assault of these forces, structures and infrastructures that typically last decades are rendered temporary. The environment demands an alternative architecture, one that can mitigate and adapt to the island’s fluctuating conditions. By developing a prefabricated, mobile architectural system, deployed seasonally by gantry cranes, we create an adaptive, resilient solution to shifting sedimentation and settlement patterns on Grand Isle. This solution generates a contextually sensitive form of permanent habitation while simultaneously breaking the “Disaster-Rebuild-Disaster” hurricane cycle that much of the delta, with the assistance of FEMA, currently engages.

Figure 2: Grand Isle is Dynamic in Plan and Section Due to repetitive flooding and steadily increasing sea levels (attributed to climate change) Grand Isle’s physical morphology continually shifts. Flooding creates a sectional condition of extreme instability, where water occupies elevations from sea level to 22’ above sea level. In plan, as the western end of the 7-mile island grows thinner due to land loss, land accretion is occurring on the south-eastern end, causing an apparent “rotation” of the landmass. The combination of unstable soils, typical barrier island migration, and hurricane forces require a reconceptualization of architecture and its relationship to the groundplane.

The Risk - Time Relationship

Risk of storm damage is determined by a probability known as “recurrence interval”: the chance of being hit by a certain magnitude of storm within a certain amount of time. Based on recurrence interval terminology, it might appear that a “100-year storm” would be a storm that happens only once in every one hundred years, which is somewhat misleading. In actuality, it is the chance that a certain severity of storm, determined by historical data for that geography, would occur once within a one hundred year period; in other words, that a storm of that magnitude would have a one percent chance of occurring in any year. This results in a building having a twenty-six percent chance of flooding during a thirty year period (the life of a mortgage). 100-year storms can occur in consecutive years, and can occur multiple times within a one hundred year period.ii

Recurrence intervals are utilized to determine the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM’s) which specify Base Flood Elevations (BFE’s) for 100-year storm events in specific geographies. BFEs are minimum recommended lowest floor elevations for buildings, taking into account storm surge wave heights and stillwater flood elevations. However, in order for many coastal communities to qualify for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), their buildings must be elevated higher than the BFE. This elevation is called the Design Flood Elevation (DFE) and consists of the BFE height plus “freeboard” which is either two feet or a somewhat arbitrarily determined additional number of feet added to BFE for good measure.

In order to achieve DFE, traditional coastal construction practices place buildings on piles which elevate them above floodwaters, in particular, the devastating high-energy storm surge caused by hurricanes. It is well documented that most structures hit by the intense wave energy of storm surge at or above their lowest floorplate are no longer structurally sound, rendering proper DFE elevations critical for breaking the disaster-rebuild-disaster cycle. In almost all cases, it is too costly to build low enough and strong enough to withstand storm surge loads.

Ironically, recently Louisiana updated its wind building code requirements. On Grand Isle, buildings must now be built to withstand 147 MPH winds.iii However, flood code has not been revised to the same standards, so many structures are destroyed by flood long before the winds ever reach critical strength, rendering the extra labor, material and expense unnecessary.

Inspired by the above, our team examined FEMA and ACSE’s methodologies utilized to generate existing modeled flood elevation heights and BFE’s. We reconstructed the 700- and 1700- year flood elevations for Grand Isle using existing data from Flood Insurance Studies (FIS) and Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS, effective date of Grand Isle FIRM and FIS is March 23, 1995) provided by FEMA. We then re-model flood elevation heights using extreme value functions and came to the conclusion that the current BFE’s for Grand Isle are misleadingly low, in some cases as much as nine feet too low (see bottom of Figure 2). Based on our findings, we developed a new methodology that more accurately determines flood elevations for higher flood levels and longer return periods (see Figure 3). This results in buildings which are far more likely to flood than the specified one percent probability per year, leading to dangerous misconceptions regarding risk.

Figure 3: Determining the Design Flood Elevation (DFE) The DFE is the elevation to which buildings in the regulatory floodplain are built. The minimum requirement for this elevation in NFIP communities is the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). In areas where a higher degree of protection is promoted or required, a freeboard is added; in this case, the DFE is some height (1, 2, or more feet) above the BFE.

