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Master of Architecture Thesis 2019: Architectures of Cultural Transformation
Master of Architecture Thesis 2019: Architectures of Cultural Transformation

A major component of the Master of Architecture degree at Portland State University is the design thesis, which takes place in the final year of this program. The aim of our design thesis program is not to rest simply in proposing another building. As the culmination of a graduate architectural education, the design thesis is a singular opportunity for an individual to proclaim a position, state a case, articulate what matters and communicate this through the language of architecture.

Through a combination of rigorous research and creative exploration of a polemical issue framed as a question, our thesis students discover their passion for the contribution architecture can make to the transformation of culture. The response to this question is developed and shared in the form of hand and digital drawings, material studies, scale models, artifacts, and writing, which are presented by the student to a panel of resident and visiting faculty and professionals in an hour-long oral defense. Every student also compiles their thesis research and design process in a professionally printed book.

Below are selected images taken from four outstanding theses from the 2019 Master of Architecture class. Visit the event page to learn more.

Kagan Reardon | Silent Skins | Unquiet Minds: Architecture Parlante As Suicide Intervention

Like the silent skins that drape the unquiet minds of those dealing with suicide, our buildings too have been silenced by their own type of unrelenting maladies. Without intention or meaning in our buildings, our cities have grown silent; they have become the doldrums of the developer, ornamented by pro forma rather than expression and meaning. This loss of intentional faciality has aided in the continued exile of at-risk communities; this is especially true for those experiencing suicide ideation—a population that struggles with finding the limited resources made available to them. Through intention, communication, and perception, this thesis explores the possibility of architecture as an instrument for mental health recovery and suicide prevention. Part beacon, part subconscious hieroglyph, part sacred space, the SelfCenter® is an intentional therapeutic community for those experiencing suicide ideation.

Bijeta Choudhury | Falling Upwards: Architecture For Oregonian Balloonomania

Oregon’s hot air balloon festivals are not just seen; they are experienced. In addition to visually striking tableaus, participants and audiences remember the feel of sweat pouring down their necks on hot days,the discordant sounds of music and shouting spectators, the wafting smells of unwashed bodies, unmanageable movement of multicolored fabrics, the great power of vantage point, and the surprising playfulness of gravity and levity, among many other sensorial phenomena. These spirits spread far beyond the limits of specific architectural representations. Responding to the challenges through a series of architectural sensorial representations, this thesis project imagines several permanent and ephemeral spaces that have the enigmatic and experiential quality of hot air ballooning.

Jennifer Rodriguez | Giving Vicissitudes Roots: Adaptable Housing For The 21st Century

Speculative housing in the United States is stuck in the 1940s postwar baby-boom of nuclear families, sprawling suburbs, and cookie-cutter houses. This project aims to update speculative housing by addressing current household demographics, the return to urban density, and flipping the script on the prescriptive house. The COIN (Continuum Of Inhabitant Needs) House is built to allow the layout to be easily reconfigured and subdivided so that the owners can Phase-In-Place, rather than moving every time the household experiences changes. There are two sides to every COIN and the insertion of an alleyway through the block allows subdivided units to have separate entrances and maintain direct connection to the neighborhood and community around them.

Robert Wilson | Transient Rhythms: A Mobility Hub For An Entertainment District
The architectural language of transportation can be a meeting point between the people, culture, and transportation network of Portland and the greater Northwest Coast. Existing at the scale of Portland, this mobility hub can offer seamless connection between modes, while orienting visitors to the surroundings and culture of the city. With the average commuter spending 60 to 100 minutes of each day in transit, this node will reframe the experience of everyday rhythms, augmenting them with atypical riffs or jams—the ebbs and flows of transportation infrastructures. Supported by the rhythm of the architecture, this mobility hub provides shelter, sheds light, and provides support for a convergence of movements throughout the city.