Sunday, September 30, 2012

Drawing in Architecture

Drawing in Architecture
By: Adulsak "Otto" Chanyakorn
Since computer aided software is playing an important role in architectural profession, architecture students tend to rely on those tools in any stages of the design process such as initial study, preparatory study, and definitive drawing. The computer is a useful tool for architecture students and architectural firms for providing drawings to present ideas to professors and clients and visualize complicated designs for study purposes. However, drawing and sketching skills are still important for architects and architecture students.

When I finished my undergraduate degree, I worked with a few architectural firms in Thailand. I experienced the design process firsthand. During in-house design process, we always communicated with team members via sketching and drawing because it was so easy and fast to draw simple diagrams, plans, sections, perspectives, detail drawings, study models, and so on before we simulated our design with computer aided software. From that point of my experience, I realized how drawing skills are useful and efficient manners for architects to archive their design.

Furthermore, when I started to travel through different places, I found that drawing skills are magnificent tools for me to study or record my points of interest in architecture. Those sketches that I made became my visual diary. While I was traveling, I spent my time looking carefully at architecture and places that I wanted to draw. I felt that I gained more understanding and captured essential ideas from those architectural styles in many aspects such as spirit, spaces, light, proportion, atmosphere, etc. While I was sketching, I felt I was part of those places, integrating myself and being in the moment with those places rather than photographing them. A lot of my drawings became part of my inspiration for my projects in both school and professional projects.
 There are many well-known architects that mention how drawing skills are still important for contemporary architects. According to Michael Grave, “Drawings are not just end products: they are part of the thought process of architectural design. Drawing expresses the interaction of our minds, eyes and hands. This last statement is absolutely crucial to the difference between those who draw to conceptualize architecture and those who use the computer” (Grave, 2012).  

Recently, I have applied drawing and painting skills to my graduate program, Regional Architecture and Comprehensive Design Studio. These skills have become an efficient way to communicate with my professors and colleagues

Moreover, AIA Goal Medal Award architect,
Glenn Murcutt believes that drawing is the key of discovering our architectural understanding through lines. Drawing reveals our thinking through comprehension and examination. If we start our project with the computer, we arrive at the end of the design process without understanding the meaning of that end. “I’m suggesting that any work of architecture — as opposed to merchandise — has the potential to be discovered, and drawing is the key. The verb to draw means “to bring out,” and to bring out is to reveal, and to reveal is to understand. With the computer, you arrive at the end before you comprehend the meaning of that end.” (Architectural Record, May 2009)
Drawing skills are not too old-fashioned or antiquated for the architectural profession. In contrast, they represent a significant skill set that architecture schools should encourage students to learn and practice. Le Corbusier, who has always inspired me to draw and search for creativity, explains, “To draw one self, to trace the line, handle the volumes; organize the surface…all this means first to look and then to observe and finally perhaps to discover…and it is then inspiration may come.”

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Park of Two Cities

A Park of Two Cities
By: Sam Harshman

What is a park?
        Google says a park is "a large public green area in a town, used for recreation." says a park is "an area of land, usually in a largely natural state, for the enjoyment of the public, having facilities for rest and recreation, often owned, set apart, and managed by a city, state, or nation."

So what do I think a park is?
        I believe a park is what the above says a park is but I think there is more to a park than just green spaces used for rest and recreation.  A park is also a connection point in a city.  Or as in my thesis project in Little Rock/North Little Rock, a space or spaces connecting two cities.
Little Rock and North Little Rock are separated geologically, by the Arkansas River, therefore the only way to get to and from one another, one has to cross the river.  A person can do that multiple ways: they can ride a boat, they could swim (personally swimming across sounds like a bad idea), or they could take one of the many bridges via car, trolley, bike, feet, etc.
         Last year. three of my classmates and I, went to Little Rock/North Little Rock to study these river cities.  We crossed the river multiple times in those four days, and we tried all the above mentioned ways (minus the swimming.)  My favorite way of crossing it was the pedestrian way.  On either side of the river there are linear parks with trails along the river.  These trails connected with a few of the bridges so that a person could walk in loops from Little Rock to North Little Rock.  A couple of the bridges were strictly pedestrian bridges too.
        This is where I got my definition of a park.  To get from one city to the next, a person literally has to go through one park, cross a bridge, and enter the other side through another park.  These parks not only connect the two cities, but also connects the people of the two cities.  While watching people use the trails and parks, I could not tell who was from Little Rock and who was from North Little Rock.  The trails and parks allow the people to mingle and interact with each other blurring the line of who's from where.

