May 5, 2008

Architecture and Technology


Technology and architecture. It is inevitable that as technology expands, it will make its way into every aspect of life. So, yeah, technology is always going to be a major part of architecture. Instead of trying to keep with the traditional ways, why not embrace architecture in the technological age?

Technology brings a whole new life to architecture. It starts with the way architects put their ideas onto paper. Now, it is through the computer. CAD and other programs organize thoughts. They help dimension and work with complicated numbers. It is no longer necessary to draw and redraw to get it perfect. The computer allows a designer to play around with things more. The method of designed is quickened. Beyond the process, the things you can do with the programs are incredible. Frank Gehry is the obvious example. Since he got his jet designing software, the scale and complexity of his projects have skyrocketed. What an architect can now do with the form of a building has changed completely. Architecture is always evolving, this is just the way it is now evolving.

Despite it’s benefits, it is still really important to have skills beyond the computer. I feel like even if plans aren’t all drawn out and what was once hand drawn is now done on the computer, it is important to be able to draw. Computers may be able to convey scale and details, but your drawings should convey emotion and the feel.

So I say, yes, technology and architecture are a beautiful combination. We just have to be careful not to forget the artistic aspect that computers may lack.

May 4, 2008

Term Project Critique

The presentations are over! Hurrah!

Now, a moment to reflect on other people’s presentations.

I really enjoyed Byron and Michelle’s presentation on poverty on hunger. They looked at Somalia and how the problem can be improved in such an unstable nation. Broc and I focused on Somalia as well, so it was really interesting for me to see other information about the country. I learned a lot more about the agricultural and social sides of the nation.

The presentation was set up very well. It was well designed and had powerful pictures. I thought the banner that constantly remained on top was great because it created a flow throughout the presentation. It was faded just right so that it was not distracting as well. The images used were obviously carefully chosen and fit well with what Byron and Michelle were trying to get across.

After setting up a background of the country and why exactly people suffer from poverty and hunger, they went into specific case studies of programs that were helping the people. They looked at programs tat helped Africans help themselves. Rather than a program that just gives Somalis food and supplies, they found ways for the community to make decisions together to improve conditions. I especially liked the case study of UN-HABITAT. It is a UN program to maintain socially and environmentally sustainable shelter for all through working with governments and small communities. It helps the communities take action against their problems. I thought the case studies on improving the agricultural problems were also fantastic. Somalia is a dry country. It has seen many droughts and does not grow crops very well, thus limiting the amount of food put out to the people. Working on improving agricultural productivity in the nation itself is the base of improving the hunger situation.

After looking in depth at these case studies, they went on to establish their proposal. It was not a specific list of what they think needs to be done in Somalia. Instead, it was a call for community involvement, the improvement of the government, and the reversing of rural degeneration. I liked that they just had a vague guide of what to do. I think if programs were expanded for Somalis to get started and help themselves, they could pull themselves out of this state of hunger and poverty.

Overall, I think Byron and Michelle did a great job of explaining the problem and establishing a basis for their solution. Yey!

April 21, 2008

DAY FIVE

My last day at South.

When I got there, another volunteer from our class was already working on putting posters up. Both of us were there the entire time, and Anne had a great project for us. With the Career Fair coming up this Thursday, she needed to make signs to put on the front door to welcome everyone as well as to mark parking. She found this awesome tiger print paper (South Tigers...) to roll across the poster and cut out letters to put on top. I think what we came up with was nice. It seems silly that it took two hours to make two posters, but that is okay. We sat around and chatted. Anne wouldn't have had time to make anything special, so it was great that we could make something nice for her.

The end of this semester has gotten pretty crazy, so it was a relief but also a sad thought that my time at South is done. It has been a great change from my typical volunteering. Instead of working with young kids, I have been doing a huge variety of activities with older kids. Filing, labeling, hanging posters, and helping with essays, applications, and FAFSAs has been a great change. I'm glad I have worked in a variety of places and look forward to what I find next.

