Ross School - Senior Project 2007-08

Student: Alex Morris          

Mentor: Jen Cross


Title: Developing an Architectural Style

Description: For my senior project, I recreated the floor plans for the Chrysler Building and created a model based upon those plans. By making the floors plans, and by creating a model, I was able to learn skills necessary to design my own skyscraper.

My skyscraper is situated in Shanghai. I chose this location because China is now building more  skyscrapers than any other country and Shanghai is the fastest growing city in China, so it was only logical that I chose Shanghai for my site. I situated my skyscraper in the Pudong District, which has become the face of modern Shanghai.

The design of my building was somewhat simple, but behind the simplicity lies creative and in depth reasons for everything my skyscraper does and represents. The height, width and length of my skyscraper were all predetermined because the skyscraper had to fit in amongst the surrounding skyscrapers. The main shape in my skyscraper is triangles. Triangles by definition are the most stable shape, so my skyscraper not only represents stability in itself, but it represents stability in all of Shanghai. I chose the colors of the building to connect to Shanghai's past. Shanghai is currently one of the major ports in the world and up until the nineteenth century it was a fishing town. Thus, the blue represents the sea, and the past of Shanghai.

I had certain building specs that I had to abide by. These were set by regulations in Shanghai, and also by my outside consultant, Laura Auerbach, a local architect. My outside consultant decided that I should  design the building for a software company, Shanghai Global Media Center, a fictional company that would host my skyscraper. The first and second floor of my skyscraper would be mainly a public area. It would have software stores, attractions and restaurants. The majority of the other floors would be offices and general work areas for the Shanghai Global Media Center. The top level of my building would be an observational level and it would also have a public Internet cafe.

All in all, I am pleased with my senior project. I gained a lot of respect for architecture because I now know first hand how much is involved to design an architectural project. I learned important skills that are necessary to an architecture student, and that architecture demands a great deal of effort, but that it allows for a lot of creativity, which makes it fun.


This is a stencil I made of the Chrysler Building. I hand cut every single window out with an exacto blade. I chose to make a stencil because I felt that it would give me a better understanding of space, negative space and I thought it'd be something fun to do. By creating this stencil I also got a better understanding of the general shape of the building, and learned there are a lot of windows in the Chrysler Building.

This is the floor plan of the Chrysler Building. It shows the aerial view of several floors. The plan also shows the public vs private space. Meaning the space that is open to the public vs the space that is only available to the private.

This is a model I made of the Chrysler Building using corrugated cardboard and chipboard. It contains roughly 60 individuals pieces. I then used a gray color guasch (water based paint) to make it look more realistic and presentable. 

This is a drawing showing my building and the building adjacent to mine taken from the East.

This is a drawing showing my building and the building adjacent to mine taken from the East.

This is an aerial view of my site taken from Google Earth. It is taken from Shanghai, China in the Pudong District. Other noticeable structures in this area are the Jin Mao Tower and the Oriental Pearl Tower.

This is a photo of my building. My largest inspirations for this design were the Chrysler Building and the Burj Dubai. Both are figures for the area in which they are situated. I wanted to achieve that when I designed my skyscraper. I chose to make my skyscraper blue because it is situated adjacent to a river and I thought the river would reflect well off of a blue colored glass.


At the end of junior year, I had to choose what I wanted to do. I've been pretty interested in architecture ever since my family renovated our house a few years back. I figured, hey why not do something with architecture, I'm interested in it and I know colleges would love something like this. I decided to go  large scale. My original proposal was to create a model of the empire state building, a model of the Chrysler building and then to create my own skyscraper.

I went into the summer knowing I was doing an architecture project. I wanted to learn more about architecture and what it takes to do it, so I signed up for an architecture course last summer at New Jersey Institute of Technology. I was pretty enthusiastic about the course and going into senior year I was really looking forward to doing my project.

I wasn't really sure who I wanted to pick as a mentor, as none of them were architects or taught architecture classes. I enjoyed art classes with Ms. cross last year, and i figured she'd be able to help with the model building. I also knew she had mentored lots of other kids in the past so it sounded like a good match. as for picking an outside consultant, I didn't really know any architects that could help me, but Ms. Cross had a friend that was in the field and she taught architecture classes so I agreed.

I was introduced to Laura Auerbach in the middle of September. During our first meeting I explained my project to Laura. she thought it was interesting but felt that creating a model of both the Chrysler building and empire state building would be too much work and unnecessary, so she said that I should drop one of them. I'm very grateful that i chose to take her advice and drop the empire state building, because it would have added a ton of work. We also were able to focus my project a bit more, and by the end of our first few meetings we were able to layout exactly what I had to do for my project.

While doing my project I ran into several road blocks. I had no prior experience making architectural drawings. This was something that I was a bit worried about during the start of my project, but my outside consultant set me up with a mayline (a very useful tool that helped me draw straight lines and make correct angles) and taught me how to use it and gave me other useful tips on making good architectural drawings.

The other major problem I encountered was creating the design for my actual skyscraper. Obviously I never had any prior experience and just the idea of designing a skyscraper is intimidating, but by working my outside consultant and doing research on skyscrapers in Shanghai and the culture of Shanghai I was able to complete this daunting task with success.

Overall I am very glad I chose to do an architectural project. It has prepared me to be an architecture student while in college. I've gained knowledge on design theory, the skills necessary to create architectural drawings, model making skills, and also the importance of site in relationship to your building.

Works Cited or Works Consulted

Ching, Francis. Architecture Form, Space, and Order. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007.

Cruickshank, Dan. Timeless Architecture: 1. London: Architectural P Ltd, 1985.

Dupre, Judith, and Philip Johnson. Skyscrapers. New York, New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 1996.

"Google Earth." Map. Google. Oct.-Nov. 2007. <>.

Jencks, Charles. Skyscrapers - Skycities. New York, New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1980.

"Skyscraper Page." Skyscraper Page. 1999. Sept.-Oct. 2007 <>.

"Shanghai." HighBeam Encyclopedia. 2007. Viewed Nov.-Dec. 2007. Keyword: Shanghai Information.

Stravitz, David, and Christopher Gray. The Chrysler Building Creating a New York Icon, Day by Day. New York, New York: Princeton Architectural P, 2002.

Community Member (Details)

My outside consultant, Laura Auerbach, really helped me make my project as good as it could possibly be. She met with me in the beginning of September and on our first meeting she helped me layout what I had to do for my project. We had weekly meetings for the next four months. She helped me decide pick my site in Shanghai, and she also convinced me to do the elevation drawings and the site plan. She also taught me how to use the mayline and other useful architectural tools. Laura also taught me the importance of site, which I think is the biggest thing I got out of my senior project. I learned that your design is site specific, meaning you can not have a design without a site, and it directly influences what you do for your design.