Master of Architecture Thesis Presentations 2019
Monday, May 6, 2019 - 10:00am to Monday, May 6, 2019 - 5:00pm
Master of Architecture Thesis Presentations 2019

The Master of Architecture degree at Portland State University culminates in the design thesis, which is undertaken in the final year of this program. The aim of our design thesis program is not to rest simply in proposing another building. Instead, it offers a singular opportunity for an individual to proclaim a position, state a case, articulate what matters, and communicate this through the language of architecture. 

Through a combination of rigorous research and creative exploration of a polemical issue framed as a question, students in the thesis phase of their Master of Architecture degree discover their passion for the contribution architecture can make to the transformation of culture. The response to this question is developed and shared in the form of hand and digital drawings, material studies, scale models, artifacts, and writing, which are presented by the student to a panel of resident and visiting faculty and professionals in an hour-long oral defense. Every student also compiles their thesis research and design process in a professionally printed book. 

The schedule for the thesis presentations is as follows:

Monday, May 6

10am   Sophia Alberts-Willis | Civic Alienation Theater
Civic Alienation Theater is an attempt to reclaim the power of civic theater by using Brechtian alienation techniques. This allows cohabitation of citizen and individual within the same body. I am designing a civic space for this body to go and speak on its own behalf. In this place Citizen/Individuals will collaborate, fight, debate, console, agree, protest. Their participation will tie them to their city and give a hard won sense of belonging. The new frontier of place-claiming is daring to stand physically, and not in name only, behind your own words. This thesis is a proposed urban infrastructure designed to encourage, reward, and display civic participation/voice. It reimagines three park blocks at the core of Portland’s civic quarter as the main hub for the production, collection, and embodying of a civic currency that re-embodies the words of the populace as object and city fabric.
11am   Alesha Hase | Over Studied And Under Served: Adaptability Facilitating Equity In Space Creation And Habitation

Buildings and urban environments reflect the identities and stories of those constructing them. The stories often reflect the influence of builder/designer rather than the specific histories and people of a place. This perpetuates the power of those constructing the urban landscape to continue to tell their single story. What happens when those buildings become adaptable for many users across time? What happens when the building elements are adaptable to reflect different stories and ideas? When the building is able to serve those in the community, the transfer of power gives equity to those who inhabit it, rather than those who construct it. As a form of historical preservation, this process will give new life to the buildings of a community while providing a new story to tell. The adaptability of interior environments allows for a multitude of uses, letting the story adapt and morph as the community does.


1pm   Sarut Choothian | Pressed To Start: Into An Immersive Space of Information and Storytelling

This thesis investigates the possibility of virtual technology, such as virtual reality, as a part of architectural experience. Considering that technology of virtual space has become part of daily urban life, how can the virtual technology be magnified by architecture to extend the experience in the city? Virtual space has always been an alternative to reality that can be understood vis-a-vis the real. People unconsciously occupy virtual space through writing, reading, listening, watching, playing, and even thinking. As a result, this thesis will explore the potential of a new architectural typology, where people can inhabit, communicate, and enjoy a space between the virtual and the physical.



3pm   Kagan Reardon | Silent Skins | Unquiet Minds: Architecture Parlante As Suicide Intervention

Like the silent skins that drape the unquiet minds of those dealing with suicide, our buildings too have been silenced by their own type of unrelenting maladies. Without intention or meaning in our buildings, our cities have grown silent; they have become the doldrums of the developer, ornamented by pro forma rather than expression and meaning. This loss of intentional faciality has aided in the continued exile of at-risk communities; this is especially true for those experiencing suicide ideation—a population that struggles with finding the limited resources made available to them. Through intention, communication, and perception, this thesis explores the possibility of architecture as an instrument for mental health recovery and suicide prevention. Part beacon, part subconscious hieroglyph, part sacred space, the SelfCenter® is an intentional therapeutic community for those experiencing suicide ideation.


