Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Blog Posts Resume in the Fall!

We will have a new crop of graduate student-writers who will begin publishing their ideas and adventures in learning architecture on September 3, 2014!  I hope you will join us this fall for more of Salukitecture.  JKD

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

That's All Folks!

OK everyone, that was the final blog post of the year.  This week didn't go exactly as planned as far as the blog goes and I apologize for that.  It's been a crazy week and now that graduation is over, ironically it is back to the grind for us.  Hope you all enjoyed what we shared with you this year and good luck to the next round of SIU Architecture Grad Students! You're going to need it!

Google Earth Topo Export: Fixed!

By Tim Shotts

Typically, I’d use Google Sketchup’s geolocation tool to import topography into for my siteplan.  However, lately it’s been tempermental.  On a quest to find a workaround, I came upon Land Design.  Go to and download it.  It’s a plugin for Rhino and it works generally the same way as SU’s method.  You’re all using Rhino5, right?  If not, come see me and I’ll introduce you two;  You’ll become good friends. 
I’ll walk you through importing Google Earth topography into Rhino.

1.  Open Google Earth and zoom in on the area you want to capture.  It appears that you cannot change the resolution in the trial version, so be judicious with your capture.   Make sure you turn on the Scale Legend so you have a reference point.

2.  Open Land Design.  It probably asked you to put an icon on the Desktop…

3.  Import Google Earth Elevation Data

BAM!!!  Your topography, Sir or ma’am. 

Save that and do with it what you want.  I hope that helps everyone that’s been frustrated the past few weeks with the SU/Earth malfunctions.
Next, I started modeling the buildings on the site and also the bridges.  Notice the highway overpass.  Google Earth doesn’t do these well, so I went to streetview in GoogleEarth and modeled the bridges and added them to the 3D file.  This is what it looked like in Sketchup with the just the highway ending.

…and with the abutment

…and with the bridge.

I saved the site as one STL file, and the buildings and bridges as their own individual files.  I then uploaded all of them to to close holes, fix face normal, and remove self-intersections.  It took 25seconds!  Do it!!!  After sending the fixed site model STL file to the CNC and the fixed building files to the 3D printer (after creating the X3G file in Makerware Desktop, this is my final result.

All Images by Author


By Ryan Kinports

When approaching a position that will put you in charge of others there are unique set of problems you will face. Being a graduate assistant is a good experience in learning how to help a set of students with varied skill levels and drive. When I started here two years ago there was no design build program at SIU. I remember discussing the idea with a professor and they told me that it would be a lot of work to get going – that is not an understatement. The real work though is not so much in setting up the program or in the physical labor a design build involves, although that is extensive, but in including as many of the students and school community as possible. It’s a challenge to keep 50+ people working on a job that operates more as a “build as you go” than off of a static set of plans. When you have a great deal of inexperience, myself included, these problems are more significant. I have found it to be a pleasant experience overall and look forward to next year’s project, but there will certainly be changes in how the program is structured with a much finer focus on allocation of people. One of the glaringly obvious problems is that we have too many people working in the same place at the same time. You might think that telling 10 people to dig a ditch from point A to point B on a build day would result in faster completion but you will find that four people on a volunteer day dig two ditches of similar size in ¼ the time. There are many aspects of a project to keep track of but the most important as I see it is time. “Later” is an easy answer to give to a question, unless of course there won’t be a later because of time constraints. Problems in construction such as waiting for the person who knows what to do to return, running out of a particular component, or the possibility of inclement weather must not be allowed to distract students. Once you lose a person’s focus it’s nearly impossible to get them back. I have a business background and we spend significant time on workflow management, inventory management, and hierarchy structure but there is no substitution for practical experience a real work experience. We are not a real firm bidding jobs but we must operate in a similar fashion in order to keep on schedule. I would say for my first experience in such an endeavor the project has gone well – we are on track to be done by the end of the semester. When I look at the site compared to what was there, and then think about how students were able to design something so pleasant and well suited to our site, I am proud to have been involved in the process. I am ready for next year and that’s good as I’ve already had freshman ask me what we will be doing.

