Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Blog Posts Resume in the Fall!

We will have a new crop of graduate student-writers who will begin publishing their ideas and adventures in learning architecture on September 3, 2014!  I hope you will join us this fall for more of Salukitecture.  JKD

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

That's All Folks!

OK everyone, that was the final blog post of the year.  This week didn't go exactly as planned as far as the blog goes and I apologize for that.  It's been a crazy week and now that graduation is over, ironically it is back to the grind for us.  Hope you all enjoyed what we shared with you this year and good luck to the next round of SIU Architecture Grad Students! You're going to need it!

Google Earth Topo Export: Fixed!

By Tim Shotts

Typically, I’d use Google Sketchup’s geolocation tool to import topography into for my siteplan.  However, lately it’s been tempermental.  On a quest to find a workaround, I came upon Land Design.  Go to and download it.  It’s a plugin for Rhino and it works generally the same way as SU’s method.  You’re all using Rhino5, right?  If not, come see me and I’ll introduce you two;  You’ll become good friends. 
I’ll walk you through importing Google Earth topography into Rhino.

1.  Open Google Earth and zoom in on the area you want to capture.  It appears that you cannot change the resolution in the trial version, so be judicious with your capture.   Make sure you turn on the Scale Legend so you have a reference point.

2.  Open Land Design.  It probably asked you to put an icon on the Desktop…

3.  Import Google Earth Elevation Data

BAM!!!  Your topography, Sir or ma’am. 

Save that and do with it what you want.  I hope that helps everyone that’s been frustrated the past few weeks with the SU/Earth malfunctions.
Next, I started modeling the buildings on the site and also the bridges.  Notice the highway overpass.  Google Earth doesn’t do these well, so I went to streetview in GoogleEarth and modeled the bridges and added them to the 3D file.  This is what it looked like in Sketchup with the just the highway ending.

…and with the abutment

…and with the bridge.

I saved the site as one STL file, and the buildings and bridges as their own individual files.  I then uploaded all of them to to close holes, fix face normal, and remove self-intersections.  It took 25seconds!  Do it!!!  After sending the fixed site model STL file to the CNC and the fixed building files to the 3D printer (after creating the X3G file in Makerware Desktop, this is my final result.

All Images by Author


By Ryan Kinports

When approaching a position that will put you in charge of others there are unique set of problems you will face. Being a graduate assistant is a good experience in learning how to help a set of students with varied skill levels and drive. When I started here two years ago there was no design build program at SIU. I remember discussing the idea with a professor and they told me that it would be a lot of work to get going – that is not an understatement. The real work though is not so much in setting up the program or in the physical labor a design build involves, although that is extensive, but in including as many of the students and school community as possible. It’s a challenge to keep 50+ people working on a job that operates more as a “build as you go” than off of a static set of plans. When you have a great deal of inexperience, myself included, these problems are more significant. I have found it to be a pleasant experience overall and look forward to next year’s project, but there will certainly be changes in how the program is structured with a much finer focus on allocation of people. One of the glaringly obvious problems is that we have too many people working in the same place at the same time. You might think that telling 10 people to dig a ditch from point A to point B on a build day would result in faster completion but you will find that four people on a volunteer day dig two ditches of similar size in ¼ the time. There are many aspects of a project to keep track of but the most important as I see it is time. “Later” is an easy answer to give to a question, unless of course there won’t be a later because of time constraints. Problems in construction such as waiting for the person who knows what to do to return, running out of a particular component, or the possibility of inclement weather must not be allowed to distract students. Once you lose a person’s focus it’s nearly impossible to get them back. I have a business background and we spend significant time on workflow management, inventory management, and hierarchy structure but there is no substitution for practical experience a real work experience. We are not a real firm bidding jobs but we must operate in a similar fashion in order to keep on schedule. I would say for my first experience in such an endeavor the project has gone well – we are on track to be done by the end of the semester. When I look at the site compared to what was there, and then think about how students were able to design something so pleasant and well suited to our site, I am proud to have been involved in the process. I am ready for next year and that’s good as I’ve already had freshman ask me what we will be doing.

