May 5, 2008

Presentation Reaction #2

Another presentation that I thought was interesting was about sustainability in the Mississippi Area. Although my group also looked at Goal #7, I thought it was interesting to see another group take a different approach to it.
I thought it was interesting that they chose to pick an area within the United States for their research. This was a good focus because usually, when we think of unsustainable areas, we think of poorer countries with a high population. This project reminded me that there are sustainability problems in our country as well as abroad.
Overall, this was a great presentation. There was a lot of great information.

Presentation Reaction #1

A presentation in my section that was done very well was one that focused on education in Sub-Saharan Africa. From their presentation, I learned that the enrollment of children in schools, especially young girls, is not great. As these girls get older, it is even harder to attend school (because of distance and responsibilities at home).
I was especially impressed by their solution to the problem. Their solution included making a portable classroom. I thought this was especially clever and their graphics were great.
This group was one of the only groups that decided to choose architect as a focus in their project. This fit their topic well.
Overall, I think this group did a great job explaining the problem and giving a plausible solution.

April 2, 2008

Text, Images, and Feelings


This image not only shows the smoggy condition of the city without being too revealing. I like the simplicity of the text. The title is still a work in progress.


This image shows the conditions of the slums in Mumbai. It is a revealing picture of the poverty in the community. I need to do some work on the text (and again, the title is a work in progress). I like how the text is in the bottom left corner, but it is a little difficult to read (i'm not sure what color would be best to use).


This image looks like any other city. It doesn't reveal too much about its content. I like how the white text contrasts the dark image. I'm not sure if it fit the message we are trying to portray, but it is a beautiful image.

March 12, 2008

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.� - Dr. Suess

In high school, I had to do numerous projects and presentations, each having their own requirements and guidelines. I am planning on using my past experiences in this project. These experiences have included essays/research papers, models, and movies.
Research Paper
Although I would prefer not to do a research paper ( I find them to be boring), they can be the most successful for portraying information. Within research papers, you can display pictures, graphs, and data to explain and prove your ideas.


Another way to present information is to create a model. I have spent many years making models (usually for sophomore biology class). I love making them, but they do take a lot of time...


(I actually make a piano cell model.. it was by-far the coolest thing I've ever made..)
Thank god for my mac... I made so many videos/movies in high school. They may take a lot of time, but they're relatively easy to do and are a good way to combine visual images with information.


March 5, 2008

That Which Surrounds Us, Defines Us...

In general, our surroundings define who we are.

Dorm room

Obviously from the picture above, I am a freshman in college. I’m just learning how to live with people other than my family and how to clean up after myself (this concept isn’t catching on so well). My framework is my dorm room. Although it is not aesthetically pleasing, my dorm room serves the purpose of housing my two roommates and me when we are away from home. This room protects us from various oppositions; the weather and noisy people. (This is actually what it looks like everyday. We try to clean but it never stays clean…).
This room also creates a few oppositions. Nearly every morning, I have to carefully climb down this:


I haven’t fallen yet, but its early in the semester. The residence halls know these set ups are dangerous, that’s why they make you sign a release form. That way if you actually do fall out of bed, you can’t sue….
Another framework in my environment is the University of Minnesota. I am consistently within its boundaries when I walk to my classes. Because of the diversity, the U of MN campus is great for people watching. Since I have been here, I have noticed that the campus seems to incorporate many different styles and personalities of the people it encompasses.
This framework also protects its students from the city. Although there have been several muggings lately, this campus is relatively safer than being in downtown Minneapolis.


Just like my dorm room, the campus also creates a few oppositions for me. On numerous occasions, I’ve had to narrowly escape being hit by a biker. (I’ve also caused a few bike accidents too.. I’m sorry whoever that was!).


My school days are my clockworks. They run in cycles that repeat every week. Although I am only taking 16 credits this semester, I am still really busy. I wake up every morning, get ready in less than 15 minutes, go to my classes, come back to my dorm, study, eat, study some more, and finally go to bed.
My messy dorm room, the U of MN campus, and my classes are all incorporated into the phenomena of my education. As the United Negro College Fund slogan states: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste�. I’ve always kept this in mind when attending school. In my family, I will be the first woman to get a degree, and I am determined to do so. This drives me to study hard and do well in all of my classes.

February 27, 2008

"the city is my jungle gym"

When I was younger, I spent a majority of my time outside. I climbed trees, built forts, and biked down to the nearby park to play with my friends. This kind of interaction with your surroundings is important. Not only does it familiarize yourself with your community, it makes you more aware of your environment and its needs.
Nowadays, kids would rather work on their Guitar Hero skills rather than go outside. They spend hours in front of the television everyday. Some parents even have to bribe their children to get some fresh air. ( I know this to be true --- my parents pay my younger brother double to mow the lawn, just so he steps out of his “lair�).
I found this poem by Dee Cohen called “Playground� (1)

Watch us go to the park,

plastic tires of your big wheel

clattering on the pavement,

shop windows, groceries,

bus stops and benches,

through fence slats 
houses click by.

At the playground

we climb the slide,

the earth below

peeking up through holes

in the metal stairs

and the clouds swinging back and forth
in the big sky.
On top we look out 
over the whole park,
the lawns bright and green,

the picnic tables laid out in rows of three,

the bandstand, a smooth curved shell

with empty seats waiting
for an audience.

You slide down first
and I hear your voice,
thin, high,

calling back to me.

I'm next
by the time I reach bottom,

you're gone.

The poem embodies the nostalgia that almost everyone my age feels when going to the park. To impact the environment in a positive way, these feelings of sentiment need to be present. Like in “Genuis Loci� that we read for class, the old man feels a connection with the particular place he grew up. In order for future generations to fully appreciate our environment and take care of it (better than we have been), they first need to establish a relationship with it. That is why if I had the time, and the money, I would create a play area for kids. By being outside more, and familiarizing themselves with the environment, kids will a greater need to take care of it. Parks and jungle gyms are also important for all kids to have an opportunity to play and build the social skills necessary for life.


Parks can also be beneficial to adults as well. Going to the park and interacting with your child helps build a stronger relationship. This in turn, will help create a happier, healthier family.


February 20, 2008

three is a magic number...

"Sustainable development is...development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of further generations to meet their own needs."
- World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future, 1987

These words give a brief summary of sustainability and its relevance to our everyday lives. We must realize the importance of our environment and how our actions affect all aspects of it. A good way for everyone to be involved with the sustainability of the environment is to think about our consumption. Think about your activities throughout the day. Lets take a look at a typical day for Joe:
This morning, Joe drove 3 blocks to Starbucks/Caribou/Dunn Bro’s etc. (whichever one was serving a dark roast) and bought his usual cup of coffee and scone. Upon leaving, Joe threw away his empty cup and half eaten scone, still residing in its bag. Joe got back into his car, and drove 3 miles into the city to go to work. Along the way, Joe passed several public transit buses.
Throughout the day at his boring office job, Joe tried out his basketball skills by tossing paper ball after paper ball into the garbage. After realizing he wasn’t anywhere near Kobe’s skill, Joe gave up and just dumped his unneeded documents in the garbage can.
For lunch, Joe drives from work to a nearby restaurant. He eats his usual Big Mac with fries and a coke from MickeyD’s. He throws all of his wrappers, containers and soda can into the garbage. Joe gets back into his car, and drives the 4 blocks back to work.
After work, Joe drives to the supermarket. He picks out several non-recyclable containers (because they are not as expensive). At the checkout, Joe opts for his usual plastic bag, because he just doesn’t want to pay the 50 cents for a reusable cloth one.
Before bed, Joe takes a luxurious shower. He’s careful to shampoo his hair twice, because that’s what the bottle says. Joe then shaves his beard stubble and brushes his teeth; all the while the water is running. Joe lies down on his bed and turns the television on. Then Joe falls asleep (with the T.V. on).
Although this may not be a typical schedule for everyone, the main point is still there. Everyday, we are given choices. These decisions can either help or harm our environment. As a general rule: consumption produces trash. On average, a person throws away roughly 4.5 pounds of garbage everyday (1).

"Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations."
— Jean Paul Richter

Thinking about the unnecessary things we consume and throw-away everyday can help us understand and value our environment. Like this quote says, we do not need to wait for something extraordinary in order to help out our environment. What we do in our everyday routines is much more important. By remembering the 3R’s we can make our environment much more sustainable and secure its well-being for future generations. Reducing, reusing, and recycling are easy ways for everyone to become involved.
In 2005, Jack Johnson released “Sing-a-Long Songs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George�. On this CD was the track “The 3R’s�. Jack uses music with a message to teach kids to be aware of their everyday actions and how that can affect the environment.

Well, if you're going to the market to buy some juice
You've got to bring your own bags and you learn to reduce your waste
And if your brother or your sister's got some cool clothes
You could try them on before you buy some more of those
Reuse, we've got to learn to reuse
And if the first two R's don't work out
And if you've got to make some trash
Don't throw it out
Recycle, we've got to learn to recycle (3)

Even though this song is directed at kids, its message applies to adults as well.

Pictures A and B are good examples of our lack of concern for the environment. In picture A, young children are playing around bags of trash out in the streets. Obviously this is not a suitable environment for any child. In picture B, there are heaps of trash and garbage that have washed up on the shores. Often times, animals get caught on these particles and die (as shown in Picture C).
Until we are aware of the impact we have on our environment, we are going to continue to consume our resources and trash our earth.


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February 13, 2008

sprawling out of control...

According to "Is Design Political?", architects need to take responsibility for their designs. Just like the poorly designed voting ballots described in the article, this can also be applied to the ongoing expansion of urban areas, commonly known as urban sprawl. this phenomena affects our country socially, economically and environmentally.


