December 6, 2006

Final Blog Prompt

"Mistress, Mistress. Look without and see the wonders that god has created."
"Yes, yes, but look within and see God"
These quotes from Suni, with which Kahn closes the reading remind me stongly of the Buddhist saying "Look inward thou art buddha" and furthermore Ghandi's famous line, "Be the change you want to see in the world" Recently I have been thinking about the strong connections between faith and architecture. In a sense architecture is a manifestation of the architects personal convictions, ideals, and faith in both the divine and human realms.
InGodsHands.jpgThe Kahn readings were extremly connected to the spirit(or commonness as he would say) and gave great insight to his work and him as a person. What I had previously researched and perceived was not entirely correct. His work is extremely connected to faith. For example he states "Architecture without presence exsits as the realization of a spirit. A work of architecture is made as an offering touching its nature." The ideas of offering and realization brought the idea of architecture as prayer. So, I thought I would break down architecture and its meanings into the 5 forms of prayer (as learned after 13 years of Catholic school)
Praise and thanksgiving - Monuments, Arch idealizes past
Confession of sin - Sam Mockbee's Rose Garden, Arch reflects resoultion/new beginning
Petition - Design reflction something within, Arch evokes what is within and wanted for designer.
Intercession - Arch places others first, design for the betterment and change of mankind
Meditation - Places to listen, Temples and the idea of Oracles, Arch as contemplation
What drives us? How is our vocation chosen? Ultimately Vocation come from the latin Vocare which means to call(once again 13 years of Catholic school) To me it is obvious, through the reading, why kahn became an Architect. It allowed him to utilize the 5 aspects of prayer(which are universally parts of every religion) in a physical sense. Architecture allows an individual to find purpose and meditate upon ways to help the world. In Kahn's writing he uses Christs miracles as a metaphor for light, he states, "They were like holding a candle to the Sun to see the Sun better"...Christ has radiance without his miracles. His spiritual aspect allows him to see architecture on a deeper level. Structure brings darkness and light, just like religion.

Reading the Kahn article has made me rethink what was said in the "How to Build Almost Anything" article. One line sticks out, "...their motivation was their own pleasure in making and using their inventions." It made me think, what truly was the purpose and motivation behind the girls design.
The "scream collector" covers both confession of sin and meditation
The defensible dress and diary cover petition...plea for help/reflection.
The alarm clock cover intercession...a call for help of all
But none of the designs mentioned spoke of praise and thanksgiving. Kahn spoke of the structure creating light. With this in mind, I find it odd that the technologies(stuctures created in the class all create light in the present and future, but fail to create light in the past. A true source of light shines everywhere, it spreads and is absorbed by the universe.
These last two texts have been among my favorite in the class. This class has confirmed my choice in studying architecture and showed me that the point is not to create or change but to heal and influence the environment.
A final song to close the semester "Here I Dreamt I was an Architect" by the Decemberists
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November 29, 2006


Through my life I have had a great belief in the profound impact of every moment and event which occurs. There is nothing so un-important that it does not alter the course of the universe. Every reaction no matter how microscopic or how grand ultimately and eventually effects the human experience. I believe that this is also an idea which could be drawn from Postman's "Technopolies" as well. As technologies develop and come into the human experience they end up redefining culture and terminology. As groups come into control of new technology and gain expertise which the masses do not hold they gain an unfair advantage to impact the course of humanity. I will make the concession that it is possible some techonologies may need limitation. But, who is to determine for humanity and for the future those most responsible and fitting to handle and use the new technology.

The effects of new technology and a changing world, as described by postman, can be seen in two of my favorite shows, Lost and Heroes. Both shows deal with the supernatural and are presented in a sort of Paul Haggis Crash like style in which the stories of every character are completely separate and yet ultimately connected. With this in mind, I find it unfair for technology to be limited to a specific group of people because all human kind is linked and ultimately one. In Lost, the technopoly is in the form of a secret hatch whose power, known to a select few, leads to disaster. Wheras, in Heroes, the technopoly is found within the powers and genetics variations of the characters themselves. They each hold power to drastically shape the future. Is it fair for an individual to yield the power to shape the future so drastically, even if it will benefit all?

Life is the change and growth which occurs in the world and technology promotes this change. So, in a sense technology is the creation and destruction of life. Change is unnavoidable and neccessary. But, it can be dangerous if we are not aware of what we are doing. Technologies are created with a specific goal in mind. But, often times forget the possible effects and outcomes. Ultimately, it is up to us to be responsible for our actions big and small and to remember to be aware of our environment.

November 10, 2006

Additional Blog: Gaudi vs. Kahn

In researching architects for this additional blog assignment I initially though about writing about Frank Lloyd Wright because I am familiar with his work and had the opportunity to work at SC Johnson in the buildings he designed. But instead I chose to find architects mentioned in class whose work I am less familiar with.

