Architecture on the Time Axis
Revitalizing a Downtown
Ft. Wayne, Indiana
Spring 2009, Ball State University
Design team: Ashley (Wilson) Respecki, Architecture, & Laura Sherrell, Interior Design
Based in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, this project focuses on revitalizing the urban area known as Harrison Street. The idea of “architecture on the time axis” plays a key role in the future of Ft. Wayne. The architect’s role in this process is to provide a structure that can withstand the tests of time and adapt to future programmatic elements unforeseen by he or she in the initial design. Ideally, an open building can host a variety of functions over a long span of time.
In conjunction with an interior designer, the truth of this open building process surfaced. By providing a base building that could initially host a residential function on the three upper floors and maintain a commercial/retail function at the base level, the future in-fill design of this project became apparent. Using Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in Marseilles, France, as a precedent, the upper floors of the building took on a very unique layout based around primary circulation on the third floor. This circulation focuses the movement within individual units at particular points-private interior staircases. This maximizes the use of the space and allows units to expand up, down, left, or right. The base floor, designed by an interior design student, presented an initial opportunity to continue the trend of restaurant operations within the immediate district.
The movable paneling system at the exterior of the building allows optimal user control. Residents or users with units facing the north (northwest) or south (southeast) have access to horizontal paneled louvers. This orientation permits higher daylight penetration within the units. On the other hand, those users with units facing the east (northeast) and west (southwest) have access to louvers that are oriented vertically. These vertical louvers act as “shields” from the intense sunlight often experienced in the early morning and late evening.
The track system that contains these panels allows each patio/porch to have a maximum of six panels, depending on the size of the porch bay. These panels are each four inches deep and are doubled-up (depth-wise) so as to provide even more options for daylighting capabilities beginning at the facade surface. This layering also creates a greater sense of privacy and domain if users are focused around territorial boundaries.
This project highlighted possible limits for the role of the architect in a development project and at the same time, increased the value of detail and attention to the design of the user experience.
Southwest elevation and cross section
Diagrams and building wall section
View of south facade from Main Street
Site and base floor plan
Second floor plan
Third floor plan
Fourth floor plan
Bird’s eye view of building and location