May 5, 2008


The project successfully addressed the issue of poverty as a cohesive hole. The topics flowed together logically… with the exception of GMOs.

The group first defined the topic and established background information. The information made it clear what the presentation would address. Unfortunately this section of the oral presentation dragged on diminishing interest instead of captivating it.

Architects Addressing Poverty
The examples were strong and the reason each was chosen was clear. My only consideration is that there was no initial overview or explanation why those architects were chose. I was left wondering what linked them.

Ralph Rapson's Cedar Riverside
Cedar Riverside is good example of a failed project. Instead of just telling us the project failed the group presented the original vision. They expressed the potential benefits of the project. Finally they explained why the project was not successful. I never considered that its failure could be contributed to our culture not being ready for the European model.

Genetically Modified Food
This topic did not relate to the project as a cohesive hole. Genetically enhanced food as solution to hunger has little to do with architecturally answers to poverty. Furthermore, I am not sure that increasing the food supply will solve hunger. In his novel Ishmael, Daniel Quinn explains that increased food supply results in an increased population. Therefore increased food supply has the potential to increase the population of starving people in the world.

This was a strong conclusion to the project. The incorporation of low income living with commercial space is socially, economically, and environmentally beneficially. The housing development does more than just create a place for impoverished people to live. It allows there a fresh start by creating job opportunities. It was interesting to see a project about poverty be concluded with sustainability as a solution.

The Book
The group created a book to present their research. The book was beautifully crafted. There was a balance between text and images. Important information was placed in a box for emphasis. I did not have enough time to read all of the text on each page. It would have been helpful to highlight the main points.

Monday April 21, 2008

This last week during volunteering I was provided an opportunity that significantly improved my understanding of the A.C.E.S volunteering program. I was asked to give a survey to the fourth grade students. The survey involved questions about school, A.C.E.S and the students. I could not imagine a more appropriate way to finish my year partnered with Monroe school.

I was happy to learn that the students understand the importance of attending school and A.C.E.S. The majority of the students felt that A.C.E.S helped their performance in school. It was beneficial to me as a volunteer to learn the students knew the volunteers cared for them and that they had people at A.C.E.S who would listen to them.

I was a little shocked to learn that the students were all aware it was easy for them to lose their temper and difficult for them to regain their cool. Many of the students admitted that they would hit someone if they felt like it even if they knew it was wrong. There were even a few students who felt they needed to fight to get what they want.

Reflecting on the past year partnered with A.C.E.S I have seen myself grow. When I started volunteering I was there to have fun with the kids. Through my time at Monroe I am now able to maintain balance between discipline and fun.

I started working with aces in the fall for Design Fundamentals Introduction to Design Thinking. I was upset because the volunteering requirement was not apart of the course syllabus. When Josh fore Monroe school visited us he told our group that we will get out of it what we put into it. He was right. As I became closer with the students I put more into it and ended up having a lot of fun.

April 22, 2008

Sustainability and Local Materials

The oral presentation by the group members was good. It was clear that they had done some research on each topic. Unlike their slides they were able to summarize important information. The slides were organized with some attention to aesthetics. However, there was no real integration of images and text, they remained very separate. The blocks of text were completely overwhelming. It was organized more as a paper with additional images. In contrast there was one page with roughly twenty small examples of cob houses on top of a large image. The pictures were so small you could not decipher their content and the lack of contrast with the background made it visually confusing.

It would be helpful to summarize the text and emphasize the key points. I feel this would better complement the images instead of detract from them. The page with images of cob buildings could be clarified using a few larger images, creating boarders around the images, or altering the contrast of the images.

The material presented was interesting. I really liked the idea of sustainability with a focus on local materials. In our global economy we often tend to forget the importance of what is around us. I think the concept of local materials is strongly emphasized by the idea of community. While working on a project in Arch. and Ecology I found an amazing interdisciplinary design firm. Whole Systems Design provides a strong example of using local materials and creating community involvement. The Vermont based design team horse logs lumber from on site and invites the community to join construction in traditional barn rising fashion.

Well worth the time to take a look at their projects !

