Monday, December 19, 2011

Final Presentation: Large Retail

By Dempson Haney

Our fall semester Master Studio project was an urban village located in downtown East St. Louis. The site location was idea because of its metro link access on the east side of the site. The project I received was a large retail facility and community recreational facility. In order to work with the small site but still fit 75,000 sq. ft. of retail program along with recreational, the rec. center program was lifted above the roof of the Target and allowed for a jogging track and outdoor recreation. The shell of the building is constructed of brick tiles anchored to precast-concrete panels. Extensive green roof and terraces was used in order to scale down the appearance of the Target. Water runoff from the rec. center is stored and gravity fed to Target’s roof terraces. Excess water is drained to terra cotta spouts on the second level cantilevers and poured into the water feature below. The water feature itself is comprised of 1’x1’ terra cotta square pipes at various intervals of height. On the back side, terra cotta sprouts emerge from the building and capture sun light which is then fed through light tubes and dispersed with the interior spaces.

The use of brick and terra cotta goes back to East St. Louis’s heritage. St. Louis is known for its beautiful brick and terra cotta detail. Today the brick harvested from condemned buildings is high sought after for historic restoration work. East St. Louis falls into the picture because it was the home of the factories, kilns, and even craftsman whom produced the exquisite architectural details. The use of brick, terra cotta, and attention paid to their details pays homage to a city that once stood for craftsmanship.

MVRDV's tower project in South Korea...resemble 9/11 attacks much?

By Sean Koeting

I have always enjoyed the work of MVRDV, since I was first introduced to them in my sophomore studio class here at SIUC. However, I find it quite hard to believe that somewhere along the line no one in the MVRDV studio realized that what they designed in concept and what was being displayed were two different images. Below is the full story taken from

Last week Dutch firm MVRDV presented their latest project - a pair of elevated residential towers in South Korea - which was met with much controversy from the international press. One after another, online and print publications blasted building’s architects, saying that the connecting ‘cloud’ between the two pillars ‘bears similarity to the fireball that engulfed the twin towers in New York 10 years ago’.

The concept itself includes two giant towers at 260m and 300m in height connected by a ‘pixilated cloud’ which incorporates a number of additional amenities and external spaces. This central 10-floor bridge is the area that has acted ignited such fury as it is said to reflect the plume of smoke that was ejected as the hijacked planes hit the Twin Towers in New York during the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

MVRDV are famous for their ambitious design concepts, many of which are seen through to completion. When WAN posted news of the recently completed Balancing Barn scheme in Suffolk, UK, we were flooded with honest comments dissecting the design of the cantilevered countryside home. The firm’s Alphabet Building in Amsterdam with met with equally harsh criticism.

This said the pair of South Korean residential towers for the Yongsan Dream Hub Corporation may take the title of most controversial concept. The design has been met by fury from those who have termed the release of these designs ‘a cheap publicity stunt’ to the point where MVRDV has admitted on its Facebook page that ‘we receive threatening emails and calls of angry people call us Al Qaeda lovers or worse’. Several hundred users of the social media site have left their heartfelt comments under a recent post on MVRDV’s Facebook page.

In response to the backlash the practice has published an official apology on its website which reads: “MVRDV regrets deeply any connotations The Cloud projects evokes regarding 9/11. The Cloud was designed based on parameters such as sunlight, outside spaces, living quality for inhabitants and the city. It is one of many projects in which MVRDV experiments with a raised city level to reinvent the often solitary typology of the skyscraper.

“It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process. We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt, it was not our intention. The design inspiration of The Cloud is visualized in the first image on our website, a cloud covering the centre of the skyscraper.”

Despite gathering controversy, MVRDV has confirmed that the project will press ahead with a completion date set for 2015. MVRDV is the lead architect and is working on the scheme with architect of record Siaplan, Arup, Benoy Retail Architects and Martha Schwartz Partners for the landscape. (, December 2011).

Holiday Breaks and Architecture

By Sean Hartman

Some people may think that holidays are a great time to take a break and relax and not have to worry about projects for classes and meeting deadlines when they are due. But who takes a break from architecture? We may be on break for the holiday but do we usually take a break from architecture? I usually find myself sketching, looking at buildings around town, or looking at the buildings from the highway as I am driving. On breaks we have the weight and stress load gone but never stop to break away from designing.
Over the holidays/break it is a great chance to do a design competition. The only stress on that is meeting the deadline for when it is due. Some of these may have guidelines but other than that you can design how you want to design without a professor breathing down your neck. Sometimes that is great because they keep you on track but they can limit your design ideas. Designs competitions allow more freedom in designing unlike a studio can plus it is a great way to build up your portfolio.
But over break take time and break away, have fun and relax. Do things you want to do and have fun doing them. Below you will find a link to a great competition site just in case you get bored over the holiday break and want to take on one of these. Just remember to go crazy have fun when on break and if you take on the challenge of one of the competitions.
Death by Architecture -;jsessionid=DE38A6B4689A9C5929AE2913E7420414?method=Search

Merry Christmas to all....

And to All a Good Break!!

By Micah Jacobsen

This is one of my favorite times of the years. It is time for family and friends, reflecting on the past year and pondering the message the season brings. Something I always admired about this time of the year is the increase in selflessness and giving, even though budgets are more strained than any other time of the year.
Something fun that I remember from history class with Professor Davey was designing and building a set of blocks. We were to create a known structure with no more than $10.00 worth of wood. There were many creative pieces of architecture made by our class, some were; Hagia Sofia, the Parthenon, Great Pyramid, Notre Dame, Stone Hinge and many more. I built the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower. It was a fun project to work on. We were able to present the blocks to the Salvation Army and Marines Corps to distribute to children for Christmas presents. I was reminded of this when I saw Prof. Davey on the news giving the blocks away this year. What a great feeling to know that something I created would be used to bring joy to a child on Christmas!
Another great thing about Christmas is being out of school! What a nice break after a hectic semester. This year has been very hectic for everyone in the grad program. We have been working very hard to get all of the projects and research done associated with our classes and studio project. The studio was conducted differently than many of us were used to (I have just a year of studio experience since I came from a Civil Engineering program, so I don’t really know what to expect yet in studio). We finally finished our project on Thursday and presented on Friday. Our work is in the gallery for anyone to see. There were many very nice and interesting projects completed by the class.
My wife and I will return home to Columbia Missouri to visit our family. I hope everybody has a great holiday break.
What happens when you let an Engineer design Christmas?

Asbestos Free Flocking for the Christmas tree
Christmas lights not to exceed one candle power
Christmas tree 'Dripline' and Limits of Present Placement
Compliancy Standards for trees over 6'-0"
Duct Tape needs a professional elf's approval
Flame Retardant sprayed on the Christmas tree with scented pine aerosol
Limits of Santa's landing strip on the chimney
Load Bearing Christmas tree stand
Presents wrapped in semi-gloss festive paper with adhesive clear strips
Roof Live Loads - capable of supporting reindeer, loaded sleigh & an overweight man
Roof Top holiday compliancy plans
Runaway sleigh containment barrier - made from high strength bungee material
Seismic Studies to ensure tree is placed in a geologically secure area
Tree angel attached with H7 braces
Wheelchair access to the fireplace
Check out the Architects Christmas tree and Engineers Christmas Spec Sheet
found at and

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Final relief....

By Zac Collins

I am glad to say that our final presentations for Fall studio are finished! The countless hours of work we all put in and the all-nighters definitely made for a day of great presentations on Friday, December 9th. I want to congratulate everyone on a job well done. I know we have all been stressed out over this project, but overall the gallery looked amazing with all our presentations and models on display. I’m guessing most of you feel this way, but for me, I was happy how my project turned out.

I believe most or all of us enjoyed presentations…I know I did. Usually, I hate presentations, but this semester I was looking forward to them. This was the first presentation that I was not nervous before or during. I felt very comfortable with my group and I was confident in my design. Also, this was a first that we presented literally all day. We arrived in the gallery around 7:30 a.m. and went to 5:30 p.m. with an hour lunch break. It makes for a long day, but a successful day. Let me just say that after the day was over we were all looking forward to our after presentation celebrations! I had a great time with everyone at Rustle Hill Winery and Keywest!