Cyclical Scales of Destruction and Occupation

Grand Isle is particularly subject to dramatic temporal variation on two distinct cyclical scales. Hurricanes only appear in season, from June 1st to November 30th, but their probable trajectories cycle on a much longer duration. The Gulf of Mexico receives a concentration of direct hits approximately ten years out of every thirty. Within the Gulf, Grand Isle has consistently been targeted by dramatic storm events. Because of its location within the Gulf-bowl, and the fact that it is a barrier island, it gets hit first and hardest, resulting in an increase in permanent populations for approximately twenty-five years which then drops dramatically toward the end of each thirty year cycle. Depending on the number of structures that sustain massive damage, and the amount of land lost, this can result in an abundance of derelict properties.

Because Grand Isle is a summertime tourist destination, its temporary population bulges between May and November. This bulge balloons during the International Tarpon Rodeo, the oldest fishing tournament in the United Statesiv, where typically the population increases twenty-fold near the end of July. Ironically, late summer is also the time when hurricanes are most active, creating a potentially disastrous situation in which the island population is at its greatest during the time of maximum probability of hurricane hits. It is during this time that the community is most vulnerable economically as well: most of the annual income is generated while hurricane risk is highest.

With the Landscape, the Built Environment Must Move

In addition to the event driven cycles of “pulsing” disturbances described above, Grand Isle experiences long-term and persistent land loss due to the chronic “pressing” disturbances of subsidence, erosion, and deposition.v Consistent with all barrier islands, Grand Isle is migrating. Storm events roll the island northward with dramatic speed. Daily tidal shift and Gulf currents gently push the island northeast.

Grand Isle’s “land” is composed of loose particulates usually referred to as sand, but in this case, the particulates are composed of deposited Mississippi River sediment which originated in the fertile organic prairie soils of the North American breadbasket. Often referred to as silt or sediment they are the consistency of soft snow, and require saturation in water or plant roots for stability and structure. This sediment cannot be considered terra firma as it does not naturally bind together; it is extremely porous, and regularly swells and shrinks with water saturation. This localized shrinking is exacerbated by regional subsidence, the decomposition and compression of deltaic sediments under their own weight. Between localized shrinking and regional subsidence, it is estimated that subsidence rates can be as high as several millimeters per

The sinking land is further exacerbated by sea level rise, which is regionally higher than global averages in Grand Isle. As the land sinks, the water rises, and the sediments dissolve away. The island loses coastline on all sides except the southeastern-most corner, where deposition is extremely active. This pattern of movement makes the island appear to rotate clockwise.

Thus Grand Isle is in constant motion. Waters roll the island northeast and rotate its landmass in the x,y axis. High energy storm winds and water shift the occupiable elevation of the island in the z axis during hurricane season. The island is adrift in both plan and section.

Grand Isle’s spatial and temporal land-shifting stresses traditional fixed construction methodologies. Piles, cast into a slab of concrete, are a common foundation strategy on Grand Isle. This method facilitates a degree of structural stability, with the bonus of creating living space/driveway underneath, but is subject to intense scouring during storm events. These uprooted shelves of concrete unintentionally index and measure the continually fluctuating landscape. In this environment, it is necessary to utilize the landscape’s natural patterns and processes to determine architectural design parameters.

Resource Extraction

Resource extraction has driven the settlement of the southern Louisiana Delta, in spite of its inhospitable geography. For hundreds of years the estuary has proved one of the richest sources of seafood, oil, natural gas, and other products that have come in and out of use. Specialized equipment and tools have been invented and iterated to mine these resources and to deal with the challenging environmental conditions, creating a rich toolkit from which the project draws.

Today, the delta is populated with these specialized manmade structures and devices that exist predominantly at two scales: landscape and human. The Army Corps of Engineers flood control structures are typically massive ribbons of concrete inserted into profiles of the landscape. Oil and Gas rigs, jack-barges and stacks penetrate the sky; the equivalents of massive skyscrapers in the delta’s saturated flats. The shipping industry’s trans-oceanic tankers are small floating cities, and the bridges that facilitate auto travel across water bodies on which they float are high, necessary to provide clearance for these large nautical vessels.

