Andrea MacQueen Swartz, architect                                                                                                                                     A to z

@macqueenswartz ​(instagram)

​© Andrea Swartz

​© Andrea Swartz

Spring 2014 CAP bulletin text/images by Associate Professor Andrea Swartz, Department of Architecture, BSU, page layout Josh Stowers, BSU M.Arch '14

The Sukkot Project; New Designs for an Ancient Tradition, Andrea Swartz (with J. Dowdle), Journal of Architectural Education, September 1999

​© Andrea Swartz

​© Andrea Swartz

Building Opportunity; A Canvas for Learning
ACSA Fall Conference, accepted proposal, July 2014

This project presentation chronicles the ongoing efforts of the author and an interdisciplinary group of students (architecture, landscape architecture and planning) to rehabilitate, reinvent and reengage a building in this gown’s town.  Propelled by the opportunity (an old building), the documentary If You Build It (chronicling the year long efforts of Studio H to share lessons and joys of design and making with high school students) and the belief that small slow steps of physical doing can string together into a meaningful event, this is an on-going search into how consistent efforts at simply addressing the needs of an old building will teach us about architecture, building and community. This project reminds us that a real application of our discipline, knowledge, effort and interests can humbly yet poignantly occur next door. Our opportunity was an old building on the main street of a mid-western city that fights the same battles as many other small downtowns:  main street here oscillates between boom and bust, between having once been a destination to now being a few historic buildings pushing back at an ever expanding parking lot. Its general trajectory is fade, but the energy of involved community members interested in the downtown continually seems to defy that path. In 2003 a local businessman (who grew up in the upstairs of this two story commercial street front property) gave the building to the college.  Initially it was used.  Then, despite a few waves of activity, the building sat mostly vacant (except as a storage facility) especially over the last eight years. Given the opportunity by college administrators (who were contemplating getting rid of the building) to try something/anything there, the author gathered an interdisciplinary crew of students this past spring semester 2014. Planning students facilitated meetings with downtown organizations, landscape architecture students considered the courtyard behind the building, architecture students worked on restoring the restroom; all of us ground away at bringing the space back to life and designing/building a series of self-directed installations that would be exhibited at the city’s “first Thursday” arts walk in April.  We worked to discover what the place was and what it could become.  Supported by the university, the Provost’s office, the college, and community members (a floor finisher shared his trade lessons/tools, an interior designer initiated discussions on paint colors, a contractor provided used plumbing fixtures) the building was re-opened in April; the opening celebrated its current rendition as a gallery for students, faculty and community.  The success of that effort will now be leveraged into more support to continue the renovation next year:  the back masonry wall currently performs like a perforated screen; the upstairs is un-wired and needs heat.  Student interest and engagement is strong. The potential for interdisciplinary learning is huge.  The community is interested.  Work on the building is ongoing.  This project describes the first steps in a journey, but the lessons about building and building opportunities for community are immediate and resonant. 

​© Andrea Swartz

Beyond Environment exhibitions pavilions competition
design proposal writing 
June 2014

OSMOSIS; assimilating environment and architecture through dialogue


Celebrating the work of Gianni Pettena, Allan Kaprow and Robert Smithson, the exhibition pavilions explore a conversation between nature and architecture.  Inspired by the values expressed in their work, this conversation engages in ideas of natural beauty and its essential influence on how we make place. Similar to Pettena’s reference to the osmotic relationship between nomad and environment, the dialogue established by the three pavilions is intended to be a relatively effortless, “non-conscious” assimilation of the work and ideas of Pettena, Kaprow and Smithson, that “architecture has to respect nature.” (


The site of the three pavilions, the LACE gallery, is a voice in the conversation.  Nature is seen, considered, valued as detail/material/form juxtaposition to our built condition of right angles, dimensional predictability, fabrication and material numbness.  The long white box becomes an effective, familiar counterpoint for the more flowing, natural forms of the pavilions.  The three structures range in complexity from the simple ROCK that establishes a place in the front gallery; SAND is two arcs of natural materials (rock, grape vine, bamboo, sand) that slide past each other, making a gathering space where monitors can be suspended from the ceiling and conversations can be held; and CLOUD the final, most enclosed pavilion that uses digital fabrication methods (laser cut panels of paper board containing sky photographs with tabs that attach to each adjacent panel, a low stone seating element) to extend the discussion to how these new tools of modeling and making can provoke design’s conversation with environment in new ways.

​© Andrea Swartz

The Flat Lot design competition
paper presentation, abstract submitted January 2013
Faculty/Student Symposium, College of Architecture and Planning, Ball State University

article for CAPlife, Spring 2014

Reflections on Design Competitions  and Sukkahville 2013
paper presentation, abstract submissions January 2014
Student Faculty Symposium, College of Architecture and Planning, Ball State University, April 2014

Design essay for AIA 1 x infinity design competition December 2013

OCCUPYING Haynie’s Corner
Design lives when community inhabits.  The programmatic desires scribed on the existing wall at Haynie’s Corner provide the design’s organizational template, their authenticity resulting in occupation. The spine of a shipping container art gallery (one level of gallery, open to above) is temporal enough if change desired over time.  The containers also serve as a dedicated graffiti wall and, attached to the east end of the art gallery spine, is a hoop to play basketball.  Juxtaposed to this are the programmatic strata of food (grill hamburgers, food trucks), places to sustain a peaceful mind (waterfall, plants, gardens, seating, living wall, roof garden), and live music performances (with video screen).  Design as an armature for community occupation.

Design essay for Sukkahville 2013 exhibition poster, August 2013

explores the beauty of the old and discarded.  Like a community where the diverse strands of old and young and in-between come together, weaving a tapestry of perspectives, experiences and memories, RE-USEKAH weaves together strands of old, new and in-between.  Sukkot, a celebration of families, feasts and prayer, speaks to passing seasons, to freshly harvested food, to anticipating winter, to ends, to beginnings.  Families gather together remembering the journeys of past generations and looking forward to the journeys of tomorrows’.  RE-USEKAH, too, is full of old, and young, memories, and futures.

embraces opportunities to reconsider our building material stream.  It’s logic is derived from re-used pallets, filled in with wood slats from lawn mower shipping crates ready for the trash as well as old flooring and framing wood from a local salvage company that disassembles abandoned buildings, harvesting old but beautiful wood ready for another life.  Juxtaposing, intertwining and weaving this old, reclaimed, discarded material pallet with some new wood, and slightly used wood, the issue of time, of cycles, of pasts and futures is manifested.  With the household, with community, we gather together these strands of time, and celebrate.

© Andrea Swartz