BRETT WATKINS

Murphy/Jahn Architects

ARABIAN CANAL BRIDGE

DOWNTOWN J A

M/J OFFICE REMODEL

LIMITLESS TOWERS

The Architectural Association

CORE STUDIO ONE

BIOMIMETICS SEMINAR

ETH PAVILION

DISSERTATION

Illinois Institute of Technology

LONG SPAN STUDIO

HIGH RISE STUDIO

FACET'S MULTIMEDIA

CHICAGO HOUSING

CV + Contact

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    The Arabian Canal Bridge project was one of the earliest Projects I worked on.  At the time the decision was still being made as to where the bridge would be located and what it’s design would be.  After a few prototypes were developed in collaboration with Warner Sobek it was decided that there would be multiple bridges and that MJ would design a precedent bridge which would become a trade mark for the development. 

  During my time on the project there were fourteen locations which were under consideration, data was given to me in the from of an excel sheet and I created sections of the canal and calculated the appropriate gradient based on the given data sheets.

    Once the drawings had been developed  it became apparent that the master planning was undergoing alterations.  In addition there was also a lack of information available regarding the canal pathways, roadways, and other basic requirements.  The project went on hold for a short time pending additional information from the firm which was undertaking the master plan.  As a result the project requirements were scaled back to the schematic design of a single bridge under the premise that the details of the master plan would be incorporated at a later date.

    The bridge went through numerous iterations before this scheme was decided on.  It was then that the Model was created on a 3D printer and I was asked to create a base for it which was to emit light via two  fluorescent lamps through the surface of the base.

 

 

    DJA-4 consists of hotel, retail, office and residential spaces. Hotel space is concentrated in the North West corner “column” of the building.  Retail is situated on Level 1 just below the park.  Office space occupies the remaining three corner towers and residential is located in the four diagonals and horizontals at the top of the building.  Transport via train is supplied by a  station located at the center of the site; covering the station and retail is an operable cushion foil with a diameter of 24 meters.

     DJA-4 supplied me with an opportunity to work in a three person team which was charged with developing parking plans.  A general scheme was created based on building occupancy loads in each of the four zones.  We were then asked to determine if a fourth floor was absolutely necessary, which it was.  The four levels were divided as follows -4 and -3 office parking,  -2 residential, and -1 split between hotel and retail. 

     As was the case with some of the large scale models, production was slightly behind and I was brought into the model shop to help manufacture the model.  My focus was on the train station, painting and assembly.

     In April of 2008 Murphy/Jahn Architects set out to update their offices located at 35 East Wacker.  In doing so a number of key issues were to be addressed, the primary of which was the need for more work stations.  Subsequent to this was a desire for more conference tables and small general meeting spaces.   Lighting also became an issue as the existing  halogen lamps had been retained for what was generally believed to be far too long and as an office pushing green technologies this was no longer an acceptable solution.

  This project could be considered a microcosm of a full scale project.  The remodel went through every phase from SD to CD, on to bidding and completion.  I headed the project under the supervision of two M/J executives; Sam Scaccia and Keith Palmer.  With their guidance and my eagerness I was able to push the project forward and for it to became the vehicle which would carry my first real world experiences and actualizations. 

 One unexpected situation which presented itself during the remodel was the need for an additional executive office.  The solution came about in the joining of two small existing offices and a hallway.  The offices were then moved to the opposite side of the hall and enlarged. New grid walls were installed to tie the semi private offices to the rest of the office.

 

 

 

      As the office remodel began to slow down I began to fill my spare time with work on Limitless Towers.  This scenario gave me ample time to familiarize myself with the project and when the Remodel came to a close I was able and ready to push ahead on this project.  I had worked DD briefly before on the remodel, but only for a short time.  This project allowed me to experience the full breadth of what goes into a large scale project. 

      For my duration on the project I worked with team members to ameliorate and find solutions on a myriad of developmental scenarios from parking to the incorporation of a facade cleaning system.     The majority of my work was however performed in the development of floor plans.  Communications with the engineers and clients were frequent and this entailed continual refinement of the floor plans, mechanical and electrical systems. 

   As the floor plans were finalized I began work on the ground floor; which incorporated the layout of a restaurant and lobby. With the guidance of Hugh Whitmore Senior architect on the project and other team members the lobby and restaurant became my own developmental  experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Professor Peter Land has offered a studio at IIT which has invariably pushed structural concepts and new architectural technologies for over 15 years.  In the fall of 2006 I began what would become the defining studio of my educational career.  This studio provided me with the means to discover what architecture could be and should be.  I developed a sense of structural efficiency and elegance which have allowed me to not only develop my own concepts, shapes and structures, but to develop a standard by which to judge my own work and the work of others. 

   The Long Span studio supplied me with a glimpse of what architecture on the cutting edge could be like; it was exhilarating.  The development of solutions to problems presented by this project helped me to secure a basic  understanding of what it takes to create attractive solutions which were unconventional yet appropriate to the project. Solutions which added complexity  to the project yet assisted in creating clarity  when taken in as a whole.     

    The project consists of four tension rings each 150’ in diameter.  Each ring holds one pneumatic mega-foil which is mesh contained and cable supported. Cables are tensioned through a flying strut located at the center of the configuration. The overall height of the structure is 100’ with a diagonal measurement of 430’.

 

 

 

    The High Rise studio was the second semester offered by Peter Land; it too focused on strong structural concepts and advanced building technologies.  This project allowed me to explore the three dimensional fully triangulated tubular framing concept which posed considerable vertical transportation challenges, but yielded a structural solution which utilizes far less steel than traditional building techniques.