These massive landscape elements are juxtaposed against modest family homes in small fishing villages which still bear the name of their founding ancestors. There is a “normal” scalar relationship in the delta, the result of an intensely working landscape, that does not occur many other places in the developed world. It is into this world of super and sub sized elements that the Gantry Crane becomes the logical insertion, facilitating a new architecture of iterative resilience. It is its intermediate scale that links the small, remotely prefabricated residential units to the rhythm of the shifting landscape that becomes their home.

A New System of Habitation Requires a New Settlement Pattern

Today, when coastline in Louisiana is submerged, the property rights are taken by the State, resulting in property owners simply losing their land. We propose that going forward, Grand Isle’s property holdings will be converted to a percentage-performance based system which can maintain property and values in a shifting landscape, and away from a geographically based prescriptive system, which cannot. In order to achieve land ownership equity and equality on this shifting island, we propose that property holding will be frozen on a specific day (to be determined). On that day, the exact landmass of the island will be determined via survey, and property owners will transfer their exact plots into a percentage of ownership of the overall island. From that day forward, each owner will hold a percent of land on the island, not a specific plot of land. Subsequently, as the island shifts, property lines will adjust, parametrically shifting to maintain ownership percentages island-wide, while not necessarily maintaining originally purchased plots.

Simultaneously, we propose a “pile grid” plan be established based on existing conditions. This precise grid would be twelve foot by twelve foot on center, and is designed to support new residential unit modules. No new traditional coastal construction will occur on the island; as older residences are destroyed or abandoned, they will be fazed out and converted to the new prefab modular system that utilizes the pile grid. This way, slowly the island’s grid is built up and occupied. Because it is uniform island-wide, the pile grid facilitates shifting property lines and forgives shifting landscape features: residences can easily be moved up and down, and over one grid square at a time, so that all can keep their residence on (above) their current land holding. As the residence units shift, and the landscape moves, an index of pile grid remains, visibly measuring the change.

In traditional residential coastal construction scenarios first piles are driven and then the concrete slab is poured. The lowest floorplate is built as a rigid structure, then attached to the pile-foundation with rigid connections. The attachment point is predetermined at a DFE elevation above the BFE and the rest of the house is framed via conventional construction techniques. In a severe storm event, if the building is subject to a storm surge hit at or above the lowest floorplate it will suffer enough structural damage to be rendered uninhabitable, and must be rebuilt. If demolished and rebuilt, the new structure will likely be placed on or near the footprint of the prior structure, and will often be rebuilt stronger and higher. In the event that this new building survives the next major storm event, and the coastline below it is permanently submerged, the state takes the land and the building must be demolished (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Breaking the Disaster-Rebuild-Disaster Cycle
The mobile modular method utilizes pile grid logic in conjunction with the Gantry Crane to shift residence locations in both plan and section in relation to the transforming landscape of Grand Isle.

In contrast, the proposed pile grid system facilitates utilization of x, y and z axis logic. We start with a longer (higher) pile to increase the modules elevation options, and allow for them to be lifted above predicted storm surge heights. In the iterative resilience construction scenario, the grid piles are driven in island pre-determined locations. The Gantry Crane delivers the units, one by one, and attaches them to the grid at the appropriate height. When out of hurricane season, the units are configured low to the ground, stair stepping up to take advantage of views and breezes, while still maintaining connection to the groundplane. At the beginning of hurricane season, the Gantry Crane lifts the units into their storm ready position, well above the BFE, and in-line. Additional stair units and intermediary decks are attached to connect the units to the ground. In their elevated position, the units weather the storm above the surge, and are ready to be lowered again once the season ends. Similar to the scenario above, this next storm event may take out the coastline. In this event, all property lines on the island are adjusted, and the units are rolled back in the grid, realigning with the moving landmass. At the beginning of the next hurricane season, all other residences adjust accordingly, so the settlement pattern rolls with the natural movement of the island (see Figure 4).

