May 8, 2008

Final Blog Prompts

-Honors presentation goal 8:
-The first slide or the presentation was composed extremely well
-The rest of the presentation felt very much like a word document with pictures in it.
-You didn't seem very enthusiastic about the topic, just presenting information.
-You do, however, seem very educated on the subject
-Why is the hundred dollar laptop aimed solely at children? (based on the design)

Honors presentation goal 7:
-The slides are a bit difficult to read at times
-Very educated on the the subject
-Rather enthusiastic about the topic
-Lots of research, not a lot of analysis

March 5, 2008

Unfortunately for us architecture students, we seem to have inherited the task (and apparently the ability) of saving the world.

The designed environment affects me every day.

Some are positive, some are negative. It’s always seemed this way for me. Luckily, growing up in Minnesota and traveling often allowed me to develop a respect for the natural world. I certainly feel a strong connection to it, and the connection has been growing steadily for as far back as my memory serves me.

Of course I got sucked into the video games, multimillion-dollar action movies, and iPods, but that somehow seemed to be the point. The “He who dies with the most toys wins? mentality.

I new a little about pollution and such and how the designed environment affected the natural, how those effects might have an eventual impact on my great-grandchildren, and what some Fortune 500 companies (those with the ability to market during the good shows on Fox) were doing to “help the environment?.

I’ve been dabbling in majors here at the U of M since 2002, (go gophers), and it wasn’t until I entered into the architecture program that I was made aware of the severity of our impact on the natural environment. As well as the severity of the timeline we have forced upon ourselves.

History does have a tendency to repeat itself, so it’s possible that we’ll find a way out of it with minimal effort, as is our way; but perhaps we won’t, and some of us don’t seem like taking that chance.

The people in the architecture building seem to be the only people on campus even talking about making a fundamental way of change in the ways we live our lives for the bettering of the environment which would, in turn, better our lives.


In the four other majors I’ve dabbled in there is little to no discussion involving anything similar to what we hear in the architecture department on an hourly basis. Some of you may have entered the architecture program because you knew environmental-based design has become a significant part of architectural intention, but I on the other hand, played with Legos as a kid, and can’t believe architecture hadn’t occurred to me before. I didn’t think architects were any more in tune with the environmental situation than the engineers designing cars for brands that sell a hybrid car.

So what’s with the architecture program at the University of Minnesota?

I feel like I’m part of a cult.

What’s the deal? I feel like the main character who knows something important but nobody believes him until it’s too late and he has to save them all. (See “I, Robot?)
Hopefully I’m not alone in this boat, rowing in circles.

I get that the majority of our resources are spent on, in some way, our buildings and structures. So I guess it seems logical that architects would feel the need to undertake this daunting task. They seem to have decided on the unfortunate path of leading by example, however, which has a tendency not to work.

I fear our designed environment has become too entwined in our lives to allow the passive method of instilling change to serve any purpose. It doesn’t make any sense. Where are the balls (and female balls) of this operation? We need a Malcolm X to compliment our Dr. MLK.

Ask people how they plan on leading by example, and some might say they’ll refuse to work on a project that doesn’t promote environmentally friendly design. The issue is: there are still too many people who don’t care. I’m not saying that they’re any less intelligent than the LEEDiest of the LEED advocates. It’s really something they’re just overlooking, which is surprisingly easy to do. They’ll probably die happier.

Unfortunately for us architecture students, we seem to have inherited the task (and apparently the ability) of saving the world. It is being engrained into our heads that if our projects don’t involve sustainability, they have already failed. This is a much sneakier side approach to spreading the sustainability itch across the globe. The children are, of course, the future.

So we learn how to better the world in increments that can barely be measured in comparison to the growth of the problems. One in twenty of us, as with any class or major, might become someone of significance in our chosen fields. Well, those people should send me money when that day comes. Until then, we should maybe figure out how we can force the everyday man to change his way of life. I know this sounds harsh, unconstitutional and downright un-American, but most people don’t like to listen. It’s usually too boring.

I’m not talking 1984 meets Brave New World meets Equilibrium here, I’m just saying, it would be easier to force everyday people to live sustainably than it would be to get them to care.

So why aren’t we learning that approach instead? I’ll offer up my best guess, I seriously have no idea:

-It would be less profitable
-It does not allow for an “I told you so!? once the earth swallows us whole
-We won’t appear more knowledgeable than the average middle-class suburbanite with a passive solar house that looks identical to those of his 320 neighbors
-We don’t think we could force everyone to live in high-rises

The most aggressive method that’s been mentioned to me so far is that of refusing our services. Once again, I’d say that odds are about 5% of us will actually take the high road if the choice determines whether or not we have an income. It’s almost as if we’re learning that, in the future, when we’re rich and can afford to pick and choose at projects which come our way, we should remember what we learned twenty years ago in college and incorporate all of it into the one significant building we design every decade.

If this is how we’re going to go about saving the world, something tells me we might lose the race…

Haha. Get it? “Lose the race?? Good stuff…

For my parting words, I’d like to say that China and Australia are developing legislation to completely ban plastic bags from grocery stores by the end of 2008.

That is change. Immediate and effective. An outrage to many in those countries, but the rage will subside once people stop caring, as they inevitably will.

Jeff: Sorry if you actually made yourself read all of this.

March 4, 2008

Blog Prompt - A Poem Concerning the Eventual Salvation of the World

by, Me

If the world would cease its spinning
Then we'd all shoot into space
And your insides would come shooting
from the hole that was your face

All the yuppies, bums and weirdos
All the models for J Crew
Would launch off into that nothing
And there's nothing they could do

But the trees would stay here safely
With their roots the ground they'd seize
No they wouldn't move a muscle
Though they'd lose a lot of leaves

All the animals in cages
Would get thrown against the bars
But the bars would then be broken
They'd regain what we called "ours"

And the monkeys would scream loudly
For they once again can swing
And the lion would sing proudly
For he'd once again be King

And our race would be forgotten
And the decadence would cease
And the world would begin spinning
And the world would be at peace.

February 26, 2008

Blog Prompt 4 - My Ideal Life

There are several aspects of my life that I wish could be more tied in with my architecture but, due to the regimentation of a college program, they are not. Mainly my affinity for creating all things musical. From writing songs to building instruments out of fishing line, I've done it all (or at least a fair amount). There aren't many instances of music being directly tied into architecture. The few that come to mind are the musical stairs at the Science Museum of Minnesota (which were much more prominent at the old museum), and David Byrne's "Playing the Building" installation in Stockholm (shown below). If you are not familiar with this installation, a detailed description and photo gallery are on the website.


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February 20, 2008

Blog Prompt 3 - World Hunger

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February 12, 2008

Blog Prompt 2 - Greenroofing the Twin Cities

This is a website which is dedicated to finding solutions to social design issues in the Twin Cities. One of these issues is, of course, sustainable design. A company called RoofBloom has taken it upon themselves to inform people of the need for green roofs, and how beneficial they are to the environment and, in turn, mankind.

- Their website is HERE
- A video of a live presentation during which a portion of a green roof is built in under 7 minutes is HERE
- A pdf manual that describes how to build your own green roof for your garage is HERE

My family, being from Peru, is big into bocce ball, and I hope to have a large lawn on top of my home some day upon which I would hone my skills.

February 4, 2008

Blog Prompt 1 - Dumb Luck


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