Wednesday, August 31, 2011


By Matt Owens

I myself had never blogged before sometime last year. The idea of blogging to me sounded like a bunch of over opinionated people with too much time on their hands ranting about stuff hoping someone else in the world with just as much time on their hands had the same views and would read their ranting’s. I stayed away from blogs all together. Last year that changed, I didn’t just start blogging I was actually involved in creating a blog.

Along with some of my friends from undergrad at UIC we started our own blog. We all still lived in the Chicago area, some of us working for firms others attending graduate school. We were all over the city and had different schedules, very busy schedules, and we did not get together too often. Our main form of communication was through email. As we all know architecture involves a lot of sitting in front of a computer, so this was an effective way of staying connected. We would send out emails with every one copied on it, so we could all see what we was going on. Emails consisted of architecture of course, what we were doing in school, what we were working on in the office, something interesting someone read, a cool new project somewhere in the world. The emails were also about other stuff too, like a new restaurant, a show, music, and where the party was at that weekend. It was cool that we could all still share ideas and keep connected, but it wasn’t cool that my inbox was getting slammed with emails. It started to get confusing, email strings would go on and on, new emails, old email; it was getting difficult to tell who was talking about what. It was suggested we start a blog to get things organized; we could use the blog as a platform to share. We would all have ability to upload material as we please, and be able to comment and discuss things through the blog. We didn’t care if we were the only people to visit the blog we just wanted to clean up our inboxes.

So we set out using BlogSpot, same as what we are using here. It was great; we could do everything we were doing with the emails and more. We had fun, it wasn’t just about architecture, we blogged about music, art, food, entertainment, and anything else. We were even sharing more, anything we found interesting we would post in on the blog. It went strong till the beginning of summer this year. A few more of the group went to grad school including myself and started to have less time for the blog and it was summer, we were at the beach. Sadly there has been maybe half a dozen posts on the blog since this May. I have changed my view on blogging. I was completely ignorant, but have come to see it differently now.

I wanted to share my blog experience with you all for this first post. I want to let you know that this will be cool and that we should have fun with this! I also want to share with you an article I read on a blog last year about rules for an architect’s blog. The article is not very long but if you don’t want to read it at least check out the list of rules for an architect’s blog at the bottom, also check out the little quips about Write, Kahn, and Corbusier on the side too, pretty interesting. Maybe this can be of some help when thinking about what to post in the future.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An Introduction

By Laura Thomas

Hello All: I'm Laura Thomas and since I'll be doing these blogs for the next year, I decided that I should introduce myself, tell you a little bit about me, work that I have done and where I hope to be in a year if I can manage to survive this semester.
I was born and raised in Jacksonville, IL and due to family influence I became intrigued and familiar with civil and mechanical drawings. Some of my first memories are going with my father to the water plant for hours. To occupy myself I had the city's water distribution plans to look at and graph paper to draw on. Like a normal girl I drew houses, but in floor plan views. My grandfather was a teacher in a diesel school, a welder and a self taught farming engineer, who manipulated farming equipment because according to him, "It should have been built this way in the first place." He had several articles published in farming magazines and some of his design ideas were used throughout the industry. Other childhood influences were playing with Tinker Toys and building houses with Block City scale model construction sets.

I was fortunate enough that my high school had a drafting program. I took every course offered and became an teacher's aide my junior and senior year. I took a year off from school, then went to Lake Land Community College to complete all of the core classes before transferring into the 3 year program at SIUC in 2000. In 2003, I graduated with my BS in Architecture and went searching for a job. This was the beginning to several years of frustration.