As time goes on, more and more people are migrating out of the Twin Cities into the surrounding suburbs. In early 2000, my family moved to Woodbury, a steadily growing suburb just east of the Twin Cities. I have seen my community grow drastically in both population and landmass in the past eight years. By spreading out housing and retail areas, the cost of living has also greatly increased for people within these suburban areas. Everything, from electricity to water treatment, costs more because the products need to be transported over a much larger distance and to many more areas than in an urban environment. Economically, suburban dwellers are wreaking havoc in Woodbury. Because only a small percent of residents actually work in Woodbury, commuters have not only been contributing to the blockade of daily traffic on I-94, but have played a role in the increase of gas-prices over the past century all country. As a greater number of people move to Woodbury and drive farther and farther to work, the demand for gas increases more and more every day. This increased demand for gas logically leads to an increase in its price. Although it seems minimal at first, assuming that other suburbs across the nation have seen a similar increase in population over the last century, the change in the amount of gas consumed by people commuting to work is very significant.


Not only do the residents of Woodbury affect the community economically, we are contributing to the environmental depletion as well. While a majority of Woodbury commuters drive alone, most are unwilling to use the public transit system offered by the state of Minnesota. In 2002, an estimated 314 million metric tons of carbon dioxide was emitted into the atmosphere by cars and trucks in the United States. With the large number of suburban commuters, it is reasonable to assert that the suburbs have greatly contributed to this number. Another environmental offense caused by the suburban community is the use of fertilizers on their lawns. Strangely enough, the grass in front of your yard is closely regulated in Woodbury. Strict water regulations that limit the time and length that a resident can water their grass leave some Woodburians desperate to measure up to their neighbors. This leads them to use various fertilizers on their grass that can be harmful to the environment. These fertilizers create a run-off of toxic wastes that eventually end up in our lakes and rivers. While the St. Croix River, located at the edge of nearby Afton, appears to be relatively clean, it will overtime accumulate more and more toxins and eventually resemble the murky waters of the Mississippi River, as seen on the University of Minnesota Campus.


Although this topic may seem contradictory to an architect’s job (planning and overseeing the construction of buildings), we must realize the impact the profession can have on our communities. Urban sprawl is caused by many irresponsible and poorly constructed designs made by many people in many different areas. In the suburbs of the Twin Cities, public transportation is not appealing to most people. This is because of the long bus rides and seemingly unnecessary stops. By designing a more “suburb-friendly� public transit system, suburb dwellers could drastically reduce traffic on I-94, while cutting down on emissions into our atmosphere. Another design issue is the current depleting condition of many homes within the city. This could be a good reason why people are moving to the suburbs. Restoration and revival of these decaying buildings should be a top priority in the design field. Another way for architects to help with this issue is by designing more efficient, high-density living structures, such as condominiums and apartments. This would greatly encourage families to move closer to the city.

Continue reading "sprawling out of control..." »

February 6, 2008

The Flow of the City

People live, work and travel to the city. Because of this, the city brings nature, people, and architectural structures together in one area. Architects must use these three elements together to compliment one another and to create an interesting and welcoming place.


From looking at the world around us, it is apparent that the flow of water has shaped the earth. Rivers carved the walls of the Grand Canyon and glaciers etched the various mountain ranges across the United States.

Similarly, the flow of people has carved or shaped the city. Any major city in the United States has a constant flow of traffic through its streets and people on its sidewalks. To an outsider, this flow is consistent with the current of a river. Not only does this flow move quickly, it travels in a fluid manner. It is important for architects to notice this flow of people and incorporate it into the infrastructure of the city. A good example of this is on the University of Minnesota Campus. The flow of traffic down Washington Avenue is complimented by the flow of people throughout the mall area. As an architect, one should also understand the flow of the city and create structures that compliment its surroundings. To disrupt this flow would create confusion within the population and limit the accessibility of the city. An example of this disruption was in a reading in our course packet. It described the challenge of trying to navigate through a confusing public transport system. Confusion often disrupts the flow of the city and displaces a good portion of the population. Architecture, as a whole, is created to include people. A bad design can do just the opposite.
The movie Rivers and Tides portrays an accurate representation of the flow of nature. Andy Goldsworthy understands the flow of nature and creates art that compliments it. During a scene in the movie, Andy goes through the difficulty of making a cone structure on the beach out of rocks. Although many of his attempts fail, he becomes more confident in his movements. Each try gives him a new understanding of the rocks and the structure he is attempting to create. This is a good lesson to take from Andy. Although structures and ideas may fail at first, each attempt gives us a better understanding of the materials we are using and gives us the confidence and hope we need to succeed.


Similarly, Frank Lloyd Wright, a famous architect in the early twentieth century, understood the concept of incorporating nature, people and structures together. He used the flow of these elements to create interesting architecture that is still popular today.