May 6, 2008

Prompt 8+9: Presentation Critiques

Overall I was very impressed with the presentations of the honors groups. They all demonstrated an in-depth understanding of their researched material, and they did an exceptional job covering multiple issues related to their more focused topic.

The first group: Universal Primary Education in Somalia-

I enjoyed the layout and aesthetics of this presentation more than anything. The photographs chosen did a good job at portraying the drastic situation happening in the country. The group did a good job outlining the main issues in the powerpoint, and further discussing and expanding on their ideas during their presentation. I was also impressed because the group managed to obtain one of the educational computers being used by programs they researched. i feel that this shows how well this group was engaged in their topic.
Although the group did an excellent job showing the opportunities available to ensure universal primary education, but it seemed a little too optimistic considering the history of African countries embracing reformations to improve their society. I feel that the group could have gone more in-depth in analyzing aspects such as the cost of these programs, and who needs to set forth initiative and cooperation so that these goals are realized. Overall, the thought of the county being ready to embrace these reforms should have been further addressed, but the presentation was thorough and very good nonetheless.

The next group: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability focusing on Riverside Plaza apartments-

Like the first group, I was very pleased with the range of research, the quality of information, and the matter in which it was presented was all great. I especially enjoyed this group because the focused on a subject I could very easily relate too. My group also chose environmental sustainability, so I was aware of the purpose of the goal and issues relating to it, but we focused on China. So it was very interesting to see how this Millennium Development goal applied to local development. I was also quite impressed with the case-study this group did on Riverside Plaza. Although it is very close to me, prior to this presentation I knew nothing about it, so it was very interesting to learn the history and other aspects of the buildings. The more the group discussed their ideas, the more I was impressed with their proposals to improve Riverside Plaza. Having done my own research on the proposals to ensure environmental sustainability internationally, I was familiar with concepts the group discussed. I felt that the were very reasonable and well presented. This group did a great job overall.

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April 8, 2008

Prompt 7- Cover Sheets

Sorry about the late submission. My computer, until recently, was lacking necessary software to create a good cover page. So here are a few ideas.

Download file

I thought this was a good combination of images to describe various aspects of sustainability, the environment, and China.

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March 13, 2008

Prompt 6 - Some Inspiration

Sustainability is a very broad subject, and achieving sustainability is very radical goal, especially considering our region is China. China is the most populated country, and is quickly increasing is population and industry. This is why it is essential for China to embrace sustainability. Here's an eye opening fact: of the 20 cities world wide with the most polluted air, 16 are in China.

I found this image interesting because it puts the whole world into perspective regarding sustainability. The amount of resources a region uses determines how swollen it is.
Japan is noticeably larger than Russia. Oy!

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March 6, 2008

Prompt 5 - The Affects of the Built Environment

The built environment effects me in various ways, which is essentially why I chose to pursue architecture. However, in order to respond to this prompt, I am focusing on one building in particular which influences, and effects me more than any other structure I have experienced. Even a year and a half after I was there, I am still able to speculate my experience with it in terms of frameworks and clockworks.

Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum was completed in 2005. The Architect was Moshe Safdie (a personal favorite of mine). I visited museum in 2006 when I traveled to Israel. It was one of the most moving experiences on the trip. The emotions evoked by the museum are absolutely incredible. The museum experience, powerful exhibits, and extraordinary design all contribute to its excellent portrayal of the horrific history.

The design in particular is both symbolic, and effective in creating the exact environment necessary for its purpose. This is achieved because of many aspects. One is its distinct shape. This is important to the interior space and feeling experienced when inside. On of the symbolic aspects is the fact that it is embedded in the land of Jerusalem. Yad Vashem is hebrew for "A Memorial And A Name."

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February 28, 2008

Prompt 4 - A Different Look at Architecture

Throughout events in my life such as any new job, my first year of college, and deciding my major, my mom told me some advice I felt was very applicable to any real life situation, especially in the job market. She told me that every job is a sales job. I feel this is very true because in any job, or any real life situation in which something is to be accomplished for somebody, there is an optimal way so that your ideas are best suited for the task and best presented to your "customer." After last semester and especially after the readings for this class, I decided to expand on my mom's advice: EVERY JOB IS A DESIGN JOB.

With my recent advice in the back of my mind I began to ponder this prompt. If the constraints of the architecture program were released, but if I were to do something architecturally to impact the environment, it could be anything because every job is a design job. Well, it's obviously not that easy. To narrow this idea I referred to Tom Fisher's "Alternative Thinking on the Practice of Architecture." I feel the the problem with the constraints of the architecture program is that they focus too much on architecture itself. Fisher discusses how architects should expand their practice to other fields of profession.

Personally I have an interest in acoustics. Architecturally, acoustics are either not explored very deeply, or an acoustics specialist is brought in for the job. I feel if the science of acoustics and the boundary expansion of architecture were combined some interesting outcome would occur.

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February 21, 2008

Prompt 3 - Sustainability

Watching this video of "Planet Earth" highlights and listening to the song with it reminds me why sustainability is such an important aspect to how we live on this world. Planet Earth is a beautiful place. However, because of countless reasons, the human species is ignorantly destroying it.

