Thursday, January 31, 2013

Orphanages in the City

Sites Pertaining to Orphanages in the City 
By: Josh Rucinski

The thesis is Orphanages in the City, and there has been a lot of hemming and hawing on where the site should be. Originally the site was to be in the United States, but there is a foster care system in the United States, that is largely broken in my opinion but is a functional juggernaut in any case. After a lot of research it could be argued that the future of orphan care in the United States may shift back to larger institutional settings like the public orphanage, but there is certainly no consensus.

The second site setting the thesis was drawn to was Haiti. There is a strong need for compassionate care of orphans in Haiti, yet there is little information to work with about Haiti. The internet is largely blank on the issue. Where is very important in architecture, the where of the project will define many aspects, from success of the program to the success of the building. Without the background information necessary to continue with Haiti, I felt the site would have been quite false as I do not know anything about the orphans themselves, nor the area they inhabit, nor is there a lot of compelling information about either online. There is a lot of antidotal information but statistics are difficult because the Haitian Government does not even have the means to perform census.

Chicago, particularly Bridgeport became the site. I did a lot of work of site analysis, but throughout the work I was largely operating with little inspiration or passion about the work. Since the programmic requirements of an orphanage requires orphans and since almost all orphans live in foster care, was I chasing a dragon? Something unreal.

Reset again, this time Egypt. I am hoping that I will be able to find a happy medium in pooling the information I've gleaned about Egyptian Orphans and apply it along with professional experience of SIU alumi to have an inspiring program.

So to recap, isn't about Ethics after all? I want to place an orphanage in the best possible place. Isn't that someplace that there is a wealth of information and yet a high need at the same time? The United States has a wealth of information, but low need. Haiti has a high need, but no information hardly. Egypt seems to have both.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ARC Printing Lab Tips

Spring Semester Jumpstart – Quigley ARC Printing Lab Tips
By: Jonathan Smith 

I would like to welcome back everyone to what I hope was a fantastic Winter break. I realized recently that this was my last official “break” away from school before I eventually graduate and move on to bigger and better things. In some ways I wish I had done something grandiose or more spectacular, but it turns out some good time with family and friends was a perfect break to get things ready for the Spring Semester. Hopefully there will be some significant updates to my personal Thesis Work in the blog articles to come.

As a lead GA in the Printing Lab, I would like to point out some tips for students to have an easier time printing in the lab and help make it easier on the Graduate Assistants working there. Below is a small list of these tips:


· Give yourself TIME to print. A good 24 hour window works miracles for crunch time to ensure that you have plenty of time to plot your project.

· Come in roughly a WEEK prior to your deadline and complete a test plot of some sort to get an idea of what your final product will be looking like.

· Make sure you have your final plot files in a common format in order to make plotting easier; ex: PDF, JPG, PNG. ETC.

· The last hour of the evening print shifts are dedicated to finishing the print queue. Don’t expect to come in twenty minutes before closing time and get a plot finished.

· Avoid relying on morning lab hours, as they are scarce this semester. The lab during the days this semester is primarily going to be dedicated to being used as a lecture lab. So students that want to get things printed during the short day hours will have a limited opportunity to do so and are at the discretion of the professor using the lab. This means that if they are lecturing and wish not to be disturbed, you will be unable to do some prints. Plan accordingly.

· If all else fails, and you are unsure, ask the Grad on duty before sending a file to a plot queue.

· If you ever need another 11x17 or 8.5x11 printer in color or black and white there is another lab that mirrors ours in the lab in Faner. It is the computer lab in Faner closest to the student center.

Keep these few things in mind, and it should help make things a lot easier in the printing lab for those who found it stressful before. Thanks and have a great beginning to the Spring Semester!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nashville TN

Nashville, TN
By: Jabina Shrestha

Happy New Year 2013 and Welcome back everyone. I hope you all had a good break. As we all know the architecture graduate students have a big semester coming up. We all are expected to work on our Thesis project on our own time. Well, it seems this semester will be a bit lighter because we have a lot less “class” time but on the other side of the spectrum, I won’t have much free time. I for one will have to really schedule my time for thesis, other classes, GA and Lab work accordingly. 

Well, knowing all that, I had promised myself to work on thesis over the break right before the final presentation of Comprehensive Design Studio fall 2012. I was able accomplish all sets of work that was required but self satisfaction is a big thing which I was not. I could not find my work to a level of professional work. And the main reason behind it was lack of time towards the end. Of course, we had plenty of time, the whole semester. It was due to habit of "procrastination". So I decided to follow "Do it today because Tomorrow will be today tomorrow". With that note, I met my chair person, got several books to read , planned to make a schedule for the semester, do a site visit and analysis. And still, I accomplished nothing thesis-related over break. All of the time was eaten up by family and friends gatherings, visit to Nashville Tennessee, smoky mountain, Christmas parties, new year's celebrations.

Apart from all, the best part of the break is a visit that I along with my family members had made to Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, Nashville Tennessee. On the banks of the Cumberland River, Gaylord Opryland was a short drive about 20 minutes from downtown Nashville. It was first time in my life where I got chance to experience the energy and excitement of Music City. I could see the glass atrium that lied an extraordinary selection of dining, shopping and recreation options that helped to create the perfect setting for a complete getaway.

I was totally amazed to find Cascades Lobby, restaurants Solario and Ravello, lounges, water falls and The Conservatory Bar and Magnolia Guest Rooms all in one roof. As we walked by, we were astonished by the nine acres of indoor gardens, cascading waterfalls and the indoor river with its own Delta flatboats beneath our glass atriums inside the hotel. Specially during Christmas, could see millions of decorative lights decorated all over the places with animatronics in all three atriums.

Without waiting any longer went to get some information at front desk and found out that with more than 600,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, Gaylord Opryland is the largest non-gaming, in-hotel exhibition space in the world. It can handle from a large exhibition to small team building session.

There are basically 5 major areas in the hotel. First one is the Magnolia is the lobby and retail area of the hotel. Second is the Garden Conservatory. It's the first atrium constructed, and considered to be the heart of the hotel where I saw a wedding ceremony happening near the Lionhead Fountain and Crystal Gazebo. Next is the Cascades which is the second atrium constructed. It features the Cascades American Café as well as Wasabi (a Japanese sushi restaurant) which had really good food, and the hotel's largest beautiful waterfalls. Delta, it is the third and largest atrium constructed which is the main center of activity. The largest convention area in the Tennessee is the Convention Center with three main exhibit areas and five ballrooms.

Apart from all excitements and good experience, I found out too confusing to navigate from one area to another and to link them. I found out that it is due to its continued expansion, the hotel does not have a universal structure layout. But I suggest everyone to make a visit to Gaylord Opryland hotel at least once in their life to see how one can make use of space and create a different world that we can imagine to have it all under one roof.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Village at Penn State

The Village at Penn State: A Case Study for University Affiliated Retirement Communities
By: Colleen O’Malley

Campus living is not only for young teens anymore. There is a growing number in retirees residing to university-linked retirement communities because they offer a sense of home, easy living, access to classes, and university facilities, and health services. Penn State is one example out of the 23 universities directly linked to a retirement community.

In 1995, alumni expressed to Dr. Graham Spanier, President of Penn State University, an interest in returning to the university because they understood the area had multiple opportunities in education and culture which created a vibrant environment. It was clear that the alumni are attracted to a small town atmosphere and the stimulation of university life.

Bringing back the alumni for retirement not only allows for endless opportunities for the retirees but for the universities. Creating a connection between retired alumni and the university allows for the reservoir of knowledge the retirees possess be shared among the community. Dr. Spanier envisioned residents would contribute to the university with volunteer hours, mentoring students and teaching lectures. Additionally, nurturing and strengthening the relationship between the alumni and the university allows for potential opportunity to enhance alumni giving.

Retired alumni also reap many benefits from the connection to the university. At Penn State these benefits include, but are not limited to:
  • Attend classes free on a space-s available basis.
  • Enjoy priority access to Penn State football and basketball tickets.
  • Receive advance opportunity to attend events in the Bryce Jordan Center and the Center for Performing Arts.
  • Take part in University cultural and educational seminars.
  • Take lessons in golf, swimming, tennis and more from college athletes.
  • Contribute to campus life as a mentor, project assistant, or many other ways.
  • Use University tennis courts and Natatorium.
  • Golf on the Penn State courses at reduced rates.
  • Scoop up Penn State Creamery ice cream at the on-site Village Creamery.
  • Simply enjoy the stimulating University atmosphere.
Overall, university-linked retirement communities create multiple benefits for both retirees and universities. Dr. Spanier’s vision was to create a vehicle through which aging alumni and the Penn State University community could engage one another in a mutually beneficial relationship and discover synergies.  Today, Dr. Spanier’s vision is a reality. The Village at Penn State took eight years to develop and is now located on University-owned land within eyesight of the campus. The Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) totals approximately 240 units of independent living apartments, cottages, assisted living units and skilled nursing units at full build-out.

The Importance of Site Visits

The Importance of Site Visits
By: Chris Pacanowski

        When doing any type of projects location is key. Location grounds the whole project and can also make the project better or worse depending on how you design to the location. When looking at a site to pick for a project the thing to look at is the surroundings, races, economy in the area, what types of benefits does the area hold, and safety. When researching these factors you can only go so far when looking on the internet. You can find all of the climatic, race, and economic data, but one very important factor is missed. Does the area work? When going on a site visit you analyze the area for function, and how the area is being used. Is there a specific area of the site that has more traffic flow and would be bad for living, but good for businesses? what types of noises are at the site, that could also help you decide what to put there. are there parks already there, and are they being utilized? all of these questions should be answered on a initial site visit.

        With my thesis project I had done a site visit over break looking at all of those type of factors to see if this location is a good location for my project. After looking at all factors and the surrounding area i came to the conclusion that this area is perfect for what I want to do with this project. The key things that I had noticed that had helped me decide that were the great opportunities to mix residential and business together into one cohesive area. another thing that was great was the combination of residential areas. they had high-rise residential, college housing, and town home type houses in the area, giving a variety of building types to work with. Many of these things would have only found out by visiting the site showing how visiting sites can kick start a project and begin to build the program of the project.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

STL MetroLink

St. Louis MetroLink TOD Market Study
By: Chris Harpstrite
The East West Gateway Council of Governments has recently released a study on Transit Oriented Development for the St. Louis MetroLink. The MetroLink has 37 stations, this study outlines how these locations can better improve on the opportunity to have a live/work environment and use the MetroLink as the “primary means of mobility.”
            Transit oriented development is currently limited in the region and this is partly because of the slow-growth nature of the St. Louis. The study broke the St. Louis region down into seven submarkets: Downtown St. Louis City, Central St. Louis City, North St. Louis County, Mid St. Louis County, South St. Louis County, West St. Clair County, and Central St. Clair County. By breaking the St. Louis Metropolitan area into these submarkets these areas were better analyzed. They were able to break down and analyze data from population and household information to real estate market data. They have also come up with future transit oriented development demand by submarkets and the next steps St. Louis and the MetroLink should take to improve TOD in the St. Louis region. The location of my thesis is in North St. Louis County.
            This 114 page document can be viewed in its entirety at: This will be a great resource for my thesis project this upcoming semester.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Flood Proof Architecture

Flood proof architecture
By: Brad Hoepfner
To quickly give some background information, the thesis I am currently working on is creating a “float home” in Southern Illinois. This region is plagued by homes and towns built within floodplains that have been severely damaged or could be damaged over time. While moving these cities and communities out of the floodplains seems possible, it is difficult for people to leave their past and their history behind them. Creating a dwelling that could survive the test of time and the unpredictable floodplains of the area could be a solution.

Factors of soil compaction, subsidence, urbanization and climate change actually increase the threat of floods to urban areas. With this in mind, being able to build with water could be one of the solutions for a sustainable future in highly populated areas in the near future. Some typologies of building construction examples are starting to arise for example: floating construction, amphibious construction, dry or wet proof construction.

Amphibious and floating homes are a great type of building construction to consider for my thesis work. They are built on solid ground but they are being designed to float, so they are not similar to houseboats. The constructions for these homes are typically light-weight wood and a concrete base that is hollowed out, giving the home a quality of buoyancy. The foundation is not actually anchored to the ground, so the structure rests on the ground and is tied to 15 foot mooring posts with sliding rings. These rings allow the structure to float up or down depending on the rising or falling water tables. Electrical cables, water and even sewage float throw flexible pipes inside of the mooring poles.

