Maker Center

Spring Semester 2015

Studio Coordinator Steve Lee
Studio Professor Elizabeth Cruze
with Kelsey Simpson

The neighborhood of Homewood lies on the outer edges of Pittsburgh. Historically vibrant but struggling to recover from its drastic loss of population, it has become distant from the rest of the city. This project seeks to breidge that gap by drawing people from both Homewood and the large area served by the Martin Luther King Busway, which has a major stop and parking lot to the southern side of the site, as wellas captitalizing on the adjacent Westinghouse building, a converted warehouse occupied by a professional makerspace-like community. The project employs a seasonally enclosed corridor connecting Homewood through to the Westinghouse Building. The corridor acts as both a gallery and as a lens through which users can view the activity on both sides of the maker center, inviting them to take part and learn. Activities inside enjoy physical, auditory, or at least visual overlaps with surrounding activities to stimulate a desire to continue learning and teaching as a community of Makers.

The makercenter rests on its site as the product of cast-in-place concrete, brick masonry and heavy timber elements. The open plans are organized by a series of concrete shells which contain vertical circluation, and by masonry blocks which contain closed program elements. Each staircase operates doubly as a small amphitheater, a partially enclosed presentation room which allows presentations to become open events.

Entry procession from the Homewood Direction

Close-in view of a site-section. Click for a complete view.

Site design and cast in place concrete shells.

Structural diagram along housing unit lengths.

Placement of solar panels and water collection roof design.

Sectional model built from rockite, basswood, MDF, plywood, acrylic, plywood, foamcore, and sandpaper.

This model represents the cafe and and one presentation area and staircase.

Structure details for Glulam columns.

Connection details for curtain glass.

Exploded drawing of a component we had fabricated and assembled for this project.

We worked with the Pittsburgh company Atomatic Manufacturing to have the prototype components waterjet cut out of aluminum.

Observing the process gave us a number of insights into the benefits and challenges of waterjet cutting.

The final assembled prototype, mocked up with hardware and related copmonents.