April 20, 2008

Reading Discussion 19

Reading 19---
"Technopoly" by Neil Postman

Key Words:
1. Change-

I thought it was really interesting when Postman talked about how deeply technological advances affect everything around us. He says, "New things require new words. But new things also modify old words, words that have deep-rooted meanings" (8). It is interesting to think how different our vocabulary is even from ten years ago. Technology drives such changes.

2. Technophiles-

Postman describes technophiles as people who "gaze on technology as a lover does on his beloved, seeing it as without blemish and entertaining no apprehension for the future" (5). He really feels like we must be skeptical of technology, as there are negative effects on our society and lives. For each invention, there must be the good and the bad and we must be aware of both.

Discussion Questions:
1. Are you skeptic of technology? Are the gains worth the negative consequences?
2. How can technology help us in architecture and design? How have you used technology already and what would you have done without it?

April 12, 2008

Day FOUR

Spring break kind of put a damper on my volunteer schedule. I was off for a week, then South was off, then I couldn't make it... this past week was much the same. I had some family stuff going on and couldn't make it on my normal Monday so I came in Friday instead.

I would just like to point out that Minnesota is gross. I got out of bed and definately was not looking forward to trekking to South in the icy rain/ sleet. Ew. But I did anyways, and was put in a much better mood.

When I got up to the career center, there was a note for me on the door telling me to go to another room downstairs. I was pretty satisfied that I knew exactly where this room was. I peeked through the window and saw a conference room full of well dressed students and important looking adults speaking to them. I waited outside for a minute before I gain the courage to knock and see if Anne was in the room. She was! I went and sat down and Anne told me that these kids were signing for the Wallin Scholarship (a prestigious $4,000 a year renewable scholarship for students in Minneapolis and now St. Paul). It was pretty exciting- it brought me back to the good old days (hmmhmunderayearagomm) when I was in their seats.

After a bit, Anne and I went back to the Career Center. It was a really busy day for her since there were many scholarships due and the career fair is coming up. I was glad I was there to help out with paper work and such.

I got on Anne's laptop and updated a contact list for the people coming to the career fair while making copies and such. Students were flooding in with questions for Anne. A pretty steady line formed between classes. Anne is very good at handling all these kids at once (and they all seem to love her).

In the last half hour, I helped a girl fill out her FAFSA. Ha. If there is one thing about the college process I hate, it is the FAFSA. I have done it for years, as I did it for my sister for two years before doing my own. If you have the papers right in front of you, it is not so bad, but sometimes it is so hard to figure out. I am no expert, but I know the basics. The student didn't have much paperwork with her, so we couldn't do much and she was very frustrated about this. Hopefully once she gets her taxes together it will come out easier.

I'll be back in two weeks!

April 2, 2008

I made title pages!

i apologize for the linkage. i am not feeling so tech savvy right now.

these are my cover designs. they may change as i play with indesign throughout the night... enjoy:

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March 23, 2008

Reading Discussions 16-18

---16 Biomimicry
by Janine M. Benyus

Key Words:
1. Nature
2. Process

Biomimicry is a science that studies nature and uses the findings as a basis for design. By definition, it is "nature as model," "nature as measure," and "nature as mentor." Nature is innately beautiful and full of pattern. It knows what works and what doesn't work. We can use this knowledge from our nature in our design. One important way to use the knowledge of nature is by learning from the processes found in the natural world. For example, Benyus talks about self- assembly (starting on 104). It is interesting to look at how a crystal pearl grows on its own. We can use this kind of research to inform our own designs.

Discussion Questions:
1. Does it matter if we recognize the use of biomimicry or not? If it is unconsciously used in design, is it just as resourceful? Or is there something about knowing that it is being used and knowing the process that makes biomimicry so effective?
2. Benyus talks about the four "tricks of the trade" in manufacturing materials (96). Can you think of any more? What is this missing? Where are there holes?

