Monday, April 29, 2013

Papua New Guinea

Men’s Ceremonial House in Papua New Guinea
By: Megan Gebke
For our global history class, we had to pick a type of non-western architecture to research. I chose the men’s ceremonial houses in Papua New Guinea. They are made from the local materials and by all the local men. Men are only allowed in the structure and if women shall enter they will be punished by the tribe and by the spiritual clans. The following paragraph explains my personal analysis from my research.

Researching this topic provided me with a complete culture shock. The building design is so eloquent and beautiful, but also so raw at the same time. The traditional architecture of the ceremonial houses was just brilliant. The people used the materials that were available to them, created a group of helpers, and designed an enormous structure filled with mythological cravings. All of those aspects of the architecture blew me away. One quality I enjoyed learning about these people was the close knit community. The most shocking part was reading about the culture. I cannot imagine living in a community where men and women were so separated with so many rules and regulations to follow. In America, people are just flat out curious creatures and being a curious woman near the Sepik River can get you killed. With all the feminine movements that have happened in the Western culture, it would be hard to live in a community where you were not allowed to be in certain places. It is so sad to see that the traditional architecture is slowly becoming a thing of the past. New materials are becoming easily available and cheaper to build with even though the structures do not last as long. Reading some of the myths was another thing that shocked me. I could not believe some of those stories and to think that the people of the Sepik River follow them almost religiously. This paper was a huge eye-opener for me. It made me realize that the world extrudes past the boundaries of the United States.

Designing a Connection

Designing a Connection

By: Lucas E. Shubert
My thesis involves a high percentage of outdoor space meant for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Some of this space directly connects to vehicle traffic, and some of it does not. The most prominent piece of exterior built environment to be included is an underpass that connects the east and west sides of the rail line in Carbondale. There is a dramatic change in elevation from both ends of the underpass to the middle, beneath the rail line. There is no vehicular traffic in this underpass, so interaction on that level is not a design concern. However, this underpass does have a number of site and programmatic conditions to satisfy, in order for it to function successfully.

The most obvious condition that must be fulfilled is open access for pedestrians, bicycles, and wheelchairs. This is a difficult design challenge because of the sixteen foot change in elevation involved. The length of the underpass allows for an approximately twenty percent grade. That grade will allow bicycles to go up and down the ramps on either side, on a dedicated line, without too much effort to make them avoid the underpass altogether. Wheelchairs and bicycles will not share the same surfaces, creating the need for an additional dedicated pathway. Wheelchair ramps will have to change directions several times to avoid stretches that are too long and difficult to manage. There is also a basement level stair and elevator connection between the underpass and two adjacent buildings that create easy wheelchair access.

The second design condition is an aesthetic and functional engagement in the underpass. First, some questions have to be answered. Who will be using the underpass and do they want to spend any more time than they have to within it? The answers to these questions can change dramatically depending on design. For example, an element such as a stepping fountain cascading down the slopes that connect to a pool in the bottom of the underpass would create a more calming and comfortable experience. On the other hand, a smaller, tighter underpass with boring could result in a feeling of discomfort for users. Another example that could connect the bottom of the underpass to the site above is allowing clear sight lines to the adjacent buildings on and around the site by excavating channels.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Maison Bordeaux

Case Study of Maison Bordeaux
By: Kyle Miller

I found this project relative to my thesis and was inspired by the form of the building. The Architect was Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA. He called Cecil Balmond to do the structure with an unusual request to make a villa in Bordeaux ‘fly’. The client is a family of four with the father surviving a near death car accident. He is now in a wheelchair. "Contrary to what you would expect," he told the architect, "I do not want a simple house. I want a complex house, because the house will define my world”. So Koolhause proposed a design for the private residence with three vertically stacked houses with views overlooking the rich, wine-laden city stretching along the river. These three different floors are connected with 3X3.5 meter elevator platform that also functions as fathers’ office. It moves freely between the three floors, becoming part of the living space or kitchen or transforming itself into an intimate office space, and granting access to books, artwork, and the wine cellar. This movable platform completes the space when on the particular floor but leaves a void in its wake. The bottom house is a series of caverns carved out from the hill, designed for the most intimate life of the family and also has on the ground floor on garden level is a glass room – half inside, half outside – for living. The top house is a concrete mass and has portholes windows to emulate bubbles floating. The heights of the different portholes windows took into consideration for the client in the wheelchair. Also the top house is divided into a children's and a parents' area. The middle house is sandwiched between the two masses with minimal structural obstruction and creates an infinite space by connecting with the surroundings.

The structural system of this building is interesting due to the devised cantilevered system which minimized the number of structural components. This minimalist support system consists of four main elements which include an aluminum cylinder, a large I-beam, a thin cable, and a U-shaped steel member. The cylinder supports the west end of the building and contains the staircase. It is offset to the north, creating a need for a structural counterpart to balance the cantilever. The designs choose not to add a fourth compressive leg, but instead to counter act the weight of the cantilevered structure through the use of a cord in tension on the same side as the compressing cylinder. Through an I-beam, attached to the cylinder, the weight of the cantilever is channeled to the tensile cord, which then pulls on the concrete block sunken into the earth. The U-shaped steel member supports the east end of the structure. This is composed of two columns attached to a beam through moment connections. This structural system has three legs which acts in compression, pushing on the earth. These three legs would work as a tripod, but due to the placement of the cylinder, the legs do not balance the weight of the building. The introduction of the cable pulls the entire building into balance, making this the smallest member the keystone of the structure.

