« February 2008 | Main | April 2008 »

March 30, 2008

07 Project Title Page Design Options

I've used Adobe Creative Suite to design these three title page options for my group's millenium development project. For these three designs, I've drawn inspiration from publications and presentations which I've found to be clean and neat in their design, utilizing white space and avoiding overuse of ornamentation.

My three designs vary in their emphasis of images or white space, use of color, and general layout. My first design is a horizontally-oriented page, which would work well for the introductory slide of our slide show as well as for the first page of our hard copy pamphlet. I like the crisp modern feel to the page, as well as its colorful visual appeal. I chose two images with the intent of representing both facets of the problem we are exploring solutions to: the shortage and grim state of low-income housing (specifically in Minneapolis) and the threats on the health of our environment. I created all three designs in Adobe InDesign CS3 and converted into a PDF which can be viewed using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Download file

My second design is oriented vertically. This design is definitely my cleanest. It has alot of white space and very few images. I think its cleanliness and simplicity represents well our project's theme of environmental sustainability. The three small images I have included are visible and eye-catching but not dominant. With its vertical orientation, it would work nicely as is for the cover page of our hard copy, but its scale would need to be altered before it could be used as our presentation's first slide.

Download file

Also oriented vertically is my third design. This design is quite different from my second design, with very little white space in comparison; a clear emphasis on the four rectangular images making up a square on the upper-middle of the page. A droplet of water represents our project's focus on the conservation of environmental resources in addressing the problem of high-density low-income housing in Minneapolis. The flourescent lightbulb represents our examination of current environmentally-friendly building materials. The image of the Cedar-Riverside Towers are represenative of our project's examination of problematic existing low-income housing in Minneapolis. Finally, the image of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is represenative of our careful analysis of individual case studies of success stories in sustainable architecture. What I really like about this last one is the powerful meaning associated with each image, with each image making up one sector of the dominant square block consuming most of the page. Like my second design, I would need to alter this page in order to use it for our slide show.

Download file

March 29, 2008

Reading 18 "Mathematics and Creativity" by Alfred Adler


1. purity

"Mathematics is pure language--the language of science...unique among languages in its ability to provide precise expression for every thought or concept that can be formulated in its terms," writes Adler on the article's first page. He goes on to compare it to the game of chess, in which there is no room for subjective criticism regarding the genius of the player. In a mathematical problem, there exists just one solution and an infinite number of wrong answers.

2. creativity

The mathematical language, according to Adler, "is continually being altered to fit new results, to simplify new techniques." The spoken languages do not allow for the bending of words to denote refinement of their old images. Rather, human thought is bent by the accumulated meanings of words. Mathematics is not held bound by this constraint. Thus, mathematics is creative in nature. Mathematicians are always using their creativity in discovering new techniques and hypothesizing new possibilities; mathematics is always in a state of creative evolutionary flux. "The essential feature of mathematical creativity is the exploration, under the pressure of powerful implosive forces, or difficult problems for whose validity and importance the explorer is eventually held bound by. The reality is the physical world." Thus, like other creative areas of study, including architecture, mathematics allows a great deal of speculative freedom. But at the same time it must be relevant to physical reality.


1. "What is more, mathematics generates a momentum, so that any significant result points automatically to another new result, or perhaps to two or three other new results," writes Adler in his concluding paragraph. Does architecture--a field of study akin to mathematics in many ways--also generate such a momentum? What exists that is evidence of such in the built environment?

2. Adler asserts that in mathematical creation, "an assertion, together with a proof" is required. Therefore, to state that the average speed at which an object travels is equal to its displacement divided by the time it takes to travel from point A to point B, a mathematician must prove it with a numerical formula. Does this translate also to architectural design? If so, does it apply in the same way? (Can we, in architecture, prove a design theory in such a simple quantitative way as mathematicians do with their formulas?)

