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Brick City: CoAD Students Erect Structures for Masonry Design/Build

Five builds designed and constructed by second-year CoAD students will be presented to a jury of architects, educators and masonry professionals May 2, Masonry Day, at NJIT.

Situated along the footpath that leads to Weston Hall, home of the College of Architecture and Design (CoAD), are five new fully formed structures for students and faculty to use to engage, converse or simply take a break.

With the support of the Masonry Contractors of New Jersey, second-year CoAD students put long hours of sweat equity into the diverse infrastructures for the 2016 Masonry Design/Build.

Previously, the masonry project served as a portion of a larger design for a building. This year, for the first time, CoAD asked the students to treat the build as an autonomous project.

Uncoupling the pavilion from a larger building project proved to be both liberating and challenging for the students, as issues of scale, safety and usability became critical, but it also empowered them to develop new ways to use masonry.

“This semester we have considered masonry through the lens of three key terms: surface, structure and technique,” explains Henry Grosman, who, along with professor Michael Mostoller, coordinates the second-year design studios.

“The students have looked at precedents that mine the past and point to new futures for structural masonry. They have looked at precedents that create radical surface effects in brick, and they have seen projects that employ new techniques for putting together masonry buildings, changing the relationship between designer and craft-worker.”

An in-studio design project—a small park with a café—incorporated lessons learned from these models. The next part of the studio involved the building of freestanding “display kiosks” for the ramp outside the school, which gave the students opportunity to explore one or more of these themes hands-on and to explore novel ways to explore the use of masonry; each structure also had to be a vehicle to display an object, artifact or information.

The experimentation has continued in their final design project for the semester. In the weeks following the build, the students have been working in teams of two to complete the design for a museum that can display an object, artifact or information. “The goal of this project,” says Grosman, “is to develop and build based on the ideas they explored throughout the semester—and push them further. It has been a truly exciting semester.”

Besides providing material, labor and support for the build, the masons also invited the students to their Fairfield, N.J. training facility to get hands-on training early in the semester. 

On May 2, Masonry Day at NJIT, the students will present the best build projects and the museum projects from each studio to a jury of architects, educators and masonry professionals.

By Shydale James