I would also like to say that I appreciate all the architects and professors that came to be jurors and critique our work. The discussions we had were very helpful and informative. I would like to thank Chad and Shannon for their hard work during the semester and for getting the jurors for presentations, along with preparing the gallery and supplying breakfast, coffee, juice etc for Friday morning. Overall, Friday was a success and I can say for once in my college career that I enjoyed presenting and using it as a major learning experience.

In closing, good luck to everyone on their final projects, papers, and submissions during finals week. Also I want to wish all my graduate friends a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Please be safe and have a nice, well-deserved break from classes. Oh, and as a final note, everyone should be working on their thesis! (haha). See you in the spring semester!

Redbull Gives You Wings!

By Matthew Owens

As I write now our final presentation for design studio is due in thirty-two hours. When you think about it thirty-two hours seems a long time, I mean that is the equivalent of three eight hour work days. If someone told you that you have three days to do something, you might think you have substantial time. It seems slightly different when the thirty two hours come consecutively and without sleep, which of course is in the manner in which I will be spending my next two thirty-two hours, made more difficult from the fact that the previous two days have been without sleep as well. If you have done the math that’s nearly four straight days of none stop work with little to no sleep! How could this be possible? Redbull that’s how! It really does give you wings as advertised.

I have had a steady diet of Redbull over the past week. As Dave Chappelle stated in a skit he did on his show “Redbull, it’s like crack in a can.” How else do you stay up for four straight days short of drugs? But staying up is only part of it, you have to be productive as well. Redbull also claims to vitalize and stimulate the body and mind. This is important in the productive part of working for four straight days. All that is probably b s anyway, all I know is that is helps me stay awake when raging in the studio for four days with no sleep.

It is said that Redbull is bad for you, I believe it. Anything that can keep you going this long without sleep has to be terrible for you. I find it helpful to balance out the Redbull, with some Gatorade or some vitamin water. It’s most important to stay hydrated during these long hours!

Good luck to my classmates finishing up studio this week.

Presentation Advice

By Erik Illies

I’ll take this blog posting as an opportunity to share my tips for getting through final preparations for studio presentations. Of course these hindsight’s are specific to my point of view, but we’ve all been there before and share a lot of the same issues. If nothing else, this will serve as a talking point that will suffice as my blog posting submission requirement!
So here goes:

1. No amount of preparation will ever get your final product to the point of completion you expected or desired. Often times professor expectations are wildly inaccurate or will cause you to misinterpret what you need to have done and thus pre-emptively blame yourself for being a failure. Forget about this! Get done what you can and be proud of the insane amount of work you just got done! Don’t worry about what you couldn’t and didn’t do because it’s out of your hands at this point anyway.

2. Don’t hold yourself to perfection; this is school you’re supposed to make mistakes. If you will not make decisions and move forward unless your design is perfect, you may as well give up now. You will fail at perfection every time. Deal with it!

3. It works for me to keep a broad overall picture of everything I have to do and prioritize on the fly. This way I don’t become fixated on one task to the point of only completing one thing. This is a very common pit I’ve watched my fellow students (and admittedly myself fall into). Keep backing up and looking at everything you have to get done and work toward a consistent level of completion for all of them. This way you may not get everything done fully, but you will have at least gotten everything done!

4. Technically specific: when rendering in Revit; it is a good idea to set up a mock sheet of the board or panel you are going to pin up for final submission and arrange the views you will use from revit on it prior to exporting them to photoshop or illustrator. Primarily you will be able to judge scale early and make adjustments when it’s easy to do so. The other, and possibly most time saving, advantage is that you can edit the crop view size of any perspectives you plan to render to fit the mock up and final board.
a. Drag the perspective onto a sheet and activate it’s view.
b. Click on the crop region itself and open the “crop size” dialogue box in the upper toolbar.
i. In this dialogue box there is an option to keep the ratio proportions as they are, check this box.
c. Now you can change the height or width of the view to fit what you want on the final board.
d. And here is why you did all of that:
i. You don’t have to render these views at insane pixel definitions or quality settings. Normally people will boost the dpi up to ridiculous because they don’t want lose quality when they stretch the image (and I’m saying don’t stretch the image in the first place). Now you can render the view at 150-300(max) on high… still don’t believe me? Go look at my teams boards facing the hallway in the gallery. Not a single one was done above High and 150 dpi.


Final Presentation

By Dempson Haney

Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines

By Audrey Treece

In light of the architecture “hell” week, I am going to keep this short and sweet. Quigley Hall is always an interesting place to be during the final week of the semester. There are people everywhere and I would love to be a fly on the wall and observe all of the craziness that comes out in people. Aside from people being tired, stressed out and sometimes a little irritable, the final week of the semester is when collaboration and friendship shines through the most. As architecture students, we all spend the majority of our days and nights together and we don’t want to see anyone fail. We all work together to keep each other awake, act as an alarm clock for one another and act as a clown to lighten the mood when things get tough. Being an architecture student is a unique experience and as much as I love my sleep, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I wish everyone luck as they wrap up their semester. Sleep when you can and don’t forget to eat!

I also wanted to put a shout out to Professor Peter Smith. The gallery has been in tip top shape the entire semester. I enjoy walking by the fishbowl and seeing new displays and love that there is signage put up so people know what is going on at all times. Keep up the good work!

Being Schooled in Architecture

By Andrew Wyne

What as architecture majors, are we supposed to learn in school? Most of the time we seem to be engaged in learning the process, how a building is supposed to fit together, what the pieces of these most complex structures are. In going to school and learning about all of the parts of a building, it has become clear to me that there are primarily two ways of thinking about architecture. That you can design a building that is functional and gets the job done for the pay check, or you can try to design something that will change the way the owner experiences the world.

In learning about all different types of architecture I have found out that there are very different ways to reason what and why to do something, and as an aspiring architect, it is my choice how I want to practice architecture. Whether you realize it or not, as we go through our schooling, we decide what is important and what is not, what is necessary for our practice in architecture and what is not. Very similar to how we grow up and mature as a person, we decide what is true and what is false, what our world view is. Whether there are many gods, or whether God even exists or not, what we believe is true. With architecture we have to decide what truth is and what truth is not. We need to decide what rules or guide lines we are going to design by, if any.

Which brings me to another thought--who is the one to dictate what real architecture is? Is it fellow peers? Is it our professors? The architect of the day who is making the most money at it? I was watching a ted talk of Daniel Libeskind

(, and he brought up some very interesting ideas about architecture and what he thought needed to change. The comments after the video were very interesting to read, some people thought Libeskind is brilliant in his presentation and some thought him to be an idiot. I think as architects, we have to decide and know for sure what our architectural moral code is, why we do what we do. One thing I do know from all this schooling, is that there are many different ways to design architecture. So if you have not thought already about what/how you will design in the future as a licensed architect, you might want to start considering that now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We cannot do it all.

by Erik Illies

We cannot do it all. In the world of architecture, especially, this is reality... however, in school students will often falsely believe otherwise. I'm willing to speak in sweeping generalizations about this assessment because I've been an architecture student for a total of 5 years now and have worked in the profession for 3, and in that time I notice habits of my own and those of my peers. Quite frankly, we fall into the notion that we must not only design the best/ only possible solution for a design problem, but we will also determine every scale of detail associated with the development of that project (i.e. parking, structure, mechanical systems, envelope assemblies, life/safety & welfare, etc).

This is the root of our undoing (again, a sweeping generalization because it is what I find to be the cause of my own problems and I assume I'm not alone). What is expected of us, and what we should expect from ourselves, is a working knowledge of how these systems should/ would be integrated into design decisions. Granted, the better we understand them and the further we can incorporate them into our designs, the stronger the final product will be... however, my heart aches for those of us that falsely begin to believe that we should master these systems and solve them absolutely for our design projects.

Here lies the manifestation of the seed of deceit we sow in our own fields. We cannot do it all! And that was never the expectation, but I think we all are aware of the growing insecurity and un-assurance we start to feel when we haven't fully solved an issue like how a parking garage is designed and functions (much less the entire two hundred freaking thousand square feet of mixed-use residential tower you have above it). Recall that parking is but one facet of the multi-headed hell beast that is an architectural project.

