April 2007 Archives

Despite the tardy nature of these last two posts in respects to their impending immediacy, I want to cordially invite everyone to another event which is happening this Wednesday in Minneapolis. Many of you may remember this as the conference I was going to speak at about the work in the coast, but we had the uncanny luck to have a couple of early invites have serendipitous cancellations in their schedules and I will most likely be speaking at Vol. 2 this summer.

For a little background Solutions is a group started by two colleagues who have since graduated from the Minnesota. They have started up a website which promotes interaction and are sponsoring a series of talks, the first of which is set to occur this Wednesday, May 2nd. Here is a short explanation:

Local designers, artists, & activists are on the forefront of a tidal wave of change; yet they have no place to gather, socialize, or share their ideas. Solutions is the space for presenting these new ideas & drawing awareness to existing solutions. The core event is a rapid-fire exchange of ideas consisting of short presentations called “Solution Sets.�

Each presenter is allowed: 20 images x 20 seconds (each) = 6 minutes, 40 seconds

This short format keeps presentations concise, generates high levels of interest, & gives many people a chance to present at each event. While the event is local, the conversation will be global; Solutions will broadcast the event through the web in easily digestible idea packages.


Please come and join us at the event. Seating is limited, so go to their website: SOLUTIONS: twin cities and order tickets now (they cost less than a movie!) and enjoy this unique gathering. See you there!

Chapter 77: Clean Hub Ho-Down

For those of you who don't know, John Dwyer and Tom Westbrook have been running a studio based on John's design of the Clean Hub which was one of the inspirations for the infrastructure portion of my thesis. John and I discussed the two projects as a great way to move the design forward in different directions to test the limitations and possibilities of the project. Due to delays in funding I will most likely be building a similar prototype in Biloxi funded by Catholic Charities of East Biloxi this summer. Anyhow, here is a brief on the original idea, which John has retooled to be housed in a shipping container (nice idea!).


The Clean Hub is a sustainable housing design for areas with insufficient infrastructure. The name fits its multipurpose sanitation and energy functions: the 10 x 20-foot unit includes a V-shaped roof that collects rainwater, an underground reverse-osmosis filtration system to recycle and store gray water from showers and laundry facilities, and 16 rooftop adjustable photovoltaic panels that can generate up to 2,600 watts of energy.



Anyhow, John realized that the Clean Hub needed to be more multi-faceted and had the opportunity to team with a community which they have been working with through CityBuild in New Orleans and design a Clean Hub which would not only facilitate all of the old design criteria, but also act as a farmer's market and gathering area. I had a chance to sit in on the mid-term reviews for the studio as they were still in the design development stages and we all shared our ideas from the two projects which was really interesting and invaluable when thinking about my thesis.


My prototype now has the ability to be reactionary to this design and improve and adapt some of the aspects of this first prototype which will hopefully be able to add to the common Clean Hub type project knowledge so these can be more readily produced for disaster relief.




Press Release:

I am happy to announce that the first version of a Clean Hub, designed and
constructed by students from the College of Design at the University of
Minnesota, will be unveiled on Monday, April 30th.

Schedule of Events:

7:50am: MPR’s Cathy Wurzer, who has been tracking the progress for the last
month, will air an 8 minute feature on The Morning Edition. You can stream
it online at www.mpr.org or tune in locally at 91.1

1:30pm: All sixteen students will unveil the prototype for Greta Gladney, a
New Orleans community leader and the end user of the prototype, in the sand
lot at the College of Design. The address is 89 Church Street, Minneapolis,

2:30pm-6:00pm: To the sounds of Kermit Ruffins and the smell of crawfish,
the prototype’s doors will be open to the public. Its first function will
be a gallery of the student’s work throughout the semester.

For those near by, you are all welcome to attend. To those who can’t make
it, check it out on MPR. Stay tuned as the Clean Hub will be heading to New Orleans some time in

Chapter 74: Small Beginnings

Thesis boards as promised. They still need work, but as the title says... Small Beginnings. You can click on the boards in order to see larger versions on my flickr site.















So today was mostly a bust. I got very little if any work done as a result of feeling quite under the weather. I feel bad because I was going to give my friend Jessica some help moving a couple of large awkward things along with her friend Adam who I haven't seen in months but when I finally got up to go and help her I felt rather nauseated. Other than that there were just a couple things that got pushed to tomorrow. I had planned on hanging out with Anderson at some point today since it was his day off, but I didn't hear from him. Hopefully he got caught up on rest as well because he said he had to work late shifts managing at The Marquette this weekend. Maybe I'll try dropping in and seeing him and Patrick at the Marq VII with Molly for a drink.