Why does this affect my thesis?
        My thesis has many different parts to it, but all of them have to do with finishing a bike loop that runs through the parks and trails that I just talked about.  One part of my thesis is the closing of a trail on the Little Rock side.  For a while a biker has to ride along busy streets and it feels dangerous.  My thesis is going to involve designing a new park in which bikers can take instead of riding the dangerous streets through downtown Little Rock.  The other two parts of my thesis is going to involve designing a new bike center and also design a boardwalk area along the trail on the Little Rock side. 
Until next time...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Phenomenological Arguement

Phenomenological Argument
By: Van Dwinnells
          If you will for a few moments, I ask of you to suspend presuppositions and follow my train of thought.  The subsequent stream is in response to some of my recent studies and readings of phenomenological arguments within the past 100 or so years.  Here is some background information:

Phenomenology - is the science of categorizing phenomena and the observed occurrences in the world - mostly viewed as an empirical and more scientific understanding of experiential matters .

What is phenomena?  -  To explain, the possibility of [something's] existence is only realized when it is noticed.  The act of noticing such [a thing ] then changes our perceptual context.  The [something] or [thing] has just became phenomena. 
      Situation A
You walk down the street looking around.  You are in no hurry.  It's a beautiful spring day; the ones that are warm yet still crisp.  You begin "noticing" the wind blowing through the trees, and how the sun scatters, piercing through the undulating leaves.  Looming in the distance dark clouds start to mock you causing you question the weatherman's judgment. Will it soon rain?   With all this attention being proportioned elsewhere, you are abruptly and rudely halted as your foot strikes an askew chunk of sidewalk sending you tumbling down to the ground.  This sudden awareness of the askew sidewalk chunk ( to be here on  referred to as just "chunk") is now considered a phenomena due to its previously unaware status.  Prior to this incident, there was no mental concept there was a chunk in front of you OR at a minimum, you were not "currently" aware of said chunk.  This variation is referred to as "cognitive dissonance".
Since attention was not given in our mental construct of reality, the chunk only could have had a passive existence, a background existence.  This poses the question that if that chunk even existed.  Granted the latter statement we negate through third party verification, but it still makes you think.
This begs the question whether all phenomena are internal to the mind.  This poses an issue because of how we see things in terms of their existence.  The concept seems feasible because we experience life through sensory mechanisms, our ears, eyes, and even tactile mechanisms all just react to "energy".  Those sensory mechanisms are only really filters for the energy and are open to discrepancies between individuals (i.e. color looks purple to me, looks blue to you).  So, are all phenomena really just subjective "interpretations" of what is really occurring.   Making such stark contradictions to presupposed ontological facts actually changes how we even look at subjects as sciences.   Considering our "observation" are actually already filtered through subjective mediums and therefore can't really be "objective" facts?  Just some food for thought.

Here are some other inquiries to chew on.  Til' the next blog.  Later

Persistence of Memory - are memories really just ordered phenomena?

dreams vs. reality - how do these relate, is the process of dreaming "real"? - consider our mind is still interpreting energies and associations of past experiences

consciousness vs. unconsciousness - what is the difference?
How can we only have limited supplies of "attention" yet store so many facts/relationships or data? 
Can we design a space to evoke attention to things therefore theoretically broadening our "currently aware" stream of consciousness?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Centennial Park

