Friday, November 29, 2013

Relationships and Architecture….

By Alan Kirkwood

            It is often said that Architecture school and maintaining a dating relationship can not coexist with each other… If you are in one, it will be hard and eventually it will be ruined by the Arch monster!!! From my observations, I have seen many architects and former architects who have had failed dating relationships, marriages as well as even friendships due to the demands of the major. Personally, I have lost a few friendships as well as a relationship because of my workload and at the time, it really bothered me, but I was in school and had to do what I had to do in order to be successful.
Well, as I have been in the program for a while now and would consider myself a pretty decent student, I have grown to realize that it is possible to not only maintain friendships but also dating relationship at the same time. YOU CAN ALSO HAVE A PERSONAL LIFE!!!!! WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?!?!?! I have learned to manage my time better, which mentioned in an earlier blog of mine, is the key to much happiness in architecture. Balancing your priorities is another. There are times where you have to separate yourself from your peers in order to get work done, but there should also be "You" time. This time is what helps you maintain your sanity. I guess it's an all around responsibility thing, responsibility to your work in making sure you allot the proper time needed to accomplish tasks and stick to that schedule, responsibility to yourself by taking out time to do the little things: exercise, read, write, go out to eat, shop, watch some television, and a thing we neglect often, just sit back quietly and think... Another responsibility is that to others. This includes friends, families, significant others. While in school, your number one priority is your studies; I mean, you're paying for it which is reason enough to put effort into it. But your relationships are important and those people can be the ones that help you get through many trying times, so don't blow them off. Just regulate the time you give to them and find that balance with your work.
                I spoke with a couple of my fellow classmates, some in close proximity relationships as well as some with very long distance relationships like myself. I have also observed other students in their relationships, whether married or not, and see that it is very possible to not only sustain those relationships, but also grow in them. My relationship has been very blissful even at 4,000 miles between us partially because she is in medical school so she understands heavy workloads, but also just a general understanding of what the two of us have to do and how my success or failure in school will impact our future life together. One of the people I spoke too mentioned that they have had their struggles in their relationship, but they made up their mind that they wanted to be together and they worked through their issues. They are actually engaged now. Once again, I think it's a balance and an understanding of your priorities in life. If you understand that school is important but also understand the importance of the people in your life as well as yourself, you can find that many things in your life can be blissful.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fiber Optic and Tubular Lighting

By Nick Mosher

               Today our society is becoming more aware of just how important daylight is and its effects it has on people.  Tubular lighting has brought another way of allowing daylight to enter into an interior space.  It acts like an extended vertical skylight that carries light through a roof and even a floor and then diffuses it into a space.  The diffuser looks just like any ceiling light and can be made to look like a standard industrial light or a more elegant one.  Fiber optic lighting has recently developed and acts very similar to how tubular lighting does.  It collects direct sunlight and redirects it into a space where it then diffuses it.  Both are efficient and use natural free lighting compared to the use of artificial lights that require electricity consumption. 
                One tubular lighting unit is made out of a singular hollow tube with the internal lining covered in a highly reflective coating, usually aluminum, and like mentioned before a diffuser at the end where the light enters into a space.  At the beginning of the tube there is a half-sphere magnifying lens that collects the sunlight and redirects it into the tube. The tube sizes can vary from 8” up to 22” diameter and a 13” diameter tube provides the same amount of light as 7 100 watt light bulbs on a sunny day.  This system is very efficient in allowing a space with no windows to receive sunlight.  Up to 12 feet of straight tubing can provide 95% of the light that it captures from the outdoors.  Angles can be applied to the travel of the light but it will reduce the amount of light that reaches a room.  The light reduces also when the length of a tube system increases.  The system can reach lengths over 20’ but it is not as common2.  Compared to the fiber optic system tubular lighting is cheaper and it has been around for a longer time which makes it the more common choice today.
                 Fiber optic lighting may be more expensive but it does have advantages over tubular systems.  Fiber optic systems can be very flexible and bend around corners as well as travel a longer length than tubular systems.  This is because the system is made out of not one large hollow tube, but several small glass or plastic solid tubes that carry the light. At the beginning of the tubes there is one Fresnel lens for each tube. The lenses can rotate in several directions and are programmed to follow the sun’s path to optimize on maximum light collection.  This allows more light to be directed into a room and the length of travel to be longer but it still does not allow 100% of light into a space.  At 33’ only 64% of light is provided and at 65’ only 40% of light reaches a space1.  But those distances are much greater than tubular lighting.  Because the tubes are solid, there wouldn’t be a problem of critters entering into the tube and causing problems.  Overall for shorter distances up to 20 feet the tubular system is a better choice but for longer distances that need flexibility, the fiber optic system is the way to go. 

1.            Alex Wilson. (May 11, 2010) Fiber Optics for Daylighting.

2.            Alex Wilson. (May 4, 2010) Tubular Skylights Introduce Daylight to Dark Homes.

Monday, November 25, 2013


By Timothy Shotts

On Saturday after Halloween, the Varsity Center for the Arts hosted an art exhibition of paintings, sculpture, and photographs of buildings and the objects inside of them.  The artists “explore the odd, unknown, and mysterious aspects of old homes in a uniquely personal way” (  The theme of the show, so near to Halloween, seems appropriate, but it was interesting to see how people relate to the buildings in their town and the houses they grew up in.  We learn in architecture classes about the phenomenology of architecture – the experience of a place.  Like art, everyone’s experience of a place is dependent on every fiber of your being – personal history, morals, background knowledge of the artist / architect, emotional state, etc.  The feeling of place is what makes a house a home.  It is what makes a place memorable and unique.  It is the spirit of the place and what it means. 
Just prior to the That House show, The Carbondale Times ran a story of an abandoned building owned by SIU being razed.  Building 207, Jackson County Poor Farm, old insane asylum, or Sunset Haven has [probably] been abandoned since 1957 when the university purchased the land for agriculture use (  Since then, the building has been vandalized and become unsafe (Ritter).  Prior to SIU owning the building, it has been used as a home for the poor, mentally ill, and in need of nursing care (Ritter).  There are also at least 87 graves dating back as far as the Civil War (Ritter) which probably lead to the legend that the place is haunted.  I would have loved to experience this old building before it was torn down.  At the very least documented it.  There’s a lot of history that was just leveled.  What was the feeling of the place, and how was it experienced by its previous residents?  Someone knows, but I’m not sure who.         
Stephen Holl, the architect of the Bloch Building addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo is a modern example of an architect concerned with phenomenology.  The inside – experienced during the day – allows you periodic views to the outside through “lenses”.  The outside – experienced best during the night – glows due to the structural channel glass with lights embedded between the outside and inside walls.  The glass walls not only change the whole way we think about buildings and their materiality, but also the typology of museums – who have traditionally restricted the amount of natural light for concerns about damage from UV wavelengths, and also about how we should view art.

Watch how people use buildings and space.  Watch how you use the space.  Experience it during the day and during the night.  Try to look at architecture not as a place for an single activity, or a machine, but as a creator of history, a creator of activity, and a creator of feelings.
Image by Scott Doody
Image by Sarah Fiola

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What is an Author?

By Michelle Harris

The concept of writing a blog this week directed me to consider Foucault’s ’ What is an Author?’. The requirement of blogging directs the writer to produce. Production changes the operandi to a function. The function is but an objective frame. Foucault analyses this evolution of losing the subject in the process of creation as a type of death. He says, “Writing has become linked to sacrifice, even to the sacrifice of life. It is now a voluntary effacement which does not need to be represented in books, since it is brought about in the writer’s very existence.’ This critique of individual existence is founded on Foucault’s consensus with Nietzsche that God and man have a common death. This death is a metaphor in ‘What is an Author’ for the abolishment of individuality.
This manifestation of individuality in design has been seen in the super star architect. However, when considering the architectonic and internal analysis the role of the subjects experiencing the space outweighs the significance of the author. Foucault’s point on authorship is essentially what difference does it make who is speaking? Embracing this viewpoint in total, would lead to blatant plagiarism. In design, this objectivity manifests in Motel 6’s. In a blog it might be a copy/paste from a less circulated source. The objective is achieved and the sacrifice minimal in the writer’s existence. I must conclude that authorship is produced by evolution. Evolution from a previous perspective results in a unique perspective. For example, Quigley Hall Gallery has a magnificently tiled rendition of Picasso’s “Guernica,” which was done in 1938. Referring to Picasso, he is famous for the quote ‘The bad artists imitate, the great artists steal.’ The door of authorship swings back and forth with originality and the question of where has this been used before? Leaving me with the question of the evolution in authorship, ‘What is it to imitate and what is it to steal?’ Is it just a matter of time?
In this generation another type of authorship has arisen in art that is stolen. Banksy, is a European phenomenon who has transformed the concept of individuality through evolution. He is anonymous as a person and yet renowned for his graffiti and non-conformist viewpoints. I see his use of existing settings as stealing the context for his art. Banksy, I see as someone whose authorship is dead. He is a figure of a movement and absent as an individual. Ironically, Banksy creates works for museums. Creating in the mainstream to propagate the anarchist movement I would argue is to imitate other artists. What is now the question is, ‘Who is really speaking?’. Banksy or an idea of Banksy? Banksy, as an individual creates in a context that defies the medium that caused him to reach this fame.
As a graduate architecture student my ambition is to become a licensed architect. This thought of achieving a Master in Architecture, also comes with recognition that architects are generally jacks of all, master of none. My education thus far has been aimed at preparing me to imitate a practicing architect. In a recent conversation I had with local craftsmen, the hierarchy of design roles were discussed. The authorship of the architect was brought into question. I concluded that our relationship to craftsmen is one of a maestro. Architects direct a composition.  The intention from the get-go is one of an individual figure head. Yet the role of an architect is one of subjectivity to create places where there is room for the subjects. Ultimately, there should be space for all individuals in creation to function so that the mode of existence is not a means of production but experience.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Buildings That Teach

By Phil Mevert

This design thesis project proposes a deeper look into learning environments in elementary education and what can be done to create an environment that children will want to go to and learn, as well as an environment that will inspire great teaching in the future.
What can be done with the current configurations of the classrooms that will allow for a better learning environment? How can the advancements in technology and building materials be used together to create fun yet orderly learning environments? Are there any significant psychological effects of building materials, exterior views and natural lighting that have an effect on learning ability? How can an open free learning environment be created while also providing a safe and secure environment?
By researching various material effects on human behavior as well as colors and space sizes, the learning environment can start to become a welcoming space for learning and teaching. Controlling the amount and intensity of natural light into learning and activity spaces can allow for better mood, resulting in better attention and academic performance.
The layout of the building will be very important in the effort to keep a safe and secure environment. Along with creating a safe feeling, the proper selection of materials and controlling of daylight can better mood and behavior of the students and should increase the desire to teach which can then boost the student’s desire to learn.