I have two major concerns about the chose of material presented. The first is that only one of the four topics, cob building, related back to the title “sustainability and local materials?. Furthermore, cob building is the only topic that addressed community. The second concern is that none of the topics addressed how each method is sustainable. The conclusion addressed that these methods will become more popular, and completely neglected to mention the sustainability of green building, green roofs, cob building, or bamboo. Although they discussed the benefits (not sustainability) they neglected to mention the deeper negative impacts. For instance although bamboo is a great building material that grows quickly and sequesters carbon, the popular material is now replacing land that was once used for growing food.

April 16, 2008

Monday April 7, 2008

This week I worked with the fourth graders. There was such a significant difference between the fourth graders and the sixth graders. The graders’ bad attitude made controlling them difficult and completely eliminated any opportunity for education. The fourth graders were cooperative and even curious.

… of course they were curious, we learned about owls! The students were enraptured. The week before they watched a video explaining the special qualities that separate birds and raptors. The students informed me that raptors have talons, beaks and facial disks.

The students even transformed themselves into raptors. The teacher had forks for talons, glasses for eyes and paper plate masks for facial disks. Unfortunately there were not enough ‘accessories’ for all the students. The other volunteers and I shared a glance of worry, however, sharing was not an issue.

More exciting then becoming a raptor was getting their pictures taken clad to the talons. I strongly feel that teachers should find was to use photography as motivation. It would provide strong incentive to kids no matter what they are working on. Furthermore, what better way to document academic growth? Taking pictures of students with their work would make them ownership.

Choice time was the best ever. We had the whole ‘big gym’ to ourselves. There was enough space that we could play both basketball and soccer. The soccer game we organized was outstanding. It was the team leader matt and volunteers, Dan, Sun Wook against… maybe a hundred wild students. Very close match up.

April 2, 2008

Monday March 24, 2008

When I started volunteering at Monroe during fall semester I worked with the fourth graders every Monday. This spring semester I decided to work with the sixth grade students. I though that the older students would act more mature. I was mistaken. I have found that they are difficult, rude and make volunteering a less enjoyable experience. I use to look forward to working with the kids because I felt as though I was making a difference. With the sixth graders it feels as though I am only damage control.

This last week the students were so difficult the teacher I was working with almost had a break down and kept repeating, “I can’t take this, I want to quit.? Needless to say this made my volunteering experience all the less pleasurable. However, I was compassionate to her situation.

The highlight of my day was that the students learned how to draw buildings in perspective. A single, well behaved, student spent time teaching me what they learned.

At the end of the day we attempted to play a game. The game was great on paper, however, the kids were not quiet long enough for me to explain the rules and we ran out of time before we could play.

April 1, 2008

Dubai- Title Pages

The millennium goal my group is working on is global development partnerships. We are focusing our research on Dubai of the United Arab Emirates. The three title pages I designed are visual representations of Dubai’s influence on global development.

The idea of a package

filled in (small).jpg

Dubai’s economic success can be attributed to four simple components location, infrastructure, free trade zones and truism. As Dubai begins to develop foreign countries it uses this ‘package’ for economic development… just import labor, presto.

The idea of an outline

An Outline (small).jpg

The success of Dubai is attributed to many other variables. It has not yet been proven that this exact model will work in other regions of the world. This package for economic development can be considered an outline that is adaptable to different environments.

The idea of an example

Title Page One (small).jpg

Regardless of environment, Dubai provides a successful example of globalization. As our research continues we will uncover weather the economic development of Dubai is leading to global development partnerships.

March 16, 2008

Monday March 10, 2008

The day after day light savings and everyone was exhausted. It was difficult keeping the kids engaged. A few students continued to fall asleep. Instead of having homework time there was a guest speaker. Shawn, a sports journalist form pioneer press, came to talk about his career. I was concerned that the students would not pay attention, however, the teacher gave an incentive to whoever asked the most questions. I thought this was a great idea, however, instead of paying attention to what Shawn had to say the students simply kept asking irrelevant questions.

Shawn explained the academic choices he made that enabled him to become a sports journalist, stressing the importance of grade school, high school and college. I believe the talk would have been much more influential if the students knew what to pay attention to.

March 12, 2008

Presentation / Documentation Styles


The Power of Platinum is a straightforward presentation of information. This magazine advertisement captures the eye with a bold picture that draws the reader in. The information is cleanly presented and separated from the picture itself. The separation powerfully accents the importance of both the picture and text. The use of black and white unifies the advertisement and highlights tones in the picture. Furthermore, the perspective or ignored scale makes the advertisement dynamic and intriguing.