Centennial  Park
By Andrew Ewing
            Centennial Park is one of the most recognizable features Atlanta has left from hosting the 1996 Summer Olympics.  Sitting on 21 acres, this park has become a place for family and friends to come and visit year around. This area was once an eyesore, filled with old warehouses and empty storefronts, but is now a can't miss destination in Atlanta.
            One of the main features throughout this park are the water features.  Located at the south end, is the fountain commemorating the Olympics. The Fountain of Rings is the world’s largest interactive fountain utilizing the Olympic symbol of five interconnecting Rings. Each ring is approximately 25 feet in diameter. With seating around the fountains this becomes a wonderful place to sit, relax, and let the kids play in the fountain. Several other key water features are located around the perimeter of the park.  Because the park is located in the city there is a considerable amount of noise pollution.  As a result fountains were placed along the perimeter to cut down the noise.  When walking through the park there is very little traffic noise, instead just the soothing sound of water flowing. These water features have also formed little parks within Centennial Park. Within these little parks are statues and monuments commemorating the Olympic champions. Also located in one of these little parks is the Quilt of Remembrance which honors the victims who were killed or injured in the Olympic bombing.  This features a mosaic of stones from around the world to honor the 111 people injured in the explosion and an eternal light shines in memory of Alice Hawthorne, who perished.
            This park is an excellent example of how great an effect the Olympics can have on a city.  There are many tourist attractions located near or adjacent to this park. The Georgia Aquarium as well as the Coca Cola Museum are located at the north end of the park. Both have been constructed in the last few years. While the aquarium and museum are two unique pieces of architecture, they use the park to form a courtyard to move between.  These three features have become a must see destination.
            This park served as a successful centerpiece to the Olympics and has had a lasting impact on the city. There are several successful ideas from this design that would translate well to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic plan and help make their Legacy site even more of a success.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stress Relief

Stress and one method of stress relief.
By Brad Hoepfner 
In architecture school and life in general we are plagued by different forms of stress. These stressors can range from relationship issues to project due dates and each person will take in these stressors in a different way than everyone else. If any of you know me in general, I always try to be relaxed and enjoy life despite the harsh reality architecture school. During undergrad here at SIU my girlfriend would become stressed out for me because I was always so relaxed.
Controlling stress levels is definitely a challenge when it comes to the individual. The purpose of this blog entry is to tell you and show you one big way that I relieve stress. My secret is videogames, they have become a unique way for me to let out built-up emotions and vent my rage. Over the past 15 years I have heard only the negatives that arise from video games. From children imitating violent actions to suicidal actions, appear on the news sources over and over again. When in reality most of these statistics cannot be pinned down to videogames alone. On the other hand, videogames can really test your hand-eye coordination, your reaction times, use of peripheral vision, teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. To me, all of these skills should be extremely important to us as students and professionals.
There are of course many types of videogames. They range from first person shooting games to professional sport games and they are becoming extraordinarily realistic. Personally, I have focused most of my videogame interests on shooting games and role playing games and playing these types of games online with millions of other players around the world. Playing these types give me goals to complete, other players to defeat, and matches to win. Also, in these game types, they try to create magnificent scenery and architectural forms that could be easily be used as precedent studies in architectural research. So not only do I get to figuratively shoot people I keep my mind thinking, quickly moving, and analyzing everything around me. These and other reasons let my mind relax and dump some of the stresses of real life.
Videogames have created a new type of sporting network as well, called Esports. Over the past 7 years these esports have become extremely popular globally. League of Legends and other games similar to it host live gaming events with large prize pools of over $5 million per year and this number will continue to grow in upcoming years. The live gaming events have skyrocketed in viewers and consistently have more viewers than most major league baseball games. This gives kids and adults a chance to succeed, in life, where in the past could have never been possible.
So overall, videogames have become a huge part of our current culture and will continue to grow and expand. I use them as a break from the difficult world of architecture school. I would love to expand on any one of these topics mentioned in this post because there is really a lot more to videogames than meets the eye. So if you get a chance this semester, sit down with some friends and turn on the Xbox for a few hours and see what they may offer you. The image attached could be one example of how games may have influenced design in architecture school and may even become realistic in the near future.