So I have been looking into the UROP project opportunities and today I met with Professor Ann Ziebarth who works in the Housing Studies Department on the St. Paul Campus. I saw that she was working on some housing projects and so I emailed her asking if I might be able to be an undergrad researcher for her. I went to her office hours and she began to talk about her projects, past present and future. One is involving the livability of communities with regards to the "walkability" and accessibility of neighborhood necessities. They would collect data by way of personal impressions as well as surveys of current residents. The twist is that they will then compare their findings in St. Paul to the findings of another research group in Vancouver and maybe even swap researchers for a while. Differences should be found due to the nature of the laws in the two areas. In Vancouver the laws are mandatory, whereas in St. Paul they are less strictly enforced.
Another project she has been involved in does research among a Mexican migrant worker population in South Minneapolis. They need affordable housing for varying amounts of time. The original architect (though nothing was built because funding fell through) went in thinking he was going to be very culturally sensitive and wanted to build housing according to their culture and style. Howevre, it turns out they just wanted their housing to fit in to the area they were living and not stick out like a sore thumb. They have been trying to develop housing in a subdivision, affordably, with possible apartment spaces that could be subleased if they had a 4-6 month job obligation. Many who are migrant workers go some months without work, so that must come into consideration and yet it must also flow with the area and be welcoming to both the Mexican style and possible other cultures who would take the places once the jobs were over. Very interesting.
Other project ideas she had included analyzing the effects zoning has on the growing issue of affordability and encouraging people to move to new locations. She was also interested in analyzing the environmental footprint of particular buildings and dealing with the sustainability issue, though she admitted she may not be the person to talk to on this issue.
However, after chatting with her about her very interesting projects she had going on, she questioned my interest in architecture asking literally, "Are you sure you want to be an architect?" I was a bit shaken... what if I don't? She suggested to me a housing studies major, which I had never heard of. It seems very interesting and I was quite confused when I left her office. I thought I was so sure about architecture. I talked it out with an ex-architecture student friend of mine and decided that architecture really is what I want to do. However, I find that my current, and recently declared, art minor is not at all what I am most interested in. Yes, I LOVE art, and yes I love to make art, but I can continue that anywhere really. I want a really really good education, to say the least. So I am now planning on switching my art minor to either a housing studies minor or an urban studies minor, along with my current spanish minor. Confused? Me too....
Allison Prange = Architecture major (BA) + Urban Studies Minor + Spanish Minor
I think, though I am going to let this settle for a while before jumping into it. I am interested in the cultural and environmental aspect of architecture and I think this would be an awesome way to accommodate my interests. So there you have it... I almost had a panic attack today though. Still not sure about UROP... we'll see. Maybe next semester? I think working with Ozayr would be awesome... but again, we'll see.