6. buisness.jpg

The Dubai Business Bay by TD Architects is a helpful visual division of the business districts. The color coordination makes it easy to understand, however, the lack of text leaves interpretation up to the observers.

7. TOWER.jpg

The Elevation of Burj Dubai is an example of the opposite extreme. The image is cluttered with text making it confusing. The tower successfully color-codes the completion and construction materials, however, the text makes the presentation overwhelming. It records height, comparable skyscrapers and dates of completion.

4. super towers.jpg

The depiction of Dubai: A City of Supertowers is the most effective documentation style because it clearly presents multiple levels of information. The image incorporates a diagram of each tower, factual information, and geographic location.

I hope to incorporate the powerful advertising techniques and the informative presentation methods to create a vivid research project that is easy to understand.

March 6, 2008

I am a master of the natural world.

In overcoming the oppositions of the natural environment we have successfully created a predictable “second nature.? The obvious impact of our second natures is that we have removed ourselves from the environment that previously shaped our cultures. Around the world cultures have developed in response to their natural environments. The Inuit igloo, Navajo hogan, and tropical house of Southeast Asia are representations of this response. These dwellings are crafted from materials that are local, natural, and can decompose to become nutrients.

“Each of these three dwellings is built with maximum efficiency in mind; thus each is sensitively, even directly, attuned to its setting in the natural characteristics of the climate.? (36 Norman Crowe)

These dwellings show equal sensitivity to the cultural life styles. Modern dwellings maintain this reflection of culture only to highlight our shortcomings. Currently we pride ourselves on our ability to “overcome? the natural environment when in reality we are simply ignoring it. Our vast scientific comprehension of frameworks, clockworks and phenomena has not helped us to “master? the natural world; it has only helped us isolate ourselves. The modern anonymity of structures represents our removal from the natural environment.

The built environment has made me a master of the natural world. However, I am dependent on technological innovation to manipulate my surroundings and minimize work. I am removed from the climate and do not need to work in order to maintain a comfortable indoor environment. I hardly need to move to get a drink or go to the bathroom, water is brought to me and waste is taken away. I am unaffected by nightfall because my lights are always on. I rise to an alarm clock and spend ninety percent of the day indoors. To eat I do not need grow crops or raise animals. When I am done with “work? I do not even need utilize reason, I can simply watch television.

I am an American.
I am purposeless.
I am depressed.
I am overweight.
I am a master of the natural world.
Im addicted to the built environment.

Crowe, Norman. Nature and The Idea of a Man-Made World. Cambridge,
Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1995

February 27, 2008

Action is a reaction to environment

Creating things exhilarates me. When I was young I spent every day walking through the woods until I found the next project site. I would hollow out old oak logs, make branch benches, stack rocks, and study everything. Every expedition I became more intimate with the woods and it’s materials. If I were completely released from the constraints of the architecture school program I would want to continue walking through the woods. I would find a place to symbolize, problem to solve or people to serve.

I feel that Andy Goldsworthy summarize humans place in nature. He observes his surroundings, understands them through interaction and expresses his interpretation. It is how cultures have always reacted to their environment.

I would love to walk through outdoors of the world and be exposed to the environments others have observed for centuries. It would interest me to see how cultures have understood and interpreted place; however, for me this would not be enough. I would want to symbolize my understanding architecturally. Expressing my understanding to be observed artistically, bodily or lyrically would not be satisfying enough. I want people to physically interact with my projects.

After spending last summer walking through the woods of Afton I designed and built a series of lamps that reflected local flora. The lamps are all solar powered and designed specifically for each location. My personal favorite is a six-foot tall fiddlehead tucked away in my neighbors gully.

February 26, 2008

Monday February 25, 2008

The fifth graders with out homework were problematic. They were loud and ran around the classroom distracting everyone who had work. Giving them something specific to work on helped. I suggested that they draw me a comic strip. I left the subject open ended and was pleasantly surprised.

A few students did homework. All of the students who were working on an assignment together just copied the answers. They did not care if I helped them understand but they did want me to give them the answer. We worked on identifying adjectives. Obviously it did not help for me to just find the adjective. I found that it helped if I define adjective in their terms. Once they got the concept I was surprised by how excited they were.

Towards the end the teacher explained a sports announcer assignment. There was a lot of confusion because the examples used did not match the information the kids had. Like with the homework the kids rejected things that went against their “image? or knowledge.

In one of our readings ‘The Image’, Kenneth E. Boulding explains a basic teaching principle. “As every good teacher knows, the business of teaching is not that of penetrating the student’s defenses with the violence or loudness of the teacher’s message. It is, rather, that of co-operating with the students own inward teacher whereby the student’s image may grow in conformity with that of his outward teacher.? (Boulding 18) I would agree in that I found it much easier to help the students learn than to “teach? them through forcing ideas.

Boulding, Kenneth E. The Image. Michigan: Ann Arbor Press, 1961. pp 3-18

February 20, 2008


Release – Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow

"Rationality is the recognition of the fact that existence exists, that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it…? -Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand 932)


Here For You – Eyedea – The Many Faces of Oliver Hart

“…that productive work is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one's purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one's values…? -Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand 933)


February 13, 2008

Monday February 11, 2008

Monroe School

Today was the first day volunteering. After getting an introductory tour, Josh gave an inspirational speech encouraging us to enjoy ourselves. This helped with everything that followed.

While the students worked on homework, I noticed that the main problem finishing independent schoolwork was confidence. Students could find answers if you reassured them. Their uncertainty caused them to want to be told the correct answer, or to create distractions. The distractions were almost always artificial displays of self-confidence.

When the students were finished with their homework we played are you smarter than a sixth grader. Immediately the kids wanted it to be a competition between Dan and I to find the smartest volunteer. Soon we had two large teams, the boys and the girls, competing against each other. When the boys and I lost we had to dance to Shikera. The girls pointed, laughed, and finally booed.

Before free time the class worked on panting a logo. The artistic students enjoyed the freedom of the assignment, however, other students did not even try. When Josh showed up he explained that he wanted them to learn about designing a logo. Instantly this sparked understanding, it seamed that some students natural gathered the idea that the assignment incorporated design principles, whereas it helped others to be told directly.

Finally during choice time we made pop-up valentines. There was some difficulty teaching a large group of kids. I think it could help to walk through the steps before starting, because some students needed to grasp the big picture behind each step. Also this would allow students to work at different paces.

Stop vs Shelter

Bus shelters in the Twin Cities need to be redesigned. The function of a standard bus shelter is not adequately adapted to the Midwest environment. They only act as a place to stop and wait for a bus and neglect to provide any real shelter.

Currently ‘bus stops’ do not shelter people from the cold. To protect people against the cold of winter the more bus shelters could have electric space heaters. The electric heaters are 100% efficient and require from 400 to 1500 watts of energy. The energy demand is high, however the heaters do not need to remain on. If the shelters were heated insulation would need to be taken into consideration, it would not be intelligent to put heat into a building that would lose it as quickly as it was provided. Either multiple panes of glass could be used or the building material could be reconsidered completely.

‘Bus stops’ have flat roofs to shelter people from precipitation. If the bus shelters were heated then any accumulation would melt and create runoff. The frozen runoff would be a hazard; therefore the roof design would have to be reconsidered. The roof could be slanted or arched to collect the melted snow and transport it away from the sidewalk. Ideally the runoff could be purified there and used as drinking water.

‘Bus stops’ provide minimal protection against the wind. The open doors and bottoms allow freezing drafts to blow through the ‘stop’ with ease. The shelters could have sliding doors to keep out the wind and retain heat. In the winter they could be closed and in the summer they could be left open. Along these lines adjustable ventilation along the sides could be emplaced to prevent drafts yet maintain cross ventilation. In the summer the cross ventilation is important to keep the shelter from over heating.

‘Bus stops’ are poorly lit. The shelters could have small solar powered LED lighting to allow reading while waiting for the bus in the evenings. In the Midwest solar power might not be efficient enough to provide electricity, small-scale wind turbines may also be taken into consideration.

The standard rectangular shape does not provide enough seating or standing room. If the backs of the shelters we curved it would increase the seating surface and create additional space for people to stand. Another approach would be to expand the shelter to incorporate the whole sidewalk. The incorporation of the sidewalk would unify people instead of isolating them.

