Competition Boards: John Viera

John Viera received 1st Prize for "Flexible Framework," a design for a mixed-use development in Venice, Calif. The judges appreciated this design's approach to the urban environment, with retail on the street and common space for residents off the street. The panel thought the circulation within units was well-designed, and commended the entry's use of universal design and shading devices. They especially liked the movable walls incorporated within the units, which allow owners to change the space as their lives change.

Students were required to design a new-construction, mixed-use urban development with 30 ADA-accessible or adaptable residential units, an assisted living wing with 24-hour health care, street-level retail space, and community recreation and social spaces. They had to address accessibility to transportation, plan for basic community services, and create a plan for the site's orientation, access, walkability, views, and daylighting. They also were encouraged to incorporate sustainable features.


John Vierra's Tsunami "best of show"

John Vierra's Tsunami "best of show"

John Vierra's Tsunami "best of show"

John Vierra's Tsunami "best of show"

Livable Communities

Venice, California is a vibrant and distinctive community whose culture is entrenched in creative works in art, architecture, and design. Recognizing the contemporary architecture surrounding it, this design attempts to capture its expressive and joyful community through the outer permeable layer serving as a shaded, privacy and rain screen. This allows its occupants to change their level of privacy and daylighting by simply sliding screens back and forward. This creates a dynamic expression directly related to its inhabitants and its cultural contexts. The light permeable screen also takes advantage of Venice’s temperate climate by giving residents the ability to open the screens in the winter passively heating up the concrete floor slab or closing it to modulate solar gain for passive cooling in the summer.

The building is designed to be located within optimum orientation along the east-west direction, with its main elevations and glazed surfaces working to the north and south, getting the most out of the heat source in winter. The program is designed along the boundaries of the site creating a central courtyard that becomes a semi-private retreat. This courtyard is treated as a community garden that allows tenants to interact and produce their own food, reducing the need to travel for food, and providing a livable and green neighborhood for Venice.

The project addresses Universal Design as each space has a turning radius of at least 5’ in diameter, wide walkways, and an open one story residential plan minimizing interior hallways, stairs and doorways while maximizing sightlines. A main elevator is centrally located covering all floors to ensure that all spaces are stepless and handicap accessible. All doors are sliding with a drop frame reducing upstanding thresholds. Life is constantly changing, and in order for one to age in place without major renovation space needs to be flexible and adaptable. This is addressed by using a series of interchangeable walls that can be manipulated throughout the family’s life cycle. This ensures that every space can get utilized by simply adding or subtracting walls. These movable wall components are sustainable as they can be recycled, allowing a cradle-to-cradle material cycle. As one user may want to discard them, another can use them. Using a system flexible and adaptable, space can meet the needs and abilities of multiple generations, which touches on the very essence of Universal Design. It’s a system that accommodates the requests of people regardless of age and ability.

While the primary structure is fixed and its main Universal Design strategies in place, space defining elements and infrastructural framework are all component based. Modular components are assembled in a factory environment, ensuring high quality, envelope integrity and precise dimensional tolerance, while reducing overall cost for its repetition. This provides residents with the highest-quality housing available while still maintaining affordability. Social evolution is real and rapid, and supporting future lifestyles is healthy for humanity, and necessary for the longevity of a livable community.

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