Like I said, today was pretty much a wash. I didn't do a whole lot, but I did get a chance to watch the season finale of 30 Rock and a couple of other NBC shows after waking up from another bit of sleep this evening. I find that I like 30 Rock more and more with each episode I see. It could be that I just really enjoy Alec Baldwin or think that Tina Fey's character is totally crushable but I find the offbeat humor really enjoyable and the characters engaging in a way that Studio 60 unfortunately has failed to garner my favor. What happened Aaron Sorkin? *sniff*


Finally, I want to say hello to my funny and charming friend from the deep south, Jessie. You've seen her highlighted in my Newbie's Guide to the GCCDS. I have probably pointed you to her website before, but she recently updated her blog, in part because of my promise that if she updated hers, I would continue with the pace of updating mine. In response she's laid out a super entry which is in part dedicated to yours truly which is really sweet. I know how crazy it can get down there and Jessie has been super busy with everything so the break in updates is completely understandable. I am really excited to see another post with so many wonderful photos (which you can find more of on her flickr account).


Oh my god, check your thermometers because I think Hell may have frozen over! The GCCDS has finally moved into it's new home at St. Louis! Check out Jessie's flickr for pictures of it!



Okay, this may expose my dorky personality more so than I already have, but there is a new OotP trailer which looks pretty darn sweet if you ask me. I hope you may enjoy as I have.

This is a picture I took the morning I left of Luke and Yvon's crib at Hands On that they built. We all share a little square in the back (just to the left of the planks in the foreground is my porch for reference) and recently they planted a sunflower garden just out their front door near the sun on their mural. Each of the little stakes has a name of a long-termer from Hands On written on it. Yvon left the same day that I did and he was pretty sure it was going to be his last trip down for some time. He has been down the last two winters and has done an amazing job helping out. He and Luc are really great people and a joy to be around. Yvon and his wife made two promises when they retired... 1) They would stay together, and work through anything that came their way, and 2) they would never take money for any work they did. Love you, love your work.

So, I was just going through pictures and wanted to post this because I think it's one of the things I want to see the most when I get back to Mississippi...


So, I've been listening to a lot of music while I've been working lately and Wagon Wheel has played a ton of times on random, or so it seems. It really has me missing Biloxi and all the wonderful people there. It's nice to be home, but I sure do miss thursdays... Anyhow, this song is one that always seems to crop up and is a bit of a theme song for the "no-talent talent show". When I get back through my old blogs, you'll have to check out a version that Michelle sang at the Sundance of the South intermission. For now, check out the Old Crow Medicine Show singing it on the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour via YouTube...

Here is the version with Michelle and Susanne leading Wagon Wheel from the archives...

In going back through my blog, I thought that this would be a good time to give a post-present introduction to all of my studio mates and write a bit about them so that you can get a better handle on who they are and what they do.

First of all, the GCCDS comprises of two main parts, one of which is the educational component, the other of which is the practice component both of which will be operating (shortly!) out of a former parish in East Biloxi in coordination with the East Biloxi Coordination and Relief Center (EBCRC) which handles mostly case work. I'll give a quick introduction of both branches and the great people I interacted with all semester.

Education Component- The studio comprised of students from four different colleges: The University of Minnesota (7), Mississippi State (3), Boston Architectural Center (1), and Auburn University (1). In no particular order, they are...

U of MN (7 students from the second year of the Masters of Architecture Program):



Derek Petersen

This guy has one of the best souls I've ever met. I really enjoyed all his enthusiasm, and I'm sure if you look through the archives, you'll be treated to one of his magnificent performances he has graced us with this semester. Always good for a lift of your spirit, this singing minstrel saved my sanity on more than one occasion.



Matt Huntress

Despite the fact that he does not indeed "ride dirty" this guy was my rollin' around town homeslice. His computer skills and laid back attitude was invaluable in completing many of our "drawn by midnight, plotted by breakfast, built by dinner" parts of the projects.



Omar Hakeem

Chief of the tribe, this master of cool brings a great background of constructing hot details and general know-how to the table and has really helped the Nixon House move right along. Omar was also one of the most dapper dudes I know at the Sundance of the South Film Festival brushing with the ever popular "bud water".