My first choice was Antoni Guadi because I feel stongly connected to Spanish culture and his architecture is highly individualized within means of cultural context. His buildings are incredibly unique but ture to Spanish culture and evocative of Spain's historical styles, including rennaisannce, gothic, and morrish influences.

In my research I found many people attempting to classify his style as Gothic...but I believe that it falls into a category all of its own. From a purely asthetic and cultural point he designed his buildings to move his people forward. Specifically the Park Guell and the Familia Sagrada.

Gaudi designed the park guell with great detail and attention to history and cultural influences. He included many motifs of religious mysticism, since Spain is a country which is deeply religious and has been influenced by Islam, Judaism, and Roman Catholocism.

Secondly his Familia Sagrada which highlights Spain's deep Catholic Heritage is unlike any other cathedral in the world. It's construction which has been in process sinc the 1880's shows the intricacy of the buildings design. It is the symbol of Barcelona and perhaps Spain. It is to the Spanish what the Eiffel tower is the the French.
The thing most incredible I discovered about Gaudi was the way in which his forms and buildings worked with the opposition rather than against. He allowed gravity to define the neccessary form for the desired structure.

Now to note upon the work of Louis Kahn, whose work has great stark contrasts to Gaudi's.
Kahn is an Estonian born U.S. immigrant who is one of the formost Architects of our time. Unlike Gaudi's work Kahn's is more disconnected from the culture in which his buildings exist. They do not have cultural markers which would give any indication as to where they are. From The Jonas Salk institute in California to the Parliment building in Bangladesh, his buildings could be placed in any place around the world. This is not to say they are drab pre-fab concrete slabs. Rather, they strip away excess, leaving only the essestials.
I was most taken aback by the Salk institute and its positioning in the environment and the effect that the sun rising plays everyday.
However, I am sure how people play into the environment in his buildings...I feel as though they are systems with too much philosophical insight and not enough human...but I am sure that Kahn would aruge the two areas are the same. So, I guess I will have to visit to make a decision.

There does lie a similarity in these to architects styles, in the use of geometries. Gaudi uses simple geometries in his murals and the designs of some of his famous houses such as Casa Vicens. He uses geometry to evoke/mimic nature. Whereas Kahn's buildings are a series of repeition of stark geometries which evoke a sense of order and the creation a natural system.

November 6, 2006

Design: Qualitative through the Quantitative.

Design is a realm which solves the qualitative through quantitative measures. In that sense designers are anyone who sets out to complete an agenda, anyone who lends form & mass, or sometone who gives life to an idea through means of creation. What this boils down to is design as a culmination of ideas and numbers; both necessary to the whole. In a sense I view everyone as a designer, working out their ideas and expressing them in a universal qualitative form, mathematics. It is the world's universal expression because the human brain works through a complex of mathematical systems and patterns. It underlies every aspect of life, from modern language to rules and regulations of childrens games.

The politician is a designer executing ideas through creation of fiscal and social systems and policy.
For example FDR's New Deal an attempt to revitalize the economy through fiscal and monetary programs and the creation of jobs. The programs and systems created were all quantifiable is nature.

Next, the chef can be seen as a designer, in the sense that he sets out with vision and direction for a dish and does so through various measures and scales.

Finally in terms of a professional designer, mathematics is extremely vital. Mathematics allow frameworks to influence and give shape/life to a work. Math is a tool which guides the designer, allowing one to create the restrictions/measurements necessary for physical existence. Design is one part craft one part concept. The craft and execution are directly guided by mathematical principles of weight, proportion, and volume. Through restrictions a design is set free.
Here are two of my designs, which I believe show the connection of design and mathematics from a sense of quantifiable lentgth(pixels), repitition, and tessellation.
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Mathematics is the key to design, unlocking ideas and concepts and opening a door through which neccessary components and systems come together in harmony.

October 23, 2006

Opposition: Transportation & Infrastructure / Technology & Economy

Regina Spektor - Ghost of Corportate Future Download file
Economics is defined as "the way groups and individuals seek to satisfy unlimited wants with limited resources." With this is mind the current way we seek to satisfy unlimited wants in the realm of transportation (oil through means of capitalism) is becoming increasingly difficult as resources have changed so much terms of quantity and politics. Car companies and environmentalists both "call for change" and have made great strides towards fuel efficiency and alternative fuels. But, many issues of transporation key to the economic equation have been left unsettled. The main being infrastructre and current transportion systems both in America and all around the world. The economic equation we currently have (millions of drivers + limited oil = high price) not taking these important issues into account creates an unneccesary opposition between our method of transportation/technology and infrastructure.
Technology has changed how we act in the world but it has not changed how we react to it. We use systems designed for a different era and level of technology. In relation to transportation, technology has continued to increase based on economic practicality and societal norms of behavior. This increase in technology has been socially irresponsible and innapropriate because it is being used with an infrastructure designed for century old technology, because change would mean lifestyle shifts and tax money increase. So, rather than change the systems and infrastructure used, we design new technology limited by the infrastructure of old. Thus, preventing the implementation and design of technology socially and economically responsible to the time in which we live.

