Another semester completed! And this was a BUSY one! Luckily, I only had one major project class. The others were much less work including History of Interiors, Interior Systems, Professional Practice, and Advanced Design Communication. But, nonetheless, it was CRAZY trying to juggle five classes, work, mommy life, and being a wife. I have to admit, there were times I thought I had made the dumbest decision to take that class load on. However, I signed up for my last classes and applied for graduation yesterday! Whoop! My last semester will be 19 credit hours... Yeahhhhh... I know. 

But, I do what I can to graduate quickly! I mainly just don't want to be in school the entire time Elaina is little. :) So I'm looking forward to being finished in the Spring!

First, I want to give a big shout out to my family and friends who are always so supportive. My family and John take on different times of entertaining Elaina and helping us out. John made so many quesadillas and grilled cheese over the last month and gave E so many baths and bedtime stories. And I felt so blessed this last week to have friends who called/texted to check on me, pray for me, and encourage me during this hectic time. It really lifted me up to have their encouragement! We were even treated to a meal the night before my project was due by our friends! I tell you what, even in these times that seem so small and piddly compared to what others deal with, yet so stressful, we are blessed with people who care. And I'm always grateful for that.

So now. 

My project class was Contract Design which is a huge field in itself. It ranges of course, but initially includes healthcare, education, and all other public buildings. We never get to choose our own projects of course, but this project was a bit different. How? Well, here's the simple answer. We were able to choose a target group for a healthcare facility of some kind that we would design using a building shell and Evidence Based Design. EBD is also rapidly growing for designers and architects. When a particular project is complete, further research is done to see outcomes of how the building/interior affects its occupants. When successes are found, they are documented for future designers and architects to relate back to for similar projects. You get the jist of it...

Our goal was to choose a target group and research as much as possible about that group and what a healthcare facility (and its finishes and fixtures more importantly) could do to help them. We began the entire project in a vague way. We had no building shell to begin with or to look at for our programming and concept plan stages.
We were given the thought to use the design organization from a previous canvas painting assignment to really show a process of our plan... Here was my painting... 

Hey! Be nice! It was my first (and maybe last) canvas painting after all! I'm a watercolor person...

But really, this assignment was mainly to discuss design organization like radial design, central design, grid, cluster, and linear. And other principles within space like, transformation, hierarchy, symmetry, rhythm, and so on. These terms are definitely vague and commonly used among the architect crowd when planning developments, etc and not so much in our everyday terms. But it was very interesting and knowledge to be carried with me for years. Can you guess which organization I used???! 

(say cluster, say cluster!!!)

I digress. 

So off we went on our research. This was the super easy part for me. I knew exactly what my target group would be by the time my teacher spit out the "Tar-" in Target Group. Most everyone knows I have a previous degree in Child Development that specifically focused on children with autism. I love all the little buddies I made throughout those years. And autism is one of those disorders that has and will always have a place in my heart. So naturally, my first and probably last project that I get to pick my client/group, would have to involve those with autism. Done and done. Now, I did have to research of course. With my first degree, research was everything. I can do research. However, my degree focus was in children, and I wanted, this time, to focus on young adults and adults with autism. Young adults and adults with autism are often left behind in the community and in healthcare. Sure we have developmental centers for young ones for therapy and even older low functioning adults with many different developmental disorders. But there's not always focus on a design to meet the needs specifically of autism spectrum disorders. So I jumped in to research over current facilities and yup, you guessed it, evidence based design. 

I won't go into too much detail because it's 8-10 weeks of process on our part. But we initially go through the design process with concept plans, early development, and into making those decision within our plan that meet the needs of our target group, codes, etc. We work with our teachers and peers to get feedback and constructive criticism over our planning and concepts. After this, we begin our actual development. Planning spaces and how that correlates with egress (emergency exiting for those who don't understand my terminology), lighting, electrical, ceiling heights, appropriate finishes, etc and develop construction plans accordingly. Long processes that no one except the contractors ever usually see. 

The very last step for our class, is to show that process on boards. Usually, for a client, I would not show boards like this. There would less research and organization process and more building details and specifics. However, we working on accreditation, and needed to show this process. These are 30" x 42" but I could have easily used a larger size.

These boards usually take a week for me to do only because I get that designer perfection itch on a usual basis and like to change things, try new ideas, and make them better than the first draft. However, I only had time to do these in less than 24 hours! The due date just flew up on all of us and left me scrambling to finish. But I finished and was able to tweak a few things according to the feedback of my teachers. 

And now... I present... The Bridge

For the renderings, I intentionally tried a new style for myself. I chose digital watercolor, because I don't have any representation of watercolor in my portfolio. I wanted to create a more sketched look verses real life photos through this particular project. I love the way it turned out. It would be cool to someday show how this look differs from an advanced rendered stage if I ever time to re-render the project.

Software used on this project includes; Revit, Photoshop, SketchUp (small ideation renderings), Illustrator, and Hand-drafting/Hand-Rendering (first section view).

These works and designs are property of Michelle Volkerding. Do not copy or reproduce without permission.