May 2, 2008

Critical Analysis

My first critical analysis is on the Honors group that did Goal 7. The group consisted of Angie Courchaine, Anthony Averbeck and Laura Fickies. The group chose Minneapolis as their location, and I thought that this was not a good location to choose. As bad as things are in Minneapolis, I don’t think we can even compare our conditions to the atrocities that are going on in the rest of the world.

Their analysis of the Riverside Plaza built by Ralph Rapson was thorough however. Their realm of response seemed to be architectural. They offered many solutions to help make the building more environmentally friendly such as a water re-use system, and replacing the windows. They also did some case studies on buildings that have been built sustainably around the U.S. I thought that this was very helpful.

Their presentation felt rushed, but they had a lot of information to go through. In the end, I enjoyed their information.
My second critical analysis is on the Honors group that did Goal 8. This group did an amazing job with their presentation. I thought that their power-point presentation was very strong, and very well laid out. The images that they chose connected perfectly with what they were speaking about.

I thought that they had a unique take on reaching Goal 8. They saw the solution to a global partnership for development through technology. They offered many solutions such as cell phones, and computers equipped with internet. It seemed like they did a very thorough job on their research.

I do think that they could have been a little more critical of the groups that they chose for their realm of response. I was left wondering as to how effective the computers and the technology are. However, in the end, they convinced me that increasing modern technology such as cell phones and cheap computers with internet was a strong step forward towards developing their region.

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I like the idea of sticking to something simple like this. I think that the pictures of the Cambodian children are also important to include on the front page.

April 3, 2008

Title Page - Research project

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I like the idea of sticking to something simple like this. I think that the pictures of the Cambodian children are also important to include on the front page.

March 14, 2008

Extreme Presentation

I think that pictures may convey the most potent responses for my groups goal of reducing child mortality. We are dealing with malnutrition, and in these cases, pictures can truly paint a thousand words.

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I also like the idea of using some text over pictures. I think that it can hava a powerful effect on the viewer.

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I like the idea of making a picture collage as well and then writing a message on the collage.

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The next picture gives an idea of a fairly clean presentation style. Simple text and pictures seem to work well and maintain clarity. Though this content of the next picture is not dealing with our subject, I think it shows a fairly simple design that conveys its message clearly.

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March 7, 2008

Can A Building Change Me?

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How does the built environment affect who I am? That seems like an odd question to me. Has a building ever changed who I am? Have I ever walked out of a building and literally come out a different person? I don’t think so.

Buildings have, however changed my feelings, my actions and my thoughts while I was in them.

For example, when I was at the top of the Saint Louis Gateway Arch, I felt unsafe and frozen by the height, all the time wondering how the framework of the building was holding up. The opposition that I was faced with was gravity and the construction of the building that I was in. I couldn’t think beyond the fears that the building was oppressing me with.

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I have also been fortunate to visit the Chartres Cathedral in France. That building is amazing. When I was inside of it, it inspired a sense of awe in me. I felt a reverence for the ability of mankind to build such a creation, so long ago. The Cathedral is overflowing with Frameworks, Clockworks and Phenomenon. The multiple arches that support the ceiling seem to be too much of an engineering feat for people to have accomplished so long ago. Simply the height of the building made me feel weak in the knees and wonder how it was put together.

The work of this cathedral crushes the oppositions of entropy, gravity, climate and materials. It is the combination of all these conquered oppositions that induces the Phenomenon that one feels upon entering this great building.

Walking through this building perhaps made we wonder about the possibilities of man. If man could build something like this so long ago, imagine what I could do today!

March 5, 2008

Protect The Children

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What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on? Henry David Thoreau

As we continue to look at architecture it becomes more and more evident that we need to focus on the not so good world around us. I choose to focus on reducing child mortality and Improving maternal health. Nearly 9.7 million children die each year before their fifth birthday from diseases that range from pneumonia to malaria to diarrhea.
I feel a burden for these children, because unlike adults, they are absolutely helpless. In the very poor areas of Africa where diseases are spreading like wildfire many children have no hope. Unless someone cares enough about them to step in and lend them a hand, many will die.

Let us take our children seriously! Everything else follows from this... only the best is good enough for a child. Zoltan Kodaly

The following lyrics by Jaci Velasquez talk about the need for us to make a difference.

We live in a dream
If we really think
Everything's alright
This world is in need
Crying out to be freed
We gotta shed some light
Teach the world to smile
And hear angels sing
Feel the breath of God
And the power it brings
It's time to come together, you and I
And share the love of Jesus Christ
We can make a difference
We can make a change
We can make the world a better place
Some have empty hearts
Some have hungry eyes
God can heal the suffering through our hands
Find compassion, take a stand

The task that lays before us is a difficult task, but it is a task that we must initiate today if anything is going to be accomplish.