The way children learn is beginning to change with the advancements in technology and teaching methods.  Many objects and situations can have an effect on student’s learning abilities.  Everything with a building from wall and floor color to the material selected for the building will affect the learning environment and how the students are learning and teachers are teaching.  Feeling safe while at school also has an effect on the learning environment.  Feeling safe from possible outside threats as well as from bullies at school is a very crucial aspect of the learning environment.
The layout of the classroom is also in a state of change. The traditional classroom with rows of desk facing the front of the classroom where the teacher stands and lectures is being replaced with more interactive spaces. [1]  With the interactive spaces, students are able to work together in groups and with a more hands on approach. By eliminating the rows of desk it is less likely for a student to get lost in the back of the classroom.  With a major problem in school being bullying, it is necessary to consider ways to design the building to reduce bullying behavior.
By utilizing different building materials and colors within the building and classrooms, can it affect the moods of those occupying the building?  By designing a building without blind spots for kids to hide behind the bullying should be reduced, creating an environment that will feel more welcoming to all the students. With the effected moods and the feeling of being safe in spaces designed to allow students to learn freely, will create a learning environment that will help teach the students.

The research will look at the correlation of the built environment and its effects on the learning environment. Changes in the way children are learning and teachers are teaching and how the learning environment is changing spatially because of the new teaching methods. Sitting in on various classrooms and watching how the students and teachers are interacting first hand will be beneficial to understanding what the needs of the learning spaces are and what can begin to be done differently. Interviewing teachers of different grade levels will on what they would like to see in a classroom to assist them in educating the students. The research will include an in depth look at previous solutions to education and capture the relevant information from those case studies.  Crow Island Elementary near Chicago showed that even going back as far as 50 plus years will be necessary to fully understand the importance of school design.

[1] Anne P. Taylor. “Buildings That Teach: Design and Learning Go Hand in Hand.”    

Friday, November 22, 2013

What does it really mean?

By Randy Thoms

            Recently there have been debates and questions on the meaning of: what is tall?  Is it really “all relative?”  Within our own surroundings there are big buildings and tall buildings.  Which have a local context and value and adhere to the local vernacular?
For one town to say “we have the tallest building” seems meaningless.  Does it add economic value and social value to its surroundings?  Maybe, but for those whom experience their local building typology on a daily basis, have its own intrinsic value and purpose.
            What I am discussing is the announcement of 1WTC in New York, NY being labeled as the tallest building in the United States at 1,776 ft, overtaking the 1,450 ft Willis Tower1 (like Prince, formerly known as Sears Tower) in Chicago, IL.  It will be the third tallest in the world behind the Burj Khalifa in Dubai at 2,717 ft and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower in Saudi Arabia at 1,972 ft.2  Now let us take a closer look, 1WTC is reaching that height with a 400 ft tall spire on the top of the building, which is then holding a light beacon affixed to its top.  Really?  If the purpose of buildings is to house, shelter and support humans, then should not any given portion of a tall building be accessible by said humans? The Willis Tower has higher, occupiable floors unlike 1WTC.  So as to be experienced by the general public and workers therein?
            Here locally, on Southern Illinois University campus in Carbondale, there are three building the house Freshman and Sophomore students, “The Towers”, as they have become known by the students.  These are the tallest buildings in town, and some would say a local landmark, not just in design, but also as a beacon to where campus is upon entering town.  These towers hold great significance to the local population, student or otherwise.  These buildings are just as important, if not more, that some title of “tallest building” in the US or World.
            This is where architecture comes into play, into focus in the aspect of defining space and social usefulness.  A building does not have to be the biggest or tallest to hold together a community or family unit.  A good design, attention to details and client dreams and aspirations all working in concert bring about a sense of space down to the human scale. As an owner of a Renovation business, I would explain to my clients that my job may only last a few months, or even weeks, but you, the client, have to live with the final product everyday for much, much longer.  So with a little direction, manipulation and design, I was there to realize their vision and ideas.  That is what Architecture is all about, really.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Architecture for a Change, Mamelodi, Pretoria, South Africa

