The goal of the project is to design Carrie Furnaces, an abandoned steel mill now run by a non-profit organization, as an industrial park that will allow for more public access and freedom. Currently the site is very closed off from the community; there is one main access point that is not apparent and the site is mostly comprised of guided tours during the day and local events on the weekends. Our job as a class is to propose a plan for the site that would make Carrie more accessible to the public and illustrate a clear vision in terms of its function, layout, and relationship to the community. My individual project revolved around bringing people into the site and to the surrounding communities through development of a community bike path that runs through the site and along the adjacent river.
EXPLORING & RESEARCHING THE SITE
As previously mentioned, my class did a considerable amount of research before actually undertaking any kind of site plan or overall concept for the park. Visiting the Carrie Furnaces site (depicted top right) was incredibly useful, as I was able to gain an understanding of the scale, the history, and the many feelings I experienced while being there, both alone and on tours. We then made small boards that researched individual stories of Carrie (depicted bottom right); some about the history of Pittsburgh steel, some about the processes of making steel, and some about the social and cultural issues that emerged and developed in and around Carrie Furnaces. Finally, we did group exercises of mapping out Carrie and visualizing where possible interventions could take place (left). All of these experiences and exercises aided in us, as individuals and as a group, in better understanding and respecting the site for what it is now and where we see it growing and developing in our projects.
PAIR CHARRETTES: DEVELOPING A VISION
In order to gain more insights into what interventions and plans would make sense at Carrie, we split up into three groups of two and created a site plan with our thesis, goals, and interventions visualized on 24 by 36 inch boards. Our approach veered more on the educational and guided side of the spectrum. We were particularly inspired by the environmental impacts of the steel industry, and worked on how we could illustrate these interventions in various parts of the site.
OUR PLAN FOR CARRIE
After each of our groups presented our charrettes, we decided that we could combine the best and most cohesive parts of our visions to make one overall vision and thesis for the site. We focused on the concepts of respect, freedom, and discovery, and used spectrums to determine how great our modifications should be, how much information we should provide, and how recreational the experience should be. Each of our six projects are also mapped out on our site plan. My project dealt with the riverfront area, namely the bike path, connections to the greater area, the space outside of our museum, and the Hot Metal Bridge restoration (currently not depicted on the map).
WAYFINDING SYSTEM & MOOD BOARD
The signage and wayfinding system I created will informationally and spatially connect Carrie Furnaces to the greater community. The system will offer more specific information than what is presented on the map, including nearby bike trails, relative distances between sites, and information about local programs, eateries, and historical sites. The system ultimately serves as a spatially critical supplement to the information found on the map, and in the tourism booklet, and supports my project's overall goal of encouraging exploration within and outside of Carrie Furnaces. The mood board serves as a guide for materials and themes for developing areas around Carrie, such as the railway bike path extension and the piazza area in front of the museum. Both ultimately aim to unify the system, bring people to Carrie, encourage exploration, and spatially designate areas around the Carrie site.
FINAL PRESENTATION: THE BIKE & TOURING SYSTEM
Above includes the final Braddock Booklet, map, and mood board. The map intends to geographically connect Carrie to the greater community and illustrate the many possible options for commuting to, from, and around the site. One intervention of the bike path system includes extending the path along the river in front of Carrie Furnaces, and connecting this path to pre-existing paths across the river and adjacent to the site.
INDIVIDUAL PROJECT BOARDS
Depicted above are some of the final boards of my colleague's projects, including my own Riverfront and Bike Path poster. Other projects that were developed include an interactive projection installation within our Carrie Museum (second from left), interactive rooms within Carrie that explore scale, materials, and process of making steel (third from left), "exhale locations" which are areas placed throughout the site that encourage individual and reflective thought about one's experience (fourth from left), and renovation of the site's warehouse which will now serve as an events and workshopping space (farthest).
THE BRADDOCK BOOKLET
The Braddock Booklet is a tourism guide that I created very early on in my individual project. Beginning as an artifact that could be found in the Carrie Museum, the booklet became a useful connector between Carrie Furnaces and the greater community. Braddock is a town just under a mile away from the Carrie site. It has close historical ties to Carrie, as many people who worked there and in the Pittsburgh steel industry lived in Braddock. Like the wayfinding system, the booklet intends to thematically connect Carrie to the greater community and encourage exploration and tourism in the area.
KEY OF SITE TOPOGRAPHY
I created this map to help visualize the collection of interventions made by myself and one of my colleagues along the riverfront and close by to the site.
HOT METAL BRIDGE
The Hot Metal Bridge is one of the most important physical links between Carrie and the greater community. As many bikers ride along the Great Allegheny Passage trail, Carrie would have access to a far greater number of people if they were to offer a quicker and safer route over to the site from the Waterfront area. The bridge is historically tied to Carrie and is already perfectly set up to become this physical link to the communities opposite the site, across the Monongahela. It also offers one of the best vantage points of Carrie Furnaces from afar. Modifications include bringing the bride up to code, adding wooden slats in between the tracks, creating window cutouts to see off the bridge, and adding signage from the wayfinding system to opposite ends of the bridge.
RAILWAY BIKE PATH EXTENSION
The bike path extension is a physical manifestation of bringing Carrie Furnaces closer to the community. Similar to the Hot Metal Bridge, the path will offer a new perspective of the Carrie site that most people do not usually get to experience, and will allow for more intrigue and encouragement for exploration. The path will increase accessibility of the site by opening up the riverfront area to public biking and pedestrian traffic. Currently, the lack of accessibility to foot and bike traffic is an issue preventing many people from commuting over to Carrie. With the combined development of the Hot Metal Bridge and the railway bike path, Carrie will appear to a much larger demographic. Modifications include adding a switchback path down to the riverfront, extending the ramp behind the museum, adding a bike path, and adding stepping stones for walkers.