The Toilet Museum

By Nicholas Mosher

Image taken from

Huh… That building kind of looks like a toilet.  It is supposed to be one. Well, not a functioning one but a toilet nonetheless.  Who would want to live here you ask?  The one and only, the Mr. Toilet of South Korea.  Sim Jae-Duck is known as Mr. Toilet in South Korea where he became famous for his life’s work with the potty.
It has been rumored that Sim Jae-Duck was born in an outhouse where he then grew up realizing just how crappy and unsafe the bathrooms in South Korea were.  Sim decided to produce toilets that now have become standard around South Korea. This has lead to cleaner areas for people to let loose and ultimately enjoy their privacy.  Mr. Toilet had said that the toilet is the place where majority of one’s deep thoughts come from. He also founded the World Toilet Association and wrote a book called “Happy to be with You.”  His popularity took off when he supplied the toilets for the World Cup held in South Korea in 2002.  After that he became the major of Suwan, where his toilet inspired house was built.  This man has had a real ‘turd to triumph’ life until 2009 when he passed away.
His house was donated to the city of Suwan where it has now been turned into a museum dedicated to… you guessed it… the toilet.  The museum is only part of the whole toilet themed park.  There are several statues around the park that relate to the loo in any way such as a very large, bronze poop in front of the building.
Image taken from
 Inside the museum visitors are welcome to explore the former house and even use Mr. Toilet’s personal bathroom. His bathroom has large floor-to-ceiling glass that makes it seem very open but when the room is in use, the glass fogs up so that it cannot be seen through.  Throughout the building, works of art from paintings to clay models are displayed but only if they are related to Mr. Toilet’s passion. 
                Koreans are not as grossed out by what leaves our bodies as Americans and other countries are.  It wasn’t that long ago when they did have very old and dirty toilet systems where they had to deal with much worse on a daily basis.  That being said, this unique experience that visitors get is of course not taken seriously.  It is meant to be a fun and humorous environment for people to come and relax.  The majority of the visitors that show up are little children and they always seem to have a blast.  Anyone is welcome to the park and after all, it is free to visit.  Unfortunately they do not have a gift shop otherwise people could buy a souvenir t-shirt from the toilet store. 
Image taken from

Sumitra. (January 1, 2013). South Korea’s Toilet Theme Park. Retrieved from
Hornyak, Tim. (November 11, 2012). Flushed with pride, Korea celebrates toilet theme park. Retrieved from

One Final Post

Josh Fowler here, 
                And for my final post I would simply like to comment on my experiences as a graduate architecture student. As well as possibly pass along some parting words of wisdom. As my many years in academia are swiftly coming to an end I would like to look back at all that I have learned. One subject in particular is that of where the field of architecture is headed and where it is now. While learning about codes and specifically ethics in the field of architecture, it seems to me that American architecture ethics have followed suit in the capitalistic corporate ethics. Meaning that is seems that more focus in the field of architecture is put on saving money rather than influencing culture and community. It seems as though we are often taught in architecture school to consider community and designing better places, but out of school, at least from my perspective, we become employed by firms and people who, in the effort to make more money, look for the large corporations and wealthiest developers and wealthiest people to fund the building of these "better places." But it would seem as though all they seem to care about as well is saving as much money as possible. There are most certainly exceptions to this, lying often in non-profit architecture firms as well as such organizations as Habitat for Humanity and Architecture for Humanity.
People have been asking me what I want to do when I graduate and my answer has always been " To find a job." And why is this my answer? Probably because with all the debt I have incurved going to school, I feel pressured into just find any kind of job to pay off my debts. I mean don’t get me wrong, I do want to become a registered architect, but what I want to do with that license may be a bit non-traditional. I would really like to help people, communities, and civilizations in developing countries and those who truly need help and the assistance of an architect. I suppose the notion of working for a firm whose clientele consist primarily of those with money and not necessarily those who truly need help, does not excite or encourage me at all. I would truly love to apply my skills and design knowledge to a means that helps more of everyone that a select few. I am still trying to figure it out and for right now I would still like to work in major and minor firms to confirm or rethink my attitude. I can only hope that I don’t fall prey to the greed of money and that I can obtain more of a sense of purpose with architecture.
This being said, I would like to leave with some parting words of wisdom in regards to my experiences as a, hopefully, graduating masters student:

Attempt to know yourself as a person:
Now this may seem a bit obvious and a little on the yoda-esk side, but it is entirely true. It is a difficult time during graduate school as one contemplates how exactly they may want to spend the rest of their life. So knowing yourself and being honest with yourself will hopefully allow you to make decision to lead to a more fulfilled life. That being said your opinions and attitudes are always changing and in no way shape or form do you have to decide right now who you are and what you stand for, but start to think about what some of your attitudes are in life, and of course architecture or any other related field. This can also be helpful in searching for jobs and writing your resume. It will convey to others as well as yourself what your values and ideals are and help you find the right type of job for you.
Think about your thesis… yesterday:
If you function anything like me, then you need all of the time in the world to research and discover a little bit about everything regarding a subject matter. I knew what I wanted to research in regards to my thesis and figured I had a lot of time to finally decide. The truth is, if you are attending SIUC's graduate architecture program you should know exactly what you want to do by the end of the first semester in the summer. This will help when you have to begin writing your thesis during the following fall semester.
If you have an obscure thesis topic, be prepared for a little resistance / difficulty:
If you opt for the more traditional thesis, one where you are actually researching and theorizing new, well, new-ish, ideas be prepared to either meet some resistance with your committee members, be on your own because your committee members don’t have much knowledge in the subject matter, and/or constantly fear whether your thesis is up to par with other university research/ thesis. I feel as though I have chosen a topic in which I have a great deal of interest and some knowledge in, however because most of my committee is not too familiar with the subject matter I feel as though I am on my own and being met with resistance. My advice would be to understand the entire faculty's background in architecture and or your thesis and relate your interest toward a subject where there will be substantial support. In any case however, you are the one in charge of your thesis not them.

These topics are three of the main topics I have been pondering during my graduate career here at SIUC and I just wanted to voice my experience and knowledge of these topics as well as to say a final farewell to all and have a wonderful life and good luck in all of your endeavors. 

It’s Nearing the End of the Semester…

By Kayla Fuller

It’s nearing the end of the semester… this being my final blog I would like to reflect upon my time at SIU. This week I had the opportunity to speak with some of the freshman in the architecture program, and it made me realize how much I have taken for granted. Our professors are one of the most valuable assets we have. Many of them have previous real world experience, providing them with valuable connections to pass on.  

                Freshman year is a valuable year, where you learn the basic skills required. A thorough understanding of space is necessary for design. In architecture we design spaces that effect the life of those who occupy it on a daily basis. Color theory is another important element with design. Color can enhance or destroy a space. It can create a range of feelings from happiness to fear. There is a great website that breaks it down for further understanding. Follow the link to further your understanding:  
 Of course there are other fundamental elements that are taught during your first year of architecture school, but I can’t give everything away.
                Sophomore year has a more technical influence. The first introduction to AutoCAD and Revit occur. Some of us were fortunate to have our first experience during high school, providing a slight advantage over the rest. Another extremely beneficial element about our program is how willing everyone is to help each other out. In the real world we are going to be each other’s competition, but while we are in school we should turn to each other for advice. I have received some of the most beneficial advice from my classmates. Many times this is from us spending massive amounts of time together, allowing us to have a better understanding of each other’s designs. I am not saying this to encourage you to only go to each other for help just because you may become frustrated with the advice from a professor. This does happen, but you must realize that if you cannot properly communicate your idea, then others will not understand. Definitely listen to others and do not allow yourself to become obsessed with an idea that may not be appropriate for the project, rather grow and adapt.
                Junior year was probably my most difficult year. During my undergraduate career, I managed to work two jobs averaging 36 hours a week while continuing to stay involved with on-campus activities. During this year there is more pressure to push ourselves to the best we can be. Structure and site development were definitely the most influential for this year.
                Finally senior year, the year everyone looks forward to because we are that much closer to the end of the tunnel….. kind of…. This year was the year everything came together. For our final project not only did we calculate and design the structure of our building but we also completed a lighting design. Although we gained valuable experience during our time at SIU, there are some areas I wish were expanded on. Numerous times I have been told how valuable it is to be able to complete an estimate. As a number lover, this is definitely something I hope to see incorporated in the future.
Well my time is soon coming to an end at SIU, I have enjoyed every minute of it. My advice to you is to push yourself every day and to never let yourself down.
                Wishing you all a great summer!!

