Speculative Work

Architecture education prepared me for the demanding world of practice. The studio projects immersed me in different ways of thinking. At the Harvard GSD, I had the benefit of working on a range of critics, from Geometric Whizzes, to the co-inventer of Katia software, to builders who were Project Managers of complex buildings such as the New Museum and the Wyly Theater (stair-a major feat). My Master’s in Architecture thesis enabled me to get my feet wet and establish a real client.

Architecture & Empathy

Caroline James Thesis Architecture and Empathy Presentation

Master’s Thesis deserves its own page.

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Culture Montada

In the Urban Design Studio at the GSD, we worked on a site in Iztapalapa, a division of Mexico City. The site has been occupied by people who claim ownership. The government of Iztapalapa has begun negotiations to begin development of the land. The residents, who have built their own houses, neighborhoods, are skeptical to formal interference, yet also are in need of critical infrastructure such as water and human services. Our studio visited the neighborhoods and met with various stakeholders. Our job was to propose the urban grid, basic massing and layout of the parcel. My project took the following as a given:

1/The neighborhood scale is working wonderfully in many ways, and we should learn from and integrate with their urban organization.
2/Any new road development should connect existing main roads with their existing fabric.
3/A series of discrete new structures can support the already existing cultural activities, for instance: daily markets, yearly religious festivals, while also providing services that are currently not reaching residents, ie: Health Clinics, Job staffing, etc.

Cultura Montada Iztapalapa Urban Hallway (1).png
Existing Neighborhoods in La Montada are human-scaled and function well. The residents’ homes are well-cared for and the streets are walkable. It’s an “Urban Hallway”.
Mexico City Bird's Eye View La Montada Ancient Aztec City.png
Render of Tenochtitlán, the ancient Aztec capital, show that ancient landforms are the sites of present-day Mexico City’s Zócalo Downtown and La Montada. Studying the cultural and historical origins give insight to new designs. With the design of the urban grid for La Montada, there’s a logic to re-instate the Aztec City grid: the ancient grid has a street alignment resulting in the ideal sun-angle for buildings.
Mexico City base map-passion play final.jpg
Present-day Mexico City in context. The path of religious processions of two million people during Easter crosses through Iztapalapa, making La Montada an ideal stop for the procession. 
Cultura Montada Site Plan.png
La Montada Site Plan connects existing roads to the new grid. The new grid aligns as closely with the ancient Aztec grid layout, which is ideal alignment for reducing energy needed to heat and cool buildings.
Cultura Montada Infrastructure Axon (1).png
Infrastructure for Markets, Health Services and the Annual Religious Festivals: Government can provide structures that can host residents’ daily activities such as markets, as well as provide much-needed human services such as mobile health clinics, job fairs, etc. The yearly religious festivals such as the “Passion Play” during Easter could also be held here.

Cardiff Museum Expansion

The project brief called upon a team of architects and engineers to propose the expansion upon the Turner Contemporary Museum by David Chipperfield Architects in Margate, Kent. The town needs to increase the museum by 50% (1000 m2 net increase) for event programming as well as gallery space. They also wished to have an all-weather skyroom that could function for both the museum and the city. The skyroom could also be cordoned off for special events as needed. Structural Analysis by MIT students at each step along the way simulates the realistic way that Architects and Engineers collaborate in real life.



Team: Caroline James, Gavin Robb, Juan Yactayo (Harvard GSD M.Arch ’14), Tim Sunghun Lim and Garrett Pierce Jones (MIT, MEng. Structures)