The piazza area is a major threshold between Carrie Furnaces and the greater community. Because of this, it is crucial that it is developed in a way that encourages people to pause and not simply bike past it. Attention must be given to this space in order to achieve the overall goal of connecting the Mon Valley area with Carrie. Accomodations for bikers and pedestrians are considered, as well as an overall designation that this space is a transition space; one that embodies a fluid shift between the community, the bikepath, and Carrie Furnaces. Design of the museum and path extension was a collaboration between myself and my colleague, Jasper Tom.
Aspire is a digital learning tool that aids users, specifically PNC mass-affluent customers, with bridging the gap between short-term spending habits and long-term financial management. Because Aspire is primarily a learning experience, our group focused on maintaining the motivation and sustaining engagement of customers using our tool.
Left: Kate Martin Middle: Gillan Johnson Right: Amanda Johnson
Getting Started with Aspire
Finding value and motivation in online, financial management is one of the biggest reasons why people have trouble envisioning their future, and strategically saving for it. Aspire shows customers how long-term goals, such as saving for a child's college education, can be a less daunting task than it needs to be. We achieve this through drawing parallels between their daily spending habits and their long-term savings plan for college.
Saving for College: Our Paradigm Case
Saving for college is one of the most common long-term financial goals that people have. It's also one that incorporates many different people within and outside a family. However, the current financial planning landscape does not afford these interactions and joint decisions to exist within their platforms. Aspire focuses on collaboration in long-term goals as a primary source of engagement and motivation for users.
Assessing the Stakeholder Landscape
One of the first exercises we did while brainstorming our concept was mapping out the stakeholders and services involved in financial planning. This helped us to visualize the relationships of different people, their interactions, and how we could leverage their skills and motivations.
Applying Learning Theories
As learner experience design was the main guiding principle of our concept, we synthesized various learning theories developed by designers, anthropologists, and psychologists such as Julie Dirksen, Susan Ambrose, and Bernice McCarthy. This synthesis acted as our model of development throughout the various stages of our project, including research, ideation, prototyping, and rendering of our final product.
Developing a Visual Language
Visual and written language, particularly in a banking setting where trust is essential, were incredibly crucial components to our project. We spent several days developing color palettes, testing dialogue and written feedback that Aspire would provide to its users, and setting a trustworthy yet approachable typeface for our platform.
Mapping the User Experience
For several weeks, we focused on the customer's journey through the Aspire tool. With our main focuses of engagement, motivation, and overall enjoyment, we mapped out all the possible interactions that a customer might encounter within the Aspire tool, constantly reaffirming that interest and value would not be lost.
Our Design Approach
With user learning and growth as our primary goal for the Aspire tool, we chunked the user experience incrementally so that as customers progress through a long-term goal, they gain skills, knowledge, and confidence. We incorporated several learning theories and scaffolding techniques into our journey map.
Using the Aspire Goal Planning Tool
Thinking about a goal that ends 10 or 20 years down the line, especially one you have to plan financially for, is incredibly challenging for many people. However, Aspire takes the approach of breaking smaller tasks down incrementally, so that saving for something like college or retirement seems achievable no matter what stage of the process you are in. Through our designed, digital experience, we motivate customers by helping them set manageable goals, connecting other individuals involved in the process such as their children or spouse, and rewarding their incremental achievements.
Environments Design Studio
My environments design studio course focuses on "investigating, understanding, and materializing invisible and intangible phenomena and relationships, such as social interaction, infrastructures, and systems, through new forms of probe, display, and interface." Below are four projects I completed throughout the course.
In this two-week long study, guided by Frances Carter and Dan Lockton, we talked about the affordances or functional qualities of objects we encounter on a daily basis. Throughout the workshop, we asked ourselves questions like, Is the current function different than the intended function? Does the object enable the behavior it intended or is it a hinderance? How does the object fit into the greater environment? and so on.
Project 3: Affordances "Walkshop"
We explored different spaces, corners, ditches, and rooms across campus. The conversations we had on our walk were not simply about what the thing looked like and how it was used; we started analyzing the people that come across it every day, how it’s deteriorated or changed over time, and how it enables or hinders particular interactions to take place.
Project 3: Individual Study of Affordances
With our newfound perspectives for observing things and their affordances, we were set the task of going out by ourselves and performing field research on different affordances we observe throughout our day. We looked at all kinds of spaces, shops, objects, thresholds, and environments.
Project 3: Individual Study Cont.
The ultimate goal of the exercise was to rigorously study and take notes on the things we experience every day but don't really consider their effect on us and the environment they inhabit.
Project 4: Intelligent Environments- What would SAM say?
The intelligent environments project explores issues arising around design’s interaction with AI. I collaborated with another environments student, Jasper Tom, and together we conceived of an "intelligent friend" to guide you through social situations. The goal of the project was to simulate what an intelligent environment, or intelligent technology embedded within an environment, might feel like.
Project 4: SAM- The Intelligent Friend
Project 4: SAM- The Intelligent Friend
During the summer of 2016 I interned at Flow Asia, a web and graphic design agency located in Beijing, China. Working at Flow was as great experience, as I was exposed to various facets of design including websites, visual identity, and branding. I was also granted the privilege of observing and participating in client meetings, which was a wonderful way to develop my skills in collaboration and communication.