Once new units fabrication is complete, they are delivered via small ships and received at the harbor located on the northeast end of the island. There they are off-loaded by Gantry Crane and directly transported, via new Gantry Crane roads, to site. These Gantry Crane roads are a shared system of crane/bike/pedestrian circulation that is placed within the pile grid to facilitate non-automobile movement around the island. This circulation network introduces novel transverse connectivity across the island from bay to Gulf.

Through time, development on the island is slowly concentrated onto the highest ground, which is also the pivot point of the island’s rotation, near its center. Non-development zones, geographies which would result in quick taking by the state, are expanded. Some of this land becomes vegetated buffer zones/water conveyance systems that are developed along the island’s longitudinal edges in order to stabilize edges and move water from higher ground, when necessary.

A New System of Habitation

In a landscape whose composition is as much water as “land” it is necessary to reexamine habitation through the lens of nautical architecture in order to utilize the intelligence of its performative characteristics. As discussed above, the aqueous conditions in the southern Louisiana delta has fostered a robust tradition of retooling marine forms, adapting them to shallow waters and high-energy forces. Tapping into specialized local knowledge, labor, resources, and modes of transport is strategic in this remote geography, resulting in an overall increase in the residential system’s resiliency.

We propose that the modular housing units are produced within existing shipbuilding facilities because they specialize in large force/water-tight construction. Units would deliver directly from factory to site via boat. Historically, there have been large ferrocement shipbuilders in both the nearby ports of Mobile, Alabama (F.F. Ley and Co.) and Houston, Texas (McCloskey and Co),vii in addition to smaller shops scattered across the Gulf. With some retooling, shipbuilders in the region have the facilities and knowledge to manufacture these units.

Once complete, delivery utilizing marine transport directly from shipbuilder-manufacturers to Grand Isle, is highly efficient both in terms of fuel usage and logistics. The island has a sizable marina where the units will be off-loaded by one of three dedicated gantry cranes, which then delivers them to nearby storage, or directly to site.

The residential units are timber framed shells, built in compliance with the latest hurricane wind code standards, and sheathed in ferrocement, which is inexpensive and highly durable in maritime conditions. This structural shell is analogous to a ferrocement boat hull, rotated one hundred and eighty degrees along the z-axis, and sealed onto the unit floorplate-deck; essentially creating an up-side-down boat. It is highly resistant to transferring wind and water to the interior and tends to buckle, not crack or tear apart, when put under failure inducing stresses. The shell shape is that of a simple gabled roof house (without overhangs that catch wind updrafts that lead to roof uplift) which reference much of the current housing stock on the island (see Figure 5). Ferrocement takes paint beautifully, so units can be colored to match the bright and pastel pallets typical of Grand Isle residences.

Figure 5. Mobile Modular Unit Construction and Attachments Take Inspiration from Maritime Methodologies
Lightweight and resilient ferrocement boat hull technology is adapted to create a solid structural shell, resistant to hurricane forces. Apertures are secured with a layered storm shutter system that unfolds to embrace the idyllic natural environment of Grand Isle. When hurricanes arrive, the building transforms: retreating/repackaging itself by refolding.

Apertures in the rigid shell are sheathed in operable, folding layers, analogous to hurricane shutter systems. The main views and source of breezes on the island are toward the Gulf, and secondarily toward the bay, so the largest apertures and adjoining outdoor deck spaces are oriented accordingly. These spaces literally fold-out into the idyllic natural environment via sets of hangar doors, hinging decks, and railings, creating an expanded hybrid interior-exterior living space. But they are shipped, and weather storms, in their folded/closed position (see Figure 6).

Figure 6. A Mobile, Modular Architecture Facilitated by the Gantry Crane
Three module types (kitchen, living/bath, bedroom), linked by interior and exterior circulation, can be configured in multiple arrangements.

