112_Mo Faul: Tale of Two Cities

Mo Faul

I am originally from Michigan and I received my B.Arch from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; last September I moved out west to start my M.Arch at University of Oregon and will be graduating June 2017. I've had internships while living in Michigan and worked freelance and held research positions in Oregon. I'm excited to graduate and begin working professionally, my goal is to find a firm that really focuses on triple bottom line sustainability and community engagement.

Tale of Two Cities

This was a 10 week studio project based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The first half of the studio focused on developing a schematic master plan for a specific area in San Juan that covers both entrances into the shantytown the site just outside of the old fortification wall. The challenge with this project was to honor both 'sides' of San Juan, the old colonial city (Old San Juan) and the shantytown (La Perla). The history of the two cities is very vast and intricate, our professor was from Puerto Rico and he did his best to help us understand the culture and the people. So, this studio had as much to do with design as it did with social concepts.

After developing the master plan as a studio, we each chose our specific intervention site within that plan. There were 8 sites in which to intervene: research facility, art gallery, amphitheater, school, museum, market, public stairs, and housing. In the end I chose the public stairs, one of the few access points that connects Old San Juan to La Perla.

Moving past that my concept behind the stairs was to create a space and piece of architecture that celebrates the transcendence between the two cities and also gives voice to the architectural language of La Perla. The existing staircase over the fortification wall is dismal and completely utilitarian, but this new proposal invokes the essence of La Perla with its chaotic volumes and almost haphazard construction. There is a glazed elevator shaft that provides universal access as do the ramps on both the La Perla and Old San Juan sides. There are stopping points at each level that provide specific views whether its strictly of the wall, strips of La Perla, or a panoramic view of the city and ocean beyond. La Perla used to be this derelict place, but that has since changed and now it's a vibrant community with art, music, and good food. This project aims to embrace the unique qualities of La Perla, celebrate the community, and serve as a beacon within the city.