By Kristopher Teubel
Throughout undergraduate studies, as well as graduate studies thus far, my classmates and I have been taught about a great number of design parameters and techniques.  As important as these subjects are, one must understand the reason and motivation for their design.  Without a clear identity and purpose, any project is in danger of failure when implemented.  Architecture often has the ability to make great strides toward the betterment of humanity.
            One example of such altruistic design can be found in Pretoria, South Africa in an informal settlement known as Mamelodi.  According to, the architects in charge, Anton Bouwer, Dirk Coester, and John Saaiman, worked together to bridge the gap between the local informal and formal housing.  Many inhabitants of Mamelodi and similar settlements lack proper water supply, electrical connection, and storm water drainage.
            The housing units reference the local informal housing materiality with a zinc exterior sheathing.  This also acts as resilient coverage from the outside elements.  The unit's wall condition also includes thermal insulation.  This feature that many people from more affluent regions take for granted is not often found in the other preexisting units of the settlement.  Each edge and corner of the unit are sealed with rubber for air and water tightness.  The units are prefabricated in order to better meet the high housing demand of Mamelodi.  The unit is elevated off grade to aid in drainage below it.  This elevation also allows for a simple front stoop to also become seating for the local citizens.
                 Beyond the composition of the structure, the unit also addresses energy needs for its inhabitants by providing a photovoltaic panel on the roof.  The panel charges a battery that powers four internal lights, a 12V charger, and two exterior lights.  During the day, the unit can be lit by an included skylight that employs a double skin system to improve its thermal qualities.  Due in part to local water scarcity, the unit also employs a one-thousand liter water tank to collect water run-off.  This supplemental water storage could alleviate a large amount of daily work for the settlement's inhabitants.  It is intended to be used for general washing and even small-scale farming.  The unit has already been erected in the settlement.  With only a team of three, the units could be erected within a day.

            With very little effort, one can find various similar examples of how architecture can be the means for great improvement in the world.  Just as the citizens of Mamelodi have been aided by architecture, many other regions of the world still have a great need for such help.  To begin the job, one must be cognizant of the needs of others and what they can do about it. Most importantly, it also requires the understanding of the purpose and potential architecture has for the world.


"Mamelodi POD / Architecture for a Change" 22 Aug 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 12 Nov 2013. <>


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life of a Saluki Architecture Grad Student

By John Svast

Hello again readers!

image by author
I have spent a good amount of time jibber jabbing about all sorts of neat things I get to do here at SIUC… but let me get down to the real meat N’ potatoes of what it takes to be a Saluki Graduate student… the wonderful and wooly bearded thesis monster!
image by author
Here at SIUC, the world is your oyster!  You have so many opportunities to study what you are most interested in and we have some top notch professors that will help you carry that education football all the way to the finish line.  The most tried and true option we have here is to identify a problem and jump into it with both feet.  To solve this problem you do enough research to make a Billy goat puke and when you have gathered enough information (as if there was such a thing as enough) you transform that knowledge and research into some sort of built form.  Voila!   

But is it really that simple?   H-E-double hockey sticks no it isn’t!  The time it takes to do the research and the paper is pretty overwhelming, especially at the level your professors are asking you to achieve.
What is my thesis?  I’m happy you asked! 
I’m doing something a Lil’ different.  Instead of having a building at the end of my research rainbow I’m going full speed into Theory.  Here is an image of my thesis poster:
image by author
I am really excited about studying this topic for my thesis.  How communication has worked on the urban fabric has changed since social media has become a thing.  This topic is fresh and new and unfolding before our very eyes as I’m typing this.  I really look forward to seeing what comes of this.  I’m sure I will be writing more about this as the semesters fly by but until then, Cheers.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Trying to be “Professional”

By Lauren Hale

Next semester we have to complete our thesis projects.  A thesis is a project of your choosing, entirely your choosing.  Up until now, every project we have ever done has been prescribed to us by our professors of that studio.  We make every decision now, but with the guidance of a thesis committee.
A thesis committee is made up of 3-5 people who are graduate level professors in the School of Architecture at Southern Illinois University.  The faculty isn’t huge by any means.  I would say there are probably 10 or so professors that are qualified to help us.  This semester we were supposed to have been communicating with these professors about our thesis topic interests and determining who we think would be the best fit.  Professional qualifications are extremely important.  Certain professors teach certain classes and have specific degrees and interests.  Those backgrounds should mesh with your intentions, but almost more importantly are their personalities meshing with your own. 
The deadline to have our chair (the head of the committee) and two committee members has already passed, but it wasn’t easy.  I definitely learned a few lessons in dealing with figures of authority.  It’s kind of an interesting story actually.  I met with two professors initially and knew I wanted to ask one of them to be my chair.  Both meetings went really well, with differing viewpoints and research directions, but both I could see as being very beneficial.  I also liked both of them as far as ease of conversation and their personalities.  One of them had been great at responding to emails almost immediately, very thorough with their responses and information, which I really appreciated.  The other wasn’t very reliable even in the first few days of meeting this person.  I sensed this was going to be problematic, which is unfortunate because in our first meeting, a lot of great ideas were discussed and produced and I could tell this professor was very enthusiastic about my project.  But they were both enthusiastic.  So, I ultimately decided to ask the professor who was prompt with their email responses and organized with meetings etc.  You have to have someone reliable, period.  And that professor said they, “…would be honored to serve as my chair.” So I was very excited and relieved; this whole process brought back the same nervousness I had when I was asking professors for letters of recommendation to get into grad school in the first place.  I was so afraid of them saying no, luckily none of them did.  Anyway, I had secured my chair.  Then the next day, the other professor I met with finally called me.  This professor had been saying for days that they needed to talk to me about something but then never did, even when I made myself very available, which is part of the reason I decided I didn’t want to have to deal with a lack of organization on their part.  So I get this phone call, and it’s the other professor I met with and they were wondering if I had made a decision about my chair yet and I said yes, I asked the other professor and they said yes, but I would still love for you to be a part of my committee.  And this professor said, “Well that’s where I have the problem.  I feel I should be your chair and I don’t want to be a part of your committee unless I am.”  I couldn’t believe it; AN ULTIMATUM. An ultimatum from an adult, professional, graduate-level figure of authority, had just done something so petty I didn’t even know what to say.  So after a couple seconds of silence, I said I wish they would have made their intentions clear a lot sooner.  This professor then said, “Well, I just think we had a great meeting and a great conversation and I don’t think Professor INSERT NAME HERE is qualified to help you.” So after being hit in the face with an ultimatum, this person was now talking about another professor in a negative way with a student.  I was just shocked.  I was like, “You have given me a lot to think about and I’ll let you know when I make a decision.”  I hung up the phone, freaked out a little bit and ran to studio as fast as I could.  I told all my friends what had just happened and they were dumbfounded, completely shocked.  I already knew what my gut feeling was about how to handle this.  There is no way I could go back to the first professor and take back my invitation to be my chair, there is no way.  But that also meant I couldn’t work with the person who gave me the ultimatum.  I don’t think I could have a good conversation with them ever again, and I didn’t want to choose someone out of obligation.  So, I kept my original chair and politely told the other one, thanks but no thanks. 
Navigating the professional world is way trickier than I thought.  Honestly, the thing that requires the most work is making sure everyone plays together nicely, and acts like the grown-ups they are.  Oh and the professor I have as my chair is definitely qualified and has a very good reputation and is a well-liked professor.  Turns out, the other one is more often than not very unreliable.       

Sunday, November 17, 2013

URBAN LIVABILITY: Revitalizing the Square in the Heartland, Quincy, Illinois

By Kayla Fuller


            This paper will explore the historic downtown district of Quincy, IL to encourage residents to live downtown and specifically in the area around Washington Square. In July 2010, the town was awarded a six million dollar grant for the design and construction of an intermodal transportation center that would bring together inner city passenger rail, local and regional bus services1. Focusing on creating livability in conjunction with a new intermodal transportation facility, a development plan will be proposed.  The study area is defined by Broadway on the north, 6th Street on the east, the Mississippi river on the west and Jersey Street on the south.
Quincy was founded on the bluffs of the Mississippi River to take advantage of the river commerce in 18252. As the western most city of Illinois, Quincy has developed an important history over time because of its close proximity to Missouri and the Mississippi river. Quincy has been accepting of the many people that have fled surrounding areas to seek shelter from discrimination. The city was an abolition center and one of the first stops along the Underground Railroad; tours of this historic location are available3. Due to the strong support of anti-slavery, Quincy was selected as the location for one of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 18584. The town is very proud of its heritage of strong commitment to people and community.

Economic growth encouraged immigrants to settle in this town, establishing a diverse economy to emerge. The modern economy has a strong influence from manufacturing and agricultural development5. The foundation of this commerce has allowed the town to remain prosperous even during times of crisis. Manufacturing receives support along the riverfront through its connection with the historic Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad; called “The Burlington6.” This railroad established a commercial connection from Quincy to Chicago and eventually expanded its reach west to Colorado, developing an even greater network of commerce for the town7. Due to the proximity of the river and bluffs on which the town was founded, flooding is a major design consideration for any development within the 100-year floodplain. Some of the identified study area is located within the 100-year floodplain8.  The historical and still active original rail yards are located in this floodplain.

With a consistent population of 40,000 and a typical increase average of .66 percent, Quincy is the largest city within a 100-mile radius9. Development has increased in response to the city serving as a commercial center to meet the daily needs for more than 600,000 persons in a 75-mile radius10. Tourism-related commercial activities and public parks have become a focus for development around the historic downtown and riverfront areas. In response to this increase in tourism, new entertainment, dining and lodging adaptive reuse within historic structures has begun to provide residents options for quality of life within this area11. New buildings in the downtown area include the Salvation Army Kroc Recreation Center and the relocation of the Adams County Health Department. Although these facilities provide residents with some beneficial resources, the study area is still lacking vital elements for quality of life. Urban livability combines all the factors required for a community’s quality of life - more specifically the paper will focus on the following: housing, shopping, transportation, cultural, entertainment and recreation possibilities.

1 “Quincy, IL (QCY), Station Facts”. The Great American Stations, accessed October 30, 2013.
2 City of Quincy, Department of Planning and Development. “ City of Quincy Neighborhood Land Use Plan 2013,”   
       April 1, 2013: 2.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 “About the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.” Burlington Route Historical Society, accessed October 31,
8 City of Quincy, Department of Planning and Development. “ City of Quincy Neighborhood Land Use Plan 2013,”   
       April 1, 2013: 3. [1] City of 9Quincy, Department of Planning and Development. “ City of Quincy Neighborhood Land Use Plan 2013,”   
       April 1, 2013: 5.
[1]0 Ibid, 12.
[1]1 Ibid.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Centralia, IL Revitalization Thesis Update

By Tyler Dunahee

It’s an interesting phenomenon, as the semester rolls on and the weeks fly by, my interest in the graduate design studio starts to fall as I look forward to jumping into my thesis project at the beginning of the spring semester.  Staying focused on the task at hand can be hard to do at times, but not doing so can be dangerous as well.  It’s an easy thing to do and can be done for a number of reasons.  For example, many great sports teams have lost to lesser teams, many times because their next game was against a rival or another great team. 

Anyway, preliminary thesis work progresses, posters to drum up interest in each of our topics, asking faculty members and professionals in our particular field of study to help further our learning and depth/quality of our thesis.  For those of you who are not aware, I’m doing a revitalization project for my hometown of Centralia, Illinois (located about an hour north of Carbondale).  Centralia is a pretty good representation of the typical southern Illinois town, close-knit, fairly sizable, surrounded by farmland on the cities outlying areas.  In recent years, Centralia has been on a pretty steady decline, rising unemployment rates, declining population, and more and more vacancies in the downtown area. 

When I decided that I wanted to a revitalization project for Centralia, I decided to share my project and gather ideas by posting in two Facebook groups, “Save Centralia” and “You Know You’re From Centralia When….”.  These two groups have 2,591 and 3,825 members respectively, so I felt it was a good way to get my project out there as well as an open forum to gather ideas. What I gained was much more than I could have ever imagined.  Three people, in particular, made an extra effort to offer their expertise, advice, and help.  The first to reach out was a woman who serves on three boards for the City of Centralia, the Centralia Tourism Committee, Housing Task Force, and the Centralia Image Committee.  Second, a small business owner who operates in the downtown area reached out, providing me with even more history of the immediate area as well as his vision of what the area could become.  And last, a gentleman whose past titles include City Planning and Development Director for the City of Centralia as well as holding the same position in Carbondale over the course of 38 years in the two cities.  He actually agreed to be on my thesis committee, and his insight in city planning and development as well as his knowledge of the city of Centralia will be instrumental in development of a great thesis. 

My recommendation to those of you that are going to pursue a March, choose a thesis topic that you’re passionate about.  You’re going to be working on it for nearly a year, do not choose something that you’re going to get burnt out on halfway through. It’ll spell disaster for thesis. Pick something early that you’re passionate about and keep yourself plugging along on it. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Bangles

By Mazen Aziz
A continuation on my studying of the Egyptian settlement pattern for my thesis project…

The Egyptian Ministry of Finance has allowed about 1 billion LE (180 million dollars) yearly towards new urban projects. However, last year, the total cost of the new urban projects in Cairo itself is about 4.4 billion. The government doesn’t even support half that, so the government will try to go as cheap as possible to afford the maximum number of housing in the budget.
In the 1950’s, Manshiet Nasser started to form and people started to settle there informally with no regulations or planning. The area has a great view, the Autostrada highway on the west (main highway in Cairo), Cairo Citadel in the west south as shown in the picture above, Mokattam on the east, new Cairo and Mokawloon Al Arab club in the north. During to the current economy crisis or residence not able to afford, almost 4.58 million urban housing units are empty, unused or closed. Cairo has a renting law since 1996 to freed the rental market for newly built and then vacant the units as the cities Alliance article mentioned. The urban sector has been growing gradually in Egypt with interesting curve by annual average of 2.8 percent or 263,839 units. Of those yearly new units, average of 55.6 percent are formal and 45.4 percent are informal. However, government cheap housing is located in the new towns or in remote dessert areas far away from the city, making the residence struggle mainly with transportation if its even allowed. Moreover, the formal private sector aiming the upper income Egyptians located on the new towns closer to the city. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Case Studies

By Lani Walker
Currently in the Master’s level Research Methods class, we are utilizing the book Architectural Research Methods by David Wang and Linda Groat.  The book covers seven types of research, including historical, qualitative, correlational, experimental, simulation, logical argumentation, and case studies and mixed methods.  This week we have focused on Chapter Twelve in this book; Case Studies.  This article below is a collection of the terms and practices I learned from Chapter Twelve this week.  In this chapter, Case study research is analyzed.    
According to the book Architectural Research Method, a case study is an ‘empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident’.  In general, the primary identifying characteristics for preforming a case study is: a focus involving single or multiple cases studied in their real-life contexts; the ability to explain underlying connections; the importance of theory development throughout research; relying on evidence from a variety of sources; and the power to generalize to theory.  Case studies can be explanatory, descriptive, or exploratory.  A descriptive based case study focuses on describing what is being studied.  An exploratory case study explores that relationship between variables within the case.  An explanatory case study aims to explain why a phenomenon occurs.  In determining whether to use a single case study approach or multiple case study approach, one must consider the nature of the question being proposed, and the role of replication in testing or confirming the outcomes.    

The differing strategies in case study research mentioned in the book include Two-Phase design, Dominate - Less Dominate design, and Mixed Methodology design.  These are combined strategies: strategies which integrate multiple research designs.  Combined strategies are a more integral approach to research because multiple methods of different research are incorporated into one study.  A Two Phase design involves combining two or more strategies in a sequence of distinct phases.  Dominate - Less dominant design entails the insertion of one type of research design within the framework of a distinctly different research design.  Mixed methodology design represents the most complete level of integration among two or more research designs.

The case study is much more than just observing or studying a phenomenon in its natural setting, the case study involves a case in relation to its context from which the case is inseparable.  Criticism of case study research is that here is no basis for generalizing from one case to other case.  Other criticisms of the case study approach are the potential for overcompiliation and oversimplifying the complexities of the situation being studied.  However, the strength of a case study is its capacity to generalize to theory, and its ability to be tested throughout other experiments.  A case study can be compelling and convincing, has the capacity to explain underlying links, has the richness of multiple data sources, and the case study is easily able to generalize to a specific theory. 
Case Studies, as examined in chapter twelve of Architectural Research Methods, will be integral to creating a successful Thesis project for most Masters level students.  Currently, I am looking into a variety of case studies in relation to my Thesis topic, which assist in placing my ideas into the larger body of work in a specific area.  It is crucial for Masters level students to use the foundation of past experiments within case studies in order to form a framework of new and innovative knowledge proposed in a thesis project.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Summary of Studio Project for the New Haven Neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

By: Kayla Fuller
This semester our studio is designing a transit village for the New Haven Community of the Near West District of Chicago, Illinois. Currently the site is comprised of parking lots for the United Center and Rush Hospital, there is very little activity in the evenings and they have a high crime rate.  Our first approach in developing our master plan was to analyze the immigration patterns of the area, the most prominent are the African American, Greek, Italian, Caucasian and Hispanic cultures. Although the area is very diverse, our site is an empty corridor in a very influential area. The United Center is a major attraction for sports enthusiasts, inviting hundreds of thousands of fans during the year. While there is plenty of parking for guest, the Pink Line provides public transportation to the area but does not have a nearby stop. My group is proposing a multi-functioning transit center that would potentially reduce vehicular traffic and increase transportation opportunities. The transition that the visitors experience as they enter the site is extremely influential in my design. I am currently experimenting with different interactive and responsive building facades that intrigue the guest.

                The hotel is a portion of an entertainment plaza that provides fans and guest an area to safely enjoy their experience, this would potentially reduce crime and other incidents from occurring. The most influential element of my design is the building’s response to the pink line. Currently I am researching techniques to reduce vibration and noise emitted from the train as well as different media façade materials. The east façade of the hotel runs parallel with the pink line, creating this canvas that provides an important interaction point between the two. After researching different companies and materials, I have decided to use GKD MediaMesh fabric for the exterior. 

The mesh allows those inside the building to have little obstruction of view while creating an enticing interactive screen on the exterior. The mesh is made from recycled materials, it is constructed from stainless steel metal fabric with qualities of transparency, flexibility and security while preserving its communicative capabilities.
                MediaMesh is a non-structural material that allows it to be integrated into new and old construction. Due to the flexibility of the material, it allows it to be easily integrated into a design.  The major consideration right now is the effects of the façade on the neighborhood. I have no intention of causing an interference with the neighborhood by creating an eyesore or disturbance to the community. I hope to use this technology in combination with acoustical buffering used for the train to invite people to the area and provide a unique experience for all. 

Passive House- what is it?

By Michelle Harris

What comes to your mind when you hear the words, passive house? An apathetic house? Perhaps more accurately, a house using passive solar strategies? There are a few approaches to passive house design and construction that are universally true, minimal active heating and cooling, with use of solar energy. The standard for passive house construction is systemized through the Passive House Institute. Passive House Institute is a non-profit  organization that certifies contractors, engineers and architects to design passive houses to a verifiable standard. The headquarters for Passive House Institute is located in Urbana- Illinois. There are over 300 certified designers throughout the U.S. Passive House Institute operates as an authority at the forefront of quality ‘sustainable’ design.
Passive house construction methods were pioneered in the U.S. and Canada in the late 70’s as a response to the oil embargo of 1973. In 1986, William Shurcliff, a physicist, published in the Energy Review the core elements of passive house: Thick insulation, airtight construction, prevention of moisture migration into cold regions within the walls and other regions where much condensation could occur. Shurcliff’s work though brilliant were not holistically embraced in the U.S.. However, in Europe, the concept of passive housing has been easily adopted and taught as a practical construction practice in schools. The founder of Passive House Institute U.S., Katrin Klingenberg, moved from Germany to pursue passive housing in the states. Eventually, there was a spilt of construction standards between Passive Haus Institute (European Coalition) and Passive House Institute (U.S. & Canadian Coalition) due to complications in formula property rights, measuring standards and disagreements on climate zoning. While the two groups are unique each other, in a few ways, the two standards also inform each other.
An example of a passive house construction from Europe is the BedZED in London, UK. This housing development is collaboration between sustainability consultants, engineering and quantity surveyors. It was the first zero carbon development in the UK fully completed in 2002. The aim of BedZED was to reduce electricity consumption compared to the UK average by 33%, to reduce space heating needs compared to the UK average by 90% and to eliminate carbon emissions due to energy consumption. In 2003, Passive House Institute U.S., founded by Katrin Klingenberg also set out to construct a passive house as a prototype. Her design, the Smith House, established for the U.S. a competitive take on passive house construction.
The Smith House is regulated by energy recovery ventilators that maintain the energy created in the house versus venting it out. Thus energy losses are minimized. Necessary components in the Smith House are triple pane windows, thermal bridge free and airtightness design strategies, vapor retarders,  a 100 ft earth tube and 40 sq. ft. in-floor electrical radiant heating. The discussion of an energy recovery ventilator versus a heat recovery ventilator is covered in the below references. As are more specifics of the Smith House  specific passive house construction.
While passive house may mean many things, the construction speaks for itself. A passive house goes beyond average construction standards in energy conservation. Passive House Institute is partnering with the government’s U.S. Challenge Home, as well as Franhoffer IBP to create a standard that is both stringent and effective through new goals and formulas. Because of these updates to what originally caused strife between the continents, Passive House is even more a competitor with other standards, such as LEED and USGBC. While there is benefit in all, the successful use of minimized energy consumption is the point, and the construction will ultimately speak for itself.

Passive House History:
Passive House Institute Facts:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Artistry Exposed

By Brittany Ricker

The semester is coming to the point where it’s crunch time and although there is a little over a month left to go, it doesn’t seem like much at all. Recently the graduate students had a mid-review where outside critics came to watch our presentations and gave us pointers (or point out what we were missing). The site is located in the Near West Side in Chicago, Illinois. Within the master plan that my group developed, I thought it was most appropriate to do residential. During initial stages of design I was constantly thinking about the Artistry that was surrounding the area of our site and how beneficial it would be to have those various artists all in one similar location that they could call “their own”. A place where it wouldn’t matter what time of day it was (since artists…of all kinds tend to not have a consistent schedule) and they could rehearse for a concert, use machines without disturbing their neighbors, etc. Below is a conceptual diagram over the master plan depicting areas where certain artist types could reside and the sound vibrations that correlate with each group.
Image by Author
Currently, I am working with IMPACT ARTISTS and AIRBORNE ARTISTS. Impact is the sound vibrations that come from various sound vibrations higher than 55db. The northern half of the art studios will house various types of impact artists that require higher levels of soundproofing. This space will be designed so any type of activity/construction could occur and no one would be disturbed. Airborne is the sound vibrations from various sound vibrations less than 55db. The southern half of the art studios will house these types of artists that will still need soundproofing but not to the extent as the northern half. This area will just need to pay closer attention to noise coming from conversations and movement within the building. When trying to figure out the actual design of the building, I looked into the light of Chicago and surrounding artistry features and did a light study represented below. This gave me the idea to actually pull all the artists together into one central location and expose their creativity to the public. Giving the public an interesting/non-predictable pockets of light that would end up being the actual artist rehearsing/painting/sculpting….anything! 
Image by Author
Following the light study and incorporating the artists, graphic representations of what this design is trying to express was done. Seen below is the process of taking a box which symbolizes what currently exists on the site and then in the next step … exposing the artistry that is occurring within the design.. Whatever  that may be. This was the conceptual phase  of this design and with a little over a month left to go, it’s being spent making this design work functionally AND conceptually which at times can be rough but that makes it definitely worth it in the end when you have a final design that you had fun (for the most part…) designing!

Images by Author

Life of a Saluki Architecture Grad Student

By John Svast
Hello again readers! 
One of the very awesome things I get to do here at Southern Illinois University is I have the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for the senior urban design studio.  It is really fun to have design jam sessions with other students during their design process.  Some folks take off and don’t need much of a push… others get stuck on design decisions and need a bit of a nudge.  I think the seniors are doing a fantastic job and I look forward to seeing who stays at SIUC to continue their graduate work. One of the most glaring obstacles that sent me rifling down memory lane during my time in their class was the wonderfully heart attack inducing task of “group projects”.

What some architecture students think a group project is:

GROUP PROJECT (noun): Sitting back and letting others who care more do all the work for me.  Also known as Free Rider
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What other architecture students think a group project is:
GROUP PROJECT (noun):  A social obligation to do charity work for the lazy human paper weights I call my group members. 
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What I think a group project is now:
GROUP PROJECT (noun):  A great opportunity to work with others of multiple skill levels where I can learn from others ideas and skill levels and hone my skills by teaching others. 
Image by Author
You really need to look at all you group projects in architecture as an opportunity to learn, even if that learning experience is an exercise in picking up the slack from “that guy”.  Remember…there is ALWAYS something to learn.

Here are a few pointers I have for those architecture students pulling their hair out during group projects:
      1. If no one steps up to be the group leader…. Then YOU be the group leader
I can’t stress this one enough…it is very important that there is some sort of hierarchy to the group.  And if you are the group leader… don’t be a jerk… life is tough enough… we don’t need another meat head.
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2.  Have a plan and a schedule that everyone can access and follow
“What are we doing?”…You are going to hear this often in a group project, it doesn’t mean those asking are stupid….  a project is usually a big undertaking and it takes a lot to figure it all out.  Work together in a group and make a plan….and stick to the plan.  What does Red Five say?
3.  Divvy out tasks to the strengths of the people in your group
Everyone in your group is really good at something.  Someone is really good at the technical stuff, someone is good at laying out a board, someone is great at collecting data, someone is great with design, and someone is a drafting wizard…. Everyone specializes in something.  Work to your strengths.  It will make the workflow go faster, and instead of 5 different styles hodgepodged together it will look like one cohesive project at the end.
4.  If you have a known “loose cannon” in the group, don’t give them a job that is critical to the completion of the project, BUT always make sure they have a job.
There is almost always “that guy/girl” in the group that has somehow slipped through the cracks who has figured out a way to get others to do their work for them.  I particularly have distaste for this sort of mouth breather, but there isn’t anything you can do.   What you also can’t do is give them a complete free ride…. You don’t know the situation for their sordid history.  Always give them a job and a chance to shine… you never know what might happen.
5.  Even if your whole world is crumbling, don’t sweat it.  The professor is watching.
There may be a possibility that the group dynamic is so poor that you want to conjure a doom fist from the lower levels of hell to smite your enemies/group members.  Don’t worry, just do your best and work really hard… the professor knows who is working and who isn’t.  Your grade won’t be lowered into pit to burn for all eternity.