Peter Pelto

The country legend known as Petey Boy Pelt is the great grounding member of this group, holding stuff down when it starts floating away. Whether it is his fly thrift store threads, or his now legendary facial hair, he is a force to be reckoned with, I reckon!



Shana Payne

This firecracker has been kicking ass and breaking hearts since the day she got to Biloxi. Shana is hella fun to hang out with and a real tough worker on site which makes her fantastic for Biloxi. I hadn't really hung out with her at all before we came down, but I've had a great time getting to know her this semester. Some call her trouble, I call her "jackpot".



Della Hansmann

Our go to budget and poetry gal, Della mixes her Wisconsin roots with her newfound Mississippi 'tude to rock the Nixon House to the ground. Our personalities tend to mix it up every once in a while, but I never mind a good difference of opinions with someone so groovy.



Sam Carlsen

My next-door neighbor and heir to the porch throne, Sam has been one of my closest friends in the gulf and looks to do thesis work down there in the fall following the transition from FEMA trailer to other transitional and permanent housing solutions. He is one of the lead dogs over at the Nixon House and does it for the glory of love.


Mississippi State (3 students from the fourth year of the Bachelors of Architecture Program):


Conor Gibson

This free-wheelin' cowboy from Natchez, MS is my dart amigo and grade-A crawfish eater. Famous for introducing me to the song "Sittin' at the Bar" by Rehab which has become our riding home after a night of R & R sing-along.



Chandler Overcash

This little spoon has recently gotten the courage to ask for his girlfriend's hand in marriage and she couldn't be a luckier woman. Chandler's a real stand-up guy who won't put up with any GD's and is pretty fair at Frisbee to boot.



Scott Emison

The papa bear of the State group, Scott holds it down and has the phattest moves on the dance floor. I've got a lot of respect for his ability to have both a family life back home and kick so much ass over at the Red House all semester. Class Act.


Boston Architectural Center (1 student from the second track):


Brandon Milling

At first, he seems like a shy guy that keeps quiet most of the time, but Brandon opened up a lot during the semester and I really got to know a great guy. He's a man's man (oh, I said it) with a great attitude and as they say on draft day, TUP: tremendous upside potential.


Auburn University (1 student from the fourth year of the Bachelors of Architecture Program):



All I can say is funky kitty hats. Nadene rocked my socks all semester long. Our rides to East Biloxi listening to Tom Waits are some of my favorites from my trip and her love for the Shed makes me happy.


The Practicing GCCDS:

(pictured l to r: Jason, David, Christine, picture courtesy of Jessie)

David Perkes

The Grand Poobah of the GCCDS and Adjuct Professor from MS State who co-teaches the design studio with Mike Grote. David is an even-keel guy with a great love for the City of Biloxi and the rebuilding effort.

Jason Pressgrove

Little is known about this rock and roll recluse except for the fact that he has the best mustache in all of Harrison County. Jason is a lead designer at the GCCDS and an all around nice guy.


The Women of Architecture:


Christine Gaspar

The unofficial matriarch of the Women of Architecture, Christine resides to the west in Biloxi's neighbor city Gulfport but ain't afraid to come over and mix it up with us every once in a while at Just Us or over with Jessie at Sweet's. Hailing from the upper east coast, she lends a touch of class to the joint.



Jessie Zenor

Our resident sweetheart in more ways than one, this fetching lass formerly from Auburn, Alabama is a printmaking, dress sporting, and dog loving dynamo. Her dog Dolores is one of my favorite poochies aside from Helicopter and Black Puppy in the State of Mississippi. She also maintains one of the best all-purpose sites on the web. Check out her shirts!


jody reelin it in.jpg

Jodi Rader

Officially "not a hater" Jodi was one of the original Minnesota peeps to come down with me last spring break. She ended up moving down to the 'sip and has been rocking Hands On and the GCCDS ever since.



Kristen Zeiber

Although I've only had the pleasure of hanging out with Kristen a handful of times, she has been a real peach every time. Hopefully moving back down I'll get more of a chance to see what makes this Pennsylvania girl tick.



Jennifer Gurney

Hailing from D.C. this captain of the Hands On Swim team will freestyle her way into your heart. Her sweet demeanor and committed attitude has her making a huge difference already at the GCCDS as AFH's right-hand woman. What more can I say? Jennifer is the full meal deal.



