Aretha Franklin High School for the Performing Arts

Related people
Becca Schalip (designer)
Karen Lewis (studio professor)
Spring 2018
North and Central America->United States->Michigan->Detroit
This is a student project by Becca Schalip for Karen Lewis course in ARCH 4410 in Spring 2018.
A goal the leaders in Detroit have is to develop more child-centric public spaces. The designated public spaces that are existing in Detroit are sparse and isolated from each other. The school system in Detroit, however, covers the entire city and is very connected. It makes sense for schools to take on the role as a social and physical connector for the city as a continuously active landscape! (Referring to pink and blue map diagrams)
This design for the Aretha Franklin High School for the Performing Arts does this through pulling up the purely student related program of the building - the classrooms, studios, cafeteria - into another landscape of its own so that the ground landscape can maintain its continuous connections. (Referring to pulled apart program axon diagram)
Just as the ground landscape, the elevated building becomes a continuous landscape of its own with a series of courtyards. (Referring to diagram with the three building types). The ground landscape reacts to the action of pulling up the sky landscape and in effect becomes pulled up as well. The public programs – the gym, black box theater, auditorium, and art gallery – start to rise up and become present on the ground plane in order to be occupied. This also allows for a visual connection to the public using the ground landscape during times that are not just restricted to school hours, while creating a third landscape of its own to bridge the connection between the sky and ground landscapes. (Referring to the elevation diagram) After analyzing a graph that was made of the schedules for students on their daily paths through a typical school, it was discovered how chaotic it is for every student to enter the school in the same place. (Referring to timeline diagram)
To decrease the congestion that happens in the beginning and end of the day, of so many people coming from the same place, there are multiple main entries into the school building. Once the kids are inside, the continuous floor plan allows them to easily navigate throughout their day to the different districts of the school. (Referring to second floor plan)
The configuration of the ground landscape was determined through axial connections on the site. These axes allow for direct connections on the site that were then thickened to make paths and curved to account for the normal flow of walking, biking, running and bus patterns. The program on the ground and sky landscape are organized by the grid created through the repetition of the axial relationships across the site.
This grid then gets divided into bands that influence the building’s spaces and relationships in a variety of ways (Refer to transformation diagram of site axial relationships)
• The bands lay across the ceiling to pull up skylights - where the roof starts to mimic the landscapes below it to in its own way start to define its own landscape
• Thicken in places where larger grain more public spaces are needed and condense or shrink in places where the bands become path carving through the smaller grain classroom spaces
• Allow for continuous views across the courtyards through the opening of apertures as windows
• Create walkways that span over the courtyard providing constant views of the roof garden as well as the other districts of the school.
ARCH 4410
Academic Class