Informal Cecil Balmond with Jannuzzi Smith

Hand Drafting

Why hand drafting still works...
By: Josh Rucinski

Speed.  Often there is a difficulty in working with 2D or particularly 3D programs in a timely manner versus the pencil sketch.  It is indeed faster to draw in precision in a drafting program.  They offer real world measurements versus a scale, but it comes at a heavy price: Setup.  The setup I refer to snapping to orthographic mode, using a polyline versus a line tool and inputting the the measurements using the keyboard.  During Construction documents these aspects enlarge to important data that can be endlessly replicated and printed, faster than any hand drafting. 

However speed is not always a simple formula of how fast or how many lines we can put on a page.  There is also the schematic design process, and this is where there is still no real computer program out there that can be as useful as the hand sketch.

One reason is scope.  In a computer realm, it is very easy to get lost in a drawing, trying to perfect a detail when in fact the whole of the drawing is still at stake.  Is it even a good design?  Hand drafting by its imperfection of scale does not allow the designer this kind of manipulations, therefore the design is still scaled.  Big ideas should start with big scales which conversely create small drawings.  They can be folded and manipulated in a very fast and continual manner, without getting lost in the details.  Perhaps there are designers who can keep their discipline when in the schematic design process within the computer, but I challenge with an interview.

I've found basically no one in the architectural school that I have asked who can keep the design of a building in schematic mode to a finished schematic model without falling prey to designing the ceiling fan or starting a wall section.

In manual drafting this process still happens because architectural students all have ADHD (just kidding).  I meant to say that we all are fascinated with design and we want to get that right.  In the computer, this means a small drawing inside a big drawing.  In the manual drafting this means separate drawings and most important a working record of those drawings.  As the designer bounds from one drawing to another, the process is in a continual refinement.

In a nutshell some are better at sketching then others, and some are better at computer sketching then others and often this is two different camps of people. 

Hand sketching is still a contender for speed because its organic nature allows incremental growth that might be smoother than radical jumps around that can happen when the scope of the project is all over the place.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development
By: Jonathan Smith

Sustainable Development on United State’s East Coast: “How can the east coast of the United States, especially areas experiencing major land loss like North Carolina, sustainably develop its coastal regions to manage rising sea levels in the coming future of worsening climate change? “

Many people would say that climate change, or global warming, is completely false and nothing but an oversight of many overzealous scientists. This cannot be further from the truth. Climate change is the increase in Earth’s average temperature for air around its’ surface and oceans. The term also assumes the continuation of these increases in the temperature of the air for many years to come in the future. Global warming is also reported to be the primary cause current sea level (Janin & Mandia, 2012). Throughout history, a cycle of increasing and decreasing temperatures, known as hot-house and ice-house episodes, has driven the formation of landforms, caused the sea level to rise and fall, and even cause the extinction of species that cannot adapt to the change over time.

There are usually some common misconceptions about climate change that cause people to discount or sometimes even ignore the situation altogether. One common question among people is: why do individuals make a big deal out of sea level rises if it happens cyclically over centuries? A simple answer is that people today are the major difference in increasing sea level rises today in comparison to centuries before. Since people are the main cause of increasing rates of sea level change, it seems only logical that they could be in control of changing the situation (Pilkey & Young 2009).

Throughout the years, many attempts have been made to prevent sea level changes from affecting coastlines. These solutions have usually ended with marginal success or detrimental failures. A few of these solutions include: abandoning the coastal area in question, and relocating; Armoring of “sea walls” that are intended to keep ocean waters at bay as the seas rise; and to bring in sand from other areas to fortify current beaches (Pilkey & Young 2009). These past “solutions” have some important drawbacks associated with them. The last two listed are temporary solutions, and require constant maintenance. Armored sea walls are constantly being destroyed and have to be rebuilt in order to function. Also, sand brought in to fill over eroding coastal beaches can be washed away quickly by large coastal storms or even slowly over a couple of years by smaller ones. This leads to the downfall of all three actions mentioned that were taken in response to climate change; the cost. All of the options are prohibitively expensive, especially the temporary fixes described (Pilkey & Young 2009).

Climate change, in combination with rising sea levels, has a very high potential to damage everything from people and property, to land and sometimes entire ecosystems. A projected sea level rise of 18” per century was projected using data from prior years of climate change for North Carolina’s Coast. More recent studies project the sea level to increase up to 39”-55” by 2100. (Janin & Mandia, 2012).This could result in the loss of a great deal of the United State’s coastline and the organisms that inhabit the area. One of the most notable species extinction due to climate change was the loss of dinosaurs. Although sea level change was not an immediate threat to them by itself, the other environmental changes that were associated with it were harmful. Human extinction, perhaps, represents the highest potential of damage that climate change could have on people. A more immediate threat of sea level rise and global warming is lingering economical damage from altered ecosystems and resources. One state that exemplifies this threat is North Carolina.

North Carolina has one of the most notable coasts in the U.S. due to its’ increased frequency of change and susceptibility to even slight sea level changes. It lies on the Mid-Atlantic Coast, in between Cape Romain, SC and Virginia state line. The coast itself is divided into four bays over the span of 325 mile. The four bays are known as Onslow Bay, Long Bay, Raliegh Bay, Hatteras Bay. The more defining aspect that divides the North Carolina coast is its’ series of vast barrier islands, estuaries, and inlets (Ames, Culver, & Mallinson 2011). Estuaries are basins that contain a mixture of fresh and saline water. The ones on the coast of North Carolina are lined with large marshes and forest wetlands.