Once on-site, units are positioned into the twelve foot by twelve foot pile grid with the precise controls of the gantry crane, the height of the unit depends on the season and the site’s DFE. The units are attached to the pilegrid via an adapted mast-clamp friction style connector with a steel pin that runs through the pile. These customized adjustable connectors, in combination with the folding apertures and decks, constitute the soft-adaptable components of the system which contrast the hard-fixed shell component. Both are necessary to withstand the temporal and energetic fluctuations of hurricanes.

Once installed, adjustable stair units are attached, then the unit decks, and finally the unit apertures unfold, literally blossoming into their living configuration. Twice annually, at the beginning and end of hurricane season, the units are re-folded and their heights repositioned. At the start of the season, units are raised above the BFE, to the DFE, where they will remain high above destructive storm surge forces (somewhere between fourteen and twenty-two feet depending on specific Grand Isle location). The units are floating, almost inline, with one stair tread of elevation difference between them. After the season finishes, units are dropped down and staggered to facilitate ease of use and connection to the groundplane. The lowest unit sits five feet above the ground, and each unit stacks an additional three feet above the one adjacent to it. Sets of accordion stairs slide out to facilitate circulation.

There are three unit types which can be configured in various ways: kitchen, living/bath, and bedroom. Each is sandwiched between decks which increase square footage and provide additional circulation: the larger deck expands living space via sets of hangar style doors which fold up to free the groundplane and provide overhang shade, while the smaller deck is used mainly for circulation. Kitchen units are equipped with island bar-style seating, refrigerator, electric stove, running water/wastewater disposal, small on-demand electric hot water heater, and exhaust fan. Living/bath units have a vestibule space for sofa or chairs which opens directly out onto the large deck, and a bath that contains running water/wastewater disposal, small on-demand electric hot water heater, and exhaust fan. Bedroom units are equipped with an exhaust fan and electrical outlets.

Since Grand Isle is remote, and has one of the most temperate climates in Louisiana, every attempt has been made to reduce active environmental control system loads via bioclimactic strategies. This not only promotes sustainable consumption, but is also a strategy for resilience, as grid power is not often reliable, especially during storm events.

Units are typically grouped into 3-packs or 6-packs. A 3-pack is designed for a couple or single and contains one kitchen, one living/bath, and one bedroom unit. A 6-pack is designed for a larger family and can be configured according to the individual family’s needs. The 6-pack unit includes a large common deck space between the two rows of units. Additional platform-deck and stair units can easily be added into the system, increasing living space, circulation, and connection to the outdoors (see Figure 6).

Iterative Resilience

Traditional buildings operate as fixed elements within dynamic landscapes that weather, and ultimately destroy them. As our global climate continues to change at an increasingly rapid rate, it becomes harder to predict what types and severity of weathering will occur at which locations across the globe, and ultimately how this weathering will affect buildings. The dynamic coastline of Grand Isle provides an ideal test geography for future coastal conditions because its local sea-level rise rates are greater than the global average (now estimated at over 3.1 mm annually.viii) Additionally, its fluctuating barrier island coastline condition, and regular exposure to dramatic storm events, allows us to experience geologic time in less than a generation, providing key data about how buildings perform in these conditions. These generate circumstances with which we can build scenarios and speculate about how necessary new forms of architecture might behave within these conditions.

Through a year of scenario building and design speculation, we have found that mobile prefabricated structures, linked to an infrastructure capable of regular relocation in x, y, and z axes, provides a necessary spatial-temporal linked solution. Utilizing inspiration from nautical architecture, the units can be built at regional shipbuilders, shipped to site, and positioned to withstand storms, while simultaneously responding to local island vernacular character. As the units shift across the expanding grid of friction-pile structural foundations, readjusting their location relative to the transforming landscape, they “nestle” into post-disturbance configurations leaving a pile-forest index of their former positions; an index of the former land. This adaptable modular design creates an integrated built environment, in an unforgiving landscape, expanding architectural scope and agency through the process of reconfiguration.