---17 Nature's Numbers
by Ian Stewart

Key Words:
1. Pattern
2. Shape

Patterns can be seen in all nature. Really, patterns are found everywhere. Stewart explains the simplest patterns that can be seen in humans having two legs or moving at a constant walking pace. Patterns can especially be seen within numbers. I thought it was interesting that Stewart noted that "exceptions to patterns are special," hence, the superstition with four leaf clovers and such (4). Shape is also important in that all nature is made of shapes. In reality, shapes are built of tiny dots, but it is not as useful to think of shapes in this way because it looses meaning. Mathematical shapes are more useful in describing and understanding patterns.

Discussion Questions:
1. What do mathematical patterns have to do with design? How does this relate to biomimicry?
2. If chaos patterns are so complex and not understandable for everyday people, how do they work? How can we understand them to incorporate it into our design?

---18 Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics
by Alfred Adler

Key Words:
1. Mathematician
2. Skepticism

In Adler's words, "a mathematician is great or he is nothing." He basically says that either a mathematician will be known for some big discovery or their existence as a mathematician will mean nothing. He goes on to say that a mathematician will either be great when they are young or not at all. This is because math is constantly changing and younger people are more apt to understand and more willing to change to accommodate. Mathematicians must be open to falsify things- "mathematics is a field in which much that appears obviously true is in fact false" (438).

Discussion Questions:
1. Adler holds very strong opinions and stereotypes about mathematics and mathematicians. Do you agree/ disagree? Have you seen exceptions? Where?
2. Adler discusses mathematics as language. Do you agree? Should it be taught as a language?

March 13, 2008

Design

i have no idea if this website is working... but here is an attempt...
i'll add my pictures once i know that it is functioning.


The design of the UN Millennium goals project is a critical portion of the work. If the information is poorly put together, no one will care. The layout has to be interesting and catch someone’s eye.

Broc and I are discussing the possibility of a global partnership. We are looking at technology in Africa and how we can unite to make progress. A research paper will not do justice to the issue. There are images and diagrams that speak beyond words. Therefore the design of the project must be centered on the images. Since we will be presenting to the class, I think it is important to have a pdf slideshow in addition to whatever method we choose to present our work. This way, we can run through the images while discussing them in more detail.

I think our work could be well presented in a small book. It could be like a table picture book with informational captions and quotations.

We used Bruce Mau’s book Massive Change as a source and it was inspiration for me in terms of design as well. It is brilliantly put together and the images overtake the book. The points are emphasized and explained by text and interviews.

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I looked at the websites mentioned in class. I found the CMYK magazine most appealing. There is little text and very clean. The font is consistent but interesting. The images really stand out and are obviouslly carefully chosen. I liked this one the best.
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These are some other websites that I just really like the layout of. The way they are composed catches the eye and makes the information presented most important.

Architecture in Helsinki http://architectureinhelsinki.com/

Urban Outfitters. http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/index.jsp

Charles Stinson. http://www.crsarch.com/

March 12, 2008

Day THREE

My third day at South High School. This time, I was really busy the entire time.

My first task was to create posters for upcoming events in the College and Career Center. Design put to use! Though they were quick, five minute, posters, it was fun to sit down and play with the images and words. I enjoyed myself. Then I took the posters down to be approved and "stamped" so they could be copied and hung around the school. I got a little lost on the way down (it was my first time walking around the school around), but I quickly found the right office. South is big! I went to a very large high school as well, but it is different when it is familiar.

When I was done doing this, I worked for the remainder of the time with two students on their resumes. South has this summer work program that something like 200 kids apply for. From what I understand, in the spring, there are speed interviews where businesses come and accept so many of the applications. This seems like such a smart idea and great opportunity for the students. As I am now discovering, it is very hard to find a job! The school is doing a great service by helping these kids along.

It was interesting to work on these resumes. The kids have such different experiences than anything I have ever known or seen. One kid was a track star. He had never worked, seemed to have trouble with his english, but was very involved in his school. Another girl was a mother of two. She worked a lot, had day care as a class in school, and took care of her children while maintaining an impressive GPA. I really hope these kids make it. They were so great and deserving of the best.

March 9, 2008

Day TWO

Last Monday was my second day at the career center at South High School.

