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Designing Fire Wise Communities: Fire Resistive Architectural Methods and Materials

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Abstract

Wildfires are rapidly becoming one of the biggest issues that California has to face. Every year, fire season gets longer as lack of rain, high winds and faulty power lines combine in a recipe for disaster. Nearly the entire state,

Abstract

Wildfires are rapidly becoming one of the biggest issues that California has to face. Every year, fire season gets longer as lack of rain, high winds and faulty power lines combine in a recipe for disaster. Nearly the entire state, north to south, has been affected by at least one major firestorm since the fall of 2017. They have become the new normal, razing towns in hours and leaving nothing but wreckage in their wake. Because of this growing problem, solutions for fire-proofing existing towns and strategies for rebuilding those affected are more important than ever. Using design as a lens with which to address this problem, this thesis explores materials that have been tested and proven to be more fire-resistant, as well as outlines through case studies how communities and designers can implement these strategies to create safer communities in wildfire-prone areas. The case studies paint a variety of pictures of what fire-resistant architecture and design can be, offering a comprehensive set of guidelines for both community members and designers to move forward with building or rebuilding structures in a wildland urban interface zone. Researching homes built in both California and Australia widens the perspective of how large the problem of wildfire truly is in terms of building destruction. Solutions such as prefab modular home construction are also becoming a popular option as they are fast and inherently more fire-resistant than traditionally rebuilt homes. At the urban and regional level, research has revealed the importance of planning homes and communities in a way which integrates with the natural topography of the site and minimizes surrounding fuel loads. In addition, building materials such as concrete, straw bale and heavy timber are the most fire-resistant, especially when clad with an outer layer of tile, brick or other noncombustible material and with protected vent openings. Interior materials should minimize the usage of wood detailing, unless using certain products that have the appearance of wood but are actually created by non-combustible materials. Homes should have more compartmentalization to slow down a fire from spreading should one occur in the structure. Fire detection/suppression systems should be up to date and using the latest technology.

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2020-05

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Redefining the Learning Experience: A New Curriculum and Academic Environment for Children Ages 11-13

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This project has the intent of redefining the learning experience of children ages 11-13 through student-centered design that of provides a beneficial environment for emotional, social, and physical health in which students can become more independent in both accountability of

This project has the intent of redefining the learning experience of children ages 11-13 through student-centered design that of provides a beneficial environment for emotional, social, and physical health in which students can become more independent in both accountability of actions and in their thinking to see the larger picture and real-world application of each topic they learn and to foster thinking at a global scale. This is to be completed through the focus on the cognitive development and physical needs of the children at this age, a combination of the pedagogical models of inquiry-based, project-based, and community-based learning, connection to resources, implementation of design completed with understanding and testing of learning and working collaborative spaces, emphasizing the biophilic experience.

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Date Created
2017-05

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What's for Dinner?

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Food’s implication on culture and agriculture challenges agriculture’s identity in the age of the city. As architect and author Carolyn Steel explained, “we live in a world shaped by food, and if we realize that, we can use food as

Food’s implication on culture and agriculture challenges agriculture’s identity in the age of the city. As architect and author Carolyn Steel explained, “we live in a world shaped by food, and if we realize that, we can use food as a powerful tool — a conceptual tool, design tool, to shape the world differently. It triggers a new way of thinking about the problem, recognizing that food is not a commodity; it is life, it is culture, it’s us. It’s how we evolved.” If the passage of food culture is dependent upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations, the learning environments should reflect this tenability in its systematic and architectural approach.

Through an investigation of agriculture and cuisine and its consequential influence on culture, education, and design, the following project intends to reconceptualize the learning environment in order facilitate place-based practices. Challenging our cognitive dissonant relationship with food, the design proposal establishes a food identity through an imposition of urban agriculture and culinary design onto the school environment. Working in conjunction with the New American University’s mission, the design serves as a didactic medium between food, education, and architecture in designing the way we eat.

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2017-05

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Design & Community Development: The Built Environment's Role in the Health of Native American Communities

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The institutionalized environments of government aid, void of architectural creativity, are regular sights in Native American communities. Meanwhile, the community falls victim to obesity, diabetes, addiction, and many other maladies. I believe that the design of a community's buildings can

The institutionalized environments of government aid, void of architectural creativity, are regular sights in Native American communities. Meanwhile, the community falls victim to obesity, diabetes, addiction, and many other maladies. I believe that the design of a community's buildings can greatly affect the health of the community. This thesis focuses on the social aspects of design. How might we enhance the social capital of Native communities through the built environment?

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2014-12

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The Lighthouse: Improving Pediatric Palliative and Hospice Care

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5 With over 55,000 pediatric deaths per year in the United States, there is a tremendous need for pediatric palliative and hospice care facilities. While this programmatic typology exists in several countries around the world - including over 45 centers

5 With over 55,000 pediatric deaths per year in the United States, there is a tremendous need for pediatric palliative and hospice care facilities. While this programmatic typology exists in several countries around the world - including over 45 centers in the United Kingdom alone - only two pediatric palliative and hospice facilities are operational in the United States. Offering a spectrum of care that extends from respite to end-of-life, these facilities would benefit over 8,600 children daily in the U.S. In addition to compiling research in order to build a case for the express need for such a facility, I propose that this typology requires a unique organizational scheme that diverges from the traditional program of home or hospital. Rather than adhering to the hierarchies found in a singlefamily residence, upon which the current model is organized, this new type of design revolves around the Nurses' Station as the nucleus of the facility. Additionally, the design relies heavily upon biophilic stratagem and play therapy, which further influence the program and form of the building. These tactics are used to enhance the psychological state of the patient, family, and medical staff and to mitigate the impact of a life-threatening or life-limiting illness.

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Date Created
2016-05

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Architecture and Its Impact on Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that impacts one’s social interaction, communication skills (both verbal and non-verbal), and cognitive function. Autism affects 1 in 60 children. Individuals with autism have trouble understanding facial expressions or social cues, and

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that impacts one’s social interaction, communication skills (both verbal and non-verbal), and cognitive function. Autism affects 1 in 60 children. Individuals with autism have trouble understanding facial expressions or social cues, and often see the world around them differently than a neurotypical individual (mainly increased sensitivity to sounds, motion, or lighting). As the name implies, autism is a spectrum, and no two individuals are alike. As the saying goes, “When you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Movies such as Rain Man (1988) or The Accountant (2016) showcase autistic individuals who are higher-functioning; they are able to verbally communicate and live somewhat independently. Other autistic individuals, such as my brother, Tyler, are lower-functioning. Tyler is non-verbal and unable to be independent, and our day-to-day life is greatly shaped by this.<br/><br/>One thought that haunts the parents of autistic individuals is, “What happens when they’re older?” Even more scary is the question “What will happen when I’m gone?” My brother is on the autism spectrum, and my mother describes these thoughts as ones that “keep [her] up at night.” She explains, “I think it’s important for him to be completely engaged and productive, and we have that right now because we’re in our little safety bubble...that’s going to end...and it’s kind of scary.” Around 50,000 children with autism turn 18 every year in the United States, and nearly 90% of autistic individuals lose access to the services they have relied on throughout their entire lives. My hope is that architecture can help to answer this question by providing a place for adults on the autism spectrum to learn how to eventually live and work independently in the future. By implementing certain design features and design criteria to minimize the sensory overload issues commonly experienced by individuals with autism, we can create a safe space for learning for young adults on the autism spectrum.

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Date Created
2021-05