Student Name: Genevieve Parkes

School: SCI-ARC

Studio: Fundamental Design Studio I

Instructor: Kristy Balliet

A diagrammatic exploration inspires the design of a Boys and Girls Club sited in Venice, CA. While responding to the site and the programmatic needs of the space, the project facilitates the development of two communities, child and adult, and their intermingling.

In my first architectural project, I set out to design a space with a clear organization and explore the possibilities of material application. Coming from a background in set and prop design within the entertainment industry, the physical craft of building a space is my favorite part of the process but designing a structure at this scale is very new to me. Following my instructor Kristy’s guidance, I attempted to maintain simplicity and therefore clarity of idea. 

My process for this project was exhaustive diagrammatic iteration. Once I settled on the spatial organization of the space, I let that guide the continued development. The project is organized by a large L situated around a central hub. The L provides structure and defines the threshold of the project, allowing the central object to take its own shape.

As the project gets situated on the site, the L serves as a barrier to the city. From the street view, the central hub of the project remains hidden, except for a small second floor that peeks over and suggests that there is more to discover inside.

SCIArc_Genevieve Parkes_2

At the entrance, a small alcove cuts into the L, welcoming the public to step underneath the extended roof and enter inside. The administrative functions of the club are accessible as soon as the visitor enters. The L serves as the adult portion of the project, containing offices and meeting rooms, as well as a means of peripheral circulation. 

As we walk through this peripheral pathway, we notice that the exterior faces of the project are not closed off, but rather are perforated to invite the community in and allow the staff and kids to see out.

SCIArc_Genevieve Parkes_3

Once we’ve passed through the L, the end opens once again and the interior of the project bleeds into it, echoing the vestibule at the entrance. Here we discover playfully oversized columns that house larger multi-use spaces.

The large columns elevate activity rooms and terraces above that peer out over the city. While a large overhanging roof shelters the L and grounds it, this central space floats upwards and is not weighed down. This central object is the kids’ space.

SCIArc_Genevieve Parkes_4

While the L provides many essential functions of the club, it is only by passing through this threshold that we can discover the heart inside, which invites the kids to constantly explore, running between the curving walls that shelter the gym, around the puffy columns, and below the floating rooms above.

As the project gains materiality, perforations of geometry and material invite the outdoors inside. The oversized columns inflate into soft peachy puffs that contrast the straightforward rectilinear organization of the L. Moving through the various layers of the project, soft yellows and oranges reveal the rich, red heart that lies inside. I rediscovered the project in the physicality of model-making, and applied my own childlike delight to the process.

SCIArc_Genevieve Parkes_5

Above all, I hope that this project would allow kids a space of their own to explore, and rule over, distinct from the square adult world. I hope that it would foster both organization and exploration. From my entertainment background, I appreciate the psychological impact of the physical environment. Depending on the project I’m working on and the environment that would best facilitate the actors’ emotional journey, I create deliberately claustrophobic and stressful spaces, or comforting cozy spaces. The same area can be transformed overnight. Architecture contributes to the community by doing this psychological work in the background, transforming the world we live in into something empowering or debilitating. In my future projects I hope to continue exploring the psychological and physical impact of architecture.