Friday, December 18, 2009

Fianl part II

Being a semester where the context that we live in and work in is at question it is sometimes hard to believe that there could be anything different or how it really could change. I am not a native to Fargo and never traveled to this place before I was in College. Therefore, when people say how delapitated and unused our downtown was at one period of time it is hard to believe. However, is it then that hard to believe that this place could once agian be very different then what it is today. I look to Denver as a city where there 16th street mall could be an example of downtown Fargo.

However, here is the final result for the Student Union Site. I have proposed the site just to the south of the Barry Hall which is not currently the pioneer plaza building. This might surprise anyone who sees this building now, because there is nothing wrong with the building, we are not saving anything in the project we would only be re- structuring its purpose. So, because it is a site that would have the potential to have much growth and who knows if it would fly as a successful student union, I have created a structural system that I would compare to the southwest adobe huts. Once you run out of room, build on top and to the side and whichever way that would be possible. Then by adding in a outdoor plaza that would be grass in the summer and ice the other 9 months of the year we could facilitate some activity downtown. Also, some key notes on this site are the winter garden created none other then the south side of the building and a parking garage which could be a reality being as there might be anywhere from 100 to 3000 more students attending classes just a block away. here it is.....

Also included on this board is the 3rd and 10th street site. This is admittedly the most unresolved site, but could offer some interesting features. The main idea here is to lift the building off the ground and then to preserve the parking. The almighty parking is very important to this area because the new Barry hall across the street needs to have it for parking. Aslo, then by bringing street level up to second level people are taken away from the business of 10th street and would actually thing of walking or living around this area.

With that my final comment is that this area is not only important to think about from the side of money, economy, or whatever sort of power control. It could be a heritage area where when someone thinks of Fargo they will see this spot and not the vast suburbs that are being put in all directions of Fargo. It is not crazy to think that Fargo will one day reach 200,000 people, so we must plan for the growth and prosperity of the downtown region.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Final- Student Union

Boys Ranch Site-

This is a site that in Fargo could be something special. However, sense I have started working on the project there has actually been some development and there seems to be a warehouse or commercial building of some sort being put up. However, i will talk about it anyways and see what we can learn from it.

The boys Ranch sense it is located in the middle of the path from campus to downtown campus there is an opportunity to create a niche. This would be a great place to stop and could develop into a community within a community. There would be a sheltered plaza with a water feature in the middle. Creation of an architecture that would facilitate for green living is also important. Using large balconies and terraced roofs that could hold gardens so everyone could have a place.

here it is

Also, viewing the site map there is the layout of all the projects that have been proposed this semester. Basically taking a look at 10th st. and seeing what else could be there and what possibilities are open. This always doesn't mean if we make all the parking lots into buildings then we will accomplish our goal. It is more of a responsible way of constructing a place where humans are the number one user (where as our urban context can be seen as a car friendly place more then a human friendly)

Monday, November 16, 2009

site pictures

architects are a breed of people who learn from pictures or diagrams. There is a special affinity in my heart for a well thought out perspective that shows to the people what they will see... the vision. here are a few preliminary visions. I hope to greatly advance these in conclusion of this project...

3rd ave and 10th st

Boys Ranch Site on 10th st

Friday, October 30, 2009

Design Standards list

This is a brief list of some of the more important design standards that I think would make a positive change to the downtown area of Fargo.

Any new building must have enough structure so that it can accommodate a minimum 3 stories. This provides for any future expansion that could possibly happen vertically, also helping the density issue.

Use at least 30% of like materials as adjacent buildings to promote a consistency though the neighborhood.

Zone in an area where walking or bicycles are the only form of movement possible. I propose Broadway to be this area, and copy Denver's 16Th street mall and only have frees buses that traverse the street. This will develop a area like a mall but is outdoors and will grow the downtown street front businesses.

Bike paths.

Using materials that have a suitable lifespan. Quality materials will last into the future and are ultimately the most green material we can invest in, so lets use them here.

To promote Green Roofs, grant any person/s who installs a green roof access rights to all runoff water from all adjacent buildings. (i dunno if this is legal) Basically, if we can give the people some reason to build a green roof and even more possibility that it would work then we win environmentally.

Any building that is to be torn down must go through a neighborhood comity that votes on it, then it must be vacant or unusable for it be destructed.

Any existing building must keep 50% of its existing materials when renovation takes place, unless not possible.