The Shadiness of the Profession

By Phil Mevert

As in most business professions that provide a distinct service, there are always going to be some “back door deals” going on. Architecture is no different; the most common way to acquire new clients is by knowing someone who is connected with them. This is most common to getting jobs in the private sector of Architecture.  When a private institution or client is looking for design services it is common that they ask someone they know who would be good to hire as an Architect for the project.  If the client is new to process and on a very tight budget the most financially beneficial way for them to get multiple design ideas for free is to turn the hiring of an Architect into a design competition that will determine who will be the Architect hired to provide the design services they are looking for.  This is an excellent benefit for the client as they get multiple designs at one time. From the architect’s side of this selection approach it can be very costly.

            There are many things that factor into how hard a firm will go at the project. One is how soon will this project develop into billable revenue and how realistic is it the project will not fall through. Another factor is how much of the upfront time and assets that are spent in trying to get the job can be made back with the fees once the project is under contract. Who the competition is and how they are connected to the client is also something to consider, is their connection to someone who has more say on the decision than your connection does? Once the firm decides to go after the project, if they do not select your firm for the project, questions that never really get answered start to rise.
            Did the client decide on who they wanted for the project before they ever asked for proposals and they just wanted some free design work? Did the firm that was selected spend extra time outside of interview and casual run ins to promote their firm for the job? What really was the deciding factor that separated the firm awarded the job from the rest of the options?
            Sometimes clients will tell you that the way your design was presented didn’t spark the interest of the selection committee. There are also times that a certain aspect of the design that is different between a couple of firms.  For example one firm could be proposing to use a ramp for accessibility from one floor to the next instead of putting in the more common stairs and elevator.  It should be commonly known that the combination of a stair and elevator would be cheaper than using ramps to rise to a floor level more than 10’ from finished floors.  If the client goes with the firm using ramps, and it is said that the ramp instead of the stairs was the glaring difference and a major reason for the final decision, the stair and elevator firm has to wonder why. Did the client adamantly state to the other firm that they really wanted and needed to have a ramp in lieu of and elevator or did the other firm just realize that the ramp was the most important item that they coveted? Is the other firm proposing this design just to get the job knowing that when the budget will force them to go to a design with an elevator and stairs in lieu of the ramp? Is the other firm just that unaware of the cost difference for the two accessibility design options or is there something else in the design that they did different that will bring the cost down and not cause other problems? There is a saying that there is more than one way to skin a cat and this is true with design as well. There are always multiple ways to solve a design issue and more than one can be a great way to do it, but if in the end it is discovered that the firm hired to do the design was dishonest in their approach to get the job, it devalues the profession and is a disservice to the client. Rarely in the design profession is this really known to happen but stuff like this can be kept so low key that it is possible that I could have happened and just never made public. The big question is, how can firms get real definitive answers as to why they are not selected for certain jobs over another firm? Are there major “back door deals” in the design professions and if so should there be regulations to stop it, or is that just one firm being better at selling their business to clients? These are some questions to ponder over the summer while relaxing by the pool. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Life of a Saluki Architecture Grad Student

By John Svast

characteristics OF KABUKI THEATER and spatial analysis

                During the height of the Edo period kabuki in Feudal japan (1603 – 1867), there were only 4 sanctioned Kabuki theaters allowed at one time.  Like locations of Sumo wrestling, the hierarchy and authority of the theater was displayed on a tower outside of the theater called a yagura.  Today, the use of the yagura is only officially used outside of places were sumo wrestling takes place, at kubuki theaters a temporary one may installed or a tower may be used simply as ornamentation to reference a past tradition.  Kabuki theaters were modeled after Noh theaters in respect that you have a stage where the actors entertain the audience in front of an uncovered seating area for the patrons.  While a roof was always provided over the stage and the box seats in the Edo period, the use of a roof over the general audience wasn’t common until the kyoho era (1716-1736). 
                Inside the Kabuki Theater, the most obvious characteristic you will notice will be the large wooden walkway on the left side of the stage known as the hanamichi.  This stage had evolved from Noh theaters where the actors received hana, or flowers, from the warrior and noble class.  Over time the flowers changed into various forms of gifts from coats to a monetary amount of money.  In Kabuki Theater, the hanamichi started simply as the location where actors entered and exited the stage.  In 1716, the hanamichi became used as an acting area where the presence of the actor became known using the shichi-san, or the seven-three.  The shichi-san was a specific location on the wooden hanamichi that was seven-tenths from the back of the theater and three-tenths from the entrance to the stage where the actor gives his first impression to the audience.  This first impression was displayed to the audience via the actor through poses, speeches, and dance.  Occasionally, a kabuki theater would use a hanamichi on the right side of the stage, but this was based solely on the needs of the individual play, and would only be a temporary feature.
                In Noh Theater, the use of curtains was rarely used as an element in the play.  Starting in 1664, Kabuki Theater had started to employ the use of the curtain as a plot device rather than simply the beginning and ending of a scene.  The evolution of this can be traced to early kabuki theater that was predominantly individual dances and dramatic sketches.  Overtime, as kabuki started to combine all the individual performances into one cohesive play, the use of the curtain took shape and was used as dramatic effect.  At the sanctioned kabuki establishments, the curtain, known as the joshikimaku, was often a made of bold vertical stripes of persimmon, green, and black where is was seen as a symbol of authority and pride.  Unlike the unsanctioned theaters that had curtains called doncho that unrolled from the top, the sanctioned joshikimaku curtains unravel from the left to the right.  At the back of the auditorium, a small curtain known as the Agemaku is used at the back of the stage for actors to enter and exit.  Finally, a curtain called the asagimaku that may be dropped from the top or unroll from the side was used to change the background scenery in a fashion very similar to the way an editor cuts to a different scene in film.
Furthermore, the use of a revolving stage in Kabuki Theater can be traced to playright Namiki Shozo in 1758 where he used the revolving stage to dramatize two fight scenes in two different locations, utilizing the revolving stage and asagimaku curtains. While Shozo’s stage was a large wooden circle that moved independently of the main stage, there were other revolving stages developed such as the bull’s eye stage that was two independently revolving wooden rings that were capable of moving in opposite directions.  The modern day revolving stage is very similar to shozo’s revolving stage due to the fact that both stages are flush to the main stage and hidden from view of the audience.  Most modern stages also incorporate trap lifts inside the revolving stage and at the intersection of the hanamichi used exclusively for entrances to actors portraying ghosts, magicians, and other supernatural roles.
              In addition to the revolving stage, temporary rectangular stages made of cypress placed on top of the main stage and along the hanamichi were also used in Kabuki Theater.   The reason for cypress wood was due in part to the acoustical properties of cypress the accented the stomping sounds that were commonly used.  The stages were also used depending on different typologies of plays.  Normally, the background music to plays is in a separate room in the back left corner of the stage.  Occasionally the need for the musicians to be in full view of the audience during dance or singing routines are required.  For these routines, a tiered rectangular stage is covered in felt and placed at the back of the stage facing the audience.  The other instance of musicians to be on stage is for narrative plays that require a space for the narrator and musicians.  Usually this raised stage is placed on one side of the stage and place at an angel to the audience.

Now that the characteristics of a typical kabuki theater have been clarified, the importance of position in space not only for the actors but also the audience should be explained.  As the audience looks at the stage, the audience’s right is called the kamite also known as the upper-hand.  This is the direction of hierarchy inside the kabuki theater.  On stage, men playing roles of women, and those of lower hierarchy sit to the left of those of higher class.  Also, in the audience, the seating for those of honor such as the noble and warrior class are to the right of the audience known as the kami-za.  Conversely, the left side of the stage is called the shimo-te which means the lower hand.  It should be noted that the hanamichi where actors enter the stage is traditionally placed on the left side of the stage for this reason.   As a result, psychological tension can be created within the play by an exchanging of place on stage by two different characters.


By Isaac Grayson

Finals during architecture school are a funny time. Generally speaking finals week is a time to of rest and relaxation, and the first time all year where we get to hang out in the quad and laugh at all the other students who are sleep deprived zombies shuffling around with an open book in each hand cramming for a final they are probably already late to because they can’t recall what day it is. Architecture students can appreciate what they are going through but after a full semester of doing this it seems only fair that we get to see our peers, and often roommates, suffer like we have, even if it is only for one week.
We are not exempt from finals but our big dead line, studio presentations, usually falls in the week before finals. This time of forced creativity and production is highlighted but a string of all-nighters, last minute models made from anything found in studio because the art store is closed, computer failure with the last back up occurring two weeks ago, and printer bottle necks that would put any large cities rush hour to shame. Then the day of presentation everyone pulls a superman wardrobe change and arrives to final review dressed to the nines, sipping on coffee, putting on a good cheery face for presentations but their body language more closely resembles that of lambs being led to slaughter. With the hope that much like death promises reprieve from this life, the final critique will bring the suffering of this last semester to an end. With some luck we will look back on this time and be able to pull meaningful lesson and antidotal stories to share with others who, muck like we did, will not take head to the warnings.
This is not to say that we do not have exams finals week, but there is the euphoric feeling after presenting a final design defense that registers deep in the brain releasing the pressure of stress leaving behind something that I can only describe as a large mental sigh. In the wake of this feeling it is really hard to refocus and take final exams seriously. What is a one hour long test over a couple chapters in a book that has been spark noted to the umpteenth degree compared to a semester long design problem that has no end and is not guaranteed to even have a correct answer?