The only way to mend this opposition is to change our economic views for transportation. Essentially people are self interested and by changing the equation to highlight the financial and social benefits of yolking all aspects of transportation and technology into one. The public needs to start seeing transporation differently, as a part of community rather than individual privelege. Redefining our transporation system from both fiscal and technological points, will lead to a greater sense of social responsibility and wholeness.

Essentially this is an opposition of Technological Development and Money/Economics; when living in a capitalistic society, money reigns supreme, often impeding social development. It poses the question "At what point does our freedom impede progress and ultimately freedom itself?"

October 11, 2006

Phenomena: seiches and alewise

"I'd swim across lake Michigan
I'd sell my shoes
I'd give my body to be back again
In the rest of the room
To be alone with you"

Sufjan Stevens - To Be Alone With You
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Growing along the shores of lake michigan I have seen wondrous things, from water spouts to mass migrations, to the continuous glow of chicago, phenomena encompassed my childhood.

One of these phenomena was the seasonal die-off of alewives (an invasive fish which have taken over the great lakes) Every spring, masses of dead alewives wash ashore. The numbers vary depending on breeding season, but their appearance is a definite. I consider it a phenomena for reason of it including: 1.Things: the fish. 2.Frameworks: the context of the fish on the beach, their massed clumps, their deadly seperation fromt the water. 3.Clockworks: the yearly arrival of the dead alewives. Even though their numbers change, their coming is innevitable. The fact that the fish are in a measurable context and to an extreme extent found dead every year makes their appearance onshore a phenomena.

A second phenomenon, I have only experienced vicariously through the stories of my grandmother. It is called the seiche. It is a quick withdrawal/shift of water in lakes. Caused by underwater waves and seismic activity they are a force which cannot be measured in a cycle. I consider them pheneomena because this action of water exsists, has a cause, is measurable, and the water always returns and flows back.
This article sparked my writings on both phenomena.

October 4, 2006

The Mills

“What rich desire unlocks its door?
What sweet
seduction lies before us . . .?
Past the point of no
the final threshold, what warm,
secrets will we learn?
Beyond the point
of no return? – Phantom of the Opera


As I watched the fireworks above me, I realized the setting was strangely reminiscent of the dungeon scenes in phantom of the opera. Buildings stood in ruins and the rushing river was lit up below. It was the opening night of the Guthrie theatre, in the mill district, and I was standing atop a bridge over the river with my family. The park below us was an ode to the flourmills of old from which Minneapolis revolved.

The opening of the theatre opened a new area for this area; a rebirth. An area that was at one point thought the past of no return is once again full of life and purpose. I found this area significant for it once represented a community, and gave it an identity. It was thought to be lost but now it has been returned. The landscape of the park is a mixture of industrial ruin, natural habitat, and human recreation. The area is very uniquely designed in the sense that it occurred over time. It is not the creation of a designer, rather of an entire culture. It is a phenomenon in a sense. It consists of things, animals, people, flour silos, train tracks, etc. It consists of frameworks, seen in the construction of the buildings around, in the interval between arches in the bridge and width of the river. Finally, it has clockworks, in the form of the water. The water is ever-changing and yet ever-flowing. It rises, it fall, it freezes, it thaws. These three things combine to create a space that is remarkable for its genius loci can be found in the face that its past, present, and to a certain extent its future are visible at once.

September 27, 2006

social design: city nursery

“They paved paradise and put up a parkin' lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swingin' hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

They took all the trees, and put em in a tree museum
And they charged the people a dollar and a half to see them
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot

Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT
I don't care about spots on my apples,
LEAVE me the birds and the bees please
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot
Hey now, they paved paradise to put up a parking lot
Why not??

The social design issue I chose focuses on urban expansion and development. It has been a theme of American history to conquer what lies beyond, the frontier. American culture emphasizes the importance of having the cutting edge. When an area becomes dated, it is simpler for us to expand away from the city center, rather than trying to restore and renew the area. This has led to the neglect of urban areas and expansion into outlying areas.

Expansion is inevitable with the world’s current population growth rate. I speak not against expansion itself, but of the thoughtless development of land. We look outward to find a solution, for a place to develop into a cutting edge community. When in the cities there remains a great deal of unutilized space. It is possible that instead of expanding outward as population increases that we expand inward.

There are numerous countless and environmental effects because of this rapid and unorganized expansion. In recent years the twin cities have done an amazing job in re-development and attracting people inward. Yet, I believe there is much more that could be done here.