The ‘bus stops’ are not designed with comfort in mind. If they were designed with comfort in mind riding the bus would become a more pleasurable experience. Bus shelters could even act to attract people to public transportation instead of repelling them. The shelters could become a place were people wanted to wait.

Also as part of the design process we can consider what happens when the bus shelter is disposed of. Can the materials be used again at the same quality? Can the materials biodegrade? Can the materials be recycled and what would this process require? Or does the whole shelter need to be tossed into a landfill. Finally, what will give us shelter from the chemicals we used to create it?

The ideal bus shelter should go beyond providing comfortable protection from the elements, it should give back and become apart of the community it is located in. In addition to becoming an active social center the shelter could act as an educational media center as well? The ‘bus stops’ we currently have are used for ugly advertisements. Inside they have the bus schedule on a piece of tattered paper. What if bus provided access to newspapers, radio, television and even digital media? Giving people something to do and a means to stay well connected to the world. Instead of just a piece of paper what if the walls were interactive digital display of all the bus routes, times, and real time locations of the busses. The walls could have interactive maps that would revolutionize city travel. You don’t know where you are going, that’s okay! A bus stop could become a start to an adventure. The maps could have lists of parks, restaurants, stores, movie theaters, hospitals, libraries, museums, and even events. You could make a dinner reservation, cheek store hours and show times all while waiting for the bus.

Do we have the technology? SURE.

Weather or not we acknowledge the broad environmental impact of emissions from combustion engines; we have to address the fact that traffic, air quality, and limited natural resources are reason enough to look for change. Improving the quality and availability of public transportation seems like a logical step in the right direction. However, it is just a step. It is important that we continue to evolve our transportation instead of getting comfortable with a flawed system.

February 5, 2008

"…but i really like my car."

Over time the domestic landscape has evolved along with technology. As settlements developed they transformed from church based communities to the individual based “gated communities.? We are driven by consumption into a future in which we are disconnected from each other and the environment.

Landscape designer J. B. Jackson explored the evolution of the American landscape from New English village to “modern gated communities.? The typical New English village had a focus on the church. The individuals had their place in the community, united by a common religious bond. During this time period the little energy consumed was renewable. Then small towns developed across the United States. The focus of the towns moved from the church and to the family. This was the high point of “the American home.? The increase in individual’s independence called for an increase in energy consumption. Then the modern town was made possible by the automobile. Highways allowed people to work in the city and live in suburbs and gated communities. The modern town had a complete focus on the individual. With parents spending time in the city and commuting families have deteriorated. This lifestyle requires an enormous consumption of nonrenewable resources.

Where do we proceed from here? That is the question. The architect Paolo Soleri had one proposal: an Archology. An archology uses architecture to create a self-contained city. The idea is to increase population density and decrease the environmental impact. An example is Arcosonti. The interconnected town brings back a sense of community. The people there lead productive lives. They live, work, farm, cook, and eat together. This lifestyle promotes interactions that create social unification. Soleri utilizes some passive technologies. He takes advantage of the sun and wind to maintain a comfortable temperature in the Arizona desert. However, this does not significantly decrease energy consumption. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart say in Cradle to Cradle “…being ‘less bad’ is no good.?

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Architect William McDonough has a different approach. He does not directly reinforce social unification; however, he has an amazing sustainable philosophy. “Consider the cheery tree; thousands of blossoms create fruit for birds, humans, and other animals, in order that one pit might eventually fall onto the ground, take root, and grow…The tree makes copious blossoms and fruit without depleting its environment. Once they fall on the ground, their materials decompose and break down into nutrients…? (McDonough 73) He suggests using building materials that are not harmful and may even be beneficial to the environment. He encourages the recycling process to be included in the initial design process. Finally, he has designed a building that actually functions like a tree.

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Andy Goldsworthy says “life ebbs and flows?. Modern centers of life, cities, have evolved to only consume the natural flow of energy. Even the inhabitants of these cities are disconnected from each other and the flow of social interaction. Paolo Soleri and William McDonough have provided two approaches to help reconnect us to the environment. What would J. B. Jackson record as the next transformation in the domestic landscape?

Image 1
Image 2

McDonough, William and Michael Braungart. Cradle to Cradle. New York: North Point Press, 2002.