Around 25,000-8,000 years ago, enormous 2-mile thick ice glaciers covered the northern two-thirds of the United States. At the time, the sea level off North Carolina’s coast was 410’ below what it is today. This is the main reason for leftover remnants of shore formations found inland of the coast (Ames, Culver, & Mallinson 2011). The previous location of the shore shows the extreme change that can occur from climate change. Over time, barrier islands were formed by high-energy ocean storms in combination with the topography of the slipping coastal plain. Two other physical factors that barrier islands revolve around include: the availability of enough reliable sediment and the event of rising sea levels (Ames, Culver, & Mallinson 2011). Over long lengths of time, these islands get pushed upward and towards the shoreline. Therefore, barrier islands make up important energy absorbing buffers at the confluence of lands, sea, and air. Barrier islands can also act as a natural buffer to protect nearby mainland regions from various storms.

A number of environmental considerations are very significant when designing or planning on North Carolina’s coast. According to the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management’s soil erosion report of 2004, the coast was losing up to 15’ of sand and soil per year. Their study was based on aerial photographs spanning from 1946-1948 (Ames, Culver, & Mallinson 2011). When analyzing the development of this coastal area, it is apparent that many erosion signs and environmental considerations were not thought about; or maybe even completely ignored. Many resulting developments sustained a great deal of damage over short periods of time, costing tax payers countless dollars for upkeep and repair. Disaster events, such as hurricanes or large storm surges, need to be taken into account as well. Although events of that magnitude are nearly impossible to predict, they can very well be prepared for. One of the most basic things to consider, that is often overlooked, is the appropriateness of the development for the specific area in question (Wilson & Piper2010).
Works Cited
Schuetze, Christopher. "How Cities Plan to Keep the Sea at Bay in an Age of Climate Change." New York Times. 05 NOV 2012: n. Web. 28 Jan. 2013. <>.
Stive, Marcel, Louise Fresco, Kabat Pavel, Parmet Bart, and Veerman Cees. "How the Dutch plan to stay dry over the next Century." ICE-Civil Engineering. 164. (2011): 114-212. Web. 28 Jan. 2013.
Janin, H., & Mandia, S. A. (2012). Rising sea levels: An introduction to cause and impact. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.
Brody, S. D., Highfield, W. E., & Kang, J. E. (2011). Rising waters: The causes and consequences of flooding in the united states. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Wilson, E., & Piper, J. (2010). Spatial planning and climate change. New York, New York: Routledge.
Pilkey, O. H., & Young, R. (2009). The rising sea. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
Ames, D. V., Culver, S. J., & Mallinson, D. J. (2011). The battle for north carolina's coast. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Newari House

Newari House
By: Jabina Shrestha 

It has come to almost end of spring semester 2013, just 3 weeks from today. My calendar is full of marked deadlines for assignments, projects, presentations paper. In order to get all things accomplished on time, time management is a must. In the beginning of the semester, we were told to finish 85% of our thesis projects by the end of spring and leave 15 % during summer for making good presentations renderings. With that note every one of us are trying our best to finish as much as we can. But besides thesis, there are other courses as well, that is consuming most of the time. ARC 532 Global History by Professor Jon Davey is one of the course that all graduate students are supposed to take this spring semester.

I would like to share my experience in this class for today’s blog.

Let me start with the first part of project. We had to choose a historical building, study it’s historical, construction, materials, social, political, cultural considerations, climatic factors, and then write a paper on it. The good thing about writing a paper is that I learned how to write paper in APA format which will help and make me easy to do the written part of thesis.

I chose Newari tradition house for my paper since I am familiar with this typology but still wanted to learn more in depth. The challenging part of the paper was to include a 3d Max video that shows an activity that people do in the building. Since most of us had never used in our entire life, we had to do it in about a weeks’ time. For the second project, we are supposed to make a model of any structure existing in the world. I had knowledge about the building so wanted to implement it by making a sectional model of the house.
I started designing the house with plan, section and elevation in AutoCAD. Within the coherence of style, materials, building height, and elevation symmetry, there is a rich diversity of detail and decoration. So I had to limit myself to go into detail as it is not possible to show each and every small detail in that scale.
Materials has played a vital role in the development process of Newari style architecture. The main materials are the Brick, Clay and Wood. So I have used plywood and uncarved it which looks like brick and bass wood for columns, and doors, windows.

Walls are mostly a load-bearing brickwork construction with floor joists spanning between the front and back walls and the central spine wall. As you can see on the model, that stairs are made out of wood and are very steep, narrow and in one continuous flight due to the limited height between stories. Stairs run as approximately 550 pitches with seven widely spaced open treads. The entire system is held together with two joists fixed into position with wooden wedges.

Symmetry is the main aim in the design of the façade. Well, doors and windows are the one of the main elements that adds to the facade giving a Newar style Architecture. The ground floor is used as shop front so this section of the façade remains quite simply executed with a low narrow doors. The most important communication to the street, other than the door is through the San Jhya window in the main living room which is the second floor. The Sajhya is always located in the center to create a central axis for the symmetry of the Newari façade which I have tried to detail out in the model.

The roof is a double-pitched of about 40°-50° in order to make full use of the available space with the ridge on the line of the central spine wall and a projecting overhang of 900mm at front and back. This space is used as cooking area for the house. I am satisfied with this project as I could show all the detailing, materials used and newari architecture in the model.

Here are some of the images of the model of traditional newari house.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Daeyang Gallery and House

Daeyang Gallery and House
By: Colleen O’Malley

Daeyang Gallery is a private house and gallery located in Seoul, Korea. The project was designed as an experiment parallel to a research studio on “the architectonics of music.” The basic geometry of the building is inspired by a 1967 sketch for a music score by the composer Istvan Anhalt, “Symphony of Modules,” which was discovered in a book by John Cage titled “Notations.”

