Aerial Photo 
Architectural Design I: 301-672A
Fall Term, 2002


In this final project prior to thesis, you are asked to address the full scope of architectural design, from the scale of the city to the intimate details of a single room.  The vehicle for this exploration is a long-term development plan for the McGill Campus on the site of the City of Montreal's McTavish Reservoir--a proposal which challenges both traditional notions of siting and building, and traditional programmatic divisions of arts and science, study and leisure. Planning at this scale attempts to channel divergent interests into an organized, inspirational framework. It requires that a position be taken with respect to the morphology and programmatic composition of a given area.  It also demands that you pursue the parallel exploration of interior and exterior demands:  those of the lab module, dwelling unit, classroom, office etc. versus the requirements of public life.  This juggling act highlights the requirement that a designer not get lost in detail, but maintain an overview at all times.  As in any architectural design problem, site and program are the two fundamental constraints, yet these terms must be understood broadly and flexibly at this scale. Both, of course, are mediated by financial constraints, but in the context of the design studio, this third aspect will not be explored in detail through costing exercises and analysis.  

The site of our interventions is more than just a surface on which to build; it has a history, a climate, a complex physical make-up of both natural and built elements, and an enveloping web of socio-cultural significance. It is also a vast reservoir of energy and other environmental opportunities to be tapped into.

The program is also complex.  It is not merely a list of requirements furnished by the client.  Program must be understood in its broadest sense, both technically, functionally, and poetically as a fluid assemblage of needs and concerns which the architect must develop with the client and collaborating professionals, and then weigh against site considerations.  The program must include both basic spatial requirements such as the # of 10sq.m.offices, as well as technical requirements such as the specifics of natural light and ventilation.


For the purposes of this project, it is assumed that the McTavish Reservoir is undergoing extensive maintenance and renovation, thereby providing an exciting opportunity to re-evaluate the use of the site and offer new models for sustainable development.  The McGill Campus distinguishes the City of Montreal as a vital and highly valued focus for the downtown core, with its educational mission, generous green space and historic buildings providing an environmental and cultural oasis.  Its attractive, central siting against the backdrop of Mount Royal makes expansion exceedingly difficult, however, with pressures to preserve both the surrounding historic urban fabric and the wooded areas around Mount Royal Park.  Relatively open sites, such as the location of the new Genome and IT buildings, have arguably been developed beyond reasonable limits.  This might also be said to be true of the proposed sites for the new arts and science complexes  west of McTavish. 

The reservoir site offers a natural extension of the main campus green to the south.  It also provides a potential link between the many university buildings west of McTavish and those to the east bordering University Street.  On this pivotal location, the university has the opportunity to show leadership in the area of sustainable development by providing a visionary model of campus development built on the active stewardship of ecological, social and cultural resources.  This is all the more poignant given that Montreal's infrastructure system is seriously over-taxed--in this area in particular, water, power supply and sewer lines are inadequate to handle the current demand.


In general, programming must go beyond quantities and types of accommodation to address interrelations, character, atmosphere, and technical constraints. Programmatically you are to consider 3 generic functional requirement summaries for arts and science research and education, and residential use.  You should identify their particularities, modularity and compatibilities, and determine the ideal density and massing for the site.


Public Spaces
Communal academic facilities
Communal public facilities

You are free to muse on the interrelations or differences of arts and sciences,,, to elaborate the program as you see fit to include other uses, and to develop--or reject-- the inclusion of residential occupancy.

As the primary programmatic component of the urban fabric, housing is commonly a priority in master planning.  While housing in the context of university planning is often relegated to distinct precincts, we find integrated models in the early history of campus planning, including British examples such as Oxford, and Jefferson's University of Virginia masterplan.   The notions of mixed-use, and live-work are also integral to sustainable development in general. McGill has an actual need for additional housing, but its existing residential precinct is difficult to expand given its sensitive location on the flank of Mount Royal.  The existing housing stock in the "McGill Ghetto"  offers expansion potential, but the City of Montreal is also suffering from a lack of housing on a large scale:  we therefore assume, for the purposes of this exercise, that it is justifiable to consider a residential component to this project. It is up to you to access its relevance in the context of this site, to determine the density of development, and to justify your approach. 

Each master plan should accommodate approximately 20,000-50,000 square meters of built area, and should be sub-dividable into approximately 5,000sq.m. units. In Phase 2, each student will identify one 5,000sq.m. unit-or building-which they wish to develop independently.


The master planning exercise will allow you to explore, as a team, the numerous technical, formal and programmatic considerations which determine sustainable design strategies.  In teams of 2, you will document existing conditions, then, through research and analysis, make recommendations specific to your area of research.  Finally, you will work to pool and synthesize the classes` combined research into your own (team) master plan proposal.


While you are doing your data collection and site analysis work, be aware of the environmental opportunities the site has to offer, and identify them.  Also identify sources of waste and the currently underutilized potential of the site.  Ask yourself  how  the site can assist in making the project more self-sufficient and how your interventions can actually increase the vitality of the site. 

As an example, consider the following observation: the McTavish Reservoir is the primary holding tank and distribution point for the city’s water.  The water comes from the middle of the St Lawrence River and, after filtering and treatment, is transported over many kilometers of pipe to the McTavish Reservoir site, yet the precipitation that falls on the reservoir is drained away into storm sewers and transported many more kilometers back into the river.  This untreated water could be collected in a cistern or landscape feature and satisfy many on site uses including irrigation and toilet flushing, which ironically are the two largest consumers of potable water in buildings.

Each group will be asked to explore certain environmental strategies and will be expected to understand the basic principles of that strategy and make masterplan recommendations that would maximize the potential of that strategy on our site.  Use precedents where possible to illustrate the concepts and form these strategies might take.

You may have to coordinate with other groups.  Organize yourselves so that you are not duplicating each others’ work.

Final Format: 81/2X11 (Presentation 11x17, all base plans, photos, on computer)
The aim is to produce a final document that will compile all the data and recommendations to prepare you for the master planning work ahead.

. school of architecture . mcgill university .