One idea in specific would be the creation of greeneries or nurseries all across the twin cities. Especially along the highways, where there is green space currently occupied by invasive species and weeds. The impression I would currently gain from the twin cities by driving through via highways would not be a good one. I would believe the cities to be run down and unorganized.

If we were to utilize city land on the side of highways, instead of leaving it a barren trash pit, we could perform several civic duties at once. First of all we would beautify the city and the roads through it. The nurseries would provide a more pleasant landscape than currently exists. Secondly, the plants, once raised and mature, could be transplanted to parks and streets across the city. Third, adding oxygen and greenery to areas consumed by pollution would improve air quality.

This plan could be implemented all over the city in different ways. Perhaps by turning small portions of parks into nurseries and encouraging community involvement. High school environmental clubs could work as volunteers maintaining facilities. Companies and organizations could “adopt a nursery? or support with funding. It could even be implemented upon a “receive the fruits of your labor? system, in which people could take the plants they raised.

This greening of the cities would greatly increase the cities image from the eyes of visitors. The cities and neighboring areas seem so disconnected along the highways. There is nothing but cement and signs bringing people into the city. The space around us needs to be utilized better and this is just one way we would do that.

To expand inward we must show people that the city has potential. Space needs to be thought of differently. The land outside the city, in danger of expansion, is valuable as simple farm land. Why waste this land when we could simply change our perception of the land around us, in order to make it more cutting edge. The side of the street does not have to be the side of the street anymore. There is nothing preventing this cement block from being something greater except for the inability of planners to see space differently. The city could be America’s next great frontier if only we use our imagination.

September 26, 2006

El Mercado

When the lightrail pulled to a stop and let me off, I found myself not in presence of a marketplace but in midst of an anonymous parking area. Lost in a foreign city, I asked a group of strangers for directions; they pointed to a large stone building in the distance, Midtown illuminated atop.

As I journeyed to my destination placed upon the horizon I saw the people around going about their daily living. They made exchanges, they worked, they were going about life and working to accomplish goals. Each individual was consumed in their own world, their mission, their problems, their emotions. Yet, at the same time, they were undeniably attached to the world around them. The street named Lake gave its people a place in which they could go about their daily tasks, accomplish their missions, and solve their problems; live. In return the people provided life and culture to the area. They depended upon the various shops to complete their tasks. The street and shops depended on them to bring life and attract more people; to keep them alive. They provided and sustained life for each other.

Exchanges were being made all across the market. Exchanges associated with money and business. Exchanges associated with relationships. Exchanges associated with random acts of kindness. These exchanges were encouraged because the atmosphere created by the arrangement of stores within the market was warm and very personal. The layout separated the various vendors distinctly yet still allowed a good flow. The space encouraged one to socialize with others by creating clear pathways mixed with seating and vendors. The mixture of natural and industrial lighting further encouraged exchanges by creating warmth. These exchanges could be further defined as the movement of energy. Thus, the building, its layout, and the atmosphere energized those within, encouraging socialization, exploration, and jubilation.

One specific example in which I found energy, was at a Mexican candy stand. As,I was searching through the candies I struck up a conversation with a young girl, whose father owned the stand. She worked as a translator for her father, who spoke little English. At the check out I was able to speak with her father, the owner, in his native tongue. Our interaction was an example of exchange; the exchange of culture, words, and business. The girl energized me, I energized her father, and he would energize another person. Energy is constantly flowing from one to another in a vast system of exchange.

Furthermore, I discovered energy of the past, energy renewal. Upon leaving the building I glanced back to get another look at the building, discovering that it was at a certain point in time, Sears Roebuck & Co. The building which once gave its community, once again has found a place. This shows the eternal power of energy and exchange. Power can lay dormant for years, and when given the proper encouragement can be brought back to life. This connection to the past could also be found in a footprint in the middle of the market, left by the workers who poured the cement early in the twentieth century. Energy is stored in the work of the past and will forever affect the future. One footprint may change the course of history by starting a chain of exchange and energy.

The market made obvious the different ways energy could be seen, in the direct exchanges between people and place. Energy, however, goes far beyond simple relationships between people and place. It can also be found within a combination of person’s internal forces and environmental circumstance. To the athlete energy is eating a meal high in carbohydrates the night before the big game. To the computer it is the exchange of electrons across a thin copper wire. To Martha Stewart it is creating Christmas ornaments out of leftover prison food. To the Buddhist it is entering nirvana. To the cast of Jackass it is stapling body parts together and seeing the extremes to which their bodies may be taken. To the scientist it is the discovery of a cure. To the flower child of the 70’s it is the aura surrounding oneself. It is power derived from accomplishment, found in the past, or given by another. No matter what condition, it is an exchange between forces, one empowering the other.

Upon entering the market I heard the music of Juanes and found it welcoming to here a familiar tune
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