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.