Project Team:

Dr. Carol Friedland, Assistant Professor of Construction Management
Meredith Sattler, Assistant Professor of Architecture
Dr. Lynne Carter, Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program, Coastal Sustainability Studio
Dr. Melanie Gall, Department of Geography & Anthropology
Elizabeth Chisolm, PhD student in Engineering Science
Frank Bohn, Graduate student in Construction Management
Ben Buehrle, Graduate student in School of Architecture
Carolina Rodriguez, Undergraduate student in School of Architecture
Megan Harris, Undergraduate student in School of Architecture
Elsy Interiano, Undergraduate student in School of Landscape Architecture

i “Grand Isle History,” Hurricane City, accessed August 18, 2012,

ii Federal Emergency Management Agency, Coastal Construction Manual FEMA P-55 (2011): 1, 6-4, accessed February 2, 2012,

iii “Wind Speed By Parish,” Department of Public Safety, Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council, accessed August 20, 2012,

iv “Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo,” accessed January 25, 2012,

v Scott Collins, et al., “An Integrated Conceptual Framework for Long-Term Social-Ecological Research,” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment: 2011; 9(6): 351–357, accessed December 9, 2012, doi: 10 1890/100068.

vi T.A. Meckel, U.S. ten Brink, S. Jeffress Williams, “Current Subsidence Rates due to Compaction of Holocene Sediments in Southern Louisiana,” Geophysical Research Letters: 2006; 33(L11403).

vii “The Ferro-Concrete Builders List,” accessed August 22, 2012,

viii Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fourth Synthesis Assessment Report: Climate Change (Geneva: IPCC Secretariat, 2007), accessed August 20, 2012,


An international exhibition of creative works that challenge our preconceptions of ‘the interior’ through a diverse range of research projects.

This research exhibition aims to encourage expansion in the fields of research practices and ultimately their audiences, in concert with the official bodies that measure research output, in order to locate and define a research model for interior architecture/interior design disciplines. The curators’ fundamental intention is to connect the research ideas with the broader public beyond scholarly publications. We believe that creative works provide a wider and diverse range of media and experience to communicate the enquiries that inspire the researcher/s.

An Interior Affair: A State of Becoming is an IDEA (Interior Design/Interior Architecture Educators Association) exhibition hosted by Curtin University and curated by Professor Marina Lommerse, Jane Lawrence, Sven Mehzoud  and Stuart Foster, in collaboration with FORM.

Designers – Researchers

Trish Bould, United KingdomLynn Churchill, AustraliaLorella Di Cintio, CanadaJoel Day, Australia

Karen ann Donnachie, Australia.

Penelope Forlano, Australia

Stuart Foster, New Zealand

Anthony Fryatt, Australia

Rachel Hurst, Australia

Roger Kemp, Australia

Jane Lawrence, Australia

Marina Lommerse, Australia


Sarah Breen Lovett, AustraliaNatalie McLeod, New ZealandJane Lawrence, AustraliaAndrea Mina, Australia

Belinda Mitchell, United Kingdom

Antony Nevin, New Zealand

Jonsara Ruth, United States

Dianne Smith, Australia

Igor Siddiqui, United States

Nancy Spanbroek, Australia

Reena Tiwari, Australia

Amanda Yates, New Zealand



An Interior Affair: a State of Becoming explores, extends and challenges the world of the interior as a state of constant and dynamic ‘becoming’ rather than ‘being’. With the focus on the interior in flux, this exhibition draws attention to the following questions: How do our windows to the virtual world – the computer, the mobile phone, facebook, and their precedents, the book, the magazine, the camera, the ‘big’ screen and the television – drive our expectations, vision, desire and experiences of ‘real’ interior space? Where is the value in constantly ‘becoming’ new? Entropy followed by death and renewal is the natural cycle. How do we reconsider ‘the old’? What is adaptive re-use? What and how do we recycle? How do we re-vision the history of interiors in the light of ‘becoming’? What are the potential roles and responsibilities for interior designers / interior architects in addressing becoming homeless and ‘being’ disadvantaged?