I began my career with HARK Group out of Decatur, IL as a part time intern. Projects included Pirates Lagoon Water Theme Park, that never got built and Wabash Crossing, a Hope VI low income housing development. When work got low at the firm I was offered a contract job as an assistant superintendant for CORE Construction out of Morton, IL to help with the completion of the first phase of Wabash Crossing since I was familiar with the project. With the first phase completed, I found work as a office manager and cad tech for a seller / installer of Superior Walls out of Springfield, IL whose product was precast concrete foundation walls for crawl spaces or basements. Leaving there, I accepted a job with HUFF Architectural Group out of Springfield, IL where my focus was on 10 Year Health Life Safety Surveys for schools located all over Illinois. A year later, work got low and I was one of four laid off. A few months later, I started at Architectural Expressions out of Forsyth, IL and was assigned to be part of the Decatur Memorial Hospital project team. Projects included a new cafeteria addition, a cancer care center and lots of interior remodeling work. This was my favorite job but due to several issues, work got low and I was one of seven laid off. With few firms hiring at the time I accepted a contract job with Ferry & Associates out of Springfield, IL doing a new 210 patient bed nursing home facility to be constructed in Peoria, IL. The task was only to take the project up to the construction document phase before handing it over to the architects of record for them to complete the project. Unemployed again I went to a bar. Sitting there with my friends, this guy walks up and starts talking to me. Ended up that he was an electric and automation engineer at Nestle in Jacksonville, IL and was in need of a project manager and cad technician. A few weeks later I was working as part of their engineering department. There I completed a plant relighting project and was part of the team to replace all the equipment on the second floor. I left the wonderful smell of the Coffee-mate creamer factory to come back to SIUC to get my Masters Degree.

As you can tell I have quite a history of places and types of work over the last 8 years. This has been good and bad. Good because I have diversity and a lot of wonderful experiences that many people don't get to have. The bad is that I have never been able to settle down, moving from job to job every year or so takes its toll. It also means that I worked for places that don't count towards IDP so my hours are lacking. I wouldn't be able to become licensed by the deadline restrictions put into law after I received my BS so I had no choice but to come back to get my Masters in Architecture in order to become a licensed architect.
The present has me at SIUC, working as a research assistant for Shannon McDonald. When I graduate, my goal is to obtain a permanent position in a firm out west, preferably in Wyoming, Alaska, Washington or Colorado. My career will focus on the health care industry which is also the focus of my thesis.

Hope this introduction has helped provide some insight into my background and experiences. I've attached a few pictures of some of my project work.

Thoughts on Hurricane Irene and the evacuation of NYC

By Debra Eilering

As architects and designers, we are responsible for the safety of the occupants that inhabit our finished products, however, how do we prepare for a planned evacuation? Does it differ than planning for an emergency evacuation? What considerations need to be addressed and how do you decide where to go, particularly when the need for life support and/or personal care is necessary?? Where are the generators if the electricity goes out?

NYC Mayor Bloomberg orders nursing home evacuations before Irene hits


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a press conference Thursday ordered eight nursing homes and five hospitals in Zone A low-lying areas to evacuate by 8 p.m. Friday in anticipation of hurricane Irene.

“Our first obligation I want to talk about is to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers—hospital patients, those in nursing homes and homes for aged and also New Yorkers who because of age or infirmity are homebound,” Bloomberg said.

Zone A neighborhoods include Coney Island and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn; Far Rockaway and Broad Channel in Queens; South Beach, Midland Beach and other low-lying areas on Staten Island; and Battery Park City in Manhattan.

Long Term Living, August 26, 2011

Emergency procedures are in place for most, if not all, public buildings. We are encouraged to practice procedures for flood, fire and etc while at home. Regardless of where we are, it is a tragic part of life when we are displaced. Check out this map of the New York city area and imagine how, as a designer, you could be better equipped to facilitate a planned evacuation:

The preliminary predictions has forced an evacuation plan for 10 different states. How do the requirements differ for each state? Hurricanes bring several threats, high wind, flooding, hail, electrical failure and concurrent risk of electrical shock, salt water intrusion and it's long term effects on fresh water reservoirs and so on. The risk of living on the coast or near the ocean is expected but what happens when the damage from hurricanes moves inland?
Some code related information: