May 10, 2008

Blog Prompt #7

I have been working on three potential covers for our Millenium Goal Project of stopping world hunger and poverty but cannot get them to upload. Ive tried saving them as pdf files and as images but they just won't show. I will continue to try hopefully before it is graded.

Since this just will not work I will be forced to describe them.

First of all our project will not consist of standard white computer paper. A different type of paper can really make a project look a lot better and well thought out. I was thinking a cream paper with a lighter weight would be nice and probibly make the images sit better on the paper.

The cover pages I produced all had the title "Bolivia: a case study on hunger and extreme poverty." But they were all different in design. One had a faint image of the country of bolivia very large with a picture of some street children from La Pez over it. I like having the text on the cover page not to large. I often set it to around 20 in order to look more pleasing instead of a huge title that is bolded and underlined.

The next cover page had the same title but with all of the sketches Ghobad did in two rows. The sketches were set to the same size and are a little bit transparent. I like this one the best because I think it creates interest and shows what the document contains inside through images. I also like how they are a little bit transparent and will probibly blend into the paper.

The last cover page also has the same title but has a faint line border around it. It has a picture of South America that is very faint but Bolivia is darkened. This makes the country pop out of the rest of the map and has a really cool affect. I also decided to write on the bottom of the document " This is our effort to halve the number of people struggling with hunger and the people living on less than one dollar a day." I liked this idea and thought it really added to this cover page. This was my second favorite one I designed.

May 8, 2008

4th Grade Math, Connect Four, and Foot Races: My experience volunteering at CommonBond Communities

Getting involved with the community and escaping from the university bubble is important to a well rounded college education. It makes a student experience people and situations that they would have never experienced. Community involvement creates a better understanding of the world and its people by first hand interaction and contact. In my case, I learned a lot about other cultures and people while gaining some important experience in people relations. This was because of the organization I was involved with and the people I came in contact with. The following is my experience as a volunteer at Commonbond Communities.

I was a volunteer at the homework center of the Seward Tower East. The Seward towers are high rise communities available for people at low rent with many accommodations for them to take advantage of. The general population I came in contact with was refugees from Africa, mostly Somalia. The Somali population at Commonbond was something I had never came in contact with but only had heard of on CNN. I knew of the struggles in war the country of Somalia was experiencing and my first thought when pondering these people’s backgrounds in Somalia was the movie Black Hawk Down. These peoples struggles and backgrounds were so foreign to me I thought I would never be able to relate. But then I met the children of Seward Tower East.

My first day at Commonbond was in the end of October first semester. I started my volunteering first semester through the architecture class 1281 and have continued through 1701. Anyways, I entered the homework center in the first floor of the Seward tower east and was alone. Eventually one other tutor entered and we waited patiently for anyone to arrive. I brought my computer because I was expecting no kids to show up. Then the clock struck 4:30 and a load of kids entered the homework center with backpacks. They were very hyper and loud but eager to greet me. Every kid came up to me and introduced themselves and asked me about fifty questions. How old are you? Why are you here? How fast can you run? Do you like to play tag? We eventually settled in and a few more tutors entered the room. The homework center coordinator entered the room and got everyone set up with a tutor and ready to do homework. Michael immediately came up to and called to do homework with me. I knew then that I would be helping Michael with fourth grade math for the rest of the year.

Michael is a fourth grader that lived on the seventh floor of the Seward tower with his mother, father, and older brother. Both of his parents moved to Minneapolis when Michael was two years old to escape the violence occurring. He is a very smart boy but also very energetic. He would often have trouble concentrating for more than five minutes but that is where I would come in. Every other Tuesday and sometimes Mondays we would do math homework from 4:30 to 6:00. Me and Michael would take periodic breaks however and discuss issues at school such as a game of basketball at recess or whatever the big news was that day from the fourth grade. If Michael was as passionate about homework as he is about storytelling, he would get his homework done in around ten minutes. He would often surprise me with his learning ability and was by far the brightest kid in the homework center. He would often pride himself on his mathematic abilities. I would always tell Michael about college and how great it was or imply to him that he would go to college after high school. For example, telling him he would need to know a certain skill when he starting going to the University of Minnesota. He seemed to like when I talked to him in this manner. But then it would eventually be 6:00 o’clock and everyone knew what that meant. It was game time. Michaels favorite game to play me in was Connect Four. He called himself the master of Connect Four and could beat everyone in the center. My first impression was that I would have to let the master win against me so he could retain his title. I was seriously mistaken. Mike had strategies he would run on me and often straight up beat me. This is when I realized what potential Michael has. His skills in thinking through the game of Connect Four were amazing. We would eventually pack up and leave the homework center but not until we would discuss the next time I would be back. Then upon exiting the center there is a long hallway and the same thing would happen every time. Michael and I would race to the end of the hall. He begged me every time to race him and I would and I would always let him win. I would walk out the door saying I would beat him next time and then ride my back across the river back to the dorms. This would pretty much happen every time Michael and I met.

Meeting Michael was probably the best thing that happened to me while at Commonbond communities but I also met many other great people. The people who worked at Commonbond like Jamal who was in charge of the homework center and Ryan who helped manage the volunteers. I also met other community members while doing adult tutoring and actually connected with two 18 year old High School Seniors my last trip to Seward Tower. I enjoyed this because I had not come in contact with any others over the age of 12 really. They were very interesting to listen to their problems and tribulations. One of the guys was really passionate about politics we talked for around an hour about his views on American politics compared to countries in Africa. Confrontations such as these are what made Seward Tower East an amazing place to spend my hours. I feel thankful I was assigned this place and feel privileged over other classmates who didn’t have a good time with their required volunteer hours.

Going to Seward Tower East every other week and experiencing a population of people so different than me was amazing. I thought I would never be able to relate to anyone but quickly was proved wrong. I was able to become comfortable and make friends with the community members and the people working there very quickly. I learned a lot about a different culture and probably even more about myself. Volunteering quickly became something I was forced to do into something I truly didn’t mind doing at all.

March 27, 2008

Montreal: None Related

I went to Montreal for Spring Break. What an amazing Canadian city, from the architecture of old Montreal to the trendy Rue St. Catherines district. I want to move there.

I climbed to the top of Mount Royal one morning and took this picture. Probibly the best picture I have ever taken.
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I've been to numerous other canadian cities, including Ottawa, and Montreal by far the coolest. Sorry Ozayr.
Go Habs!
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March 13, 2008

Blog Prompt #6

This question is kind of confusing. I have an image of how I would like our group to present our project but how do you explain it in a blog.

I am a firm believer in the idea that pictures speak louder than words. An image can evoke more emotio and understanding than the written word. Therefore, I would like our presentation to have lots of powerful imagery and explaination with minimum clutter. Ozayr showed some examples of portfolios in lecture and a few really inspired me. The utilization of white space and minimizing clutter was very affective. Not cuttering the eye really creates a focal point in the page. I would like our group to present our project kind of like some of those portfolios. A clean, well designed book of material that flows and shows our findings on Bolivia. A balence of imagery and research combined to explain our findings on ending poverty in Bolivia.

Like I said before, a major agenda for me is to encompass great imagery to go along with our research. A picture can say more than a thousands words and can evoke more than a thousand emotions. For example, If I were talking about the extremely poor Guarana Indians in Bolivia that are enslaved to other families from debt a reader would understand but not feel what I have researched. But if I show them an amazing image like this......
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a reader will take more of an interest because they have emotion invested in the subject.

Something I also thought of when discussing the project with my group was the idea of uncorporating all ideas through similar illustrations. One of my group members has a spectacular style of illustrating and sketching. Having him illustrate different diagrams and maps for our plan to curb poverty and hungry in Bolivia. The whole presentation would look like a whole and flow well if we successfully do this. Creating an end project that is more than thirty pages of computer paper with type and pictures is important.
The information in our project will ideally not resemble a research paper. The text will be limited and get to the point. It will not be drowning and just be there to take up space. I would like to strive for a harmony between text and imagery. Not huge chunks of text with a few pictures on each page. The layout of the document will be open and white. Not cluttered. Like I said the portfolio approach I believe is the best. It shows what you have done in a simple matter and the lack of clutter engages the reader instead of giving a reader twenty pages of straight times new roman. Hopefully we will be able to complete a document that has depth without having to much information in a small space.

March 6, 2008

Blog Prompt #5

The built environment supports who you are. The built environment relays the phenomena of culture and society through the years. The built environment affects the individual as much as it influences the masses. The built environment and its differences around the world represent the people occupying them, no matter how beautiful or ugly they are.

The built environment around us as we grow up has the most impact on us. When you think about it, built environments affect the individual by evoking emotions. For example, I grew up and lived in the suburbs around Milwaukee for 18 years. I would be pretty comfortable moving to the suburbs of Chicago or Minneapolis because they are similar. It would feel similar to home. If I got up and moved to El Paso Texas tomorrow I would feel very uncomfortable and foreign. It seems like a basic idea but to think the human built surroundings can have lasting impacts on people. The human built environment shows culture, it shows values, it shows religion, and even shows norms. When people think about a country or area of the world, they in vision the human built environment, not usually the people who inhibit the area or the shape of the land. I think the idea of physical phenomena and frameworks, clockworks, and phenomena is a perfect way to think about the built aspect of our earth. Smaller things creating systems of larger things. Sometimes it is really hard to explain how much we take the built environment for granted, especially the one immediately around us.

Living in Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic
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VS.

Living in North Carolina
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Both would create norms and values in an individual. But both environments are equally important.
The built environment is ever changing and has no one face. It can be the new condominium complex in downtown Minneapolis or the mud brick hut located on an island Atlantic Ocean. Since we associate ourselves with our own built environment it is important to understand how our perceptions change or how they don’t change. We remember different places from our experiences we had in them and forever remember them the same.

February 28, 2008

Blog Prompt #4

When asked what I would do architecturally, artistically, bodily..... if released from the constraints of architecture school I think about what my passion is. I would like to tell myself I would do something along the lines of the Rural Studio or go to third world nations and be apart of the effort to design effective housing for the poor. Maybe I would do take some time and participate in some of these efforts in waging war against poverty but that is not really where my interests are. My absolute favorite hobby is participating in music....
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I think I would take my passion for music and blend it with my interest in everything architecture. I really enjoy the feeling of going to a concert in a theatre that is older than my grandfather and has amazing character and history. But many old urban venues are shut down or poorly kept. I would love to be able to travel to different cities and take on projects of refurbishing old theatre's for many different uses. Concerts, plays, music education are just a few of the activities that could take place. Historical theatres are not only places to see shows but community centers where the public could come together. They also are a symbol of history in many cities and are worth the effort to keep up. One of the most amazing concert venues Ive been to is The Riverside. It sits right on the milwaukee river and was built in 1928. It has been renovated numerous times but has always been kept to how it originally was built. Today not only does it act as a concert venue but it also serves as a ballroom, banquet hall, and can even be rented out for wedding festivities. Places like the Riverside interest me and I could definitly see myself spending my time around the country helping keep historic theatres running.

The Riverside
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February 21, 2008

Blog Prompt #3 Ensure environmental sustainability

Every since I took Mr. Gryzwa's 5th hour environmental science class my senior year of High School I have became a lot more aware of the environment and how it relates to my interests. I have became aware of things in architecture deal with sustainability, especially learning more about LEED and buildings that are LEED certified. Green roofs, recycled materials, and natural heating are all interesting to me and I believe can change how designers think about buildings. One of the quotes Mr. Gryzwa gave our class on the syllabus was the Ghandi quotes "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." I think designers can help change the world for the better because they can set trends in structures and lead by example.

Some images that really inspire me to pursue environmental design...
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This is a LEED Gold certified building called the straw bail building in California and it is really cool
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The Hearst tower was the first LEED Gold certified building in Manhattan
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When looking at LEED buildings I think "Wow, that i so cool how environmentally stable they are but they all look amazing just as buildings." I think environmentally conscious design has a specific style to it that I love.

There is an amazing singer/songwriter from Australia who plays a dozen different instruments and does some interesting things with looping his own music live. His name is Xavier Rudd and he writes a lot of songs about the environment and peoples impact on the earth. He is pretty extreme but he writes great music. One of my personal favorites is a song called The 12 of September.
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It's come to our attention
Life now is bound to change
While we the peaceful majority
We sit back and anticipate

These are our days now
These are not the same now
These are not the same
These human beings are dangerous
Their greed is contagious
Now the world it waits

This song always reminds me that if we are not actively trying to change our everyday habits that heart the environment, we are still part of the problem.

February 13, 2008

Blog Prompt #2

"The term social design therefore refers to that aspect of architecture which takes as a priority the creation of environments for effective and positive human interaction, and in the end asks the question:
Can better buildings make for a better quality of interaction?" -Langdon Morris

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The Saint Anthony Falls area along the Mississippi river in downtown Minneapolis has been experiencing major development in recent years with large condominium buildings rising high and restoration of historic warehouses and mills for housing and shopping. The Saint Anthony area is becoming the fashionable area across the river to eat and shop expensively and live in a brand new condo. The Saint Anthony’s area however, has a much richer history than any people know. It has a been an industrial complex of mills since the mid 1800’s and holds the record for the most flour produced in one area in the world. The Dam and bridge that many people see were built during these times. People who understand the area’s history believe the site should have some integrity and not be covered up by large buildings and restoration.

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The Saint Anthony area is a soical-design issue because two sides of people what the area designed in two different ways. Architects need to decide what is best for the area and create buildings that make better interaction with the public. I would say the architect needs to decide based on what is best for the area and not necessarily do exactly what the clients, or big business developers, want to do. I would personally advocate for a mix of both. I love historic areas in urban settings but there has to be some history left intact in order to get that affect. There should be some historical buildings left for usage of museums or other uses but some development should be allowed. Low rise buildings should be the norm with a restriction on how tall they can be.

I have been to Saint Anthony's a few different times since I have been up in Minneapolis and can feel the history. I hope the designers and developers have the best intentions for the area in mind and not just the green they would get with exploitation. Understanding that Minneapolis was built upon the flour mills of St. Anthony Falls should be enough for designers to want to encompass that feel into the modern district.

I recently did a project on the development of St. Anthony's and sat down and talked with a representative and designer of a new high rise condominium complex.

February 6, 2008

Blog Prompt #1

When asked to investigate the ideas of energy, flow, and transformation through a city I immediately began thinking about the city I knew best, Milwaukee. I starting thinking about milwaukee as I would travel through it and think about the experience. I feel milwaukee has good and bad examples of urban planning and examples of energy,flow, and transformation. I think for a city to have good flow and energy there needs to be numerous green spaces through out the city. In the case of milwaukee, the largest park is set right on the east side on lake michigan and it is known as Veteran's Park.

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Green space inside of cities adds to the flow and energy of the landscape because it gives people a place to congregate and bring nature into the urban world. I think having an abundance of trees and parks in a highly urbanized area is very important because of its beneficial qualities to the people and keeping the environment healthy. An interesting idea is the topic of a green ban around a city. Having a few miles wide of forrest surrounding a city can have a great impact on the pollution that sits above highly urbanized areas. Some cities in Europe are experimenting with this idea.

Next aspect of energy in cities is support of the arts. Having museums, works of art, performance art centers, and other events inside cities give energy and character to a city. They create energy in the city because people get out of there homes or work places and experience their city. Some of my favorite places in milwaukee deal with support of the arts and history such as...
The Milwaukee art museum by Santiago Calatrava
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The Milwaukee Orhcestra Theatre
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The historic Pabst theater
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The milwaukee public museum
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and my personal favorite, the Summerfest grounds
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All these places are fixtres in the downtown milwaukee area and are considered landmarks. They give people comfort in knowing they are there for them and create flow and energy throughout the city because they are special and not just office buildings. Public spaces, I feel are important to creating a city with energy.

Lastly, Milwaukee has some good examples of transformation. In what is known as the Third Ward. It lies right on the milwaukee river on the west side and was originally developed as a port off the river. This area of milwaukee was one of the original areas of development and other than use as a port, there were many irish neighborhoods.
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It then began getting wore down significantly with industry in the 1950's and 1960's and recently great stride have been taken in transformation. The Third ward has been transformed into a modern area that is the most highly desired in downtown milwaukee for living.
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I think transformation give people a renewed sense in pride in areas of there city. When people can find pride in there town, they will continue to make it better.