Note: Please have patience with this blog. I am in the process of figuring out how to post pictures and such!

My Architecture

If I was to be released from the constraints of the Architecture school program, I would seek to work on residential design-build projects. I think that residential buildings are interesting because they can have so much character, and you always see something different. I have always been in a family of carpenters and masons, so I have always been close to, around and often in construction. I have also worked as a carpenter on many occasions, and I enjoy the building industry. I think that there are many ways in which I could effect my environment over time. The areas that attract me are energy efficiency, energy consumption reduction, and thorough planning.

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I hope to be able to do research over time in the area of solar energy and the innovations that are taking place in that industry. The sun is one of the most powerful forces we have with all of the rays that it emits. Someday, if not already, the technology will exist that will allow us to efficiently convert the suns energy into power that everyone can use. For example a 1 foot by 1 foot panel could be used to collect enough energy for an entire household. Can you imagine if someone invented a way to absorb the gamma rays and convert them to power! Energy would no longer be a limited commodity...it would be free!

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Another area that interests me is reducing energy consumption through extensive planning in the early phase of a project. I think that as homes are being designed and built today, there is a lack of research done in selecting the proper materials, mechanical components and attention to the site. All of these add up to waste, and a lack of function and comfort.

I think that people are becoming more and more conscious about these things, and will be willing to devote more time and money to see them through. This is also another area the needs much research.

Since I am constrained to the architecture school for the time being, I hope that it will broaden my creativity in these areas.

Better Transit

A growing problem in the Twin Cities is traffic. The suburbs have been steadily growing around a city with an out-dated info-structure, and debates have gone back and forth in the quest of figuring out what to do.

In 2004, the light rail was opened, and it reported 6 million rides in it's first year of being open--61 percent higher than the original projections (1). The light rail has shown that people will use mass transit if it is put in.

As of yet, the light rail has done little to curb the traffic in the Twin cities, but it has shown us that people will use it, and opened the door to new possiblities for transportation in the future.

The success of the light rail has spurred on planning for the rest of the metro. Two other routes have already been planned, the Central corridor route and the Northstar Commuter Rail. The Central Corridor Route would run from downtown Minneapolis to downtown Saint Paul--which would also serve the U of M! The Northstar Commuter Rail would run from Minneapolis to Big Lake which is midway between Minneapolis and St. Cloud.

The Northstar Commuter Rail is in desperate need. The Northwest suburbs are growing very fast, and the roads can no longer handle the additional traffic that is being added every year. The Northstar Commuter Rail could provide 2.1 million rides per year and gaurantee a 35 minute commute--which normaly takes 55 minutes without a snow day (2)!! The Northstar Commuter Rail would not only decrease commute time, but also reduce pollution and traffic in the Twin Cities Metro area!

In fall 2006, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) granted the Northstar Commuter Rail project approval to enter the final design phase of development (3). Tens of millions of dollars have been secured for the project, and it will not be long before work begins!

Even though the cost of the light rail is high, research has shown that they boost the economies of the areas in which they are installed. Many countries around the world have had mass transit like the light rail around for many years, and the majority of them have shown very positive results!

1. http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=894
2. http://www.mn-getonboard.org/overview.html
3. http://himlehorner.typepad.com/northstar/2006/12/fta_grants_nort.html

February 5, 2008

New Malls

As we discuss the idea of energy, flow and transformation through the city, I began to think about all of the new malls that are poping up around the country. Cities, retailers and restaurant owners all around the U.S. are beginning to rethink the idea of these "mega" malls that have dominated the last 20 years. Most cities have rivers flowing through or around them, and planners have begun to see the value in building a promenade with shopping and dinning on the riverfronts. These promenades have gained enormous popularity because they bring the element of water, sun and the outdoors to create a more natural envirnment.

The long stone wall that Andy Goldsworthy so beautifully wove through the woods, making sure to respect the heritage and presence of every tree, made me think about these promenades. People have grown bored of "concrete jungles," and being boxed in by manmade objects all day long. I think that this change in malls is a wakeup call to the fact that our society has become surrounded by mass production and superficiality, and people are embracing the idea of haveing water, trees, plants and flowers placed about in an organic manner that best fits the natural terrain of a particular geographic location. I think that cities should, and will continue to bring back part of this "natural envirnement" that existed long before these cities covered everything up with concrete and tar. The rivers flowing through these cities have proved to be a place where we can not only bring in the element of natural trees and stone, but also a place where businesses can thrive because people like it so much.