A collaboration project with: Anam Mehta, Clare Blackwell and Natalie Quek
Located at the central axis of Pomona College's campus, Bixby Plaza connects the south campus sports fields and the academic buildings on the west side with Frary dinning hall, Walker Beach lawn and the northeast dormitory buildings. In sharp contrast with the high traffic in the plaza is its low usage: most people simply use it for transit and hardly spend over 5 minutes in the space, as revealed by our observation study and traffic mapping.
Currently, there is no other seating options in the plaza besides several stone benches on the south site. The lack of programming gives people no reason to dwell. Only students from the Pomona Green Bikes program occasionally use the open space for bike polo. At night, the space is even less utilized. The plaza also lacks sufficient lighting to provide a welcoming and safe ambiance for users.
Walker Lounge sits on the northwest corner of the plaza. It is the biggest indoor communal space for north campus dorm buildings and houses multiple student organizations. At its current state, however, the space is poorly lit, cramped with too much furniture and without a clear programming of usage.
We see the potential for Bixby Plaza to become a destination place instead of the current bustling walkway during people’s daily commutes. By redesigning the plaza, its walkways, and restoring its connection to the adjacent Walker Lounge Area and Frary Dining Hall, we hope to enhance the space’s identity as part of the campus and to create a true heart for students of 5 campuses.
After several rounds of charette with students live in the nearby dorms, bike polo players, club leaders, Sustainability Coordinator and college master planning director at Pomona College, we decided on a redesign project to address its underutilization during both day time and night time. Some key issues and strategies we identified include:
1. Improving accessibility through Bixby Plaza for all by redesigning the main stairs to create a large and integrated ramp for transit, seating, and socializing.
2. To increase seating and study spaces inside and outside Walker Lounge. We will retrofit the southern end of the lounge to be a cafe/gathering space; Redesign the northern end to be a political action and club meeting space for organizations such as the Women’s Union, CARE center, and EcoReps.
3. To revitalize the space through landscaping elements and additional lighting for different uses throughout the day. We will design more efficient bike parking structure, and include elements such as string lights, hammocks and circular tree benches in the southwest corner of the plaza.
Design Components (Plaza):
-Reorganizing the bike parking structure to create a grass area at the Plaza south. Incoporate hammocks, string lights and circular tree benches to provide social and recreational opportunities during both day and night time.
-Implementing small ground lighting along the main axis (pathways) of the plaza.
-Extending the grass softscaping, circular bench and string light theme to the south arcade and the fountain area.
-Adding a pergola at the south end of Walker lounge as an extension of the cafe and provide more seating options and for users to enjoy the interplay between indoor and outdoor spaces.
-Adding a semi-secluded patio with seating on the west end of the stairs where it connects with Walker Lounge.
Design Components (Walker Lounge):
-Redistributing club spaces and a new cafe where the TSL(student-run newspaper) office currently sits (southeast corner), opening up the south end to connect with the pergola and replacing the north end wall with a half-wall, forming a 2 ft elevation difference to divide lounge space and cafe space while maintaining a visual connection.
-Replacing the current furniture with mid-century modernism tables and chairs and reorganizing, paying homage to the elegant interior design in Walker lounge in the 90s (see images at bottom left corners of final board).
-Widening the second floor walkway and adding tall chairs and tables to increase seating options.
-Joining the underused first floor RA office space for Sustainability Office's free book and clothes exchange program, and moving the RA office to the second floor.
*I was part of the team leading the initial site research and two rounds of charrette. I co-draft the design proposal with the team members and co-designed the Plaza exterior with Natalie Quek. Among the deliverables, I co-drafted the plan with Clare Blackwell, built the model with the rest of the team and created the nighttime rendered perspective views and the Walker Lounge interior rendered view.
Software: AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop