May 8, 2008

Blog Pompt Ten?


MDG Critique Two

Blog Prompt 9
Millennium Development Goal Presentation Critique Two

For my second critique I decided to share my thoughts on another honors presentation because it was still fresh in my head like the previous one. The second one I chose was MDG 9, develop a global partnership for development, concentrating on communications. If I had this particularly goal for my term project I would not have known what to do or what it means so I commend the group for choosing an interesting topic. What caught my attention at first about this particular pairs presentation (alliteration ?) was how they took great care into designing it and making sure everything had a purpose. There was just the amount of text coinciding with carefully chosen pictures. Similar to the group I reviewed in the previous blog entry, they had chosen to create a short of banner, or banners because there was three, which showed their vivid colors only when they were the subject of discussion.
The broader term of communications was broken up into even smaller sub-divisions which made it much easier to understand. The photographs they compiled were all stunning and it really brought the issue to life. Seeing a man from an remote African tribe was truly an incredible scene to see. Also, the $100 were fascinating to see the kids using them in the small classrooms. Now why can’t they make something like that for college students? Overall, I enjoyed it and want to thank them for opening up our eyes.

MDG Critique One

Blog Prompt 8
Millennium Development Goal Presentation Critique One

The first term project group I found particularly interesting and standing out amongst the rest was the honors group behind MDG # 7, ensure environmental sustainability. They had chosen to focus their effects not on third world countries across the globe from us but rather the people who live here in the Twin Cities, especially the lower income. This group chose the Cedar Riverside Towers as their focal point. I thought it was an interesting approach to choose something that so many of us see everyday never really realizing how it could be improved to improve its environmental sustainability and go green in a sense. At first I thought choosing something housing lower-income individuals would make the issue more complicated because you’re dealing with more than issue at a time. But this was not the case. Actually when they had gone their speech and mentioned all the improvements that could be made it made the operating costs much more affordable as time progressed. It made me wonder why doesn’t every place switch over then? The answer is obviously much more difficult than just a single few words can answer.

I would of really liked them to focus more attention on the case studies than they did because they really give all of their points validity. Instead they breezed through them in order to focus more time on Cedar Riverside improvements. Another thing that struck me was how simple many of the changes would be and many of them installed at no cost. After seeing a presentation like that its makes you really think the next time you go shopping , realizing what choices are out there for you. I thought their design of the presentation was pretty good; I enjoyed the banner at the bottom that would light up the object being described by the slide, that shows dedication and effort on their part. Overall, I thought it was a well thought out project that looked at the directions from a different point of view.

April 3, 2008

Title Pages...

Blog Prompt 7: Design three possible title page options for the Millenium Development Goals research project.
Below are some title pages I've been working with. There are parts of them that I like and parts that I don't like so I'm going to work on them a little more in the future...




March 13, 2008

Presentation and Documentation. . .

Blog prompt 6: look for and document some examples of presentation/documentation styles that your term project may take as inspiration.

The presentation, the last lag of this journey that we have undertaken into the UN Millennium Goals. One of the definitions of presentations is listed as, “something set forth for the attention of the mind.? (Merriam-Webster). We already know these goals are important, it’s a matter of how we show this and portray the information we have attained. I’ve been brainstorming some ideas but I know there has to be more out there. . .

Written Document: This is probably the most formal of all presentation styles that I have come across. By using it, one can be aware of the serious of the problem and make it appear as if it’s a true proposal. However, I’m sure the people who are listening would probably skim it and lose interest quickly.


Poster board: An adaptation and abbreviation of the written document, the post board would allow us to more easily gain the attention of our audience, with bright pictures and formatting. I was thinking we could even couple this with a model of a possible location that our proposed idea could work. However, if we spend enough time on this model it could probably stand alone.


Powerpoint: This idea of making a Powerpoint presentation would be more interactive and intriguing than the other ideas I’ve come up with thus far. It would allow us to join text and images through interesting design patterns. We could even interject video clips that we find.

(this is a Powerpoint Darth Vader created :)

Pamphlet or magazine: The pamphlet is the most similar to the progress reports that the UN puts out each year of the Millennium Development Goals in specific areas. Another adaptation of the written document but allow something that the audience could take with them and share with others.


Video Clip: This is probably my least favorite idea, as that you would need a film major or someone who knows a lot about cameras to really make it work. The time and effort put into this may or may not get through to the audience when they see it. pick one :)

Of all the documenting styles my group really can’t pick one now because the project itself will shape how we will present it…

March 6, 2008

The Built Enviroment

Blog Prompt 5: Explore through image and text how the built environment affects (supports or
detracts) who you are. Speculate in terms of frameworks, clockworks, phenomena and

I guess to answer this question one must first determine what the built environment is. When I think of this term buildings, roadways, transportation, artworks, even food come to mind. I think limiting the term to just buildings does it a disservice because so many other things are designed then constructed. Using this somewhat broad list or definition of sorts means that the built environment is around us all the time and we are constantly interacting with it.


Dealing with such instances from day to day strengthens who you are as an individual because no other person would likely deal with the situation in the exact same way each time. This relates to the clockwork of that particular built environment. A significant change in a person or something around them is easily seen in how they interact.
Man is in constant opposition with their environment including such things as climate, topography and location but it is how one deals with such things that shows their true characteristics, the way things are built in response to their natural enviroment, in other words.


Continue reading "The Built Enviroment" »

February 28, 2008

What in the World?

Blog Prompt # 4: “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

What an interesting, and, at the same time puzzling question. To be completely honest this kind of thought had never crossed my mind until now. Thus far I haven’t felt the constraints of so-called ‘architecture school’ but in some ways I’ve come to realize that there could be so many other things I could be doing at this very moment. Things that would greatly benefit an architectural education and positively impact the environment around me….

1.Travel…but not quite study abroad: This type of travel would consist of roaming from place to place or staying put in a centralized area for great lengths of time, whatever feels right. For me, travelling to foreign lands and interacting with people of completely different cultures is an experience like no other; spending months at a time trying to speak different languages, seeing things you only read about, eating different cuisines, take a small glimpse of a local culture and most importantly meeting the people. I think we could all benefit enormously if could see things from a different side of the world and gain entirely new perspectives.



2.Read everything I can get my hands on: As of right now free time is not something I’ve had a lot of in recent months. What couldn’t be better than reading every book you’ve planned to read but didn’t, were recommended by a teacher or the one you never finished but should’ve for a class last semester. I think this knowledge gained will impact you in a similar way to #1, opening ones mind to endless possibilities, otherwise not imagined. And hopefully that newly acquired knowledge can be used to generate positive outcomes for the community as a whole, and with that comes #3.

3.Designing and partnerships across the globe: There are billions of people in need and cannot otherwise help themselves. Starvation, natural disaster, pollution, poverty, oppressive governments, war, disease, all plague our earth and kill millions upon millions of people. What better experience could one have helping those in need and finally see their creative minds being put to good use. But in order to expand our ability to help these people we must become more universally tied and aligned in partnerships. A body of minds closer to the site could mean a great overall impact through federal legislature, or what have you. No other single experience can be as memorable and as though-provoking as helping those in need.

4.Do what I love….but more: There are many things I love to do: take long walks, play soccer, paint, eat cookie monster ice cream at the Grand Old Creamery, driving around till I get lost, and of course crosswords. I think the joy gained from these experiences should be reflected upon, discussed and used to draw inspiration.



After writing this I’ve realized that so many of the things I’ve talked about can be done on a much smaller scale; there’s volunteering in the community, finding time to read, continuing to do what I love and incorporate it into design projects or ideas. These thoughts aren’t that much different from what we’re doing now, so many the so-called ‘architecture school’ doesn’t have as many constraints as I had originally thought.

February 22, 2008

Millennium Development Goal #1

Blog Prompt 3: Propose a set of images, quotes and a playlist of songs that influence your values with
regard to your selected Research Project Millennium Development Goals. Explain


Millennium Development Goal: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger (#1)

By 2015. . .
Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day.
Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

"We will have time to reach the Millennium Development Goals – worldwide and in most, or even all, individual countries – but only if we break with business as usual.
We cannot win overnight. Success will require sustained action across the entire decade between now and the deadline. It takes time to train the teachers, nurses and engineers; to build the roads, schools and hospitals; to grow the small and large businesses able to create the jobs and income needed. So we must start now. And we must more than double global development assistance over the next few years. Nothing less will help to achieve
the Goals."
-United Nations Secretary-General


“Every year nearly 11 million people go to bed hungry every day,? that’s more than twice the population of Minnesota. It’s a number so immense, so inconceivable that it almost doesn’t seem real. Living here in the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis most of us are so fortunate and so well off that poverty is never anything we will ever have to think about. But for the billions of people around the globe it’s a reality.

“Poverty is the worst form of violence?
-Mahatma Ghandi

By helping to alleviate the poor and eradicate extreme poverty and hunger throughout the world than we can end the brutality against billions of starving people. The ones most heavily affected are the children of poverty. They are malnourished and often times not immunized so they are especially susceptible to diseases including rampant HIV/AIDS. “Every year nearly 11million children die before their fifth birthday.? (UNICEF). No one deserves to struggle everyday to survive, especially when they have their whole lives before them. They shouldn’t have to worry about how their going to eat or watching people around them die. These children deserves all the opportunities and freedoms the rest of us experience around the world including education, play and hope.


“It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish?
-Mother Theresa

And so as one of the richest nations in the world we must help those less fortunate. Giving them hope and ability to survive is the least we could do. In John F. Kennedy’s famous line, “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich?. The world is becoming smaller than ever and with that extreme poverty and hunger becomes ever more evident. The entire world has a responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves.

“You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money?

-P.J. O'Rourke


“The poor themselves can create a poverty-free world.. all we have to do is to free them from the chains that we have put around them?
-Muhammad Yunus

. . . And with that I’d like to say we must make the change in the world we want to see and others deserve.


February 21, 2008

Where Do All the People Go?

Blog Prompt 2: Find a social-design issue - here in the twin cities
Document it.
Become an advocate for it.

While sitting in my geography of the twin cities class today pondering what social-design issue I could discuss, my teacher began to tell us of Sumner Field Housing project. It was the first of its kind, built in Minneapolis’s north side during the Depression in 1938. The local government at the time was barraged by applicants in need of affordable housing, nearly double the capacity of the Sumner Field Project. My professor went on to describe to us how we are in much the same situation right now. However, it hasn’t always been like this. During much of the 70’s there was an increase in interest in the need for affordable housing and the solution was eased for a time. But that time is gone and once again thousands of people are in dire situation are in need of a place to live. Increasing housing costs, average decrease in wages and destruction of current affordable housing has left thousands in the metro area stranded with nowhere to turn.

sumner 3.jpg

Chip Halbach, executive director of the St. Paul-based Minnesota Housing Partnership, said the situation is something of a double-whammy. From 2000 to 2005, the number of apartments in Minnesota that rent for $700 a month or less fell by 60,000 units - a 22 percent drop. During that same period the median income of Minnesota renters, adjusted for inflation, fell from $31,588 to $26,755 - a drop of about 15 percent. . . (Bjorhus)

I ran across two startling articles from both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune from April 2007. The story they ran was about an opening in the St. Paul Public Housing Agency’s sector 8 division which distributes vouchers for affordable housing. In the short span of time they had the waitlist open, nearly 11,000 people applied; this number was double the 5,000 to 6,000 they had expected. The average wait for an occupant on this list is five years. This very evident example shows all of us that the need is still very much here and more than ever.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing is consider affordable only when it cost the household that occupies it less than 30% of its gross income. Half of all those who rent and a third of all those with mortgages do not live in affordable housing under this definition. Many of these work full time jobs, yet they still have difficulties affording their current homes. Included in such occupations are pre-school teachers, janitors, retail salespersons, medical assistants, nurse aides, restaurant cooks, maids, receptionists and school bus drivers.

Many of these families are forced to sacrifice other necessities in order to have a place to live.
As housing costs consume a growing portion of household income, families have less money left over to pay for other needs. Because families risk losing their homes if they do not meet their rent or mortgage costs each month, they often must skimp on other necessities such as food, child care, or health care. Also, with so few affordable units available, many families are forced to accept any housing they can find, even if it is in unsafe or substandard condition.In the worst cases, individuals and families who cannot afford housing face eviction from apartments or foreclosure on their homes and may become homeless. (Public Education. . .)

