Thursday, January 16, 2014

Holiday Break

By Randy Thoms

The time has come to begin once again the process of finishing an Architecture Master thesis.  Over the much needed break of the holidays, I spent much of my time playing with my kids and eating too much. Then there was all the present getting and wrapping and giving.  It is great with having two young kids, 10 and 3, the season comes into a different focus and purpose.  Luckily my oldest likes to decorate, so we follow his lead to get the house ready....for Santa Claus!  Yes, we pull NORAD Santa tracker onto the big TV and start watching his progress at 8 in the morning on Christmas Eve as he makes his way from the far east to here is southern Illinois.
After all the excitement and playing with new toys and again eating too much, we move into the New Year.  This is when I spent some time on my thesis.  I went to visit my sites in Knoxville, TN that I want to use.  I have three potential site I chose from using Google maps.  Now I am from Knoxville, so I know the area and what each site has to offer to a degree.  I guess this would be a good a time as any to state what I plan on doing for my thesis, if I have not already done so:  A Senior Housing development in an Urban infill context.
However, when I went to visit the site, my first choice became my last and my second the first and then yet another one came into contention.  This is what a site visitation does for the context of your plan.  One can get lots of images and ideas from Google Maps and Google Earth, but actually walking the site and experiencing the sights and sounds and context firsthand changes your preconceptions of what is there, or not there for that matter.  I was able to feel the scale of some of the buildings not expressed in the Map StreetView, or how large that parking lot really is, or how sloped this lot is compared to the others.  All of these realities inform the way and direction a given project and program will proceed.  Are there views to something or just looking at a parking garage?  Is the sun ever going to hit the site or is it in the shadow of buildings?

Now that the semester has begun, it is time to hammer out the early details and thoughts quickly and with confidence and convection since time will move fast as the weeks pile on towards summer and thesis defense.  There are so many ideas and directions one could go and this will be the real challenge to the process not to mention meeting with committee members and taking other classes.  Nonetheless, I am getting excited to really dive in and get the ball rolling and produce a high quality project and response to the problem of Senior Housing. 

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