The project contains three pavilions. The pavilions are divided; one dedicated for the entrance, one for the residence, and one for an event space. The spaces appear to push upward from a continuous lower galley. The water plane of reference establishes the above and below level. The views from each of the pavilions are also framed by the water in reflecting pools, bracketed by gardens that run perpendicular to the skylight strips. At the base of the reflecting pool are strips of glass which brings light to the white walls of the gallery below. The idea of the project is to create a space which is silent until penetrate by light. There are a total of 55 skylight strips in the roofs of the pavilions. Strips of glass allow the sun to bend around the interior, animating them according to the time of day and season. The project is organized around the proportions 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, and 55.

A visitor arrives at a bamboo framed garden wall at the entry court. Once traveling through the front door and traveling down a small staircase, one can see the pond at eye level and see the three pavilions. The interiors are red and charcoal stained wood with the skylights cutting through the wood ceiling. The exteriors are comprised of rain screen of custom copper. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Japanese Joint

Japanese Joint
By: Christopher Pacanowski
When it comes to building buildings there are many different types of structural elements that can be used when constructing a building. Some of the most interesting structural elements are in post and beam construction. Specifically with Japanese post and beam structures which use no mechanical fasteners, this becomes an elaborate joint. There are many different types of Japanese joint, all of which use no mechanical fasteners and are made completely by hand. For a structural project that I had to do for a class, I had done a simple Japanese Joint, and the process was very interesting. With traditional Japanese carpenters, they would use chisels to make every hand joint. In my joint I had used a forester drill bit for a drill press to get the majority of the wood carved out of the 4 x4 column. Once that was done I used a chisel to chisel out the left over material in the hole that will fit the 2 x 4 beams. If I were a master carpenter using a chisel to cut out the holes would make the most accurate joint. There are also many other style Japanese joints some of which use a modified dovetail, and those types of joints require special skills in carpentry to make. This joint uses a wood wedge which is hammered into the column to keep the beam secured. Below is an image of the joint. The greatest thing about Japanese joints is that it makes a great looking secure joint. 

Guidelines of TOD

Guidelines of Transit-Oriented Development
By: Chris Harpstrite

Several sources write about designing different elements of walkable neighborhoods. Overall conclusions on active walkable streets:

Sidewalks – required on all public streets. Allocate space for plantings and street furniture, sidewalk dining or vendors, and a clear walkway for pedestrians

Building placement and orientation – buildings should be oriented to the street with small or zero setback. Corner buildings are particularly important and are generally required to hold the corner with facades on both streets. Arlington County established the following for main street and pedestrian/open space linkages:

Maintain a recognizable enclosure of space along main street, and primary and secondary connectors by placing buildings, walls, and other features at the edge of the sidewalk, respecting the “build to” line.

Along main street the retail base on buildings should come out to the edge of the sidewalk helping to create an active pedestrian environment and clearly defining the streetscape.

Entrances – primary entrances open onto public streets. This orientation ensures pleasant and simple access for pedestrians.

Windows are frequently required at ground level, and a certain percentage of glass is often specified. The intent is to “enliven” the street by providing visual interest that encourages people to walk and take transit. Requiring fenestration goes hand in hand with avoiding blank walls on pedestrian streets.

Block size – small blocks are generally required in order to create a high level of connectivity that provides a choice of routes for travelers, active walking environments, and the opportunity for diversity in design. Addison, Texas, mandates blocks with between 200’-600’. The length of any block should generally be 200’-250’ long, and never longer than 350’.

Placement and supply of parking – generally zoning defines the placement and supply of parking. Prominent surface parking is consistently and correctly prohibited in transit districts.

Street standards – Streets that are comfortable for walking are essential to TOD districts, and all elements of the street design are frequently addressed.

Building density and intensity – Though density and concentration of activity sufficient to support transit operation are TOD essentials, there is no absolute density standard for TOD. While conventional practices limit the amount of density, with TOD a minimum density needs to be set. Density gradients are usually used, with lower densities (and heights) at the perimeter of the property and higher density at the center, reflecting the fact that the TOD is generally the highest density development in the neighborhood. 

Disaster Prevention

Thesis – Disaster Prevention 

By: Brad Hoepfner

Natural disasters have become an increasingly prevalent part of the planet Earth and with each disaster we, the inhabitants, learn and strive to prevent the next disaster from destroying anything we may cherish. In attempts to control these disasters we start to create massive walls and other devices that cause mayhem and disrupt the way nature is supposed to function. For instance, along the Mississippi River a series of levees have been created to control the levels of the water and protect the built environment of these surrounding lands. Initially, these levees did exactly that and saved many homes from being destroyed from flood waters of this huge and powerful river. Over time we have started to have bigger and stronger floods overtaking the levees and in some cases cause the river to flow backwards and flood upstream.