March 24, 2008

Reading 17 "Nature's Numbers" by Ian Stewart


order, universals, accidentals

"We live in a universe of patterns," writes Stewart. This universe of patterns, explains Stewart over the course of the reading, is not in place to simply be admired, but to give "vital clues to the rules that govern natural processes." Everything in nature is ordered in some cohesive pattern or arrangement. Some patterns observed in nature are universals that actually mean something of significance. Stewart exemplifies Kepler's discovery of a "very strange pattern relating the orbital period of a planet--the time it takes to go around the Sun--to its distance from the Sun." He also points to the fact that numerological observations of universal patterns were key in Isaac Newton's theory of gravitation. Numerological pattern study doesn't always result in the discovery of scientifically-significant universals, however. "The difficulty lies in distinguishing significant numerical patterns from accidental ones," writes Stewart on page 4. He points to some of Kepler's other pattern studies that resulted in the discovery of accidental patterns which scientifically mean nothing, such as his devising of a "simple and tidy theory for the existence of precisely six planets in our solar system," which was later discovered to be completley untrue.


1. How can the observation of patterns in nature--from the most obvious to those existing in the microscopic world--inform architecture in its modern-day quest to design efficiently and environmentally-friendly?

2. "Mathematics is to nature as Sherlock Holmes is to evidence," writes Stewart on page 2. Would it also make sense to say that "Nature is to architecture as mathematics is to nature?" according to Stewart's theories?

March 14, 2008

Reading 16 "Biomimicry" by Janine M. Benyus



According to Benyus, biomimicry (from the Greek bios, life, and mimesis, imitation), "is a new science that studies nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems." It studies nature in three ways: nature as model, nature as measure, and nature as mentor. The Age of Biomimicry "introduces an era based not on what we can extract from nature, but on what we can learn from her." It is based largely upon the principle that all human inventions have already been invented by nature in a better, more efficient way. Nature is "imaginative by necessity," writes Benyus.


"It is time for us as a culture to walk in the forest again," asserts Benyus. The reading emphasizes the necessity for human beings to be stewards of the Earth in which we live, learning from it and safeguarding it from harm. If we fail to do so, we not only harm nature, but doom the future survival of the human race. "We realize that the only way to keep learning from nature is to safeguard naturalness, the wellspring of good ideas. At this point in history, as we contemplate the very real possibility of losing a quarter of all species in the next thirty years, biomimicry becoems more than just a new way of looking at nature. It becomes a race and a rescue." Benyus sums up her call to safeguard the natural world, saying "This time, we come not to learn about nature so that we might circumvent or control her, but to learn from nature, so that we might fit in, at last and for good, on the Earth from which we sprang."


1. "Nature invents and we invent. In fact, I think that humans and all other life-forms have been evolving toward similar points, but other organisms are simply farther along than we are," quotes Benyus from her discussion with University of Delaware researcher Herb Waite. Is Waite's rather radical challenge to the common assumption of human superiority arguable?

2. Has the architecture profession truly embraced the widely-accepted-to-be-enlightened study of biomimicry, or is there alot of work yet to be done?

March 9, 2008

Reading 15 "Search for Form" by Eliel Saarinen



Form possesses a functional quality as well as a spiritual function. "Form, then, is not mute. Far from so, for form conveys its inner meaning with finer vibration and deeper expression than can the spoken tongue," writes Saarinen on page 17. Art of man and nature have both gone through a similar evolution of the creation of form: the subsconsious, conscious, and self-conscious stages. Primitive man created original, genuine form out of necessity during the subconscious stage of creation. During the conscious stage, man created original form not out of necessity, but out of curiosity. It is the present state of creation, the self-conscious stage, that sees litlte to no geniuine form created. Man has become civilized and thus dependent upon aesthetic speculation, dogmatic doctrines, and a desire to imitate rather than create.


The origin of all form is nature. "It is inconceivable that a truly complete understanding of form can be had unless one goes to those primeval sources where the concept of form was born," writes Saarinen on page 18. Saarinen discusses how, at the beginning of man's existence, he was close to nature. Thus, his forms were genuine manifestations of nature. "Having lost his spiritual communication with nature, man became gradually blind to nature's laws." (page 19) Man reacts to the creative actions of nature. Art of nature, argues Saarinen, is synonymous with art of man, taking its beauty in the same colors, textures, movement, flavor, and sound. Thus, the forms of man are reactions to the forms of nature. He speaks of architecture, on page 47, as being naturally-originating forms that are for man's protection and accommodation.