This time, I got on there in no time at all. I walked into the school and knew what I was doing and where I was going, which was very relieving. I was greeted once again by Anne. She had lots of little tasks for me to do, which was great because she was really busy. There is a college fair coming up this week and she had a lot of preparation to get done.

I didn't get to work with any students, but the office work is cool too. I (sadly) really enjoy labeling things. My dad has a label maker and I would always buy different colored tape (pink, purple, blue...) "for him" and label everything I could think of. So making files is a great task for me.

I stayed pretty busy the entire time, cutting permission slips, filing, hanging posters up, and delivering papers to mailboxes. I had Anne's student aid take me around to do some of this stuff so I wouldn't get lost. She is a sweetheart. I think it is really cool that South (and all Minneapolis, maybe all other schools) has a program for student aids. I really would have enjoyed that.

Anne had a meeting, so I had to leave a bit earlier than usual. That's okay, because I will be back next week!

Reading Discussion 15

15--- Search for Form by Eliel Saarinen

Key Words:
1. Form- How do we find form? What makes good form? Saarinen states that "the fundamentals of form are just the same, all the time, unchangeable and firm" (3). However, form fluctuates because of man as it is part of man.

2. Art- Saarinen explains in the preamble that art is a language that is "the greatest treasure of human culture" (1). Art is honest and sincere. Since man is part of nature, art must be connected to nature- there must be a spiritual connection to nature. Art can be developed through form in three stages- the subconscious stage, the conscious stage, and the self-conscious stage.

Discussion Questions:

1. Saarinen argues that form is not mute for "form conveys its inner meaning with finer vibration and deeper expressiveness than can the spoken tongue" (17). How do we see form speak in architecture? How do we feel/ create meaning in architecture?

2. "Art is synonymous with health and lack of art is synonymous with unhealth" (27). How could this relate to our term project? How is the UN aiming to achieve their goals of creating a healthier world environment through art?


March 5, 2008

Where I Belong

I live in my tiny, kitchen-less room. I live in Middlebrook Hall. I live at the University of Minnesota. I live in Minneapolis. I live in Minnesota. I live in the United States. I live in North America. I live in this world. I live in this universe. I exist in my build environment that has made me who I am today.

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It is strange to me that when I think of my built environment I no longer think of the home I moved out of only six months ago. My middle-class home in the suburbs no longer holds much meaning to me. I don’t want to sound like I grew up with a lot of angst or hated where I lived so much, but it really was not right for me. The suburbs are not where I am meant to be.

Growing up in this middle class, suburban environment of structure, focus on education, and preparation for the future has shaped who I am. This is not a bad thing. I like structure. I do well in structure. It’s not where I am happiest, but I do well with structure. My education as a high school student was intense; I was an IB (International Baccalaureate) student. It has prepared me for my future.

This has carried to my new home. My kitchen-less room on the 8th floor of this strange place known as a dorm. But what has affected me most is what I left behind in the suburbs. I came to a new environment of city living. I ride the bus. I look out my window at the skyline of Minneapolis. I have forgotten how to drive. I have concert venues in walking distance (HUZZAH!). My new life in this room is where I am meant to be (Is it weird to prefer a box with absolutely NO privacy to a spacious 6 bedroom home?). The community I have built here and frameworks that surround me have built who I am today.


[I should mention that any photos in this blog I have not cited are my own.]

March 3, 2008

Reading Discussions 12- 13

12--- Architecture As Space by Bruno Zevi
Keywords:
1.
2.
Discussion Questions:
1.
2.

13-- Nature and the Idea of a Man-Made World by Norman Crowe
Keywords:

1. Nature- Nature is what surrounds us and drives us. Everything we build and do affects the nature and is informed by nature.
2. Relationship- Crowe explores the relationship between nature and place. There must be a harmony between the two and a connection to the natural world.

Discussion Questions:
1. Describe an ideal relationship with nature. Where is it? What does it look like?
2. What is necessary to have a good relationship between the built world and the natural world?