The expectation of the project should be to see how far and how well we can develop our design, including the various related systems, within one semester (excluding thesis work). If we can remember that we won't be so worried about not having our structural systems perfectly/ completely laid out and assembled, because they never were supposed to be in the first place! Just as far as you can get it within one semester is the expectation. When we forget this we sometimes fall deep into the pit of eternal despair and regret and that causes us to not solve anything because we haven't solved something completely. Remember, no one is going to achieve the perfect/ completely finished project in that amount of time on this kind of scale BY THEMSELVES. Even in the "real world", we all grow up hearing about and hope to go to someday, no one does it by themselves. There is an entire team of people who's shared experience are needed to realize a comprehensive design solution.

I hope it is understood that I am not advocating laziness or complacency, instead I wish to spread the word of realistic and healthy personal expectations. I accept that I may not solve it all, but I will solve it the best I can and that's all I ever needed to do in the first place.

The skies will turn blue again, you just have to keep looking up!

Concrete Canvas

by Sean Koeting

Created by: Peter Brewin and Will Crawford

CCO1 is an multi-award winning project that is soon to revolutionize the work of aid agencies and troops that help save lives in emergency situations. With over 35 million refugees worldwide, concrete canvas - 'the building in a bag' - will provide quick accommodation, field offices and medical clinics that give much better protection in extreme climatic conditions, better security against looting and enable otherwise impossible medical procedures. Unlike current solutions (soft- skinned tents), which offer inadequate protection, or are expensive and difficult to transport, concrete canvas is a rapidly deployable hardened shelter that requires only water and air for construction. It can be deployed by a person in under 40 minutes and is ready to use within 2 hours. Plus, with a design life of over 10 years, (tents only survive for 2 years) concrete canvas is a solution that saves effort and costs over the lifetime of medium to long term operations.

How it works...

Delivery - CC01 comes delivered folded in a sealed plastic sack. the dry weight is 30kg, an 8 man lift, and light enough to be transported on a pick-up truck or light aircraft. The pack contains a cement impregnated fabric (concrete cloth) bonded to the outer surface of an inflatable plastic inner.

Hydration - The sack is positioned and filled with water. The volume of the sack controls the water : cement ratio eliminating water measurement. the bag is then left for 15 minutes while the cement hydrates, this is aided by the fiber matrix which wicks water into the cement. Once hydrated, the sack is cut along its seams it then forms part of the ground sheet. Deployment is done at dusk to avoid over drying the cement.

Inflation - The key to concrete canvas is the use of inflation to create a surface that is optimized for compressive loading. this allows thin walled concrete structures to be formed which are both robust and lightweight. The structure is unfolded to form the shelter’s footprint. A chemical pack is activated which releases a controlled volume of gas into the plastic inner and inflates the structure. It forms a 'nissen-hut' shaped structure with over 16 m² of floor space and the technology can be scaled to provide larger structures.

Setting - The concrete cloth cures in the shape of the inflated inner and twelve hours later the structure is ready to use. Doors and ventilation holes are left with no concrete cloth bonded to the plastic skin this allows access points to be easily cut from the inner once the cement has dried.

Housing Underground

by Sean Hartman

I was watching a TV show one day, I think it was "Modern Marvels" on the History Channel and they were showing homes that were underground. The primary use is like a fallout shelter but could house a family for up to 2 to 4 years. These shelters can help protect against a wide range of threats such as forced entry/assaults, climate change, chemical, biological, radiological, explosive (CBRE) agents, air-blast, ground shock, penetration, fragmentation and damage to the structure and equipment due to explosive loading. They can also withstand an earthquake or any other natural disaster that might strike the area the shelter is built in.

By just looking at images and watching the show these shelters are discreetly designed and built on site. There is a lot that goes into the designing of these facilities as in case of a natural disaster or attack they must accommodate for normal day to day activities and enough storage for food and other products you will need to last the entire time you are down in the shelter. It is like having a home under your home but only people living there are the only ones that will know about it.

These shelters are designed by Architects, Engineers, Physicists, Future-Scanning Analyst and Ex-Navy SEALs. These facilities are designed like you would your house but are way more expensive then what your house would cost. But it is to be safe than sorry just in case a natural disaster or an attack does happen. For further reading on these shelters/home check out:

Precast Moment Frame

by Micah Jacobson

I wanted to talk about a cool piece of structural engineering technology. It is called the precast moment frame. As we know from good old Norm, precast is a great building material. It has almost limitless appearances and material covering, it is very strong, goes up fats and required no on site forms (less labor cost). A disadvantage it has compared with in-situ (cast in place) concrete is the connections carry no moment, they just sit there. So you have very large, heavy and rigid members setting on one another. This is a almost worst case scenario for seismic design. In an in-situ concrete construction the rebar is continuous throughout the pores and creates a monolithic structure. All of the joint (almost) are moment connections and the whole building is one rigid structure. This works very well for seismic design.

The precast hybrid moment frame presents a solution to this problem. It uses a combination of standard reinforcing steel and post-tensioned steel cable (can be made of steel that has a Fy ,yield strength, of almost 300 ksi, that’s strong!). These steel strands are run through pvc tubes that are places in the concrete, they are un bonded (is some post-tension system the tube is filled with grout to create a continuous bond throughout the length of the member). They are tensions to be with in there elastic range, so when the building sways do to wind or earth movement they can stretch (strain in engineering terms, remember δ=∆ L/L). This acts like elastic bands to bring the building back into its original position in these events.

So you can have a precast structure, that has the benefits of moment connection, Norm Lock would be proud! And it’s all because of steel, John Dobbins would be proud too!

Picture Link:


by Molly Moran

What is the relevance of sleep architecture to the school of architecture?
It would be relatively easy to believe that sleep architecture would have something to do with the structure of where someone sleeps, but it is actually refers to brain wave patterns. The definition of sleep architecture represents the structure of sleep and is generally composed of a somewhat cyclical pattern of the various NREM and REM sleep stages.
As a student of architecture I feel that it is more than that. The pattern of sleep may better fit into a health or psychological department, but we as SOA students should better understand this version of architecture. Not to mention that performance of a student could improve with better a sleep environment and better sleep architecture.
The average time spent sleeping is about 1/3rd of your life and while you may seem still and resting your body is working hard to recover from the day’s activities. Below is an article from a health magazine ‘Self Magazine’ that I’ve altered to apply to architecture students and/ or college students.
How Much 'Beauty Sleep' You Really Need
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 4:00 PM
| posted by selfeditor
Are you getting enough pillow time? Research shows that not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, weight gain, cancer and even your risk of dying prematurely.
So why are so many health risks tied to adequate sleep? Well, it's all about what happens during that crucial downtime, according to Amy Hendel, author of The 4 Habits of Healthy Families.
Your metabolic rate slows down, allowing organs to work less intensively so they have recovery time. Thanks to increasing levels of HGH (human growth hormone), your cells have time to replenish, and even regenerate or repair, during those hours of complete rest. And as you move through your sleep phases, free radicals that are considered health-risk instigators are dissolved in your bloodstream.
Getting enough sleep means a minimum of 7 to 8 hours. Get less than 5 or 6 hours of sleep on a regular basis and your risk of health issues increases dramatically, not to mention you're unlikely to be looking your best. Here's what's happening in your body during dreamtime:
1. Your skin benefits from the restorative nature of sleep. Since your top layer of skin has been shedding dead skin cells all day, sleep time is repair time.
2. Production of melatonin is reduced when you get enough sleep. When you have elevated levels of this hormone, your risk of developing certain cancers is higher.
3. Sleep helps keep stress hormones like cortisol at lower levels. Cortisol can drive up risk of hypertension and heart disease.
4. Adequate sleep lowers your risk of having less stable blood sugar levels, so you lower your risk of diabetes.
5. Get enough sleep and your hunger hormones -- leptin and gherkin -- are more likely to remain modulated. The result? A lower risk of weight gain.
6. With enough sleep, your brain will be more likely to imprint the information you were exposed to during that day. You'll also have better focus and concentration the next day.
7. Sleep bolsters immunity -- with a robust immune system, your body's more capable of fighting off colds and other illnesses.
OK, but just how do you manage more shut-eye in a world that never seems to go to sleep? Start with these sleep hygiene tips:
• Make a to-do list at least an hour before going to bed, so you can clear your mind. For Arch undergrad, grads, and professors this could be tricky. Thinking about work and projects never really stop, but one needs to slow it down and making a list objectifies our priorities.
• Refrain from watching TV or doing any other stimulating tasks for at least an hour before bedtime. Again, a difficult concept for everybody. TV may be mindless but all the drama, suspense, horror, and comedies are making you think. The same with reading, drawing, typing, and doing anything that requires you to look are a glowing screen. (TV, Computers, Laptops, tablets, IPhone, etc.)
• Avoid doing work in bed, especially close to bedtime. The dorm or studio life makes this difficult, but forming the habit of doing anything other than sleeping on your bed conditions you to stay awake even if you are sleepy. Use your desk, table, floor, etc. just not your bed.
• Make sure you have adequate iron levels, since low levels of iron can interfere with good quality sleep. Your nutrition is in your own hands.
• Keep to your wake-up and bedtime schedule, even on the weekends.
• Use visualization techniques, like walking down a long, dark tunnel or staircase, to help you fall asleep. No matter how much you wish it you can’t get those hours spent pulling all-nighter back by sleeping an entire day away. Staying on top of you work and sticking to a schedule are the only ways optimize your day light time for work and sleeping time for sleep.
• Don't eat a heavy meal close to bedtime. It keeps your body working well after you’re asleep leaving you tired in the morning.
• Avoid smoking. The nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant. Insomnia is among smokers’ greatest complaints. Smokers take longer to fall asleep and wake up more often during the night than nonsmokers.
• Avoid alcohol as well. Alcohol typically produces light, unsettled sleep. Socializing is fine, but if you signed up for architecture you should know that it is a demanding major.
• Have a calming cup of decaffeinated tea, take a warm bath (not hot) or listen to relaxing music.
--Amy Ahlberg