The exhibition is entirely research-based and explores the interaction between the interior and the researcher, not as a monogamous engagement , but rather as a ménage á trois. This complex arrangement includes the researcher’s engagement with the work and exhibition, the reader as a voyeur, and the curator’s commitment to the researcher/s, the creative works and the public. Entwined in this ménage á trois are other equally intimate relationships or affairs that the researchers have with their creative works. Collectively, through the metaphor of an interior affair, the works in the exhibition can be categorised as intimate, remote, critical, platonic, strained, estranged, violent and/or familial affairs with or within the interior.

Creative works as research exhibits include Sarah Breen Lovett’s

Interior: reframed with expanded architecture which is a documentary exploring the use of moving image installation as a device for understanding the architectural interior. By re-framing, re-focusing and re-projecting the architectural interior back on itself, these Expanded Architecture installations continue a lineage of art practice from the 1920s to the present and explore the shifting, unfolding nature of the architectural interior.




From New Zealand Designer-Researcher – Amanda Yates exhibits Topographical Interiors which focuses on research into the interior as a partial or temporal condition that is always in flow. Underpinning these spatial enquiries is a theoretical inquiry into the Oceanic concept of wa (between-ness) and Western theories of becoming. The exhibition installation incorporates a transient temporality through the use of shifting images inset within the topographical table surface.




A final example is Dis[Place]Ment: A Woman’s Perspective by Designers-Researchers – Marina Lommerse, Lynn Churchill, Dianne Smith, Karen ann Donnachie and Joel Day. By collaborating with women who have experienced displacement, this research intends to affect the kind of places women find themselves in when they are fragile, disempowered, and at times invisible. The installation constructs ‘place’ as a series of narratives and transactions of self, to offer some insight into how women-at-risk may perceive certain environments.






EDRA44PROVIDENCE (EDRA 2013 Conference)

EDRA44Providence takes place May 29-June 1, 2013 at the Westin Providence Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island. Proposals are currently being accepted through Friday, September 21, 2012.

If you have any questions about EDRA44Providence, please email


Proposals can be submitted at our submission site: The deadline for individual presentations, group presentations, mobile sessions and pre-conference intensive sessions isSeptember 21, 2012. The deadline for display poster submissions is November 30, 2012.

Call for Proposals

A detailed Call for Proposals can be found here. Not sure what type of proposal to submit? You can find detailed submission guidelines and instructions by clicking here.

Call for Reviewers

EDRA is seeking qualified individuals to participate in our double-blind peer review process for EDRA44Providence. If you are not submitting a proposal to present but would like to serve as a reviewer, please click here for instructions on how and where to sign up.

New Issue: Environmental and Architectural Phenomenology

Dear Interested Reader:

The fall 2012 issue of Environmental and Architectural Phenomenology is now available on line at:

A major focus of the fall issue is “architectural phenomenology”—its professional and academic past as well as its scholarly future. EAP Editor David Seamon and French architectural historian Benoît Jacquet review architectural theorist Jorge Otero-Pailos’ 2010 Architecture’s Historical Turn, which argues that architectural phenomenology played a key role in establishing American Architecture programs as viable university units of scholarly research. Seamon examines Otero-Pailos’ claims in regard to broader trends in architectural and environmental phenomenology, and Benoît places the book in relation to French academic developments.

The issue also includes architect Reza Shirazi’s essay evaluating the present state of phenomenology and architecture. Shirazi seeks to locate an accurate description of current phenomenological research and concludes that the most precise label is “discourse”—i.e., a mode of study and design initiated mostly by individual researchers and designers who share “some common concerns and intentions” and “interpret the possibilities and results of phenomenological investigation in a wide array of ways, both conceptually and practically.”

The last essay in the fall issue is Australian educator John Cameron’s “eighth letter from Far South,” which considers attention as it relates to place—in this case, Cameron’s rural homestead of Blackstone on Tasmania’s Bruny Island. He writes: “What bearing does attending more closely to the local place vernacular and my subtler bodily responses have on our everyday place-making activities here? What does it really mean to have one’s awareness be part of something so much larger—a place-specific intelligence shared by all the beings that inhabit Blackstone?”

Back issues of EAP, 1990-present, are now available at:;.

David Seamon
Architecture Department, Kansas State University
Editor, EAP;