NSAD Students Develop Tall Building Designs for Historic San Diego Post Office

07/02/2012


NSAD Students Develop Tall Building Designs for Historic San Diego Post Office

Led by Provost Kurt Hunker and adjunct faculty member Raul Diaz, students were instructed to design a high-rise structure above the post office.

NewSchool of Architecture and Design (NSAD) students explored tall building ideas for the redevelopment of San Diego’s historic E Street post office as part of a design studio project led by Interim Provost Kurt Hunker and adjunct faculty member Raul Diaz.

For the class, students were instructed to design a high-rise structure above the post office while maintaining the base of the building. As part of the design process, students were required to retain the function and historical identity of the building while adding 400 housing units to the site. The students also had to incorporate a public park element into their designs.

The project concept was based on current redevelopment plans for the 1930s-era post office, and students were encouraged to explore tall building concepts in creative ways. The 12 student ideas included:

  • A 700-foot-high glowing tower that incorporated sustainable elements through its twisting structural design, allowing for turbines to capture the wind and generate electricity.
  • A 500-foot-tall “skateboard tower” where skaters could take an elevator to the top floor and skate all the way down to the public park.
  • A three-legged tower, wrapped in a concrete exoskeleton, or three-dimensional frame, that supports a cantilevered park 200 feet in the air.

“The goal was to have students conceptualize different ways that a tall building can be built in an urban core while taking into consideration requirements to maintain the historic fabric,” said Hunker. “These kinds of challenges are real in the sense that this is a high-profile downtown project, and because finding new ways to use historic or older buildings is an essential skill for architecture students to learn as they master concepts of urban sustainable development.”

The class was inspired in part by a paper developed by Hunker on “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered … Critical Events Since 9/11, or the Spectacle of the Technical.” The paper was presented at the Aug. 27–28 International Alvar Aalto Meeting on Modern Architecture in Jyväskylä, Finland, and it is the basis of an article scheduled to be published in eVolo architecture magazine.