Thursday, November 17, 2011

IDP - Intern Development Program

by Laura Thomas

Having to renew my NCARB membership recently, I decided to discuss the IDP program that everyone must fulfill in order to become a licensed architect. I'm not going to take the time to try and explain everything about the program, you can go to the website to do extended reading and become familiar with it. The main link that will take you to all the other years of work you still have to do after 6 years of school to become licensed is

When you begin working in a firm, you acquire hours in one of the 17 Training Requirements categories. Factors ranging from what type of firm you work in, how large the firm is, the size of projects and what your position in the firm is will affect how hard or easy it can be to accumulate hours in specific categories.

Personally, the areas that I had a hard time accumulating hours were Site and Environmental Analysis, Building Cost Analysis, Specifications and Material Research, Bidding and Contract Negotiation, Construction Phase Office, Construction Phase Observation, and Office Management. There are not many hours in a project that touch on these tasks in the first place and then add the chance that they are going to send an intern to do it alone on an important project are slim. Then there are firms that have one person who does nothing but specs or bids because it's what their specialty is. If it's a good firm they will include you, take you with, explain and include you on everything to start building you up to doing the tasks alone.

Most firms will turn interns into CAD or Revit monkeys for a very long time, "breaking them into the real world." Don't let yourself get used as a monkey. Put forth the initiative and push for additional responsibility and take charge of ensuring that you are getting the exposure you need. Talk to your mentor and supervisors about your IDP, set goals and come up with and discuss things you can do to get time in every category on a regular basis.

Then there is the big firm versus small firm. I have worked in a very small firm of 4 people and a medium sized firm of around 30. The exposure I received at the small firm was much greater and more often than at the medium sized firm. Mainly because with only 4 people, you had to help out everywhere doing everything for the business to continue running. For the medium sized firm, I spent a majority of time as a Revit monkey. The principals and architects handled all the project management, cost estimates, designing. The office manager did all the paperwork and filing. The construction managers handled everything about the construction phase. With money being tight and work needing done there was very little wriggle room to allow "added" hours into a project by taking a tag along. Never having worked in a large office I would assume that you would probably get lost amongst all the other Revit monkeys and might get thrown some bananas now and then. Everything considered, I got more exposure in the small firm but with smaller projects and less exposure in the medium firm but with larger projects, so I suggest that you don't just run to the biggest firm but consider all your options when looking for your job.

When you interview, you should discuss your IDP and what your set goals are and that they are willing to help you attain those goals. While you are acquiring your hours, you can't quit studying. Don't lose or forget what you were taught in school because guess what? That's right, more tests. Get ARE study guides and discuss your study material with the architects, engineers, contractors, everyone of the firm and make it second nature to you so that when you are testing, it won't seem like a test. Hope this helps you start thinking about your career and what's going to happen when the world starts getting real.

By Jason Skidmore

The blog posted an interesting story from NPR's Fresh Air about the sewage situation in Dubai. Apparently they don't have a sewage infrastructure to support high-rises. So to get rid of the sewage they have a queue of trucks lined up 24 hours a day to put the sewage into a waste water treatment plan. It seems that they put the cart before the horse in Dubai. The city has exploded over the last 50 years due to rich oil tycoons that call Dubai home. Author Kate Ascher was the person on NPR that explained the situation. She is the author of "The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper." A book that most students of architecture should give a read. Go to the link below to read the story from the source.

Vertical Farming follow up....

By Erik Illies

I would like to follow up my previous blog posting with the other side of the coin, b-side of the record, other cheek of information related to vertical farms as urban agriculture. You will recall that my last post touched on some potentially alarming information related to the insecurity of our current food production model. In this post we’ll hypothesize on a few ways we can correct those issues and move toward a more sustainable production process (because the answer, I don’t think, is a static one… so “more sustainable” is the operative phrase assuming it will always be changing). Again, enjoy!

By growing our food skyward it is hypothesized that vast amounts of land, otherwise used for traditional horizontal farming would not be needed and can be returned to its original ecological condition. Also, vertical farming is capable of being implemented regardless of location making it a perfect solution for urban environments that require the most food due to density. Moreover, vertical farms would not be dependent on fossil fuels for food production/ transportation, thus reducing the amount of CO2 emissions that have caused the global climate change in the first place. This paper, as part of a larger body of work, will define the basis of development for a conceptual vertical farm design project.

Urban agriculture is no new idea, but some very new ideas are popping up about how to implement it. Particularly vertical farming, or multiple level buildings dedicated to the production of food within the building. These structures would be carbon neutral and attempt to generate little to no waste by virtue of their operation. Primarily, they would be serving their communities as a supplemental food source to common place supermarkets and large retailers, but they could also serve to benefit our environment, economy, community identity, and overall quality of life.

The vested interest of communities in their urban farms is what would sustain their feasibility, not a profit driven return. Large scale food markets have had a history of pulling out of areas with high crime rates and low income populations. This practice by-passes these economies and leaves a gap in their food procurement. The communal activity of localized urban agriculture secures against this practice of abandonment. Along with economic benefit, there are the health benefits associated with closer localized food production. "Growing food in cities can and does help improve people's diets by providing them with access to fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly to those on low income cities in the UK now recognize " ((Howe, 2001) Viljoen, 2005, p. 60). This helps to create an elevated sense of place and community and it becomes clear that urban agriculture directly influences/ improves its host community’s quality of life.

I hope that was worth the wait for a second helping of the vertifarm dish! These ideas are being served up hot and fresh, at an increasing rate as we move into the future of food production. Please remember that this is not intended to be a replacement for traditional soil grown food, but rather is a supplement to serve our densest populations (cities). Wouldn’t it be neat to someday walk a few blocks from an apartment to a great green tower of living goodness that provided as a literal/ figurative horn of plenty right downtown?! We can dream…

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Arts and Craft Movement

By Dempson Haney

The Arts and Crafts Movement by Elizabeth Cumming gives a detailed history of the Arts and Crafts movement. It looks at its beginning, the manufacturers that arose from it, architects that practiced it, and the principles or meaning behind it.