Tuesday, May 7


10am   Wayny Le | Substrata-Form: A Subterranean Vernacular For The Las Vegas Resort

The Las Vegas resort has evolved tremendously in the past 80 years and it is currently undergoing its next transformation from a gaming-centric destination to an experience-centric destination. Unlike those currently on The Strip, this resort’s design and experience are deeply rooted in its place. The resort is carved 100 feet down beneath Las Vegas Boulevard to provide guests protection from the harsh desert environment, while also providing an underground canal to swim along and enjoy. This resort becomes a blueprint for how to live in and enjoy the desert more pleasurably and sustainably.



11am   Jennifer Rodriguez | Giving Vicissitudes Roots: Adaptable Housing For The 21st Century

Speculative housing in the United States is stuck in the 1940s postwar baby-boom of nuclear families, sprawling suburbs, and cookie-cutter houses. This project aims to update speculative housing by addressing current household demographics, the return to urban density, and flipping the script on the prescriptive house. The COIN (Continuum Of Inhabitant Needs) House is built to allow the layout to be easily reconfigured and subdivided so that the owners can Phase-In-Place, rather than moving every time the household experiences changes. There are two sides to every COIN and the insertion of an alleyway through the block allows subdivided units to have separate entrances and maintain direct connection to the neighborhood and community around them.



12:50pm   Bijeta Choudhury | Falling Upwards: Architecture For Oregonian Balloonomania

Oregon’s hot air balloon festivals are not just seen; they are experienced. In addition to visually striking tableaus, participants and audiences remember the feel of sweat pouring down their necks on hot days,the discordant sounds of music and shouting spectators, the wafting smells of unwashed bodies, unmanageable movement of multicolored fabrics, the great power of vantage point, and the surprising playfulness of gravity and levity, among many other sensorial phenomena. These spirits spread far beyond the limits of specific architectural representations. Responding to the challenges through a series of architectural sensorial representations, this thesis project imagines several permanent and ephemeral spaces that have the enigmatic and experiential quality of hot air ballooning.



2pm   Razieh Hosseini Nezhad | Lessons From Iranian Courtyard Houses: Environmentally And Culturally Sustainable Dwellings

Even with the help of new design methods, construction materials, and technological advancement, buildings are often expensive and unsustainable. Therefore, it is important to reevaluate and learn from vernacular methods used in the architecture of the past. Indigenous Iranian builders utilized limited resources with clever passive design strategies to achieve maximum comfort. However, these vernacular strategies, refined over centuries of cultural and architectural adaptations, are currently in a state of decline and neglect. The central courtyard typology has recently disappeared from the local building palette in favor of modern counterparts. This thesis proposes a new solution for the residential architecture of the region that is sensitive to the needs of modern culture while adapting environmental lessons from traditional Iranian courtyard house typologies.



3pm   Heather LaRose | Queer House

This project is an experiment in the application of queer spatial theory to a domestic architecture. Heteronormativity has played a huge role in the construction of our built environment. It is historically understood that men and women occupy distinct social, affective, and occupational realms. This is expressed spatially through the oppositional understanding of the masculine realm as “public/outside/corporate,” opposed to the feminine “private/inside/ domestic.” Space can also be more explicitly gendered through segregation of restrooms, locker rooms, shelters, dormitories, etc. In these ways, architecture is linked to a physical representation of (bodily) identities, as well as the potential repression of those identities. This project seeks to blur the boundaries between public and private space within the context of suburban domesticity, as a way to undermine the heteronormative model of private single-family housing. It is a queer collective Utopia designed around the bedroom.



4pm   Robert Wilson | Transient Rhythms: A Mobility Hub For An Entertainment District

The architectural language of transportation can be a meeting point between the people, culture, and transportation network of Portland and the greater Northwest Coast. Existing at the scale of Portland, this mobility hub can offer seamless connection between modes, while orienting visitors to the surroundings and culture of the city. With the average commuter spending 60 to 100 minutes of each day in transit, this node will reframe the experience of everyday rhythms, augmenting them with atypical riffs or jams—the ebbs and flows of transportation infrastructures. Supported by the rhythm of the architecture, this mobility hub provides shelter, sheds light, and provides support for a convergence of movements throughout the city.