I have been fighting this feeling this last week. Our graduate program won’t conclude until the end of July, but I did a sort of final presentation to my committee. It was a really nice review. I got a lot of feedback and direction, but per usual there is a long way to go. I need to focus and stay buckled down to my thesis so in two months when I present for the final time, which could quite possibly be my last academic presentation, I will not be like those students whose body language resembles that of an animal headed to slaughter. 


By Randy Thoms

"This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes, again....."
 The End, by The Doors, written by Jim Morrison.

            Well, it may not be that bad but this is my last blog to the wider world of SIUC architecture students. therefore to recite another well known song:

"Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurres to me What a long, strange trip it's been."
Truckin', by Grateful Dead, written by Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and lyricist Robert Hunter.

            Does it seem strange that we can find songs that fit any mood or situation?  Probably not.  Yet it has been interesting and dare I say fun to write these blogs every two weeks.  They were able for me at least, to express something other than diagrams, renders, sections, plans...well you know what I mean of the demands by Professors in this program.  I was taking the tack to write about life happenings and interests of mine with an architectural tone, even slightly at times, but that is what a blog means right?
            I was not asked to change my ways and beef up the word count, hopefully all of you thousands out there reading these had a good time following me on the journey through the world of Grad school and everyday happenings thus far.  I have passed on info about my kids, my age, my wife, my travels, research, thesis, history and building things to name a few topics.  I must admit I do not read "all" the other blog postings by my fellow grad GA and TA's, but I read some.  Hopefully the many other posts kept you guys coming back for more and something to do other than, well you know, architecture stuff.

            So as we grads move into the home stretch and finalize all those demands placed upon us over this summer, maybe there will still be time to write and read something other than architecture?  Maybe we all have helped to make the transition to Grad school less foreign and intimidating.  As many have stated, and the big secret so do not tell the Professors, it is all about time management.  Yes you need "skills" but many could do this with the right time management skill to get all the work required completed, it is just that "next step" that breaks one out of the pack.  And it is never to late to go back to school and pursue something you wish you would have done 25 yrs ago.....
photo by Steve Y. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

NCARB Accreditation

By Kristopher Teubel

As our time is winding down here at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, my classmates and I are now faced with what to do next.  Aside from the obvious, beginning a career, paying those dreaded student loans, and perhaps moving to a distant city, one very big decision for each of us to evaluate is, if we get a job in architecture, do we work toward getting our architecture license.  To make a proper decision on the subject, one must educate themselves on what is required to gain their license and what a license really means to them.  Why do you want to get it?  Is it for the pay increase common in such an effort, or just for the title?  For anyone to really know if its worth the time and money to continue on to licensure, they must know what it takes.
            In the most basic sense of the licensure process for an architect according to,  any candidate working toward their license must complete three different criteria before they can actually apply for their license.  The first is to hold a professinal degree in architecture from an accredited program.  The two organizing bodies that can accredit an architecture program are the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB).  Alternatives to earning the aforementioned professional degree include the satisfaction of NCARB's Broadly Experienced Architect Program and proving that a degree earned outside of the United States and Canada has met alternative NCARB requirements.
            Another element of the licensing process is the Intern Development Program (IDP).  NCARB outlines a specific number of hours to be spent working in an architecture firm or appropriately similar environment in various sectors of the daily work.  To be more specific, one must record a total of 5,600 hours working in different common roles around the office.  These different areas and the amount of time needed in each is clearly outlined by NCARB and includes such criteria as 180 hours in the pre-design phase, 2,600 hours in the design phase, 720 hours in project management, and 160 hours in practice management.  These categories are broken down once more into smaller categories with their own time requirements.  As one goes through the IDP process, they have an NCARB mentor that helps guide them through the process.
            The third element of the licensure process under NCARB is the Architect Registration Exams (ARE).  The current iteration of the ARE is the ARE 4.0.  It consists of seven divisions that include eleven vignettes, and five-hundred fifty-five multiple choice questions.  The questions pertain to various elements of architectural design including programming, site planning, construction systems, schematic design, structure, building systems, etc.  Son to come is the ARE 5.0 which will have slight modifications when compared to its older counterpart but will still address  the same subjects.