The arts and crafts movement began just as the Industrial Revolution was underway. The idea behind the movement was to bring well handcrafted products to the consumer at an affordable price. The improvement of design standards increased after the publication of “The Seven Lamps” by John Ruskin. Ruskin along with William Morris were pioneers in the Arts and Crafts movement. Morris’s goal was to bring good affordable design to the general public. Besides well crafted affordable products, the movement also believed that the everyday items that could now be mass produced needed to reunite the spiritual with the everyday. Lethaby, architect and historian, wrote, ‘the message will be of nature and man, of order and beauty, but all will be sweetness, simplicity, freedom, confidence and light, all terms used at the time not only in application to architecture but to describe the quality of life.’

English architect Augustus Pugin created three basic rules of architecture, the first being structural honesty, originality, and third being the use of regional material. It was believed that the use of country materials provided enough of a color range to work from. Halsey Ricardo, architect, wrote in 1896, ‘colour enough to set off and harmonize with the palette served by nature.’ The Edinburgh congress dubbed texture as a quality of the arts and a condition of architecture.

Increasingly number of architectural firms began to design and manufacture the crafts and furnishings for their clients. The rise of product designers and manufacturers was also beginning. One example was a London firm by the name of Kento and Co. started designing and producing furniture for architecture in 1890. Morris believed in taking a raw material and turning it into a finished product. Ruskin on the other hand saw the beauty in the imperfection of materials.

The consumer market was now wanting more than crafts and moving towards house furnishings. Architects were redefining interior spaces with crafted doors, windows, and floors. At this time they were searching for architectural and industrial craftsmen who were skilled in producing unique and original work. The industrial age was making the mass production of these furnishings a reality. From 1902-1905, the middle class demand for the crafted furnishings lead to “The Studio to the Art Workers Quarterly”.

“Morris wanted art and humanity to be restored to workmanship and designer to be motivated by a sense of social purpose and responsibility.” (Cumming 97) The Arts and Crafts movement did not reject architectural style but rather embraced the past’s qualities that had potential to evolve over time. Renzo Piano once said that he looks to the past for inspiration for his work. His finely crafted work doesn’t astatically resemble the past but rather conceptually emphasizes it. Arts and craft style was not a style of its own. It took shape based on its region. In the US the west coast looked at Spanish missions, the Midwest’s inspiration and backdrop were the prairies, and the east coasts precedents were the English and Colonial.

A side note, Wright’s high back dining room furniture created a room within a room. By enclosing the dining table with high back chairs, it brought a more personal confrontation. Griffin was Wright’s site supervisor and office manager. He is also responsible for much of the site design the harmonized Wright’s work with its context. Sadly the majority of the Arts and Crafts movement is thought to have ended during the First World War. It was believed that the lack of sociological ideas had left the craft movement bland and un-meaningful.

Architectural Jobs

By Andrew Wyne

I’m sure you have been hearing that the economy is
not the best right now and as a result of that there have been layoffs in many
architecture firms. Even though you are one of those hard workers that would
normally be able to get a job in any firm the economy just might be the one
thing that keeps you from getting a job. What if there was a way you wouldn’t
have to worry about getting a job at a firm or where your next pay check came

Well there are some different opportunities out there these days. One is where firms have been joining together to gain more projects and have joined across the globe from the USA to England to China. Now if that doesn’t suit you and you would rather not get lost in the middle of a giant firm; and after a few years of working in a smaller firm (who just laid you off) you can always start your own business. If there is one thing that architecture has taught us it would be this: that we are problem solvers and we know how to create.

There has been a growth of people who were former architects and designers who
have come up with their own jobs that they can do. Since being laid off they
are able to not only be their own boss but do stuff they love. An article I
read gave some very interesting examples of men and woman who have created jobs
that do and don’t relate to architecture, again its things they love to do and
they are making good money at it. So if you happen to find yourself without a
job, do not lose hope. There are options out there, whether you have to create
them or not. Read the link below for more info on the architects and designers
who are making it in slightly different fields of work.

Sky Park.

By Zac Collins

Out of all the people in my life, I would have never guessed that my mother would send me an email that has an awesome piece of architecture in it, no offense to my mother. I had no idea this even existed, and one day I received an email from her that said “I thought you would find this interesting.” Indeed I did! This is truly amazing. It is the Sky Park of the Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore. The resort is home to the world’s most expensive casinos, bars and restaurants along with the Museum of Modern Art and the world’s largest swimming pool. The Sky Park is the “crowing” jewel of Singapore. It is the largest and highest elevated park in the world. It sits atop the three towers of the resort as if on pillars and is the largest cantilevered public space in the world. You may wonder what the total cost of the resort may be? $5.5 BILLION! This makes it the most expensive building on the planet. Needless to say, the structure has a lot of “world” 1st place statuses. Without further ado, I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Futurist David Zach

By Matt Owens

So I was at the AIA Illinois Conference last week. I had done some research for Dr. Wendler over the summer for a paper that he would eventually submit to AIA Illinois to be presented at the annual conference. Due to the situation at SIU at the time he was unable to go to the conference and present the paper, so he sent me in his place. It was one of those ‘so no shit there I was’ moments, I had to present this paper to a room full of architecture professionals ‘so no shit there I was.’ Anyway, not what this article is about, but I was in Naperville for the conference.

What the article is about, is the lecture that futurist David Zach gave during lunch on Saturday. He is on the board of AIA and received a master’s degree in Studies of the Future from University of Houston. It is a real degree; personally I thought it was made up when I heard it the first time. Anyway, it was an interesting lecture, he was entertaining and he obviously has me thinking about it still. He discussed current trends and what the future could be like, while asking the question ‘what will the architects roll in the future be?’

He referred to the advancements of technologies and the impact on our social lives quite a bit. In a nut shell saying that we have become so attached to our smart phone and smart pads we are losing touch with actual human to human interaction (I agree). Also he was concerned with the generation of children who text more than they talk. He also had a quote from a 4th grader stating he liked to play inside because that is where the outlets were. He highlighted a school that was considered outdated and currently unoccupied. From an architectural standpoint the school had carvings and reliefs of animals all over it. Then he showed some schools that were recently built that did not have any of that sort of playful animal reliefs incorporated into the design, the new schools were more modern looking.

Zach painted an almost bleak seen of the future, as if we were all going to fat, and stuck in our own ibubble, and that architecture might be void of any emotion. I agree with him in almost everything he is stating, but I do not see all these as bad things. I think we may be having a difficult time making a transition to dealing with so much technology, but this is where I think the future of architecture is. How can architecture begin to deal with technology? Do we facilitate the technology so we can always be connected to our smart phones? Do we design smart buildings? Maybe it will be the architect’s job to bring back social interaction on a personal level instead of through our mobile devices. As for the schools kids might not see animal statues in the playground, but they will see real 3d animals projected in the classroom. How can architects facilitate that? We should not be afraid of how technology is changing our lives. Human life will not look like it did 50 years ago or 10 years ago for that matter. Technology is moving at an exponential rate, and so architecture must move with it, and people in the world will have different ‘wants’ in life. So when Zach posed the question ‘what is the role of the architect in the future?’ I think he began to answer it. Architecture will be driven by new technologies, and it will be up to the architects to maintain a high quality of life in the built environment for the people of the world.

Adult Design, Child Experience

By Audrey Treece
This is the working abstract and my poster proposal for my design thesis. I am
focusing on early childhood environments and how architecture can play a role.

According to the U.S. Census conducted in 2008, there are nearly fifteen million children under the age of six that need child care as parents work. The need for enrollment in child care has
become customary due to the social and economic trends that have changed throughout the last several decades. Early childhood programs are slowly gaining recognition, but it is still not viewed as an imperative societal issue that it demands. Today, children under the age of six that are enrolled in child care spend an average of ten hours a day, five days a week, and fifty
weeks of the year in early childhood centers. The environment for raising children has shifted from the home to underdeveloped environments that are designed for adult productivity and are profit driven but do not address the needs of what is best for children. Neurological research proves that children are born to learn, while absorbing every aspect of their environment. The first three years of life are the most critical to the neurological development of a child. Child care in the United States has been viewed as a domestic responsibility rather than a basic component of a community’s infrastructure and there has been limited concern for the impact of
institutional settings on children’s development.
How can architecture play a role in child care development? Child care centers are a new building type in search of a model. As the demand for child care increases, there will be more exploration on the need for universal early childhood centers. Adult Design, Child Experience is a graduate design thesis that sets out to create an environment that addresses the relationship between children and architecture. The building model will foster experiential learning
while helping children learn, discover and use creative thinking to promote early childhood development. This project is an investigation into how early childhood design can be rethought, redefining a child care center as an education facility model in which children learn through interactions and experiences, stemming from the built environment.

