Architecture student recording a masters degree one post at a time. Only 1,277 days to go.

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Urban Landscape Lab 

Urban Landscape Lab is an inter-disciplinary applied research group at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, & Preservation focused on the role of design in urban ecosystems.

Columbia has an unbelievable amount of resources for the student of design. Check out the GSAPP publication Volume - you can look through past issues via the issuu link - and the blog http://ccgsapp.org/. There are also great video podcasts available on iTunes. 

Overwhelming, yes. 

Milton Glaser created the I <3 NY in the late 70s as part of an ad campaign to pick up New Yorkers who were in the middle of rough economic times, and promote tourism to the city. While watching the documentary Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight, Glaser spoke about how things just come together. And, how it comes down working with great people to create something that is remembered. 
Soon after I watched the Glaser film, I came across The Pixar Story. As I watched the film, I was reminded of what Glaser had touched on - how some things kind of just happen. The Pixar Story further articulated this by talking about how it did not matter what members of the group had their background in, or their formal training. What mattered is how well they worked together. How well they congealed into this cohesive mass that were able to articulate a common goal. 
This is a really important point that these ‘creative types’ are making. One is that you can essentially kill what is being worked on by over working it, or over designing it. Great thoughts are like trying to capture lightening. When executed, great ideas allow for more great ideas, meaning that it is not over stifling. If when people are making things happen, whether they be organizational or the physical act of making objects, how can such endeavors be successful if they do not embody enough flexibility and the awareness that change is inevitable. 
This seems like the beginning place for design and seems to boil down to simple awareness. To be aware is paramount to good design. It is looking at the taken-for-granted world that is many times hidden, maintaining a questioning attitude, pooling experience to tailor what is produced around need, and allowing for the unknown. In fact, it might have a lot to do with taping the unknown. When looking for solutions one has to use a different perspective than that which created to problem. And, the unknown has a lot to do with informing such new perspectives.
The second point that these films touch on is the importance of the people you work with. There is no doubt in my mind that humans are a social creature. With all of our complex social structures based off of written and spoken language, to neglect the social element of people is to violate the guiding motto of developing awareness.
People encompass much more than what is generally assumed. When I am asked what it is that I do, I consistently find myself grasping for a quick concise way to articulate what exactly I am. And, I fail every time. The reason I fail is straight forward. I simply am not so easily explained. I am not to be reduced to an economic input. I am more that a single identity to be defined in various social discourses. That inherent diversity is what aids certain groups of people to tap into past experiential knowledge, contributing to the goals of the group. Every time you partake in a conversation with another person, you open potential through the unknown, creating dialogue in which something greater than the individual is formed.
So, looseness and who you hang out with is important. Is that what is to be learned from such established and successful people as Glaser and the Pixar crew? I think it is a big part of it. It does not negate the need for cohesion, strong vision, and well thought out, well planned, organizational structure. But, with out the life - if you will - then there is no ability to create.   

Milton Glaser created the I <3 NY in the late 70s as part of an ad campaign to pick up New Yorkers who were in the middle of rough economic times, and promote tourism to the city. While watching the documentary Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight, Glaser spoke about how things just come together. And, how it comes down working with great people to create something that is remembered. 

Soon after I watched the Glaser film, I came across The Pixar Story. As I watched the film, I was reminded of what Glaser had touched on - how some things kind of just happen. The Pixar Story further articulated this by talking about how it did not matter what members of the group had their background in, or their formal training. What mattered is how well they worked together. How well they congealed into this cohesive mass that were able to articulate a common goal. 

This is a really important point that these ‘creative types’ are making. One is that you can essentially kill what is being worked on by over working it, or over designing it. Great thoughts are like trying to capture lightening. When executed, great ideas allow for more great ideas, meaning that it is not over stifling. If when people are making things happen, whether they be organizational or the physical act of making objects, how can such endeavors be successful if they do not embody enough flexibility and the awareness that change is inevitable. 

This seems like the beginning place for design and seems to boil down to simple awareness. To be aware is paramount to good design. It is looking at the taken-for-granted world that is many times hidden, maintaining a questioning attitude, pooling experience to tailor what is produced around need, and allowing for the unknown. In fact, it might have a lot to do with taping the unknown. When looking for solutions one has to use a different perspective than that which created to problem. And, the unknown has a lot to do with informing such new perspectives.

The second point that these films touch on is the importance of the people you work with. There is no doubt in my mind that humans are a social creature. With all of our complex social structures based off of written and spoken language, to neglect the social element of people is to violate the guiding motto of developing awareness.

People encompass much more than what is generally assumed. When I am asked what it is that I do, I consistently find myself grasping for a quick concise way to articulate what exactly I am. And, I fail every time. The reason I fail is straight forward. I simply am not so easily explained. I am not to be reduced to an economic input. I am more that a single identity to be defined in various social discourses. That inherent diversity is what aids certain groups of people to tap into past experiential knowledge, contributing to the goals of the group. Every time you partake in a conversation with another person, you open potential through the unknown, creating dialogue in which something greater than the individual is formed.

So, looseness and who you hang out with is important. Is that what is to be learned from such established and successful people as Glaser and the Pixar crew? I think it is a big part of it. It does not negate the need for cohesion, strong vision, and well thought out, well planned, organizational structure. But, with out the life - if you will - then there is no ability to create.   

Today was the rapture. Thank [g]od I am still here. 

