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.