1. "Art is like the plant," writes Saarinen in the preamble. "The characteristics of its (the plant's) form lie concealed in the potential power of the seed. The soil gives it strength to grow. And outer influences decide its shape in the environment." What does this metaphor tell us about how architects and designers in general are to create forms?

2. On page 11, Saarinen begs the question, "is art soulless; or does it have a soul?" He further points out that the answer is obvious, but points out the fact that today "there exists an abundance of forms that are desitute of meaning and yet are regarded as forms of art." Do you agree with his harsh assessment of the modern design scene? Is today's artistic creation "soulless?"

March 7, 2008

06 Term Project Graphic Style Planning

As Ozayr has stressed in class on numerous occasions, and Design Fundamentals I hammered in pretty firmly last semester, the ability to present your work in a clean, aesthetically pleasing fashion is a necessity for designers. Allan Chochinov in "1000 words for design students" asserts, "And no matter how good a designer you are, without a certain level of presentation skills, nobody will ever know."

Photographer Janet Killeen, "known for capturing topics of social importance around the world", put together a very powerful, clean, and nice-looking web site design. The image below is her web design included in her e-portfolio on Gravitate Design Studio's website. She indicates in the caption that "The challenge was to do something very edgy and unique, but not allow the design to overpower the photography." I really like her emphasis on strong, anthropological inquiry through photography in documenting a social issue. She brings viewers into a too-close-for-comfort view of an issue of social justice, which is a successful attention-grabbing technique. Our group, in our attempt to document applications of sustainable architecture in low-income urban housing, could take her photography-based graphic layouts as primary inspiration in considering the graphic style of our presentation.

Jay Gandhi and Kevin Egan's advertisement for US Airways featured in CMYK Magazine is a bold, crisp, and clean. The bizzare reversal of the ordinary (flipping the United States map upside down) not only catches the attention of the viewer, but it makes a strong statement. In this particular case, it is making a marketing pitch, but the idea of creating an abstract graphical paradox is one that we could certainly use in our examination of sustainability and inner city public housing.

Goran Krstic's "Self Portrait" was featured as the cover art for CMYK Magazine Issue 38. Krstic is a student at Pratt Institute. What intrigues me about his graphic design is the highly abstract richness of the layout. It incorporates a vast palllette of varying color, lines, shapes, and textures in its bizzare narration of the artist's life. I admire his use of graphical metaphor to tell something about himself, and believe that we could employ a similar technique in telling the "story" of the once-thought-to-be bizzare marraige of sustainability and low-income housing.

The personal record collection of Clifford Soltze of Soltze Design Firm in Boston, struck me as interesting. The fact that a designer collects record covers for inspiration is a good indication that the graphic design of such are very valuable. Today, record covers have become CD covers and MP3 album icons, but have changed in their purpose very little. I have always liked the highly abstracted intellectually creative visual responses to the design problem of graphically representing a music album. Our millenium development group faces a similar challenge in graphically representing the complex issues of sustainability in urban low-income housing in one cohesive graphic presentation.

The cover illustrations and designs for Canada Law Book's legal resources catalogue, designed by "On the Water Communications," is featured on portfolios.com. What I really like about this graphic is the powerful juxtaposition of the natural (a leaf in this case) and the man-made (in this case, the intricate crafted golden ornamental plaque). It is not a dominance of either element, but a harmonious co-existance of the two objects to create one beautiful image. This is essentially what we're researching for the Millenium Development Project; the harmony of sustainability and urban low-income housing.

This proposed CD cover design titled 'Sharing Secrets' is a product of "Dancing Eyes Design." What I like about this design is the boldness and textural roughness of the image. I really think it could possibly translate into a good representation of our urban issue. The abstraction and complementary relationship of the image and supporting text is nice. Perhaps we could create a similar graphic effect when documenting the present conditions of low-income housing.

Nathan Brightbill's MLA (Masters of Landscape Architecture) Portfolio for the University of Washington College of Architecture & Urban Planning is a very nice composition. I particularly like this page titled, "Housing Design/Affordable Housing," as it is related to the topic of our term project. The page is layed out well; very professional, clean, and flowing. I particularly like the palcement of the title and short description of the prompt/design problem on the top bar. The plan and accompanying perspective sketch are also very clean and occupy the page well. I think that a layout similar to this would do the main slides/pages of our presentation justice.