Sarah Naughton

The Sultaness of Sass is another Minnesota girl who actually has a first degree connection to yours truly having been my TA when I was finishing up my undergraduate degree at the U. Sarah has been a great friend to me when I've been down in the Gulf. She's a great listener and a helluva darts player.


Chapter 67: There is Here!

As you may or may not know I have been one of the proud editors of the College of Design's Journal of Design: There for the last year and the fruits of our labors have finally become manifest. I present to you Vol. 3- Design and Identity.


I will be able to add a link soon where you can purchase it online through our University Bookstore. I have an article in it as well as a couple of my fellow staff.

Our other authors include:

Tom Fisher- Dean, College of Design, University of Minnesota
Bruce Mau- Bruce Mau Design, Author of Massive Change
Phillip Koski- Freelance Writer and Co-Owner: IOTA- Inland Office for Tomorrow's Architecture
R.T. Rybak- Mayor, City of Minneapolis
Thomas Mical- Professor, Carleton University
John Cary- Public Architecture, The 1% Solution

I guess I'll write this as an apology for some pretty shitty correspondence as of late. I usually type my entries in my tent in Mississippi where I don't have any internet connection so I tend to post them when I can from inside Hands On. Now, as I'm sure you've noticed, it's been a really long time since anything has been posted on here, but I have a whole slew of pictures, anecdotes and other tidbits floating around, and waiting to be posted.

The big news I have is that this past Thursday, April 19th, I successfully defended my Thesis here in Minneapolis in front of my committee and a gang of my friends and peers. I want to thank everyone who came out to see my presentation. I can't thank you all enough for the support. I'm posting pictures of my project up on the boards and will shrink down my boards and post them here as well.


As for the rest of my life, I am going to be headed back down to Mississippi for a week to scout apartments with my good friend Sarah, and see what we can rustle up. As you may infer from the previous statement, that does mean that I am moving down to the south. I will be working with the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio as well as pushing forward the agenda of having continued studios from the University of Minnesota in the Gulf. I want to thank everyone at both ends of the Mississippi for all their guidance and help in allowing me to use my education and skills in a way which will benefit those that can benefit from them the most.


Chapter 64: Return of the Mack

So I've backlogged this to yesterday since I did the most of the majority of driving that day. Over the past 20 hours or so I drove home from Biloxi. Let me tell you, Mississippi is a loooooong state. Anyhow, I made my way up through MS into Tennessee, and Arkansas for a couple then into the great state of Missouri, Iowa, and back to MN. I finally had to take a nap when I got back into the Land of 10,000 Lakes (not that I don't trust Iowa). So I took pictures along the way of my journey through Americana.

Little Spoon laments my departure

One last look at Hands On

My Minnesota Mara

Goodbye to Biloxi

Mississippi Miles

Cannonball Run spurs me on. God bless Burt Reynolds

Paul Simon and Elvis Presley are my Soundtrack

Picture this landscape, only hundreds of miles long...

I don't care who stayed in the Cape, I'm going to keep on truckin'...

A couple hours later, the only thing I gained were clouds

Iowa I think was the biggest pain in the ass because the roads were glare ice, and the map that I drew up neglected to tell me the four-lane I was on was going to change into two-lane for a couple of hours. And let me tell you, when you're rolling on a thing sheet of ice listening to Billy Joel to keep yourself awake (because you can sing along, hey, I'm not embarrased) and you see eighteen wheelers on your side of the road... you tend to get a little antsy. But, I survived a couple of mid-road donuts and counted 26 unlucky cars in the ditch which I was never a part of, thank goodness. I wrote a bit about this in my sketchbook, but I'll just share a tidbit...

It's strange that the way someone can feel totally at easy in the curl of a wave, or forty feet up in the air, I can feel that way when the grooves of the pavement no longer have love for my tires. As you go barreling down the highway, the sheen just takes over and you're in this strange free fall of *brake pump* *under-steer* *give it gas* *drive looking over your shoulder* *brake hard* but all the time there's this eerie calm washing over you because you know you've been here before, and nothing has happened. Do I feel invincible because I'm young... because I'm foolish? Or is this my gift in exchange for 24 long winters in Minnesota? Every time I've come home from the south, it has dumped snow on me and I complained, but deep down I believe it was trying to tell me that it forgave me for not being here and wanted to wrap me up in its cold embrace and tell me that I will always belong. When many would stop, some would turn back, and many would most certainly need a change of undergarments after making in their pants, I journeyed on. Because at the end of the journey, I would most certainly be... home.

Chapter 63: Last Night in Biloxi