The University of Colorado Denver had 14 students enrolled in its precast studio taught by Assistant Professor Matthew Shea.
The National Parks System is comprised of 419 park sites, 62 of which have been designated as National Parks and received 327,516,619 recreational visitors in 2019. These parks are national treasures and protect some of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in America. Each of these parks are supported by an extensive infrastructural system that provides a wide range of services from maintenance and accommodations to visitor experience. The studio designed a resilient prototype for the U.S. National Park Service for its ranger stations.
There were two primary lines of inquiry that informed the studio. First, the design of a prototype and as a prototype, the design must engage replication on the one hand and be flexible and versatile enough to respond to dramatically different environments on the other. The designs considered variable siting, fluctuating scale, programmatic substitutions, and different climates. Second, as a resilient prototype the designs addressed three distinct time frames: NOW, how it is used prior to an event; THEN, how it will function during an event; and AFTER, how it will be used after an event.
Students worked in pairs and received a unique park following their midterm review. Students explored the opportunities that a precast construction system (cladding, structure or complete system) offers in the realization of their architectural idea as a building system that is highly resilient to fire, seismic activity, flood and extreme temperature.
Throughout the semester the studio had great support from PCI Industry Partners. The students toured the new Wells Precast plant with Scott Maclay and Dan Parker where they were able to experience both structural and architectural precast production. Jason Lien of Encon United delivered three in-person lectures on the precast structural and architectural systems and another on project phasing. Bob Geil from Wells Concrete delivered an in-person lecture on cost estimating.
Unique Program Aspects
Jason Lien held in-person and online meetings with the student groups on a regular basis after their midterm reviews.
The studio is the sixth and last studio in the studio sequence—also known as Integrative Studio—in the NAAB-accredited Master of Architecture program.