This is why global sustainability is not only necessary, but also critical to the well-being of our planet. We as humans have developed numerous innovations that have revolutionized our world and out lives. As a result we have unknowingly (until recently) been destroying our natural planet. Wastes from so many things that we constantly use have damaged our planet. Overusing energy is now taking its toll on the natural world. This needs to be controlled.


An example of efficent, environmentally friendly energy. This is necessary for sustainability.


The earth is in our hands.

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Prompt 3 - Sustainability

Watching this video of "Planet Earth" highlights and listening to the song with it reminds me why sustainability is such an important aspect to how we live on this world. Planet Earth is a beautiful place. Which brings me to a quote from this next video.

February 14, 2008

Social Design Issue

When I began pondering social design issues I would become an advocate for I was thinking towards an intercity issue. Especially after the themes of recent lectures, videos, and readings. The idea of architecture as a social service is strongly implemented in not only this class, but 1281, and in future courses. Don't get me wrong, I strongly agree with this idea, but it is not necessarily the route I chose for this prompt. Although there are many social design issuse that desperately need solving in low-income and struggling areas of the Twin Cities, for many reasons I could not grasp an issue or a solution to go along. One of the reasons is my connection to different areas of Minneapolis--they are practically non-existent. I realize this is something I should change, and I am working on it, but other than my volunteer trips to the LNBCC, and an occasional visit downtown I have not experienced a great portion of the Twin Cities, let alone find social design issues to advocate. I do wish I had stronger connections throughout different areas it is difficult for me because I am a freshman with no car and no idea how to get around in the twin Cities (I've lived in Omaha, NE my whole life). So I decided it would make much more sense to choose an issue I was familiar with.

So guess which part of the Twin Cities I am most familiar with. Obviously campus. The social design issue has to do with a specific building on campus--Williams Arena. Here's why, Williams Arena is a historic building, rich with history. But the seating sucks. The student section and he opposite lower deck have horribly obstructed views every four seats. There are around eight cast iron pillars halfway up the bleachers causing this. I believe a renovation of the upper bleachers in Williams Arena so that all seats provide a good view, and so that the overall interior aesthetics are improved is necessary. I know that this would be a costly renovation that would require a lot of work when there are many other issues to be dealt with additionally. But consider this, Williams Arena was built in 1928, renovated in 1950, 1992, and box seats were added in 1997. Yet, for some reason the obstructed views that make Williams Arena highly uncomfortable have been overlooked. Now, I believe it has come to a point where The University of Minnesota needs a basketball arena to be proud of. TCF Bank Stadium is currently being built, and Mariucci Arena is considered to be among the best college hockey environments in the country. Now, it is time for the basketball program to shine. The university invested in Tubby Smith to create a renowned program, and it should invest in a renovation of Williams Arena to improve the image of not only Minnesota basketball, but all athletics, and the university as a whole.

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February 4, 2008

Prompt 1- Energy and Flow

Ideas discussed and seen in the art of Andy Goldsworthy can be extrapolated beyond the natural settings of his work and into everyday settings. Natural flow and energy are quite vast ideas; therefore conceptualizing them at first seems quite daunting. Additionally, much of the evidence of being surrounded in the earth's natural energy and flow is often overlooked. For instance, water and its flow in rivers frequently appears in Goldsworthy's work. In "Rivers and Tides" he mentions how his artwork that involves a rivers is meant to float away with the water because this action captures the flow a river is meant to demonstrate. The flow of water however is not limited to rivers in the wilderness. Simply idealizing the cycles of water can provoke ideas of water's flow in a common setting in the city. Rather that ignoring puddles, snow banks, or ice patches- thinking about the flow they demonstrate through their cycles in precipitation and applying their effects on the surrounding city can invoke infinite theories and ideas that all relate to natural flow and transformation.

Many discourses can be drawn from this idea of transformation. For instance, the idea of permanence is challenged in Goldworthy's work, and can be either embraced or challenged in everyday life depending on the argument and context. As for Goldsworthy, his art is not permanent. it is transformed, replaced, or destroyed by nature. However, this is all part of the entirety of the art. The transformation shows the flow of nature. How can ideas of transformation through natural flow and energy be seen in a city? I believe transformation and adaptation go hand in hand in the sense. A city is transformed because is adapts to necessary needs. This shows how natural flow affects the man made world as well.

One idea Goldsworthy mentioned was especially intriguing to me. This was when he stated the the earth certainly does not need him, but he needs the earth. All humans need the earth, but it is interesting to think of the earth needing or not needing each individual. I believe concepts of the city exhibit this because people need the earth, the city needs the earth, people need the city, but the the earth may or may not (probably not) need either. This creates much of the balance between nature and the urban world. It is why the urban world is built with respect to its natural surroundings, and it is why natural energy and flow can be present in an urban setting. This rings up other ideas: what are the consequences of flaws in this balance, and have flaws already resulted? How do we know? How does this effect flow and energy? Once again, there are infinite limits to this discussion as well.