This thesis will look at this type of disaster and the others that affect the region of Southern Illinois and more specifically, Jackson County, and offer an approach to the people inhabiting this region for resisting future disasters and to help the Mississippi River function as it was intended to. In order to assist the Mississippi, lowering the height of levees in less populated and more rural areas would allow the river to flood these regions as they were originally made to do. This developed into an immediate need to protect the homes, property, and assets of the people of this region. Creating a home that can accommodate almost anyone living in this region as well as being able to resist the many disasters is essential for the survival of the people living here. By implementing a unique strategy within the buildings foundation will allow the homes to move with the changing water levels and allow the homes to remain safe and in their correct locations will let the inhabitants flourish. Other design strategies for these homes will involve protecting them from high tornado winds and resisting destructive earthquakes will be integrated into the buildings foundation and structure systems.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Green Roofs

Green Roofs

By: Andrew Ewing

LOCATION: California Academy of Sciences, The Osher Living Roof
CREDITS: Greenroof Consultant: Rana Creek Living Architecture

WHY DID YOU SELECT THIS ONE: This is a unique green roof where everything is specific to this particular roof. Every piece has its own specific place, and was designed intentionally. This is a complicated green roof system, but proves that green roofs can be located on surfaces other than flat roofs.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION: The California Academy of Sciences building was designed by Renzo Piano. “Beneath the 2.5 acre living roof, a single building measuring 410,000 square feet houses the academy components that once stretched across 12 structures.” The planetarium and the bubble that contains the rain forest habitat are the two big spheres that shape the green roof. The design of the roof has seven undulating green hillocks that respect the topography of San Francisco and blend the building into the existing parkland.

The roof sits 35 feet in the air planted with wildflowers and native species. “The San Francisco-based Bernard Osher Foundation made a $20 million donation to the Academy project in support of the living roof and the four story living rainforest exhibit.” Construction began in 2005 and the Academy has won several awards for its innovative design. The $429 million project opened September 27, 2008.

This project required a specific modular green roof system design solely for this project. There are 50,000 modules on the roof that are about 17”x 17”. “The three-year research period which Rana Creek Living Architecture designed, built and monitored a series of living roof mock ups, made up of indigenous plants, studied soil retention, and drainage techniques. “The roof is padded with 6 inches of soil which provide excellent insulation. The roof keeps interior temperatures about 10 degrees cooler than a standard roof and reduces low frequency noise by 40 decibels. “It will also decrease the urban heat island effect staying about 40 degrees cooler than a standard roof. Moreover, it will absorb about 98% of all storm water. The roof consists of 1.7 million plants made up by 9 native species.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Architectural Applications

Architectural Applications
By: Adulsak "Otto" Chanyakorn

I often hear my graduate school classmates discuss about variety kinds of architectural software that we should keep up with, such as Revit, Sketch up, Auto Cad, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Indesign, Rhinoceros, formZ, Grasshopper, and so on. Otherwise, we will not be able to find jobs if we are not able to use a variety of software. It is important for us as students to be able to apply and take advantage from modern technology, which will help us to provide effective architectural drawing. I’m not opposed to it at all, and I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by smart and kind people like my classmates who always help me when I have any problems with computer-aided applications. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed and distracted from all the new applications that we have to keep up with.
            As an architecture student, I realized that the essence of studying architecture is to create good architecture. Being able to excellently use computer-aided software is a different topic from creating good architecture. From my experience in the fall semester, I tried to produce my work by relying on different kinds of software. I found myself struggling to achieve a good result for the design. Moreover I felt that the computer-aided software did not allow me to have time to carefully consider and analyze the fragments or incompleteness of the design. It seemed to me that I just jumped from the beginning to the end without good awareness of the importance of the design process. Furthermore, I felt that every time I produced drawings from the computer I was just trying to impress viewers, but not studying and refining the weaknesses in my design. Hence, the result of the design became less interesting and unable to achieve the expected good result.
            During the spring semester for the thesis design, I promised myself that I would try to concentrate on developing my architectural ideology as mush as possible, and the computer-aided software would be the last process that I would apply to presenting my ideas and design. I have allowed myself to think freely and apply any methods of design that seem appropriate to the situation, such as using sketching, painting, making physical models, or even letting myself pause from doing architecture to read poetry and literature, study art or take a walk. These activities permit me to see a different perspective and bring new ideas and inspiration to my work.
It takes more time to provide and come up with a good architectural solution, but the idealism and creativity that are appropriate to the design solution are slowly manifested through a good foundation, which leads to a strong and good design concept. In addition, I found that physical model making is the best manner for me to simulate the design idea. Although the computer-aided software rapidly provides us with 3 dimensional models as well, the rapidity and repetitiveness often leads us to the wrong design decisions. In contrast, physical models seem to reveal our design solution slowly, and they allow us to have more time to carefully consider and find a good solution. As Glen Murcutt mentioned, “With the computer, you arrive at the end before you comprehend the meaning of the end.”  The slowness of the design process has allowed me to discover important aspects during the design process.
Good things take time to produce and require a lot of attention. This philosophy can apply to architectural design as well. Some architectural design manners seem to be old-fashioned such as sketching and physical model making. I still believe in the great value of them, especially in the era of mass produced quantity. The slowness allows us to pause and look to the thing we are doing carefully.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Questions... and More Questions?
By: Van Dwinnells

"My next blog will take closer a look at how just what and how we can modify and manipulate specific aspects of an environment to achieve a direct correlation between the perceived behavioral control and actual behavior."   
It is a quote; one that I wrote only a few weeks ago.  Yet I must first digress and ask more questions.

What transcends time?  The solidarity, yet refined poignancy of classical architecture humbles our nation before it with its symmetry and hierarchy.  It has ingrained within our society a substance, one that represents value, persistence, integrity, and lastly, power.  The strength portrayed by weight and mass are manipulated in harmonious strokes bowing down to pay homage to the thoughts of our forefathers.  It is transcendental as it still pushing the boundaries of our desires and forcing us to learn from history and do better and be better. It is a manner that shapes life, guides us, not just in the limited moment of the temporary, but throughout our lifetimes.  Our children, their children, our great and even great-great grandchildren will be shaped by the legacy we leave.  Shouldn't we secure the message, secure the memories in form?  Is this why our capitals are defined in this manner?   