The Toilet Museum

By Nicholas Mosher

Image taken from

Huh… That building kind of looks like a toilet.  It is supposed to be one. Well, not a functioning one but a toilet nonetheless.  Who would want to live here you ask?  The one and only, the Mr. Toilet of South Korea.  Sim Jae-Duck is known as Mr. Toilet in South Korea where he became famous for his life’s work with the potty.
It has been rumored that Sim Jae-Duck was born in an outhouse where he then grew up realizing just how crappy and unsafe the bathrooms in South Korea were.  Sim decided to produce toilets that now have become standard around South Korea. This has lead to cleaner areas for people to let loose and ultimately enjoy their privacy.  Mr. Toilet had said that the toilet is the place where majority of one’s deep thoughts come from. He also founded the World Toilet Association and wrote a book called “Happy to be with You.”  His popularity took off when he supplied the toilets for the World Cup held in South Korea in 2002.  After that he became the major of Suwan, where his toilet inspired house was built.  This man has had a real ‘turd to triumph’ life until 2009 when he passed away.
His house was donated to the city of Suwan where it has now been turned into a museum dedicated to… you guessed it… the toilet.  The museum is only part of the whole toilet themed park.  There are several statues around the park that relate to the loo in any way such as a very large, bronze poop in front of the building.
Image taken from
 Inside the museum visitors are welcome to explore the former house and even use Mr. Toilet’s personal bathroom. His bathroom has large floor-to-ceiling glass that makes it seem very open but when the room is in use, the glass fogs up so that it cannot be seen through.  Throughout the building, works of art from paintings to clay models are displayed but only if they are related to Mr. Toilet’s passion. 
                Koreans are not as grossed out by what leaves our bodies as Americans and other countries are.  It wasn’t that long ago when they did have very old and dirty toilet systems where they had to deal with much worse on a daily basis.  That being said, this unique experience that visitors get is of course not taken seriously.  It is meant to be a fun and humorous environment for people to come and relax.  The majority of the visitors that show up are little children and they always seem to have a blast.  Anyone is welcome to the park and after all, it is free to visit.  Unfortunately they do not have a gift shop otherwise people could buy a souvenir t-shirt from the toilet store. 
Image taken from

Sumitra. (January 1, 2013). South Korea’s Toilet Theme Park. Retrieved from
Hornyak, Tim. (November 11, 2012). Flushed with pride, Korea celebrates toilet theme park. Retrieved from

One Final Post

Josh Fowler here, 
                And for my final post I would simply like to comment on my experiences as a graduate architecture student. As well as possibly pass along some parting words of wisdom. As my many years in academia are swiftly coming to an end I would like to look back at all that I have learned. One subject in particular is that of where the field of architecture is headed and where it is now. While learning about codes and specifically ethics in the field of architecture, it seems to me that American architecture ethics have followed suit in the capitalistic corporate ethics. Meaning that is seems that more focus in the field of architecture is put on saving money rather than influencing culture and community. It seems as though we are often taught in architecture school to consider community and designing better places, but out of school, at least from my perspective, we become employed by firms and people who, in the effort to make more money, look for the large corporations and wealthiest developers and wealthiest people to fund the building of these "better places." But it would seem as though all they seem to care about as well is saving as much money as possible. There are most certainly exceptions to this, lying often in non-profit architecture firms as well as such organizations as Habitat for Humanity and Architecture for Humanity.
People have been asking me what I want to do when I graduate and my answer has always been " To find a job." And why is this my answer? Probably because with all the debt I have incurved going to school, I feel pressured into just find any kind of job to pay off my debts. I mean don’t get me wrong, I do want to become a registered architect, but what I want to do with that license may be a bit non-traditional. I would really like to help people, communities, and civilizations in developing countries and those who truly need help and the assistance of an architect. I suppose the notion of working for a firm whose clientele consist primarily of those with money and not necessarily those who truly need help, does not excite or encourage me at all. I would truly love to apply my skills and design knowledge to a means that helps more of everyone that a select few. I am still trying to figure it out and for right now I would still like to work in major and minor firms to confirm or rethink my attitude. I can only hope that I don’t fall prey to the greed of money and that I can obtain more of a sense of purpose with architecture.
This being said, I would like to leave with some parting words of wisdom in regards to my experiences as a, hopefully, graduating masters student:

Attempt to know yourself as a person:
Now this may seem a bit obvious and a little on the yoda-esk side, but it is entirely true. It is a difficult time during graduate school as one contemplates how exactly they may want to spend the rest of their life. So knowing yourself and being honest with yourself will hopefully allow you to make decision to lead to a more fulfilled life. That being said your opinions and attitudes are always changing and in no way shape or form do you have to decide right now who you are and what you stand for, but start to think about what some of your attitudes are in life, and of course architecture or any other related field. This can also be helpful in searching for jobs and writing your resume. It will convey to others as well as yourself what your values and ideals are and help you find the right type of job for you.
Think about your thesis… yesterday:
If you function anything like me, then you need all of the time in the world to research and discover a little bit about everything regarding a subject matter. I knew what I wanted to research in regards to my thesis and figured I had a lot of time to finally decide. The truth is, if you are attending SIUC's graduate architecture program you should know exactly what you want to do by the end of the first semester in the summer. This will help when you have to begin writing your thesis during the following fall semester.
If you have an obscure thesis topic, be prepared for a little resistance / difficulty:
If you opt for the more traditional thesis, one where you are actually researching and theorizing new, well, new-ish, ideas be prepared to either meet some resistance with your committee members, be on your own because your committee members don’t have much knowledge in the subject matter, and/or constantly fear whether your thesis is up to par with other university research/ thesis. I feel as though I have chosen a topic in which I have a great deal of interest and some knowledge in, however because most of my committee is not too familiar with the subject matter I feel as though I am on my own and being met with resistance. My advice would be to understand the entire faculty's background in architecture and or your thesis and relate your interest toward a subject where there will be substantial support. In any case however, you are the one in charge of your thesis not them.

These topics are three of the main topics I have been pondering during my graduate career here at SIUC and I just wanted to voice my experience and knowledge of these topics as well as to say a final farewell to all and have a wonderful life and good luck in all of your endeavors. 

It’s Nearing the End of the Semester…

By Kayla Fuller

It’s nearing the end of the semester… this being my final blog I would like to reflect upon my time at SIU. This week I had the opportunity to speak with some of the freshman in the architecture program, and it made me realize how much I have taken for granted. Our professors are one of the most valuable assets we have. Many of them have previous real world experience, providing them with valuable connections to pass on.  

                Freshman year is a valuable year, where you learn the basic skills required. A thorough understanding of space is necessary for design. In architecture we design spaces that effect the life of those who occupy it on a daily basis. Color theory is another important element with design. Color can enhance or destroy a space. It can create a range of feelings from happiness to fear. There is a great website that breaks it down for further understanding. Follow the link to further your understanding:  
 Of course there are other fundamental elements that are taught during your first year of architecture school, but I can’t give everything away.
                Sophomore year has a more technical influence. The first introduction to AutoCAD and Revit occur. Some of us were fortunate to have our first experience during high school, providing a slight advantage over the rest. Another extremely beneficial element about our program is how willing everyone is to help each other out. In the real world we are going to be each other’s competition, but while we are in school we should turn to each other for advice. I have received some of the most beneficial advice from my classmates. Many times this is from us spending massive amounts of time together, allowing us to have a better understanding of each other’s designs. I am not saying this to encourage you to only go to each other for help just because you may become frustrated with the advice from a professor. This does happen, but you must realize that if you cannot properly communicate your idea, then others will not understand. Definitely listen to others and do not allow yourself to become obsessed with an idea that may not be appropriate for the project, rather grow and adapt.
                Junior year was probably my most difficult year. During my undergraduate career, I managed to work two jobs averaging 36 hours a week while continuing to stay involved with on-campus activities. During this year there is more pressure to push ourselves to the best we can be. Structure and site development were definitely the most influential for this year.
                Finally senior year, the year everyone looks forward to because we are that much closer to the end of the tunnel….. kind of…. This year was the year everything came together. For our final project not only did we calculate and design the structure of our building but we also completed a lighting design. Although we gained valuable experience during our time at SIU, there are some areas I wish were expanded on. Numerous times I have been told how valuable it is to be able to complete an estimate. As a number lover, this is definitely something I hope to see incorporated in the future.
Well my time is soon coming to an end at SIU, I have enjoyed every minute of it. My advice to you is to push yourself every day and to never let yourself down.
                Wishing you all a great summer!!