Additional Thesis Projects to Be Presented at a Later Date

Ashley McDaniel-Harpster | In Plain Sight: The Architecture Of Safe Houses

Fifty percent of homeless women in the United States attribute their situation to domestic violence. Every 6.2 minutes a rape is reported and one in five women will be raped in their lifetime. One in three women is physically and/or sexually abused, while nearly half of all murdered women are killed by romantic partners. It is an open secret, hidden in plain sight. Architecture can help dismantle systemic abuse through proper programming and design. Safe House is a project that will develop schemes for housing, support services, and healthcare for those fleeing abuse. Architectural responses will be based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and design for PTSD theories. This set of parameters will promote a more holistic path that enables healing, restabilization, and independence in the occupants. Through the use of the built environment, as well as a multidisciplinary approach, architecture can mitigate the effects of our patriarchal, misogynistic society.
Gwendolyn Ward | Asterisk: Connecting Our Present To The Future In Architecture
Wherever we go, Architecture goes ahead. As we approach the imminent expansion of human colonies and industries into our solar system, we will need all the skills and strategies we’ve gathered from our survival here on Earth, building homes, structures, and communities in new ways.
How is the discipline of Architecture performed in an environment unlike ours? How does it behave when we apply the principles of architecture to environments with zero gravity, extreme gravity, self-contained atmospheres, or extreme hazards like heat, cold, and radiation? We explore these possibilities on a single rock in space — 100 million miles from our place in Earth’s orbit, in a projective design and narrative expression — and invite you to visit the first human constructed urban habitat in the asteroid belt: the Asterisk.

If you are interested in attending any of the presentations, please contact or 503.725.8405 to RSVP.


Visiting Reviewers

We are pleased to welcome a panel of distinguished guest reviewers who will participate in critiques during the three days of presentations.

Jonathan Solomon, Director, AIADO, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Jonathan Solomon is Associate Professor and Director of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Solomon’s drawings appear in the books Cities Without Ground and 13 Projects for the Sheridan Expressway. He edits the journal Forty-Five, and directs Space p11, a gallery for art, architecture, and culture. Solomon was curator of the US Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale and editor of 306090 Books for 14 years. He holds a BA from Columbia University and an M. Arch from Princeton University. Solomon is a licensed architect in the State of Illinois.

Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter, Dean, School of Architecture, Woodbury University
Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter is an architect, educator, and design consultant specializing in the building envelope and the experimental architectural use of glass. Currently Dean of the School of Architecture at Woodbury University, she has taught at Yale, Cornell, the Bartlett, and SCI-Arc. She is also Director of WUHO, the Woodbury University Hollywood gallery, a venue for experimental installations, public lectures and workshops. She currently serves on the LA Forum Board of Directors. The work of her collaborative office, WROAD, navigates transdisciplinary territory in the diverse type and scale of projects. She has collaborated on multiple award-winning projects including as façade consultant on Bloom with DoSu Architects, the Portland Aerial Tramway with AGPS, the Centre Pompidou exhibition, Continuities of the Incomplete, with Morphosis, and as project architect for the Corning Museum of Glass with Smith-Miller + Hawkinson.

David Perkes, Director, Gulf Coast Community Design Studio
David Perkes is an architect and Associate Professor for Mississippi State University. He is the founding director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, a professional outreach program of the College of Architecture, Art + Design. The design studio was established soon after Hurricane Katrina and is providing planning and architectural design support to many Mississippi Gulf Coast communities and non-profit organizations. David has a Master of Environmental Design degree from Yale School of Architecture, a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Utah, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Utah State University. In 2004 David was awarded a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.