    The project not only focused on structural efficiency, but also explored the qualities of a well designed building; attributes which make it a desirable place to be.  Plantings, well ventilated spaces which draw air in from the outside and natural light were all considerations of high importance.

    This project as with the long span project helped to cement in my mind what types of solutions were appropriate and whether or not they were in line with the rest of the building and it’s primary concept.     

 

 

 

    Facet’s Multimedia was the first project which really motivated me to be more experimental.   Professor Kober introduced me to a number of  Architects,  including Herzog & DeMueron, and Koolhaas with which I immediately Identified. The  experimental nature of their architecture gave me the impetus to attempt structural and programmatic feats I would have been hesitant to approach otherwise.

   Facet’s consists of two primary spaces, the public and the private.  Public spaces are located on the ground floor, first and second floors and consist of a lobby, offices, storage, and rental displays. The upper area consists only of  theaters.  The two spaces are identifiable by their respective materials. The private theaters being clad in heavy looking sheet steel, and the public spaces being almost completely transparent in glass. 

   Elevators or the glass ramp which runs along the inside perimeter of the building can be taken up to the theaters above.  The core has been rotated in plan by the same angle which is created by the sloping theaters; this rotational aspect connects the two and creates a more  compelling walkway experience.

 

 

 

   The objective for this project was to make more efficient use of a Chicago city block.  This was achieved by butting the houses against one another and building up three stories.  With regard to landscaping, natural Illinois grasses and shrubs were to be grown on a grid which reflected a scaled down version of the Chicago grid. 

    A park with elevated walk ways and bike paths is located in the center and provides a place for the residents to get outside and relax.  A more private outdoor area is also provided in the shape of an atrium and a roof deck incorporated in every house.

 The atrium, besides creating a semi-outdoor space becomes the central means of circulation.  Cat walks and stair ways convey residents vertically and horizontally throughout the house.  This space creates a welcome means of circulation with open space, operable windows and plenty of sunlight pouring through the glass roof top. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  The aim of the Core Studio One project was to design a pavilion on a beach site in Barcelona Spain.  The structure and its openings were to contain multiple environmental performance criteria keyed and differentiated to multiple climatic and programmatic conditions. 

  Environmental performative differentiation within three distinct zones including a café by day, and a cultural forum by night would be the context for our statement.  Informing that process would be a number of key elements including the neighboring sites, environmental exposure, material performance and structural performance.

   Our solution was developed initially from the use of cutting slits in fabric and stretching the fabric with a higher or lower level of stress over a frame, which caused the slits to open more or less depending on the amount of light we chose to specify for a given area.  What this evolved into was the use of plywood fulfilling both the requirements of structural frame and the shading device. 

   The plywood component was bent by means of a single tension cable and slits cut into the component would open more or less depending on the amount of tensile force we  chose to apply.

 

    The Biomimetics seminar allowed us to abstract a mechanism present in a given a natural system, (in our case the mechanism which causes bean pods to “burst” and spread there seeds) study it, then create an architectural application for that abstracted concept.

   After study we discovered that the primary cause of the pod’s twisting and bending lied in the fibrous cell walls or the endocarp cell wall.  As the moisture content of these cell walls proceeds to dissipate, the walls shrink and the fibres do not.  This, coupled with the convex geometry of the fibres wrapped around the seeds is what rips apart the pod at its weakest point, the seam.  Twisting and bending is attributable to the fibrous layers orientation to each other; these will always be less than or greater than 90 degrees. 

    We conducted studies with various thicknesses and orientations of veneer, under the exposure of water vapour and were able to recreate the bending and twisting found in the pods.  We next chose to apply this concept to a fin which would be a component in a variable solar screen incorporated into a roof structure.  In this case the fibrous expansion and retraction would be induced on a large scale by encapsulated phase change materials; fibre orientation would be introduced in the form of carbon fibre panels or fibreglass panels encasing the PCM and creating the fin unit.  As the fins twist the oculus increases in diameter thus allowing more light to enter the space below.

 

 

    The ETH pavilion competition was a one week sprint which grouped together six people and promised the potential of construction.  Once again the brief was to create three distinct zones which would be housed by a pavilion; zones in this case were measured in levels of privacy. 

  The above design evolved from a study in folded plate systems; as we were utilizing plywood (which was a material requirement), it was a logical step to integrate this with the materials ability to bend.  What we produced was a single arched component which we could control by varying the width of the surface edges and the shape of the central arch. 

  It was also became possible to vary the fibre orientation of one panel relative to it’s sister surface to create asymmetrical units.  The most challenging aspect was assembling the unit; it required soaking the wood and bending it into place.  The uncertainties involved in bending six meter long panels of plywood would have been immensely challenging and to a large degree uncharted territory. 

 

 

  Bridges have as the result of modern ideology been withered down to their most basic function, that of simply allowing passage from one place to another. This was not always the case.  It is the intention of this dissertation to reappropriate the bridge as an entity which serves more purpose than simply getting from A to B; the introduction of the manifold bridge.

  The bridge itself is a visitor’s center and bird watching platform overlooking the white cliffs of Beachy Head just outside of Eastbourne in the UK. Coordination between program and space is guided heavily by environmental inputs.  An algorithmic form finding technique based on cellular bone growth has been developed to respond to the loading of the structure. Spatial and architectural planning is created in response to local environmental inputs. 

  In addition to this, studies by John D. Currey and D’Arcy Thompson on bone growth have be utilized  as a starting point for biological research which has be done in conjunction with research on the Direct Metal Laser Sintering system and structural analysis software for the emulation of these systems.