            Once these criteria have been met according to the limitations and requirements of NCARB, an individual is then eligible to apply for licensure.  The road is long and hard but, for many, it is more than worth it for the advantages that the title holds professionally and socially.  

Strawbale Construction

By Michelle Harris

Straw bale construction is perhaps my favorite alternative construction method for Southern Illinois. It’s an available local resource and by using straw bale in construction reducing waste of an off product. An example of a straw bale house is the Makanda Inn. I’ve not been in the Makanda Inn but from the online account of the experience I read at the facility appears to be beautiful and comfortable. The process of creating a straw bale home is what makes the building less expensive than traditional construction. Straw bale is easily done with a group of workers who need not have professional construction experience. I am fascinated by the possibilities of using the Earth as a resource for construction.
 To familiarize myself with straw bale construction apart from hearsay that I’ve gathered from a friend who is building a straw bale underground house, I read How Stuff Works’ ( on straw bale homes. The history of straw bale in the U.S. began in Nebraska due to limited wood resources on the prairie fields. Europe has had an extensive history of straw bale construction which has strengthened into even having commercially built public straw bale facilities. You can view the process here: .

The truly amazing thing about straw bale construction is the ability for the straw to be structural in addition to insulatory. The structure of the interlocking straw bales operates like legos and is self-supporting. This is called Nebraska style of straw bale. There are some structural limitations to this construction for load bearing walls. The other construction method is post and lintel straw bale.

load bearing straw bale construction
post and lintel straw bale construction

Straw is different from hay. Hay will decompose more quickly and has a leafy texture. The moisture content of straw is typically lower. Straw will work out the moisture content out. The plaster prevents moisture from accessing the straw and provides a means of wicking the moisture away from the straw. Ventilation is very important to the life span of a straw bale building. 

Green Roofs: Evaluation and Comparison of Four Diverse Green Roofs in Four Countries

By Lani Walker

For one of my projects in my Sustainable Architecture class, we were to select one sustainable practice and analyses four different examples of this sustainable practice.  I chose green roofs, due to their beauty and variety of applications on buildings.  I selected four very different buildings, a municipal building (GENO-Haus in Germany), residential building (The Solaire in New York), commercial building (Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall in Japan) and a museum (California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco) with famous green roofs.  The green roofs on these buildings come in a variety of sizes.  The smallest project I reviewed was the Solaire with a 9,400 sq. ft. green roof.  The next smallest project is the GENO-Haus with a 30,000 sq. ft. green roof, while the California Academy of Sciences has a 197,000 sq. ft. green roof and the Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall has a 320,000 sq. ft. green roof.  It was interesting to see how these projects ranged from smaller to very large in size.  Another difference in these projects was the way the green roof was integrated into the building.  The green roofs at the GENO-Haus and the Solitaire are conventional green roofs just located at the roof of a tall building.  However, the green roofs at the Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall and the California Academy of Sciences are integrated into the design of the building.  These roofs are almost the star of the building, adding to the overall design when viewed from the street level.  I believe it took much more innovation, creativity, time, and money to create the terraced green roof on the façade and the wavy green roof form.
            Regardless of the design, all of these green roofs have helped in the ‘green’ movement worldwide.  The GENO-Haus built its green roof in 1969, making it a very early example in Germany of using a living roof.  In 1994, the Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall was ahead of its time by designed this beautiful terraced green roof design which climbs up the entire south façade of the building.  The Solaire in New York was the first ‘green’ residential building in 2003.  Then in 2007, the California Academy of Sciences green roof became famous due to its interesting mound form and the fact that it was designed by a world-wide famous architect.  All of these projects became examples of successful green roofs for designers to model after.  Also, I think these famous projects raised awareness and appreciation for green roofs from the general public. 

