Concrete, So Sweet!

by: Anna Feldman
Steven Carlson sitting on bench under stair case
Carlson at Paul Rudolph’s Dana Arts Center at Colgate University

Steven Carlson (SOA ’17) completed his Architecture Capstone under the advisement of Nicole McIntosh. Concrete, So Sweet! A Study in Sustainable Durability seeks to counter concrete’s perception as uninviting and environmentally irresponsible by highlighting its ability to create buildings that are playful and sustainable in their durability. The ambitions of this project are well-summarized by the following 2016 quote from Swiss Architects Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein:

“[We] are interested in contributing to the environment by allowing things to last longer… The real challenge is not only to make a construction physically resistant to time (capable of aging well) but to make it able to be valid for other generations.”

Carlson’s favorite part of the Capstone experience was having full control over the direction, parameters, and aims of the project. However, this wasn’t the case in the beginning stages when he struggled with indecisiveness. It was difficult to take over the role of key decision-maker, but having to make those tough decisions has not only progressed his project, but has helped him continue to develop on a personal level as well.

A key component to Carlson’s project has been visiting and studying notable (and some rather obscure) concrete structures; locally and within the northeast. Buildings can’t be fully understood on paper, in photographs or even in film. To best understand them, one must visit them, observe how they operate, photograph them firsthand, and sketch them. This was made possible through Crown-Wise funding.