Existence Confluence

An Exploration of Social Interaction Through the Study of a Marketplace
ex•ist \ig’zist\ vb 1 : have real or actual being 2 : live - ex•ist•ence n con·flu·ence \knfl-ns\ n 1 : a flowing together of two or more streams 2 : a gathering, flowing, or meeting together at one juncture or point 1

Stacey Westenberger • 2005-2006 • Senior Thesis Project • California Polytechnic State Univeristy

San Luis Obispo • College of Architecture and Environmental Design • Professor Jonathan Reich

The following excerpts demonstrate: • Architecture engages the senses on an intimate level. It can elicit a sense of consciousness among users resulting in increased awareness of the surrounding physical environment. • In an urban setting, the built environment sets a scene for humans to recognize the beauty in everyday life. • Architecture shapes a place for interaction to occur between users.

Thesis Excerpts...

Can architecture make us aware of our surroundings and the beauty in the “ordinary” moments in our lives? It begins with how we define ordinary. Ordinary is defined by MerriamWebster’s Dictionary as: or•di•nar•y adj: of common occurrence, quality, or ability.1 Ordinary does not mean the object in which it describes is of low quality or lacking in ability; it refers, however, to something that is usual or customary. These familiar instances do not lack quality because we have experienced them before, however, this quality becomes harder to recognize when it is all around us. The “ordinary” moments are necessary in order to be a 

basis for things extraordinary. Something extraordinary stands out from the rest and demands one’s attention. However, this does not negate the inherit significance and beauty in the ordinary. Koren uses the term Wabi Sabi to express the beauty in ordinary things. He first describes beauty; “Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, and extraordinary moment of poetry and grace” (Koren 51). He further explains Wabi Sabi with the ideas of ordinary versus extraordinary. Koren demonstrates Wabi Sabi as coexisting, rather than imposing. “Unpretentious. Things wabi-sabi are unstudied and inevitable looking. They do 5 In an urban environment, architecture sets a scene for... not blare out ‘I am important’ or demand to be the center of attention. They are understated and unassuming, yet not without presence or quiet authority. Things wabi-sabi easily co-exist with the rest of their environment” (Koren 68). After realizing there is potential for beauty in habitual things, the question remains, how can we recognize environmental influence on our everyday life?


The experience of architecture should not be limited to a certain age group, social class, or economic level. As diversity grows among the populations of our global world, a common together under a common purpose, therefore promoting interaction between social strata. Through this interaction, results understanding and respect. There is a realization that we, as members of a global society may not be equal, but we all have common daily activities. An understanding of the world around you is needed on a large and small scale; recognizing the role of nature, people, and the built environment on your everyday activities. Do they enhance or hinder your own development and the development of the world (big or small) around you? Our interactions with people in a place become moments within our lives. Through these interactions, emotions are drawn out of all the indicators affecting our lives at that one moment in time. Time, place, weather, people, etc. all play into the feelings we perceive at a specific moment. Factors such as being cold, wet, tired, sick, etc. all afvisitors, races, etc. Architecture should be for everyone to enjoy. It should create public places for interaction to occur between each end of the spectrum, simultaneously creating understanding and recognition of the diversity within the community and the greater world.

“The encounter with other perceivers continually assures me that there is more to any thing, or to the world, than I myself can perceive at any moment.” (Abrams 39)
ground is needed for which all people can experience and understand. Architecture provides a place to bring people 10

Architecture creates public places for interaction to occur.
fect how a person perceives and instance. History also affects what the person feels at the present moment. Who is the user group then? It is everyone! Old, young, tall, short, rich, poor, one, many,

Since 2001, there are 1426 new residential units that have opened in St. Louis City. And an additional 1,000 units began construction at the end of 2004. (CID)


The following excerpts demonstrate: • Site - Eads Bridge • Vicinity - St. Louis, MO • Community - A segregated population motivates the design of a place for social interaction. • Program - Public Marketplace “Markets are seen as neutral spaces that belong to no single age group, giving them a multi-generational character and sense of community like few other places.” (Freid)

Place Excerpts...