With these types of homes in mind, the thesis can grow and learn from past examples and create a building that could work extremely well for this region in Southern Illinois. Parts of this information came from

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Downtown Memphis Part 1

Downtown Memphis Part 1        
By: Andrew Ewing

Memphis is another river city where the downtown has seen a major revitalization project take place.  "We envision a thriving Downtown is the heartbeat of the region, built on Memphis unique character and authenticity, attractive to residents, workers, and visitors from all walks of life"(Kitsinger)  The community goals Memphis established for a downtown are:

-Is safe, attractive and livable.
-Is a thriving regional economic hub.
-Is inclusive and diverse
-Is an asset that is valued and supported by the entire region.
-Exemplifies Memphis' unique character and authenticity. (Kitsinger)
The City Center Commission Board that saw this project to fruition consisted of a 16 member panel. On this panel are 10 private-sector members, a city and county mayor representative, one city council member, one county commissioner and two state legislators.  All 16 member have a tie to the community and a desire to continue reshaping the downtown. 
Like most major projects, funding was a major issue. With 10 private-sector members involved they are already financially invested in the community. As a result, the greater success the downtown has, the greater success their business will probably have.  Another way this project was financially successful was because of the Center City Revenue Finance Corporation. The CCRFC is "A state-chartered industrial development board comprised of nine volunteer board members, nominated by the mayors and approved by the City Council and the Country Commission for 6 year terms."(Kitsinger)  The CCRFC can do several things:

-Grant Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) tax freezes to property owners who plan to improve or redevelop their property.
-Issue Bonds to provide financing for public interest projects.
-Finance, own, lease and dispose of properties. (Kitsinger) The tax breaks or tax freezes encourages new or current business owners to update or build new facilities.  Bonds are an excellent way to provide outside interest groups or people a way to invest in public project that take place in any project.

The last group is the Center City Development Corporation. This group:

- Acts as a developer for key Downtown projects.
-Offers low interest development loans to property owners who renovate, redevelop, or stabilize property in the CBID.
- Administers a retail incentive loan program to encourage new retail.  A couple other Business investment incentives the City of Memphis offers is:
-Development Loan Program: Low-interest (3%) loan program for property redevelopment.
-Downtown Retail Incentives: Forgivable loan and Façade Grant Program to encourage retail recruitment and retention.
-Downtown Office Occupancy Incentive: Grant program designed to recruit and retain high occupancy rates for Downtown offices.
-Parking Development & Bond Issuance: Parking development as a catalyst for private investment with bond issuance authority.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Carbondale Campus

Southern Illinois University | Carbondale Campus
By:Adulsak "Otto" Chanyakorn
            Before the fall break, I had an opportunity to walk from Morris Library and cut through the open space between Woody Hall and Pulliam Clock Tower. It was interesting to me that the atmosphere of the open space with manmade landscape was beautiful (Figure 1). I can see the harmony of the architectural language from Woody Hall and Pulliam Clock Tower as they become unified. They relate and share some certain characteristics.  The designers of those buildings were concerned about the overall environment of the campus. So, they created the harmony of the campus as a whole. Moreover, the quality of the materials used for the buildings were fine materials which defined the taste and thoughtfulness of SIU’s campus in selecting architects They also were built with high quality. One can see that there are a lot of buildings on SIU’s campus that dedicate themselves to the unity of the campus and the overall context, such as Wheeler Hall, Shryock Auditorium, Pulliam Hall, etc.
In contrast, some campus buildings that were built after Word War II were poorly designed, out of scale, and disharmonious to the overall campus atmosphere. They even created inappropriate spaces or dead spaces that students tend to never use. Most architects who designed the new buildings for the campus were trained in international modernism. They expressed their own individual architectural signatures more than being concerned about the unity of the campus as a whole. There is a conflict between international modernism and the overall needs of the campus. However, there are a lot of architects from modernism who designed the new buildings at SIU with deep consideration. They were trying to produce new architecture that speaks with the past and also expresses the moment of our time. For the obvious example, I would like to mention Louis Kahn’s British Art Center at Yale University (1977) (Figure 2). It respects the context. At the same time, it expresses itself and carries the beauty of our time.

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is a beautiful campus. We should cultivate its own beauty. We should not abandon our commitment to our campus by selecting quickly and cheaply designed structures to be built on the campus. Even though we are facing the difficult financial time, our decisions now will have deep impacts on the future of our campus.