This is the basic rules/ regulations that I have discussed and thought about. In my mind I have many more rules, but they are mostly objective opinion. Yes, I may say that one building is ugly, but someone most likely built that building and think that it looks fine. So, when coming up with these standards I think it is helpful to think of Fargo as a whole and what we want this city to say to people. What is the image or layout of this area?? Should it reflect all the old masonry buildings that have been here for 100 years or should it be more modern and streamline to give this area a new identity.
My opinion is that cities like Santa Fe where everything is pueblo style are negative towards expression and true experience. Lets tell people from other places that Fargo is a great city and give them some character that they will want to come back. Lets use the old buildings as a mold and then break off and build diverse dwellings that will accommodate everyone.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Union Site Development

So, after looking at what to do, I have come up with a design parti and want to start refining the final solution. Basically to add a student union downtown I believe there should be many layers of spaces and physical boundaries that not only make it secure, but also define from the surroundings so that public spaces and student spaces are separate. So the parti that I have came up with is to compare my building to a winter jacket. The metaphor that this building will surround the people with layers of insulation and keep them comfortable is much like how a winter jacket is warm and offers a much needed barrier from the cold.

Basically there are three new spaces that are added to the site. There is a parking garage to the southeast, a greenhouse to the south of the existing pioneer building, and a new extension to the north.

This site is a little unique in the fact that views are not all that important as there is nothing around the site that is really that appealing and the spaces withing the building do not really require there to be all that great of views. So, to accommodate many of the spaces and to add light I would like to make walls of masonry construction with sun shading screens so that west light isn't an issue, but have the entire roof tilted open so that light can pour into the building.
Next, there is the outdoor space that needs to be addressed. What I wanted to create here is an outdoor lawn for the downtown campus that would serve many different functions and hopefully have a lot of flexibility.
Last point that I wanted to point out is how this site is a "link" for downtown. I would want to have public travel ways inside my building that would go through the existing building and the parking garage. I also would link in Barry Hall and the Taco bell site which is most likely going to be more apartments. So using this building as a link will be convent and be more attractive to students and the public during the winter months (which seems to be 5 months out of the year in Fargo)
In conclusion the development of the design deals first with its context and then looks at the program to make decisions on where things will be placed. I think it is important to think of the public and not just NDSU, because the fact that this building might not always be in the possession of NDSU is very likely.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

3rd Street Site

This is the last of my sites and it shows a lot of potential because of its proximity to so many people on a day to day schedule. I would like to show the site map before I explain a lot of what i am talking about here, because the context is so important to this site.

Taking a good look at the map and by touring around the site there is a high amount of people that are in this area and that live in this area. I also think that in the future there are going to be more people who would want to live here, however they are also going to need things, and that is why i would provide some commercial/ retail space. I do not for see this becoming a spot for bars or clubs, but that is not out of the question either. The biggest challenge of this site would be keeping the parking. They really need parking in this area and a more extensive study on parking would have to be conducted to see if this much building would even be possible. Maybe instead of the proposed two buildings there would only be one. Here is the program.
Low income- apartment design
student housing- lofts, apartment design
young professional- loft design
Mix Use
building resident center
Green space
spot for young people to hang out
quiet from noise and busy 10Th street traffic

Other then that i am not seeing to much of an idea. However, last Friday the idea for a business incubator space was proposed by Milt. I think this would be a absolutely great idea because of its proximity to Barry Hall and because NDSU and the Fargo Area doesn't have anything like this (that i know of). It would fallow the lead of the already established Tech Park by the NDSU campus, but would be catered to businesses who would benefit from being affiliated with NDSU and its business program.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Boys Ranch Site

This site is rather interesting and is my close #2 that I would want to pursue this semester. Basically because of it proximity between NDSU campus and Dwtn. Campus. I think it would appeal to a lot of students and hopefully bring in more then that. Here's the site and ideas.

Well this is the place so what are the spaces?? What do we NEED here?? Sense there is such a lack of development here and such feeling of vacancy I think these spaces would improve if not just bring life into this area.

Student housing apartments, maybe condos/ lofts (why not sell)
houseing for families
houseing for low income
housing for young professionals
replace the offices and buisnesses that were on the site
possible grocery for selling garden stuff
Green space
play area
garden area
basketball courts
hill twords the tracks (block sound)
keep existing function

Lastly i would like to say that the possiblitys that this site would be a green comunity with gardens and the residents could sell produce is not out of the picture. i would like to live in somthing like this.

any suggestions??

Union Program

As it stands right now I feel as if a new union site would be the most crucial/ possible program to go into the downtown. Sense we are architects we are visual learners so i will first post a diagram for how I think this site could all come together. Briefly to recap this idea, i am proposing a new "downtown" student union. It would be located directly across from Barry Hall to the south between 1st and 2nd street with 10th street running alongside its western border. Here is the site map.

So hopefully you can read the map, if not that's OK, it basically outlines where and what I want to put on this site. This can also be done by identifying the program, so why not?

Union Program/ Spaces:
Bison Connection Room
Study Lounge
Rec Room
Meeting Room
Coffee shop
Convenience Store
Green Space
Work Space (behind the scenes stuff)
Union Lawn
Water Feature
Ice skating rink (for winter months)
lawn bowling
sand volleyball courts??

So basically these are the proposed spaces that would be included in this development. Also don't forget all the standard spaces such as parking, toilets, utilities, storage, and entry/ exit spaces.

Any suggestions??

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Start your Engines #4

In the cleanup position is the transportation side of developing downtown and linking it with campus. I propose that we put in a path directly from NDSU to the Downtown campus to promote bicycles and walking. Maybe this could be developed into something more?? What about winter?? What about the bridges it crosses?? All issues that I need to investigate.

Red- path from campus to Barry
Blue- path downtown between buildings

Conclusion- This is a look into the future of this area. WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY, HOW are all questions that i am asking myself and the answers are hard to predict, however, with a little spark that NDSU has started down here why is it so crazy that this district develop into a small version of Minneapolis or Milwaukee downtown (both upper Midwest cities that I like)?? I believe that Fargo has some serious potential and lets face it people are not drawn here because of our majestic scenery or our amazing weather. Lets give people a reason why Fargo is a culturally diverse, unique city that is attractive to anyone.

Start your Engines #3

Batting third would be the site where I am proposing a new student union. This building is currently a business building, but with all the vacant signs that I see downtown I don't see how if they relocated that would be much of a problem. This site is what I am after because of its proximity to Barry Hall and Khli Hall (good for Transportation).

Start your Engines #2

Next batter up is the site located on 3rd ave. from 10th st to 11th st. this is where I am going to put a developer hat and bring out the bulldozer and call this New. This is the site that I am seeing buisnesses and commercial with maybe a small residental on the top. Most likely going to try to move the parking inward and keep the building "thin" because no matter what we want to happen down here, we need parking in this area.

Start your Engines

With this project going on and on lets put on paper what we are talking about. Here are my four most current interesting sites in the "Crosstown" district (Name?) that I want to propose to do "something" with for this semester. There are four categories I-infill, N-new, R-renovate, and T-transportation. OK, here we go

In lead off (also my favorite) sort of a mix between Infill and New it is the site where the current boys ranch is located on 10th street. We will call it Infill because I plan to use existing structure of the site and the bridge. I am seeing so much potential that I dont know where to start. With the 10th st bridge right next to it this building serves as the gateway from the North side of the tracks to downtown zone. This has potiental for residential, commercial and also adding in space for what we are taking away, which is a warehouse and many small buisnesses. Also the site is between the two campuses and offers great views.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Public Spaces

When we are walking up and down downtown streets we have huge street front windows with interesting colorful advertisements, there are cars, bikes, people, (maybe the occasional dog sled in Fargo) and things that give energy to public spaces. However, what are does Fargo have for public entities that other cities have and have become known for (icons). For this blog I would like to suggest that these be instated in the downtown district to improve our urban fabric. However, what the heck are these features and why the heck do i want to spend public money on something like this?? So, here are some suggestions from some places that I have visited and they seem to work.

Define an Urban Square that has only needs for people on foot and can be a multi purpose space. (it would be nice if it could be used in the winter to, Fargo has this season for 6 months
Water, Basic necessity's for humans and a great feature that suggests and encourages people to stop and take a break in the public space.

Trees, These give shade, character, life, and make the city seem more livable.

This is a fountain in Chicago that rethinks a fountain and adds public art to the space at the same time.

This is Sony Center in Berlin that uses the space between buildings as a outdoor plaza then put a tent cover on the outdoor space.

These are the famous Spanish steps in Rome. Here they use a hill to there advantage and have a terraced effect to the public space and also is still functional as a stairway up the hill.

This is Placa Real, Barcelona. This urban space is great because there are night clubs at night, restaurants during the day and plenty of space to put up a stage if need be. Also the walkway around the exterior of the square is all covered and arches, trees and the fountain give it character.

This is a square in front of the old hospital in Barcelona (i don't remember the name). It had short orange trees and a small fountain (that wasn't operational). What I like about this space is that people were everywhere like it was their own backyard.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Questions are an architects tool to find out what the heck we are doing and why we are doing it. So what should we ask the students, residents, business workers, and users of downtown about this place in order to form intelligent and useful decisions downtown Fargo?

1) Where do you live in accordance to downtown?
2) What do you do when you are downtown?
3) If living downtown when do you need to leave in order to find a basic entity and why do you leave?
4) Would you live downtown and commute to campus?
5) What sort of business or need is not addressed in the downtown district?
6) Is the downtown feel secure enough to raise a family?

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but these questions could envoke more questions that the people taking the survey have. So, any other questions would be helpful!!
according to me (even if they sound nuts)

1) Construction of downtown buildings must have at least 50% similar facade materials as the adjacent building.

2) Close Broadway off between 1st and 2nd Ave. after 6pm to foster and promote more pedestrian activity on the street and allow restaurants and shops to set up on the street.