Population change in the 1990s: -47,163 (-11.9%) In more recent years, St. Louis has fallen from its spot among the largest bustling cities within the U.S. and is now steadily declining. Although the St. Louis region ranks 17th in population nationwide, the Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of 6,391 square miles, with a population of 2.6 million people, only 16% of which live in the City of St. Louis. In the 1950’s, St. Louis experienced “white flight” from the city and still suffers from its trend today. White flight is a colloquial term for the demographic trend of white people, generally but not always upper and middle class, moving away 1 from increasingly and predominantly non-white areas, finding new homes in nearby suburbs or even moving to new locales entirely. 9 Most businesses eventually moved out of the city to the suburbs in order to be closer to their work force; thus economically devastating the cities growth. As a result, the city has been under plans of redevelopment since the 1960’s, although it is just beginning to show signs of resolve. 10 St. Louis, Missouri USA Elevation: 465 feet Land area: 61.9 square miles


The diversity among city residents becomes the motivator for a place of social interaction. Contrary to segregation, a common place for interaction allows for dissemination of the diverse makeup within the city. The history of misunderstanding among social classes and races, leading to the giant urban sprawl and “white flight” further supports the need for a common place where all people feel welcome. The number of visitors to the city each year is of major economic wealth to the city. Increasing the number of attractions and amenities will further enhance the tourism market and sustain its success. Visitors are another user group who will benefit from a common place of interaction. Often times, visitors also like to observe their travel destination in its raw atmosphere. A place for visitors and residents allows for them to interact and learn from each other. 36


Population (year 2000): 38,189 Est. population in July 200: 33,279 (-1.% change) Males: 163,567 (7.0%) Females: 18,622 (53.0%) Races in St. Louis: Black (51.2%) White Non-Hispanic (2.9%) Hispanic (2.0%) Two or more races (1.9%) Vietnamese (1.0%) American Indian (0.8%) Other race (0.8%) Daytime population change due to commuting: +122,23 (+35.1%) Workers who live and work in this city: 82,480 (58.6%) Houses: 176,354 (147,076 occupied: 68,917 owner occupied,

78,159 Median Median Median

renter occupied) resident age: 33.7 years household income: $27,156 (year 2000) house value: $63,900 (year 2000

For population 25 years and over in St. Louis High school or higher: 71.3% Bachelor’s degree or higher: 19.1% Graduate or professional degree: 7.6% Unemployed: 11.3% Mean travel time to work: 25.1 minutes For population 15 years and over in St. Louis city Never married: 1.5% Now married: 32.7% Separated: .% Widowed: 9.2% Divorced: 12.3%


Site: Eads Bridge
10. Incorporate the Eads Bridge as a public event venue in conjunction with the riverfront by improving the bicycle and pedestrian connections between the riverfront and the Eads Bridge, By providing vertical circulation/access to the Bridge Deck, the Metro Link Station and connecting the Riverfront, By providing horizontal / lateral circulation connections, Arch grounds, parking and bridges. -St. Louis Community Development Plan 16

The Eads Bridge was the built in 1874 as the first structure to cross the Mississippi River, the largest river in North America. Built to allow trains to cross the river, it reaffirmed St. Louis as a major trading capital. The Eads Bridge was a marvel of engineering during its erection and even today. As a connection between Illinois and Missouri, the bridge currently acts as a minor passageway for car traffic. Future plans include closing the bridge to car traffic permanently, while promoting a promenade, hosting public events such as the existing, Taste of St. Louis. What options exist to utilize its great length and promote the bridge as a public gathering space? 61

A public marketplace is about the experience of interaction and observation first, but also has an overlying purpose of offering fresh and nutritious foods to those living in an urban environment. In that case, along with vendor stalls, a market provides such as restrooms and places to relax. While thriving due to its proximity to tourist attractions and the metro line, easy access from highways and the city streets, as well as parking accommodations for bikes and cars.

They are home to endless hand to hand transactions, evolving relationships. 7
places to sit, relax, and observe (i.e. benches and cafes), as well as educational programs (i.e. observation kitchens, nutrition information, and helpful tips about food). There is a basic support system allowing a market to be a place of gathering,

-Vendor stalls -Cafes/Restaurants -Nutrition Education -Observation Kitchen -Cookbook Retail -Restrooms -Bike Racks -Metro Station


The following excerpts demonstrate: • Interaction between users, the historic bridge, and the new structure are studied through the analysis of plans, sections, and models. • Initial ideas on form and connection to the Eads Bridge are evaluated for feasibility.

Schematic Design Excerpts...

Plan Analysis
Major Points of Consideration: • Continuing outdoor recreation space • Vendor connection to indoor and outdoor spaces • Mezzanine over market space to provide a place for reflection on activity • Vendor Space Analysis


The stacked spaces provide circulation between bridge levels. The experience of circulation is enhanced by simultaneously experiencing the bridge.



The East side of the building is two levels offering a demonstration kitchen on the bridge deck as a base to the market hall. The cafe space is within the bridge opening and brings the occupants closer to the barrel vault of the bridge. It is also at the same level as the train tracks, which cross perpendicular to the bridge allowing a new perspective on the many forms of transportation integrated within the historic structure.

The cross section shows the connection of the bridge to the arch grounds. The level which fills the space between the bridge and floodwall provides office space, as well as the two-story glass wall offers views to the city (west) and river (east). The multiple stories of space also provide circulation to the cafe within the vault, three floors below the main market. Like the main market entry from the bridge, the access point from the arch grounds into the market space is a sloping plane, which becomes the roof/deck for the market hall. Again the sloping plane also offers a nice place for sitting to look back at the arch from the bridge. 130 131

Study Model
The newspaper topography represents “everyday life” with the bridge rising from it. The streets are delinated by white spray paint and the river is exposed torn cardboard. The railroad tracks are represented by black chip board. The market building is made up of a pliable material, one-sided cardboard, to form the smooth transition to the roof, while structure is represented by basswood. The circulation towers are wrapped in mesh to signify a translucency and texture.


The following excerpts demonstrate: • The project further develops the user’s experience, reaffirming the thesis that architecture can increase a user’s awareness of his or her surroundings. • The final presentation is a reflection of the completed architectural design. The materials and composition mimic the light structure grounded in the historic bridge while creating a progressional experience for the viewer.

Design Development Excerpts...

Occupiable Space 0/20/2006
• Angle guides attention up and out towards the arch and city. • Reveal of skin guides view downward toward Laclede’s Landing. • Mezzanine provides space for looking over market operations. • The bridge deck provides an unobstructed path and experience. • At bridge deck, the platform is extended.

What areas are accessible by occupants and what experience does it provide?


Final Documetation
• 22+ Permanent Vendor Stalls • The main bridge deck provides opportunities for temporary vendors • The cafe space celebrates its separation from the main market space and provides a relaxed atmosphere focusing on the appreciation of the bridge. • The circulation to the cafe also allows users access to the riverfront and bridge deck. • An outdoor deck wraps around the East side of the market providing outdoor places to retreat and reflect on the city and water.

Floor Plan



• The south elevation reveals the market as a mass lifted out of the existing bridge deck. • The openings in the 2’ thick wall mimic the openings in the limestone bridge and offer places for sitting or resting in the market space. • The cafe protrudes through the front opening of the bridge at the same level as the existing railroad tracks. • The Switzer building is still exposed from the gradual increase in height of the market building as it extends along the bridge. • The sloping paths reach out in both directions toward the city and beyond. • In section, the building provides a varying experience at all levels in width and height. • The structure cantilevers over the bridge deck, separating it from the historic structure.

South Elevation

Sequential Cross Section



Model (1/32” = 1’-0”)
Materials: basswood plywood wire reacted metal mesh sound deafening board plexi-glass


Section Model (1/” = 1’-0”)
Basswood structure attached to a limestone base with metal rods.


Final Presentation 05/22/2006 and 05/26/2006
The main idea behind the final presentation was to create a similar feeling as evoked by the designed market place. The 11x17 drawings create a similar repetition as found in the bridge, while the sketch of St. Louis is unpretentious slowly revealing itself to the observer as one passes around the project. The timeline portrays not only a history of St. Louis and why a market is vital, but also the design process, and when precedents were built. The drawings were suspended using orange string and magnets to create a light almost floating feeling, similar to the raised structure of the market. The limestone bricks grounded the presentation much like the bridge grounds the entire project. 190 The models were displayed using the coffee table submitted to the Vellum competition. The base of the coffee table was placed on its side to form the X-shaped base for the larger model, where as the stools were stacked to form a podium for the section model.


Download the complete Existence Confluence thesis book at: http://staceywestenberger.blogspot.com

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