February 24, 2008

Reading Discussions 9-10

---9 The Image
by Kenneth E. Boulding

Key Words:
1. Message
2. Knowledge

Messages are constantly being sent to us. They are everything that we can sense and perceive. They are what changes our image. Some may be nominal and not make a dent in our image of the world, some may have small effects, and some completely change the image we see. Messages can clarify an image or make it more unclear. The image that results can help our knowledge grow.

Discussion Questions:
1. Boulding says, "We do not perceive our sense data raw; they are mediated through a highly learned process of interpretation and acceptance" (14). What influences our senses? How does this differ from person to person? How does it effect our messages and therefore image of the world?

2. I was really interested in her point about everyone assuming that the world they are in is the same others assume they are in. I think we get that everyone has a different view of life and see things in different ways, but it is crazy to think that the room I walk into could look completely different to someone else and we have no way of knowing exactly how other people perceive things. How can we, as designers, use this as a tool?


---10 Mr. Palomar
by Italo Calvino

Key Words:
1. Awareness
2. Perception

Calvino discussed through Mr. Palomar the perception and awareness that becomes complicated as we try to look at it. Mr. Palomar tried to look at a single wave, but could not do it as the one wave was connected to so many other things.

Discussion Questions:
1. I think we've all had our moments where we just stare at something- we isolate one object from the rest of the world. Sometimes this is in examination and contemplation of the object and other times it is just to stare. What is the difference? Where does meaningfully isolating something get you? What is the point of reflection?

2. Calvino says, "the sword exists only because he is there." What does it mean for something to exist?

February 22, 2008

I'm freeeee

"If you were completely released from the constraints of the 'architecture school' program, what would you do architecturally, artistically, bodily, lyrically, etc that would still have an impact on your environment. Describe a real or imagined place which might allow you to do this. Explore through images and text."

There are so many paths my life could take without architecture school.

I think I am interested in too much for my own good. But what I would do would have to do with something that makes me really happy. What makes me really happy?

1. Coloring with my set of 50 crayola markers (12 of which are "silly scented"- the best invention ever).

2. Finding new music. Listening obsessively.

3. Making music (yes, I am in a "band" called the Raindeer Bot Clothing Exchange. Basically, my friend and I mess around with garage band with a mix of joke songs and some pretty cool covers. My friend at Reed College is going to play us on his radio show!!! HA I find it hilarious that my voice will be on the radio ever, as I am not a singer by any means.)
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4. Going to concerts. This is NOT wasting my money, I swear... There is something spiritual about live music.
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5. Taking photos/ figuring out how to work my camera.
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6. Kids. In small doses.

7. Eating. Mostly ethnic food. My brother-in-law is Sri Lankan. He is also an excellent cook. I am obsessed.

8. Being outside. Walking. Watching the leaves change. Staring at the river. Camping. Being sustainable.
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9. Organizing. When I was young, I did not play with my toys, I organized them. By size, color, whatever. There is nothing more relaxing to me.

10. Dancing. I suck. It does not stop me.
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Okaaaaaay. That is my top 10. It doesn't answer much, but hopefully it will help me determine what I would do with my life sin escuela. I want to be passionate about whatever I do. I could be passionate about any of these things.

My mom often asks me if I want to change my major to something in music- music production or business (which I find really funny because my friend just dropped out of school and is going to McNally Smith for just that, very much against his parent's will). I don't think I would like it though. But I do think that music is in my future. But in what way?

Maybe I could plan music events. Or design venues. Or a music camp for kids. What if I turned this all into one? Ambitious, but I can do whatever I want, right? I could create a sustainable, interactive venue for people to come listen to music, dance, eat, and learn about music.

I am kind of obsessed with lyrics, so I would probably design the venue with snippets of song lyrics running along all of the walls. I think it would be cool to have the artists write some of their favorite lyrics as they play in the venue. Along with their lyrics, they could add their favorite photo or piece of art. Eventually, the walls would be covered in all kinds of unique art work. Maybe this could be a gallery as well... the possibilities are endless.

Come to think of it, i really would like to design music venues, regardless of if I am free from architecture school or not. Think of all of the perks...