3) Propose a parking ramp where the parking lots are to the east of the civic center in order to open up the parking lot between 2nd and 3rd ave (in front of US bank) in order to develop an outdoor music venue or farmers market.

4) Build a sky way so that you are able to walk the entire downtown from main to 6th ave. Have it open 24/7 so that businesses are more attractive in this venue.

5) In order to solve parking problems build a light rail from osgood area (South Fargo) to Trollwood (North Fargo). With a possible extension to Moorhead or even Dilworth.

6) Build a pet friendly zone in island park in order to accommodate people who have pets.

7) Offer incentives to all commercial vendors (i.e. grocery store, clothes store) so that they can open up there own "mall" in the downtown district and foster a variety of shops downtown.

8) Build a student union downtown that offers campus conveniences such as tuition payment, bookstore, etc.

9) Build a "sidewalk" from NDSU to Downtown NDSU in order to prevent accidents and make it easier for students to walk, bike, rollerblading, or any other non-motor form of commuting.

10) Establish with conjunction with the Fargo planning office and F-M visitors bureau a office that will promote and advertise downtown Fargo to potential residents or commercial entities. This office will directly work with real estate agents, concert promoters, developers, and local businesses so that the downtown is more attractive to all types of people.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Case Study 2- Richmond

This is a nice urban plan in that it is a solution to what the city needs specifically. Jackson Ward is a endagered historic district of the city and was in need of a solution to figure out how to increase development and tourism.

Here is some of the initiative-

Our Philosophy for the Jackson Ward Phase I: (Master plan we are presenting) To build a smooth bridge between "one of the biggest business centers in the City of Richmond" and "One of the 11 Most Endangered Places in the National Trust for Historic Preservation." Create this bridge based on studies, work with representatives of Jackson Ward neighborhood, the RRHA, The City of Richmond, and Richmond business leaders. "The Historic Jackson Ward neighborhood has been one of America's most vibrant African-American districts, once bursting with the sounds of jazz and prosperity." Jazz is an international language and can provide communication for all walks of life, and we chose this language to influence our design efforts.

What to learn

By using an existing feature of this place (jazz music) they were able to not only develop and attraction, but add on more infustructure so that other needs of the area were addressed. When there is development of multi-use buildings it is approprate to realize that in the future there will be a need for new uses or functions so the architecture can respond by adding in spaces that otherwise might not have been built or in a certin way.

All found at

Case Study 1- Portland

The city of Portland is one of the most progressive cities in the northwest. This city is has a group called the Portland Development Commission that has the initive to make this place into a great place to live for its citizens. Here a few plans that they have initated into there city.

We finance and develop multi-family housing for a variety of income levels throughout the city. We also provide single family home purchase and home repair loans to help stabilize neighborhoods and keep people in their homes.

Neighborhood Revitalization
PDC realizes healthy neighborhoods and neighborhood businesses are the backbone of a great city. We work with residents, business owners, owners of rental housing and nonprofit organizations to increase affordable housing and small businesses in the city to keep neighborhoods active and vibrant. This involves taking areas of the city that are distressed and providing market analysis, district planning, developing opportunity strategies and site planning to spruce them up. PDC develops housing, retail, office and other projects. We help bring together the public/private partners needed to accomplish projects. We help find the financial resources needed too.

Business Retention, Expansion and Recruitment
PDC offers a full range of direct and indirect assistance to businesses looking to expand or locate in the Portland area. This may include business loans or assistance in locating the right site for a business expansion or relocation. We also work to keep local businesses and jobs here. We provide small business loan programs and local incentives for locating businesses and jobs in target areas.



Basically this group has identified some districts and uses standards and finacial backing to make the proposals happen. They have not only gone the distance to identify problems and come up with solutions, but they have also came up with solutions to borrow money that are feasible.


Before After

This is a concept: looks a little cheasey and they are trying to get bonus points by putting a bus in the rendering, but they are putting positive green aspects into the city scape.

This can all be found at:


The main momentum behind this blog would be the downtown district of Fargo and how it is growing and developing specifically. With a relationship between a few aggressive developers and NDSU moving into a few buildings the once forgotten and unattractive downtown is changing into a interesting environment. So, with this change it is crucial to have a standard of design and construction at a level that will not only encourage more development, but a lasting impact into the future.
As a student of the built environment a plan that institutes and identifies good urban design will cause the city to have lasting and meaningful growth. Fargo is not the only city that is dealing with these sorts of issues because an increase of urban population has been an epidemic throughout the U.S. for many years now. I will post a few case studies and see where the issues of downtown development, university campus sprawl, and urban design will take me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

First Post

This is an experiment for our advanced design studio at NDSU. Interesting comments, pictures, or whatever is on the minds of people are all welcome!