In Minneapolis alone the Metropolitan Council has calculated a need of 4, 088 units (Twin Cities Region. . .)The problem will likely augment in the coming years as the Metropolitan Council has predicted that the Twin Cities metro area will have one million new residents by the year 2020. But the problem does not lie in the inner-cities alone. Nearly half of those in need of affordable housing live in one of the Twin Cities’ suburbs, most notably Shakopee, Woodbury, Lakeville and Prior Lake are predicted to be in need the most in the next ten years. People here, often have hard time keeping up with their more affluent neighbors and finding services they need near them. Below is a link to the Metropolitan Council’s “Twin Cities Region Affordable Housing Units Needed, 2011 to 2020?.

So why hasn’t something been done about this ever-growing problem? There have been some improvements throughout the Twin Cities thanks to legislation which obligates local governments to propose projects that meet that demand of affordable housing increases. In 1995 the Living Communities Act furthered this mission by presenting cities who agreed with various developmental grants. While great strides may have been taken in some areas such as St. Paul and New Brighton, many others are lagging behind their projected goals; some counties have fallen below the 25% marker in terms of progress. There are many factors why local city governments are not meeting the goals they set for to do. “When asked to name the chief obstacles to meeting affordable housing goals, land costs were mentioned by 62% of the respondents, lack of available land for multi-family and low-cost housing was mentioned by 42%, and 36% cited the lack of funding for subsidized housing.? (TC Housing. . .) Other reasons include the oppositions by neighbors who believe it will lower their property value and land use going toward condominiums and townhouses.

In order to create change and invigorate our communities several things must be done utilizing both the public and private sectors in the community. Although local governments cannot control the cost of land they can assist in zoning and what land they do own they could sell off at a lower rate. A much less costlier approach is renovating and expanding existing buildings. In the private sector, businesses could donate some for the good of the community as a whole. The attitude of affordable housing needs to change as well, it should not be looked at as a burden for the city to bear but, “In reality, affordable housing stabilizes families and stabilizes communities.? (TC Housing. . .) There’s still much more to be done so that everyone in need receives the home they deserve.

affordable housing.jpg

“Everyone has a right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and his family, including . . . housing . . .?
-Universal Declaration of Rights, Article 25

Continue reading "Where Do All the People Go?" »

The Heart of a City

Prompt: Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy document and investigate, through text and image - this idea of energy, flow and transformation through the city.

This notion that energy flows through city, making it a viable, living entity is not hard to see in the least bit. Sure, you could take the statement at face value, of the real instances of energy transferences found throughout an urban central. The first few things that come to mind are gasoline and electric fueled car engines, heating bills and light switches. But there's so much more going on around us than we wouldn’t be able to see or comprehend all at once. Our climate and weather is dependent on the amount of energy in our atmosphere and the ground below us. Each day we consume energy and use that to function throughout the day from doing every day task such as typing to bodybuilding or my personal favorite, rollerblading. That is to say, however, that the average American consumes many more calories than they could ever use in one day.

But I think there’s so much more happening in a city than you could ever comprehend by standing on the street corner. I often find myself thinking of the concept of a city as a living thing comprising of many parts, similar to the human body. The main arteries are the roads and public transportation, while high-rises are its eyes.

New York City.jpg

Most importantly, are the people. These people within the city are responsible for keeping the city alive, giving its energy. And through these people, the energy they exude does well to transform the city as time passes and new generation arise. The “heart of the city? is something people talk about casually, not really paying attention to its meaning, but I really think that it does have merit. While watching “While the Levees Broke? in class heart of the city was what stood out the most for me. When the New Orleanians were returning home, they brought back with them a pulse back to the city and its unique culture. Without the citizens moving in and out, living, setting up business, reconstructing, celebrating, it would become an empty shell. Plato says, “This city is what it is because our citizens are what they are?. I’d like to conclude saying that this idea of energy, flow and transformation through the city is a complex system involving many variables but what is known is that its future lives within the people.