Architectural engineering students Katelyn Royce ’19 and Joseph Gokey ’19 took their design skills on the road to help improve Connecticut’s Interstate 84. Along with classmates in their Architectural Design IV Studio Intensive Track course, they recently spent five weeks producing sample designs for the “I-84 Hartford Project,” an initiative led by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
The project is addressing the aging bridge structures of the highway, which stretches east to west across the state, with the goal of improving access to all aspects of travel in the Hartford area, including Amtrak, CTfastrack, and CTtransit bus service.
Assistant Professor Seth Holmes, AIA, NCARB, LEED bd+c, sought out the project, breaking it into two parts so students could gain a mix of infrastructure, retail, and office design experience.
“The challenge I asked the students to tackle was to first create an ‘Urban Design Master Plan’ for the city, focusing on how much of the highway would be ‘capped’, and how the space would be used,“ Holmes says. Capping is popular in urban planning and refers to a space built above a highway, either a park or other enhanced area, which can help bridge the gap between a highway and central parts of the city.
Joseph shares that the second part of the project involved “developing a fully functioning building to fit into the master plan. This taught us the complexities of creating a structure that fits into the current surroundings, taking into account green spaces, views, and open space.”
The goal of the studio course, explains Holmes, is to “expose students to larger-scale design problems and provide a knowledge base around urban systems and services as well as large-scale building structural and envelope design.”
Click here for a student showcase of designs.