Urban Sprawl

By Joel Wallace
Amazing, and hilarious, view and video on urban sprawl and how we as future designers need to think about fixing it.....some information on the speaker is below, enjoy.
James Howard Kunstler calls suburban sprawl "the greatest misallocation of resources the world has ever known." His arguments bring a new lens to urban development, drawing clear connections between physical spaces and cultural vitality.Geography of Nowhere, published in 1993, presented a grim vision of America in decline -- a nation of cookie-cutter strip malls, vacuous city centers, and dead spaces wrought by what Kunstler calls the ethos of Happy Motoring: our society-wide dependence on the automobile. The Long Emergency (2005) takes a hard look at energy dependency, arguing that the end of the fossil fuels era will force a return to smaller-scale, agrarian-focused communities and an overhaul of many of the most prominent and destructive features of postwar society. His confrontational approach and propensity for doomsday scenarios make Kunstler a lightning rod for controversy and critics. But his magnificent rants are underscored with logic and his books are widely read, particularly by architectural critics and urban planners.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Studio Update

By Sean Hartman

So midterms are passed and great ideas are still being generated on the East St. Louis project. We are down to the daily grind of working on our master site plan and detailing it out and figuring out how pedestrians will flow thorough our site. This is taking a little longer than I thought it would have taken to complete but have a team of 4 people working on this it has its challenge because everyone has their own idea of what they think should be placed where. Sometimes you have to come up with a compromise and take elements from each other's design and incorporate it into one finalized site plan that everyone agrees on that can be tweaked later if need be.

We are also finalizing our building layout so we can figure out our structural system that we are working on in our ARC 541 class. Also we have been working on figuring out our occupant loads, means of egress, and plumbing fixtures. We have done extensive code research to make sure our buildings met the IBC, NFPA, and East St. Louis Municipal code requirements. I thought doing code research would have been easy, but it is quite time consuming and can be very tricky if you do not read the code right or interoperate it wrong. We also have done extensive research on zoning, and site analysis for the area to help us figure out what kind of design issues we were going to have to design too.

The end is near and it seems like that we have more time than we actually do. Some of us have a lot of things to get accomplished between now and the end of the semester. With that said time flies when you are in a daily routine of working on a project and sometimes you get caught up and keep coming up with ideas for a project. As architecture students we tend to keep changing things up till the last minute, and when the time is up and we present, we wish we would have done something different. Now with that said I think it is time to get back to work on studio because there is a lot to get accomplished before Friday for our groups pin up of our master site plan and progress check.

Women in Architecture

By Debra Eilering

A 2009 AIA
showed that women make up about a quarter of the architecture
profession, but over 30 percent of that quarter are unlicensed. In the world of
"starchitects," the numbers shrink significantly — only 2 women have
ever received the Pritzker Prize in its 31-year history: Zaha Hadid in 2004 and
Kazuyo Sejima, who shared the prize with her male partner Ryue Nishizawa in
So, to give female architects a long overdue shout-out,
here's a starter list of 10 that deserve recognition. Add your favorites in the
comments below.
Zaha Hadid: This British-Iraqi
architect is probably the most famous female working in her field today. She's
known for using complex technologies to create fluid, curvilinear forms.
Well-known projects include the MAXXI: National Museum of 21st Century Art in
Rome, BMW Central Building in Leipzig, and Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg.
Kazuyo Sejima: This year's Pritzker
Prize winner, Kazuyo Sejima, is one half of Japanese firm Sanaa
. She creates subtle, minimal buildings with a strong focus on
museums and educational centers.
Eileen Gray: Irish architect and
designer Eileen Gray was a key contributor to the modernist movement. Her adjustable-height
side table
is an icon of 1920s design, and her later career produced a
small but beautiful collection of homes. She was overshadowed by Le Corbusier
and her male counterparts during her career, but she re-emerged in the 1970s
when Domus magazine published a retrospective of her career and Aram put some
of her best furniture designs back into production.
: Best
known as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington, DC, Maya
Lin is an American architect and artist whose work is minimal, but engages the
user (or viewer) in quiet ways. For instance, the names of fallen soldiers are
inscribed on the DC memorial in small type, so that viewers are encouraged to
get up close and experience the monument in an intimate, personal way.
This Chicago-based architect has produced a number of critically acclaimed
small projects (many of which Apartment Therapy has profiled)
but it's her recent green skyscraper, Aqua,
that's earned her international attention.
This California-based green prefab home designer started out working for Frank
Gehry, then set out on her own. Unfortunately, she closed up shop last year,
but maintains an active
where you can read her blog posts and commentaries. You can see a tour
of her own home here,
and the Smart Home she designed for the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry here.
This Missouri-based designer is well known for her minimalist prefab homes,
which arrive flat-packed and can go up in a few months' time. Apartment Therapy
toured one of her LVL homes — see the photos here.
This Chicago-based architect owns her own firm and has created a number of
award-winning homes, including a zero-energy
. Apartment Therapy toured
her personal home and studio
way back in 2006.
She's the principal of New York-based Archi-Tectonics,
where she's been designing commercial and residential projects since 1994.
Dubbeldam is well-known for her contemporary loft renovations, and her work has
been exhibited at MOMA and the Venice Biennale.
Yen Ha and
Michi Yanagishita
Yen and Michi are the principals behind Front Studio, one of the only
Asian-women owned architectural partnerships in New York City. Fun fact — Michi
served as a judge

for Apartment Therapy's Small Cool Home Contest in 2008.

Networking (again...)

By Laura Thomas

On her September 14 blog, Audrey Treece was discussing networking and the value of it and she is right. This is a topic I had wanted to touch upon and since Audrey has gotten the ball rolling, I will continue this discussion.

For many, architectural networking will begin in school. Professors are a great place to start networking as they have many connections. A lot of students upon graduation keep in touch with professors for a variety of personal, professional and educational reasons. The professors can then contact prior students and ask about summer internships or current projects to apply to studio work. Fellow classmates are another great networking way to help each other out for a variety of reasons as is obvious just by how we interact with each other in studio.

What I want to warn or point out to everyone in case it isn't obvious is that in studio and your other classes, you are always presenting yourself, your abilities, your character, your ambition, your initiative, your integrity, and your work ethic to everyone. This is important as it can affect you more than most realize. If your a slacker who doesn't participate, who waits until the last minute, who has the I don't care attitude, I don't want to work with you in studio or in real life. Look at every person in your studio as someone you want to receive a letter of recommendation from. Think of your class and who you would write a good or bad recommendation for. What do you think your fellow classmates and professors would write about you for a recommendation?

Perfect example of bad recommendation is a girl that I went to undergrad with. I hated her and everything about her personally and professionally. One day years later, she walks in for an interview. After her interview I went to the partners and begged them not to hire her. Told them multiple reasons why they shouldn't hire her. Unfortunately, they did and soon realized that while her resume and stolen work from other people looked like the good choice, she wasn't and was soon let go.

As for good recommendations I have set people up with jobs and they are the ones who while working with them proved to me to be outstanding and worthy of me to put in my word that they are the best and that you'd be crazy not to have them as part of your team. My Aunt connected me with the director of Robert Morris University who was looking for instructors for some courses. I declined as I was coming to grad school but set them up with a former boss and a former coworker who are still both teaching a class there and loving the extra money. When I needed someone to replace me at Nestle I contacted everyone I knew but no one was interested due to having to relocate. I then contacted Jim, my favorite boss and asked him if he knew of anyone that would fit the bill. Jim contacted his brother in law (also an architect) who then contacted Stephanie, who he felt was perfect for the job. Turns out he was right and I was soon training her to be my replacement. She made such an impression on me that when Jim told me they had a position open at the firm I immediately thought of Stephanie and how perfect she would be for the job. Turns out I was right and she has been working there for the last month and her and the firm are all very happy.

