Clair O’Brien

2020-2021 All Exhibitions Thesis 2021

Class of 2021
Art + Design/ Mechanical Engineering


Sustainability, by definition, doesn’t solely relate to the natural world but also all interwoven environments of people and the built world. These two pedigrees, people and built structures, should not act as mental and physical blocks for assorted populations. Crux works towards creating inviting spaces for all walks of earth, including making comfortable and supportive temporary housing. Crux is designed for people who were previously incarcerated, homeless, victims of domestic abuse, and those needing a place to stay.

The title, Crux, represents the nucleus of a person’s life; their home, their roots, their essence. The façade, designed for safety, is brick and glass to mirror the strength of vulnerability. Crux’s layered levels slowly peel back less structure and and more sunlight to show healing growth and multiple areas to explore. There are no 90° in a planar view to not feel cornered. The atypical style of the building and 10 foot ceilings are to inspire the inhabitants. The center garden and Greek style courtyard is an indoor focal point and learning environment.

With 3 family rooms fitting up to 4 people and 5 individual rooms across 3 floors, Crux sleeps more than 50 people all year round. The 3 classrooms can be converted to a bunk bed style sleep room to fit an additional 50 people. There are at least 1 large exterior window, if not 3 in each room. The group and individual meetings spaces are intended for community involvement and additional vendors coming to support the residents. There is an exercise pavilion on the second floor for large classes of yoga, cardio, dance, etc.

I placed this structure in Denver, CO, an area with ever-increasing rate of people suffering from homelessness, also I’m from there and have seen first-hand how the decriminalization and legalizing of weed has impacted a community. Taking steady dealer job away from people and giving it to the predominately white investors of THC and CBD not only increases the unemployment of those dealers because business had moved to the institution of weed and off the hidden community, but also the gentrification of the area. In the beginning, since weed is a by-state legality, dispensaries couldn’t put their earnings into federal banks to they invested in by-cash real-estate. Increasing the value of houses, rent of surrounding neighborhoods, and demand for entering the city. All-in-all it was a disaster for residents who were making only enough to survive in a city before the gentrification began.

Additional features, like the garden and sense of light throughout the structure were analyzed for real use using Revit. I mocked the concept on an architectural software called Revit, which allowed for daylighting in an exact location. I placed the design near a downtown park, Cheeseman Park, I calculated the daylighting through the seasons and oriented Crux to the best direction of sun.