I pose many questions, but what is important to you, the designer?  No, that is wrong.  I pose another.  What is important to society?  This is more right.  What is important to our current predicament and how will the future generations evolve from now?  This is the design question.  Where is the solution?

What is the figurative right hand? Is it representative of strength?  Better yet, is it an executive, a decision maker?  What about the balance? Does this not prelude a tipping to the judiciaries and the creative legislative?  Digression diverted. Now for more questions.

What does the plaza present to the people?  The walking spaces, the driving spaces, the community spaces; How do they all connect?  Kevin lynch explored what these things meant in a cognitive way and upon analysis, delineated that we recreate a city within our mind based upon experientials we encounter within a given environment.  More questions.  What are the distinctive and memorable elements of the city in question?  How do we mentally navigate a city and how does this translate to the physical environment? 

Kevin Lynch proposed a system, a framework if you will, of how we assess our environment especially within urban areas.  He defined 5 distinct elements within the built environment. They are as follows:

·         Paths: (lines of movement) the streets, rail tracks, trails and other channels along which people move. Often, paths work like basic structures along which other elements in the built environment are arranged.

·         Edges: (transition zones) clear transition zones and linear boundaries between two areas, e.g. between water, walls and nature and the city. Water is an important edge for those cities that are located on coasts or rivers.

·         Districts: (distinctive city sections) quarters, neighborhoods and other sections of the city with a distinctive character. Not all districts are such “full thematic units”; some will be only recognized by people who know the city well.

·         Nodes: (Strategic Meeting Points) strategic meeting points in a city, e.g. squares, junctions or stations. Obviously, the more distinctive a node, the more memorable it will be.

·         Landmarks: (Singular Objects) singular objects that serve as general public reference points. Some of these are distant (e.g. towers and spires), while others are local, such as sculptures and signs.

These elements have laid the foundation to better understanding how we absorb key components of our environment whether they be directly or indirectly, consciously or non-consciously.  He later, in his book Good City Form, suggested that the mental maps people create are not only formed by their “sense of place” but they are directly related to the importance of the situation, giving the place a “sense of occasion”.  This directly relates to a city’s image and its imageability.  So what is imageability?
Imageability -  “that quality in a physical object which gives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in any given observer” (Lynch, 1960, p. 9).
These senses can come from the five elements but also from impermanent events like periodic festivals, events, parades, as well as other temporary activities.  It can even be created by the likes of signage, banners, or way-finding methods. 

It may seem like a long tangent to get there, but we must incorporate many social triggers to create a functional and memorable spaces within our cities' urban fabrics.  In order to do this we must contemplate how those things affect us. Incorporation of these social triggers explain how we manage to preserve our history and yet, at the same time enable progress.  This is how we push forward, perpetuating our learned knowledge. We step toward the future upon the foundation of our current designs and agendas pushing the envelope ever so slightly, and thereby define what is better education to our future generations.  As architects, WE provide the more appropriate facilities to do just that, facilitate; Facilitate knowledge, facilitate growth,  and to facilitate legacy.

Temple of Warriors

The Temple of Warriors By: Sam Harshman

The Temple of the Warriors, or Guerreros, was built between 950 and 1000 A.D. by the Toltec conquerors of Yucatan. It is located in the city of Chichen Itza in the northeastern part of the state of Yucatan in Mexico. Yucatan's climate is typically warm and humid because of its location to the Caribbean Sea. The average temperature falls in the range of seventy-seven to eighty-one degrees Fahrenheit, rarely falling below sixty-one degrees Fahrenheit, and rarely falling above one-hundred-twenty degrees Fahrenheit. The average annual rainfall in this part of Yucutan is forty-five inches. The majority of this rainfall occurs during the summer months of May through August. The topography of the site is relatively flat. (Advameg Inc, 2007)

The temple was designed by Ah Haleb, a Mayan Rebel, even though the Mexicanized Itza had been masters of the city for a long time. He spent many hours walking through Chichen Itza, keeping his eye over all, to make sure all was being done the way he wanted it done. (Thompson, 1954, p. 204) Thompson (1954) writes about a day in the life of Ah Haleb. This is a section from his book about Ah Haleb in the Temple of the Warriors as it was being constructed:

Entering the temple, the architect paused to accustom his eyes to the dim light. The artists responsible for the murals were not at work, for the light was bad; they would work in the afternoon when the western sun streamed through the triple entrance to the temple. Considerable progress had been made with the painting of the great mural; the bold preliminary outlining in a tawny red had been completed several days before and had given Ah Haleb a good idea of how the scenes would appear. (p. 20)

Columns were the main structural component of the temple itself. Two of these columns were made to look like feathered serpents. Their heads looked like dragons with feathers coming off the top. Temples made with these feathered-serpent columns were dedicated to Kukulcan, the Feathered Serpent, who was the patron deity of Chichen Itza. (Morley, 1946, p.285) The two feathered serpent columns face the Chac Mool who is reclining and looking west towards the Great Plaza. Above the serpent's head is a symbol of the Mexican invasion.

Other symbols of the Temple include: stone altars with friezes of jaguars, tigers, eagles and death's heads, warriors decorating the four faces of the pillars in the Temple, and little figures that supported the altar in the Temple of the Warriors.

The construction of the Temple of the Warriors was a very tedious and well thought out
task. The buildings at Chichen Itza were built by sculptors. Every piece had to be molded out of
a mortar. To make this mortar, first a kiln had to be made. Thompson (1954) wrote about the
making of a kiln and what it was used for;

In the center a pole, about nine feet high, had been set up, and, on the ground around it, large logs of hardwood had been layed at intervals like the spokes of a great
wheel with the diameter of about twenty feet. (p 204)

In between these spokes was filled with smaller pieces of wood, even the crevices were filled
with even finer bits of hardwood. On top of this was a pile of limestone chunks, no bigger than
baseballs, about two feet high at the perimeter sloping up to about three feet towards the center.
The pole was then removed from the center, leaving a hole all the way down to the spokes of the
hardwood. After the pole was removed, burning embers were dropped in the remaining holes.
The hard wood would eventually catch fire and eventually even burn the limestone. The fire
would not burn out until the next morning, leaving the limestone in a heap of powder. The
powder would be several times larger than the chunks, because of moisture in the air.

After this process was finished, the powdered limestone would be moved to the place
where the mortar was mixed. The powdered limestone was mixed with an ingredient called
sascab, a white marl. This mixing of the two ingredients was a very important step to making mortar. It was so important that even Ah Haleb had to go around and make sure it was the right consistency. (Thompson, 1954, p. 207) The following is the way Thompson (1954) viewed a Ah Haleb's typical mortar test;

The architect stopped to watch one of the mixers stir the mass with a wooden paddle, sampled the resulting mixture by rubbing a little between his fingers, and, enjoining the mixer not to weaken the proportions, passed on. (p. 207)

After the mortar was mixed, the mason's assistants had to put the mortar in pails and carry them to the masons up ladders. The masons would then use the mortar to make the columns, roofs and whatever else was being built at the time. After the mortar would set up, the sculptors would come and sculpt out feathered serpents or even Chac Mool statues. (Thompson, 1954, p. 207)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sustainable Land Lab

Sustainable Land Lab Competition: Final Eight 
By: Megan Gebke

In a previous blog, I had mentioned the sustainable land lab survey. Up to four winning teams will be announced on April 10. The winning teams receive a two year land lease and $5,000 cash to jump start their project. The final eight ideas have been chosen:

Bistro Box: The Bistro Box concept is a small business incubator that transforms surplus cargo containers into a compact restaurant and culinary destination.

Carbon Carpet: The Carbon Carpet team proposes to install warm season grass plantings on unutilized urban lots currently owned by the LRA. Plantings will be positioned to afford educational, financial, ecological and social benefits to neighbors, city residents and fellow inhabitants of spaceship earth, in that order, respectively.

Chess Pocket Park: Community sustainability supported through Chess Pocket Park – outdoor community chess venue for residents with a permanent location supporting our primary community asset – its people.

HUB: Hybrid Urban Bioscapes (formerly LauLab, Nectaring Garden and Refab): A productive landscape and a public space. The intention is to share knowledge and strategies with local residents about how to cultivate and maintain a food producing garden while having a place to gather.

Mighty Mississippians (formerly Christner): Learning Lessons from the Past: A modern agricultural and sustainable living model, the premises for our approach rooted in regional history, the Mississippians and their ancestors, as well as modern permaculture practices. Using concepts of permaculture, the site would demonstrate the interdependent relationships that work efficiently and sustainably in nature and that worked for previous civilizations, from the soil to the birds, to humans.

Renewing Roots Urban Farm: A scalable urban agriculture network that proposes to transform blighted lots into cost efficient models of sustainability.

ShiftUP : A community space to rent, maintain, and learn about bicycles. As a bike hub, shiftUP would encourage bikers from other parts of St. Louis to visit Old North and interact with the community.

The Sunflower+ Project: The Sunflower+ Project: StL proposes turning previously developed urban lots into a community asset through the planting of sunflowers. With a goal of eventually spurring redevelopment of these vacant parcels, the project will serve as an appropriate, scalable, and productive transitional solution.

For more information visit:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Automated Parking

The Architecture of Automated Parking 
By: Lucas E. Shubert

Parking is constant design problem for architects, engineers, and all kinds of planning professionals. Typically, in dense urban areas, the most viable solution is to create a free-standing structure dedicated to parking—a parking garage. However, dense urban areas are not the only optimal candidates for parking garages. Small cities throughout the U.S. could benefit from the potential pedestrian scale mass parking that automated parking garages can provide.

The difference between traditional ramp parking garages and automated parking garages is minimum double potential capacity per same unit area combined with ease of use. Ramp garages require at least enough space for one lane of traffic per each stall, whereas automated parking garages only require the space for stalls and a shared space for the central sorting machine. While both types of garage require one or more entrance terminals, human interaction with the automated type ends at there—leaving more space for parking stalls.

Since there is so little interaction between the user and the interior the garage structure, architectural elements such as paths of egress and accessibility are of little relevance. Furthermore, form is entirely dependent on the function of the building, based on the specialized machinery involved. Therefore, the focus of design is limited to the exterior façade and its relation to its surroundings. Natural (and for that matter, electric) light holds no value during day to day operations, but could be valuable to lower operational cost if the machinery needs repair.

So, since natural light is generally unnecessary and the only required fenestration on the exterior of the building relates to the entry terminals, how does one design an architecturally fascinating façade? The most obvious solution is to add an energy capturing system on as much of the vacant exterior as possible. A large array of solar panels can help to balance the power consumption of the robotic systems within the building. Perhaps the best solution to minimizing the potential monumentality and emptiness of the exterior of an automated parking garage is to include adjacent mixed-use spaces. That way, they can share a pedestrian scale to create a walkable downtown environment.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thesis Problem Statement

Thesis Problem Statement 
By: Kyle Miller 

Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders of childhood. According to DSM-IV, the prevalence of Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity is estimated at 3%-5% in school age children. According to WebMD, some experts, though, say ADHD may occur in 8% to 10% of school aged children. Also, the rate of older teens diagnosed with ADHD is greater compared to younger children. This neurobehavioral disorder is 2.5 time more common in males than in females. With the analysis information, it has confirmed that there are a group of students afflicted with ADHD out there that have been diagnosed with this neurobehavioral disorder and they are in spaces that are contributing to the issue more than it is trying to help them with their issue.

Brehm Preparatory School, located in Carbondale, Illinois was chosen as the proposed site because it demonstrates a structured learning environment for students who have ADHD. It is the only accredited junior and senior high school in the Midwest specifically designed to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of students with complex learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. There are currently 90 students that attend Brehm from California to New York as well as other countries. An important characteristic about Brehm is their own individualized educational plan, there emphasis differentiated instruction and there small classed which is from one to eight students. Brehm also has a daily structure in place for the students so they can become more confident and comfortable.

A traditional classroom is a classroom with desk and chairs. A non-traditional classroom is a classroom with a space to do physical activity. The ideal traditional classroom size for student afflicted by ADHD is 8 to 10 students. In an average elementary class size with one instructor for all subjects is 20.1 students and the average secondary class size with a different teacher for every subject is 23.0, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This means architecturally that classrooms are being designed for to many students. Also the classroom should be not be as stimulating according to Brehm Preparatory School. This is also a factor that can be influenced on what the architecture is.

The Martial Arts program is necessary to the physical fitness of a student afflicted with ADHD. It makes the student look and feel better about themselves when they are physically fit. Also this activity creates a structured environment which can translate to an architecturally designed space. Furthermore, in putting a non-traditional classroom next to a traditional classroom make it possible to architecturally make the spaces completely different. The underline principles it to create a structured learning experience with the balance of traditional learning experiences to non-traditional experiences.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

CNC Machine

Using the CNC part ten or so...
By: Josh Rucinski
One of the hardest things to find online is the speeds of which you should cut materials. The main reason is because the information is protected. The secondary reason is because RPM spindle speed is not actually the same as cutting speed.

Cutting speed, when you can find it online usually reads like this 600 fpm which means 600 feet per minute. Machinists use this because the diameter of the cutting head of the tool changes the speed of the cut dramatically. Consider the following. I have a 10” diameter tire and I rotate it once on the ground it will have travelled 10”x pi = 31.4”, if you have 40” diameter tire, the distance is four times the length on the ground. If you rotated both tires during the same length of time, the 40” diameter tire is moving 4 times the speed!

Therefore cutting speed is expressed in rpm by using an equation. Pi is simplified as 3, and the inch/foot converter is factored in. There the expression is this (fpm*4)/diameter of tool= rpm. CNC push speed is a small fraction of the rpm, The Feed Rate in "INCHES Per MINUTE" is determined by multiplying the number of cutting teeth by the RPM, multiplying that product by the Feed per Tooth, and dividing by 3. The calculation is as follows:

Feed Rate = (Number of Cutting Teeth x RPM x Feed Per Tooth)

Example #3 Use the information and RPM calculated in Example #2 for a Milling Machine, ball-parking the FPT(Feed per Tooth) of .005 (see table), and a cutting depth of .050"

Feed Rate = (2 x 2000 x .005) = 20 inches/minute

This is really just rules of thumb, adjustments are always required to each product.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Work breakdown structure (WBS):

By: Jabina Shrestha                                                      

Work breakdown structure (WBS):
It is a fundamental tool used in project management and system engineering. It is like tree structure (look similar to organizational chart but they are alike) which consists of summing of subordinates. The main idea of WBS is used to define and organize the total scope of the project. The concept of WBS developed with the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) in the United States Department of Defense (DoD).
The purposes of the WBS are;
-          it helps more accurately and specifically define and organize the scope of the total project
-          it helps  in assigning responsibilities, resource allocation, monitoring the project and controlling the project
-          it allows to check all the deliverables specific with the stakeholders and allow to be sure of no missing and overlapping

One of the most important WBS design principles is 100% Rule. The Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures (Second Edition), published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) define the 100% rules as follows;
“The 100% Rule  ... states that the WNS includes 100% of the work defined by the project scope and capture all deliverables- internal, external, interim-interim of the work to be completed, including project management. The 100% rule is one of the most important principles guiding the development, decomposition and evaluation of the WBS. The rule applies at all levels within the hierarchy; the sum of the work at the “child” level must equal 100% of the work represent by the “ parent” and the WBS should not include any work that falls outside the actual scope of the project, that is, it cannot include  more than 100% of work.. It is important to remember that the 100% rue also applies to the activity level. The work represented by the activities in each work package must add up to 100% of the work necessary to complete the work package.”
Likewise there are others design principles to create WBS, those are;
-          Planned outcomes, not planned actions
-          Mutually exclusives elements
-          Level of detail
-          Decomposition Considerations
-          WBS coding scheme
-          Terminal element

There are some pitfalls while creating a WBS; those are
-          Level of Work Package Detail; must decide how specific and details are needed, must be careful not to get too detailed
-          Deliverables not Activities or Tasks: should contain list of broken deliverables  not a list of specific tasks used to get the deliverables
-          WBS is not a Plan or Schedule: cannot be used as plan or schedule
-          WBS Updates Require Change Control: changes in WBS change the deliverables and thus the scope of the project
-          WBS is not an Organizational Hierarchy:

List of Tools for WBS:
-          WBS Chart PRO
-          Match Ware