While working with an employee at a health food business I am reorganizing, I listed off some of the main social network sites that are relevant to business. Sites like yelp, living social, facebook, insiderpages, groupon, google places/offers, foursquare, judy’s book, city search, twitter, and linkedin.

Then, later this evening I was looking for music on hype machine and decided to login to last.fm - the first time since they ended free streaming on mobile devices. I fell deep down into the being social/marketing yourself rabbit hole. In fact, I signed up for another social media site, flavors.me. The enticement of having all social media in one place, and nicely organized, was too much for me to pass on signing up. But, if you are anything like me, you have at least ten sites you’re already signed up to. Hump. 

What I thought to be the relevant part of all this thinking about social media is how important it is to sell yourself. I am well aware of how this sounds. Sell yourself? It brings to mind some jerk in a suit and briefcase waiting for a job interview in Corporate America. Of course, I could be thinking of Big with Tom Hanks, but the point stands. Selling yourself sound so lame, but you kind of have to if you want to get a job that doesn’t completely suck the life right out of you. 

Mashable has a nice article on the subject. It’s not so much about the why of selling 

Mashable

youself, but the how to sell yourself. It got me thinking of what all is really important in getting that good job. This seems even more important for me because of the field that I will be going into - design. So, what do I need to be doing right now to start on this?

Of course there is the portfolio, the resume/CV, and any other new/interesting/unique attention getting device available. But, what seems to be the most import, and the hardest to fully articulate, is the who the hell am I, what is my angle, what makes me me. The questions that role off this basic question can keep a job seeker busy figuring this out for weeks. I believe it can also muddy the clarity of an application if it isn’t done right. 

Either way, I am going to keep an eye what makes me AND the rapture. They kind of go hand-in-hand. Kind of. 

Something that all architecture should do is respond and interact with its surroundings. If architecture is design, and architecture is about place making, then to neglect the site, social implications, and long-term viability of a building, is to build bad architecture.

The urban waterfront project Borneo-Spornburg by the firm West 8 is a fantastic example of architecture that response well to its environment. It seems that continental Europe does a better job generally in designing spaces that are a part of their surroundings. They seem to spring up from their site, and say ‘enjoy me.’ Along with this sensitivity to site, there is also a level of playfulness that is expressed.

In the states, the project that I think of that really envites people in and responds well to a social need is the High Line project in New York. Every time I get to the city, I try to walk the High Line. It is a nice diversity of people, if sometimes a bit too crowded and a growing tourist destination. 

What stikes me time and time again when I look at most modern mid-century in North Carolina is that it seems not to respond to its surroundings. As compared to L.A. and its mid-century homes, these buildings lack the vision and clarity of their west coast counterparts. Granted, all of the examples used are of large urban centers. Still, there seems to be something lacking in these homes and I find it difficult to fully articulate what it is I dislike about them. As far as I can reason, it seems to be an implementation of the idea of modernism - muddled modernism - rather than designing a building that actually responds and interacts with its surrounding, neglecting that at its core, architecture is place making.

Grand Designs is a Channel 4 program from the UK. I came across it around the end of last year, and have enjoyed most of the episodes. In many cases, the projects are not grand designs, but it always highlights what it takes to build a house.

And, sometimes the designs are good. A great house was designed by Kathryn Tyler. She is an interior designer, trained in Graphic Design, and has put together a great Scandinavian inspired house. I think it utilizes space fantastically, and very livable. It has a great aesthetic.  

EDIT: The video is formatted strangely, so if you would like to access the controls to stop the video, right click on the video window and toggle to full screen. The controls will then be available. 

Here is another color reference. The interior is done by Aaron Ruell, the older brother from Napoleon Dynamite. I think that he might be a bit Christian, not that it’s a bad thing, but you know there is something to be said about wearing your believes on your sleeve. 

The green is nice. I have been trying to find the green used in the downstairs of PS1 with no luck. I can’t even find an image of the downstairs PS1. I love the green they have used. It reminds me of a cross between a school house and a mental institute. 

Found Materials

Today I rewatched e2 Design’s S01E02 with Sergio Palleroni on Netflix streaming (the episode can also be found at Hulu). I have been thinking about sustainability, vernacular architecture, and found materials. What peaked my interest was the possibility of having some kind of systematic approach to addressing the needs of a project by sourcing materials locally - these are healthy material with none of the toxic abrading issues - assemble and construct the project using a vernacular method involving the clients, without compromising the design. 

So many great materials are shipped around the world, but what if like a recipe for cookies you could substitute certain ingredients and still get the same results that the original material provides. That way you could develop solutions for construction materials which were sourced locally and avoided shipping. What you would really be utilizing is the knowledge base of how a substance answers the need for a construction element. Kind of like how not all bicycles are made from steal.

This already happens no doubt in a larger scale, but I think it would be interesting if there was a reference guild to material alternatives that were found in various parts of the world which could be used for say a girder or roof flashing. Essentially if there was a way to further decentralize certain elements of place making while unifying other elements, e.g. knowledge base. 

Image from the Green Room by ontwerpduo. In the process of moving up to Raleigh, I secured an apartment in a converted house just north of NCSU. I have been looking at color inspiration in the case that I do something other than ultra white. 

This record

This site is the documentation of my architecture masters degree. Starting June of 2011, I will be enrolled in NCSU’s graduate program. As a track three student, I am set to spend the next 3.5 years of my life in school. 

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