It doesn't seem fair that people are getting the good jobs based upon who they know but why are firms or businesses going that route and not advertising when a position becomes available? The main reason is because the unemployment rate is ridiculously high and when a job is advertised the resumes start pouring in and trying to wade through them all to find the diamond in the rough is not an easy task. If they can avoid that by finding a person that is qualified and sent with high recommendations, they're going to take it.

What I want everyone to take from this is to always be mindful of your words and actions as they can open doors for you or cause them to be slammed shut in y our face.

Data Centers need a lot of cooling

By Jason Skidmore

Facebook is planning on building a data center near the arctic circle to take advantage of the cold temperatures throughout the year. Facebook plans to build three giant server halls covering an area the size of 11 football fields. Lulea is situated at the northern tip of the Baltic Sea, close to 62 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The servers rely on air cooling, yet in order to keep them running, it will require 120MW of power, that is roughly enough to supply 16,000 homes. The power needs of the server farm will be met be renewable electricity generated by dams on the Lulea river. Facebook is not the first to look to the near arctic for building server farms. Microsoft has also looked into building a server farm in Siberia. Google has also looked into building one in southern Finland. This seems to be a trend that will continue as more and more data centers are needed.

Atmospheric Qualities of Tom Kundig

By Dempson Haney

A prime example of a present day architect practicing total design and the creation of atmosphere is Tom Kundig, “The project can be seen as a collaboration between Tom and the many craftsman he brought to the project to produce a total work of art.” (Kundig 49). His thesis through school was the use of artistic processes and techniques with building sciences to create livable art.

His use of light with the Studio House in Seattle, Washington becomes a focal point of attention. The concept behind the entry is a steel and glass lantern. Like a lantern the source of light isn’t clearly exposed. Instead the light emits from behind the existing brick wall into a corner. This approach creates an attraction not to the light itself but rather to the nook and then around the corner. Once inside the foyer, a long decreasing hall ends with a sliver of light. The occupant is unable to get to the light because of the width, so it leaves a sense of curiosity. In the master bed room, a sheet of translucent plexy is used over drywall to allow dispersed light into the loft. His placement of light other than from the typical recessed ceiling lighting evokes a mood directly connected to our sense of curiosity. Also he does not directly expose you to the source of light but rather its path. (pic p.16) (pic p.18)

Touch referring to texture does not have to have an interaction between object and person. The texture can be implied without the physical touch. Kundig composes various textures by layering them together. Brick and mortar, smooth cast-in-place concrete, concrete cast in wood slap forms, stucco, steel, and other various worked metals are what drive the touch aspect of the atmosphere. By combining various textures he is able to produce intricate spaces and keep one continuous texture from overwhelming the space and becoming bland. (pic p.23)
Kundig’s use of objects becomes the furnishings in his structures. In the Studio House, the crafted blackened steel fireplace contrasts with the bare off white wall to create a focal point.

The Brain studio also in Seattle, Washington uses form in the simplest manner. The artificial lighting within that form thought becomes a very dynamic element at the owner’s choosing. Lighting within the main studio space is rigged to an industrial pulley system that can be adjusted upon the film maker’s digression. Adjusting the lighting height manufactures and ominous effect. (pic p. 75) This interactive lighting system becomes the object within the space as well.
The cast-in-place panels compliment the coniferous trees by mimicking their color and texture variances. By using the buildings materials through texture and color, the site becomes part of the wholistic work of art without actually having to alter the sites context.

The object endowed, is one piece of continuous steel folded like origami and then casted into the concrete panels to form the stairs and balcony. The steel is left in its raw state and even with the carpenter’s marking still inscribed. Even though it is impossible to see the steel as a whole object, the idea of it still lingers in the space.(pic p. 67)

The Delta Shelter built in Mazama, Washington, is a weekend retreat located within the flood plain of eastern Washington by Mazama River. The core ten structures stands solo in the open valley surrounded by trees. This placement conceives the retreat as the object of atmosphere.

Kundig’s use of gizmos throughout his work involves the occupants to interact with the architecture. This interaction immerses the occupant into the atmosphere of the architecture. This emersion is the transduction of enlightenment from the architect during the conception of the idea to interaction of the idea with the occupant.

Ngo, Dung, and Tom Kundig. Tom Kundig: Houses. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2006. Print.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Food for Thought

By Erik Illies

How about a little food for thought? During my initial research for thesis I've found out some very interesting facts/ statistics/ propaganda/ general lies/ persuasive insinuations/ and a few random worthwhile things to consider. The topic of my thesis is Vertical Farming and the benefits of urban agriculture. Hence the clever/ witty preface question (insert pat on the back for being funny). So, please indulge in some of my findings of the need for a big ole rash of "Vertifarms" to start popping up in our cities! Enjoy:

Currently over 800 million hectares is committed to soil based agriculture, about 38% of the total land mass of earth to feed 6.8+ billion people (Despommier, 2011). It is predicted that after the next fifty years our global population will increase to 8.6 billion people and will require an additional 109 million hectares to feed them (using current food production methods)(Despommier, 2011). This equates to a total land mass the size of Brazil, with necessary climate/ soil conditions suitable for food growth. This amount and type of available land simply does not existing anymore on Earth. Most sobering of all is that this is only one problem humanity will have to solve concerning food production in it's foreseeable future.

As the global population grows so does the amount of people living in cities and urban environments. Unless suddenly or even eventually humanity reverses this trend we are going to have to start getting creative about how we create food. Already our cities are very unsustainable from a food consumption point of view since they typically do not have the food producing land necessary to meet their consumption needs surrounding them (Nordahl, 2009, p. 16). But even if they did, an agregarian city model of agriculture surrounding the city begins to fail when the population continues to push cities further into undeveloped land and the agriculture further away from its center. Population growth and the current trend of urbanization will continue to increase city growth, so instead we might consider placing farms inside the city as opposed to out.

The disconnection our urban environments have with their food source hosts several problems, one of which being its environmental impact. As agriculture is pushed further away from those who consume it the food must travel further. Not only does this cost more since fossil fuel prices continue to rise, it also creates a strain on the environment from the emissions of transportation. Much less the pre-existing embodied cost of producing/ and harvesting the food to begin with. Michael Pollan contends that "smaller, localized agricultural efforts that do not rely on big, complex machinery, industrial agrichemicals, and vast systems of transport are needed in and around our cities" (Nordahl, 2009, p. 16). "
The problem of environmental impact caused by the current model of food production/ transportation is easily overlooked by the casual consumer in urban environments. Daniel Solomon argues that "the lack of everyday contact with fresh food in the modern city erodes our sense of place, and disconnects us from the natural environments" (Nordahl, 2009, p. 21). And that's just the issue of being aware of the problem, there are still the ridiculous statistics associated with transportation costs/ emissions. Who knew that something as basic as the food we eat could have such a widespread impact on the world we live it? Well, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture commented on this very topic exampling Americas heartland, and says that "the average produce item trucked to a terminal market in Chicago travels more than fifteen hundred miles" (Nordahl, 2009, p. 21). Statistics like these highlight the issue of transportation costs alone associated with the current food allocation system. They also hint to another issue of food quality due to the lag time that can be expected between harvest and point of sale.

Hhhhmmmmmm, how'd that taste? Would you go back for seconds? I know I would! There definitely seems to be a need steeped in reason for cities to pursue greener pastures in the deep blue sky. Furthermore, if we intend to colonize neighboring planets in the future we will certainly need to have developed and employed the technology of growing food on a large scale indoors. Regardless of urgent necessity, vertical farming would provide a valuable cultural resource no matter what. Who is going to argue that safer, healthier, local food is a bad thing? Not the guy two thumbs pointing at himself (this guy).

Stress is in My Control

By Zachary Collins

Stress, the one little word used so much in a college student’s vocabulary. And in the major of architecture, it’s magnified by a 1000. Add on top of that a job, or 2, projects and homework, you might as well sit back and let the stress bombs explode into your mental and physical beings!

