November 7, 2006

mathematical design

While browsing images, the Snyderman Residence by Michael Graves was the building that jumped at me the most upon first glance. With its boxy appearance and many protrusions, it's extremely obvious that a lot of attention was exerted in the field of mathematics.

internet building.jpg

Wall lengths and heights, dimensions of open spaces, strength of materials are some of the things given close attention to assert proper right angles and the meeting of surfaces. This building plays heavily on geometry -- a field of mathematics -- with all the shapes and angles.

October 24, 2006

landscape opposition

The opposition of physical nature is extremely significant. As cities grow into more rural areas, not all land is in the ideal shape to be built upon. With rolling hills and large trees, large rock formations and marshes, sometimes building is more of a task than it initially appears.

rock wall.JPG

There are several solutions for this predicament in construction. A good option is to just leave the land be. Eliminate urban sprawl and build either upwards or downwards, but not outwards. Another option would be to cut into the hillsides, the bluffs, the mountains and build on and into the earth's surface. A third option would involve completely bulldozing the hills, the trees, anything that stands in the way, and building on the now conveniently flattened ground.

Ideally, I would like to see nature left alone. Make use of already developed areas. Rebuild existing smaller structures into taller buildings with more room for businesses, apartments, etc... Centralize urban communities to eliminate the need for long range transportation and for the need to sprawl out into now 'undisturbed' land. In the long-term, this solution could not only avoid the conflict with physical nature, but could help eliminate other problems such as congestion and pollution. It would also save money wasted on tearing up ground while increasing the amount of land covered by concrete and reducing the amount of green natural space.

October 16, 2006

autumn beauty

One of the greatest -- and most obvious -- phenomena is the changing of the leaves in autumn. No two autumns give the same pattern of color: the first tree to change this autumn may be the last to change the next, and vice versa.

tree.JPG

A second notable phenomena is the pleasant unique aroma of drying leaves and plant life on a warm, clear fall afternoon. If only I could capture that scent and sandwhich it between these two pictures.

stairs.JPG

The trees, the grass, the neighboring shrubs, the hillside, the river, every smell and color and texture --all these things-- make up a larger framework --the landscape-- in the clockwork of seasonal change.

Genius Loci

One of the most meaningful places to me here at the University of Minnesota is a small group of benches near Frontier Hall overlooking a hillside of trees leading down to the Mississippi River. I find this quite the place to relax and unwind a bit when I have the time.

benches.JPG

Sitting on the benches, especially on a clear night, gives a twilight view of the river. I don't have to see the cityscape, other than the windows illuminated on the side of the river of course. This, however, doesn't bother me much. The view reminds me very much of being back home in my small town, sitting by the lake and seeing the few buildings across the water from me. It is quiet, it is clear, it is soothing. It's almost like being back in a rural setting - back with nature, away from the city. Unlike other locations I am every day -- my room, for example -- I feel this setting bares, at the very least, minor resemblence to home, and I believe I can actually relax and feel at home.

But as I turn to leave the scenic river view, I am once again faced with the inescapable cityscape.

city scape.JPG

September 27, 2006

automobile dependance

One of the major issues in American society today is the reliance of everyone on a personal automobile and the impact thereof. With cities increasing in population, more vehicles are hitting the streets, causing a tremendous spike in traffic congestion and pollution release.

With traffic levels as high as they are, getting any place is a daunting (and dangerous) task, with traffic zooming recklessly all over the road. Drivers are focused with getting from point A to point B, fast, without delay. Cars, trucks, and especially those big SUV's that swerve all over, pose a threat not only to pedestrians, bikers, and rollerbladers, but fellow motorists.

The pollution caused by motor vehicles is amazing (in a bad, "holy cripes!" kind of way). According to an analysis by the Clean Car Campaign, over 18,000 pounds of mercury pollution was released last year alone. That's only mercury, that's not even taking in to account hydrocarbons (cause of smog and cancer), carbon monoxide (impairs oxygen uptake throughout the body), nitrogen oxides (cause respiratory problems both directly and indirectly, cause smog and acid rain, and damages aquatic environments), fine airborne particulate matter (causes shortness of breath, worsening of respiratory diseases and heart conditions, causes cancer)... The list goes on and on. All of this is only concerned with emissions as well. According to various estimates (my info comes from the Clean Car Campaign), over 30,000 pounds of waste is created from the production of only one automobile.

The solution? Well, that's a pretty optimistic statement, and it's a lot easier said than done. More people taking advantage of public transportation would be key, but the real problem is how to accomplish that. Simplifying bus routes, increasing awareness about the ease of public transit, and making locations of bus stations may help. Being from a small town, I'm definitely not a bus expert. Heck, we only had one taxi cab, and that only came about a couple years ago. But that doesn't matter: seeing as a car is impractical in this overly clustered city, I'll start taking advantage of it myself before too long.

for more information, go to the following links:
http://www.cleancarcampaign.org/
http://www.greenercars.com/autoenviron.html
http://www.nsc.org/ehc/mobile/mse_fs.htm

and that's just a start.. just google away for unlimited reading.

September 19, 2006

the Lake Street bazaar

On my way to the Midtown Global Market, I had no idea what to expect. I tried finding it on various directions sites, but to no avail. Getting out an about, I miraculously meandered my way to Lake Street and drove straight to the marketplace. Assuming I would be in and out at no time at all, I parked in the Family Dollar Only parking.

From the outside, Midtown doesn't look too spectacular. Just another semi-plain building on the street. When I walked inside, however, I was completely surprised. The sights, smells, and sounds exhibited so much energy, I couldn't help but just stand and look around. Everything was vibrant in color. Colors strewn all about the shops that seemed to have nothing to do with one another, yet seemed so at home amongst the rest.

As I passed each shop, I witnessed many transformations of energy. There were people making jewelry, cooking (and eating) food, organizing shelves, building shops, and browsing pottery. Others were sitting in chairs playing board games and many more contently resting. There was a brisk energy floating among the consumers as they strolled the pathways. I was surprised, however, that despite all the people, I witnessed no jostling or dampening of spirits.

Regrettably, I was unable to partake in much of the energy transfer; lack of money prohibited me from being an actualy browsing consumer though I am certain I will make it back in the near future.