March 5, 2008

3/5/08 Service Learning

It was snowing this morning; the sidwalks and roads were covered in a slushy mix of mud and snow. But it wasn't unbearably cold, so it turned out to be a nice walk down Hennepin Avenue this morning. Mr. Mat's class was studying scientific notation this morning. Today's class was building on a previous lecture on the topic, so the second half of the class period was devoted to working on homework. I enjoyed having a larger block of time to work one-on-one with the kids. They weren't at all shy this morning, as I was jumping all around the room to help where I could. I had the opportunity to work with nearly half of the students in the class today, which was a nice change from having just a couple wanting help. The kids were very well behaved and polite today, thanking me for my help and sharing my help among each other respectfully.

March 2, 2008

Reading 14 "Geometry and the Primacy of Dwelling" by Norman Crowe


1. domicile

According to Crowe, man created the domicile, or dwelling, in order to "fix certain characterisitics among the ever-changing aspects of the natural world and thereby provide a predictable environment." It has certain characteristics of the natural environment, however, because it arose as a paradigmatic creation of it. Crowe outlines how the man-made built environment imitates the paradigmatic creation of the gods and "personalizes" it. The most complex architecture man has ever conceived of, however, arose from the simple domicile; from the first simple home built, in a sort of Laugier "primitive hut" fashion.

2. paradigm

Architecture and the built environment can be traced back to the first simple structures constructed by man in his attempt to imitate nature, and even further to the first geometric forms arising from nature. The first simple architectural structures constructed by man were very close to the natural world. Over time, our dwellings have distanced themselves from the natural paradigmatic roots of our physical world.


1. Crowe notes that architect Louis I. Kahn once pointed out that "architecture cannot be reinvented; it must evolve so that...When the work is completed, the beginning must be felt." (page 63) What does this tell us about the roots of architecture and the nature of the built environment?

2. Crowe explores the nature of the "house" on pages 41-42. He cites Gaston Bachelard in proclaiming that "the house is the human being's first world." (41) Crowe goes on to illustrate how the "house" model has shaped all subsequent architecture (the courthouse, the houses of parliament, etc...) In illustrating such, is Crowe advocating a purity in architectural form similar to that advocated by Laugier and the architectural purists of the Greek revival camp of the 17th and 18th Centuries?

Reading 13 "Nature and the Idea of a Man-Made World" by Norman Crowe


1. nature

"Ultimately our understanding of nature configures the way we approach both the environment that we create and the environment in which our creations reside," writes Crowe on page 7. He goes on to say that, "The man-made world is an alternative nature, so to speak, created by artifice and born as a human reflection of the wonder we find in the natural world--the heavens, the seasons, the landscapes and seascapes, plants and animals." Thus, Crowe argues that architecture--the built environment--is the human creation sparked by man's interaction with the natural. Man has been the creator of his own place in nature, his own version of the natural world.

2. balance

Crowe makes the firm argument that, "Each of us, whether we recognize it or not, acts upon a foundation of some concept of nature." Because of this inevitability, we all strive for the ideal balance between the built world and nature. In looking at two extremes--one in which man dominates nature, the other in which nature dominates man--anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss is noted to have concluded that his image of the ideal balance between nature and the built environment existed in his native France "where, in a predominantly agricultural district, towns were dense and compact, taking up as little of the land as they might, yet within them were healthy human communities living in close harmony." (page 9) This balance is found by each person individually, however, notes Crowe. Each person's idea of this harmony is shaped both by direct life experience and by culturally inculcated values.


1. Much in the tradition of the Gothic Revival backlash to the mechanized architecture of the Industrial Revolution, Crowe speaks of the value of craft that is common in all architecture that seeks to possess ideal harmony; that ideal balance between nature and the built environment. Do you view modern architecture, in general, as actively seeking this balance between nature, or rejecting its importance? If it is neglecting this balance that Crowe advocates, how can the profession take steps to seek this ideal harmony?

2. "It is ironic that while science has shown us that we are at best minor actors in the broader natural order, our actions lead us in the opposite direction," writes Crowe on page 22. Which of the actions of mankind have led us in the "opposite direction"?