I can honestly say being in graduate school has by far been the hardest of my college years. We are over half way done with the semester and I have been consistently stressed. Some weeks are worse than others, but still, the stress remains. In an effort to help my fellow architecture students, I am going to provide some self-help tips for relieving some of the stress that studio and other classes bring to our demanding lives. I try to do most of these things on a regular basis, but sometimes, duty calls, and all I have time for is working on projects. Following are the top 5 stress relievers for college students from

1 - “Working Out – Physical activity is a great stress reliever. It’s healthy, and doesn’t have to be terribly time consuming in order to be effective. If you are stressed, I’d suggest simply getting out of your dorm room and having a nice work out.”
-This obviously is probably not one of our favorites, but still, I try to do about 4-5 hours of work outs per week. And honestly, I can say I always feel better after doing so.

2 - “Sleep, Sleep. Sleep - Sleep deprivation is like an epidemic on college campuses. Students stay up way too late, and get up way too early. Instead of partying on a Friday, why not take one day off and get some extra Zs? Stress can be relieved by forcing one’s self to maintain a regular sleep schedule.”
-I for one have changed a lot in this area. I used to party or go to the bars during the week and on weekends, and get very minimal sleep. But with my schedule now, I have learned that certain things are more important. I try to get 6-8 hours of sleep every night and my partying days have been limited to mainly Friday night and sometimes I don’t even get that. So needless to say, my priorities have changed since my undergrad years.

3 - “Listen to Music - Take a few minutes out of the day to lie down and listen to your favorite music (even if people wouldn’t consider it calming music). Music has an effect on a variety of areas in the brain and can be quite relaxing. Not to mention, it’s a nice way to spend a study break. If you are feeling stressed by your roommate, just go for a walk and put some music on. I bet you’ll feel a lot better afterwards.

-This sums it up very well. I listen to music every day, whether it’s at school, work, home, driving in the jeep, etc. There is a “relaxing” feeling when listening to music. And for me, it focuses me when working on a project.

4 - “Eat right - Taking the time to cook yourself something healthy, or find a healthy place to eat on campus can do worlds for your body. Don’t skip meals either. There’s nothing more stressful than being tired, and hungry. Make time for breakfast before your morning class. Eating right will certainly help to reduce your stress in the long run.”
-This tip was one of the hardest for me, because I love junk food way too much. But it did take months to get my diet to a much better standard than what it once was. Now occasionally I will indulge on my most desired and delectable foods, but for the most part, I cook my own meals and I eat much healthier foods.

5 - “Management - If you simply manage them both, it won’t be as stressful. For time, make use of date books, calendars, planners, and anything else you need. Don’t over-stretch yourself and make room for relaxing time, eating, and sleeping. For finances, management is also a key component. If you have a credit card, don’t buy something unless you can afford to pay it off. Also, if you don’t need it, don’t get it. Too many people get credit cards and see a fountain of wealth. You can be proactive and take control of reducing your stress.”

-This was a huge eye-opener for me. My time management was horrible in undergrad, hence the many all-nighters. I have had to really do some time management this semester with my busy schedule, and I feel like I’m doing an okay job. For my finances, I was the exact person they talk about above where the person sees the credit card as a “fountain of wealth”. Believe me, it’s no fountain, and no wealth comes with it, just debt. I have finally gotten my finances under control and it feels so good to know that I will never be put in the situation I was in with my credit card. It was a lesson learned for me.

So, I hope these tips and my small testimonials will help with my friends in the architecture program along with prospective graduate students. The bottom line is managing your time, tasks, and needs. Do not let stress get the better of you!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Architecture App, by: Makayama

By Sean Keoting

Apple recently approved 'Architecture' for release in their App Store. The app contains a selection of the world's finest architectural masterpieces in a pocket sized format and acts as a one-stop GPS-enabled guide to the world’s greatest buildings from the 20th and 21st century.

You can travel to nearly any place in the world and the guide will tell you where the most interesting nearby buildings are located. It lets you know the story behind the building and even informs you about the architect. For each project two images are displayed along with a website, address, and a detailed map with walking or driving directions.

Currently, 'Architecture' contains projects from 165 different architects, in 270 cities worldwide. Everything from Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe to Zaha and OMA can be found in the vast selection of 20th and 21st century architecture that spans varying traditions throughout the world. But not only does it featuring the obvious iconic time honored favorites and latest Pritzker Prize winners, it also has some hidden architectural gems and even a few oddities.

It’s a great tool for architecture and design lovers, world travelers and city dwellers, to discover great buildings worldwide. Projects can also be browsed by categories ´cities´ or ´architects´ with no data connection needed, because all information and pictures are stored offline on the end-user’s phone. So no expensive roaming cost when abroad and it can also be used without GPS or on the iPod Touch.

'Architecture' offers a free trial version that lets users try all features for 3 days. After the trial period, it will return to basic browsing mode. Cost of application is USD 3.99.

Thanks for reading,
Sean Koetting

Information source (

The McPike Mansion

By Audrey Treece

In lieu of Halloween, I thought I would share with all of you one of the pieces
of architecture that is housed in my hometown. It is one of the destinations
that make my hometown the most haunted small town in America.
Alton, Illinois is home to the McPike Mansion, along with several, and I mean several,
other places that are known for being haunted. I do not know if you believe in
paranormal activity or not, but read the brief history and check out the video
at the end, enjoy!
The McPike Mansion is a sixteen room Victorian mansion
located at 2018 Alby Street and was built for Henry Guest McPike and designed by
Lucas Phiffenberger in 1869. It is located on a fifteen acre site that is known
as Mount Lookout which is the highest point in Alton. It was extremely
elaborately designed inside and out.
Henry McPike was a descendant of two prominent men who fought in the Revolutionary War alongside George Washington at Valley Forge (Captain Mose Guest McPike and Captain James McPike). Henry, who was the son of James, moved with his family to Kentucky in 1795, but relocated to Alton, Illinois in 1847.He was a man of several different interests
and career paths. Three of his pursuits were manufacturing, real estate and
insurance; however, he demonstrated an interest in horticulture. He was a son of
an abolitionist and was very involved in politics as he served with the war
department as Deputy Provost of the region during the Civil War. He was later
elected for City Council, and then was Mayor from 1887-1891.
The McPike Mansion remained in the family until 1936 and several McPike’s still live in
Alton today. After 1936, the mansion became home to Browns Business College
until it was sold to Mr. Paul Laichinger who took ownership in 1908 until his
death in 1930. There are varying records on when exactly Paul Laichinger took
ownership because there is some confusion on the documentation. However, since
1936, there have been several different owners of the mansion. The
mansion has not been inhabited since the 1950s and has fallen victim to
weathering, vandalism and theft that have destroyed things such as the ornate
interior marble fireplaces and hand-carved stairway banisters. Today, the
mansion is owned by George and Sharyn Luedke who bought the mansion at an
auction in 1994. They are now in the slow and expensive process of attempting to
restore the home to its former splendor. The home is listed in the National
Register of Historic Places and the Luedke’s host tours and campfires to assist
in the cost of restoration.
The McPike Mansion has a history of paranormal occurrences, it is known for its hauntings.Numerous photos have been taken that add to its mystery. Balls of light go unexplained by professional photographers, human-shaped outlines appear in the windows, shadowy or glowing, and they were not seen by human eyes until photos were developed. There are several speculations on who and what the ghost could be; however, nothing has
ever been determined. Hopefully, you will catch a glimpse of Paul A.
Laichinger. He may be standing near a window in an upstairs room. Or perhaps,
you will be run into Sarah one of the domestic servants that can be seen on the
third floor. Paranormal activity does abound in the McPike Mansion and was noted
by one group, that during an exploration of the wine cellar, heard the footsteps
of someone coming down the stairs and walking across the floor and then the door
to the wine cellar closed without a person around. This occurrence plus others
have been noted by psychics and ghost hunters who out of curiosity wish to
visit. The Luedke’s have admitted that they too have seen ghosts while working
on the house.
If you want to learn more about the haunted mansion visit or book a Haunted Alton Ghost Tour at (I will advise you to book as soon as the dates are
released, the tour sells out within hours of open sales).
Don’t believe? Check out this video from Bi State Paranormals. This clip was also featured on
the Discovery Channel's, Ghost Lab TV show.