            Furthermore, all of these projects have benefited the environment and the people inhabiting these buildings.  The green roof at the GENO-Haus is accessible and open to the public.  Although it does not appear to have much seating for the public, it has a simplistic and geometric design that provides all the environmental benefits of a green roof (such as cleaner air and a good use for rainwater).  The green roof on the Solaire is a very impressive because it is part of a larger sustainable design for the building.  With all the sustainable systems working together in the Solaire, the demand for electricity has been lowered by 67%, resulting in a lower electricity bill for tenants.  Also, the green roof at the Solaire is well designed with walking paths and places to sit and relax.  The green roof at the Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall is my favorite of the four projects because it celebrates the green roof through modern design, while keeping the essence of a conventional green roof.  The green roof is used like decoration on the south façade, climbing up every level of the stepped building.  Another element I think is successful in this green roof design is the designated gardens for activities such as meditation, escape, and relaxation.  The green roof is not only providing environmental benefits at each terrace, but it is providing psychological benefits for the building inhabitants.  Similar to the green roof at the Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall, the green roof at the California Academy of Sciences is a decorative element in the design which also provides environmental benefits.  The skylights monitor the temperature and the green roof cleans the polluted California air.  In all, these four projects are famous because they benefit the environment, their community, and the green movement in general.    
Figure 1: Images of Four Diverse Green Roofs in Four Countries.  By:  Lani Walker


Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Shona Tribe

By Nicholas Mosher

The Shonas are Zimbabwe’s largest indigenous group and the most dominate group that have occupied and are still occupying in that area today.  In the late 19th century, the peoples of the area speaking several similar comprehensible languages were united under the Shona name.  With a current population of around 9 million, they take up more than eighty percent of the total population.  In the southern part of Africa, the main language spoken is Bantu.  Bantu is has many different languages that fall under it such as Swahili and Tswana which are some of the most popular ones.  Shona language is also a part of the overall Bantu language. There are 5 main Shona language dialects throughout the speaking population.  There is the KoreKore dialect, the Zeseru, the Manyika, the Ndau, and the Kanranga which all are spoken throughout the Shona culture (, 2014)
            Traditionally the Shona live in small isolated settlements consisting of at least one or more elder males.  Along with the elders lived their extended families.  This settlement formed a clan which is classified as a group that descends from a single family.  Majority of the decisions made were through the family but organized political states were recognized as a source of centralized power.  There was one seat of power and that was occupied by the principal chief who inherited the position.  Typically the principal chief lived in a central location of the settlement (, 2014).  In the Great Zimbabwe the central location was the Great Enclosure which is what most people think of when they relate to the Great Zimbabwe.  With this central location of power came lots of wealth too.  Gold and other valuable objects brought to them were held with the chief in his establishment. 
            The Shona tribe specifically in Zimbabwe has been known for their artistry. They come from a rich artistic heritage dating back to the time of Great Zimbabwe and the other stone settlements.  Decorative fabric painting is a largely known artwork that the tribe partakes in.  Sadza (pronounced sudza) is a wax like material made from maize that is used to separate their layers of different colors when painting on the fabrics.  After the paint dries the sadza is washed away leaving a unique texture that is identifiable with the Shona. 
            What the Shona are known for more than their fabric paintings is their stone carvings.  Many stone sculptures have been carved throughout the centuries and they show off the amazing abilities of the artists.  This skill not only shows in their sculptures but also in their architecture.  The ancient ruins of the Great Zimbabwe and the several hundred other settlements across Zimbabwe show how the walls and structures were made in such an advanced and highly precise fashion for their time.  This kind of exactitude and quality is why the structures are still standing today (, 2014). 
            Location of the Shona
The Shona tribe has been located in three main countries; the southern part of Mozambique, majority of Botswana and where they are most commonly known for being, Zimbabwe. These locations are part of the Zimbabwe Plateau.  The Zimbabwe Plateau is part of a wider central African region called the Zambezia.  There are no official borders to Zambezia but its limits are defined by all regions dominated by the drainage of the Zambezi River.  The Zimbabwe Plateau is located in the southern part of Zambezia which is located in the southeastern Central Africa and the northern parts of South Africa (Pikirayi, 2001). 
            In the location of where the Great Zimbabwe is, the plateaus were covered in grassland which was very resourceful for grazing with the Shona’s cattle and other livestock.  The soil conditions were not good for agriculture in regards to feeding a city as large as the Great Zimbabwe.  There were only a few options for which crop could be planted and live in those soil conditions.  The plateaus were later discovered that they had a very valuable resource buried in there; gold.  Gold mines were created throughout the whole Zimbabwe Plateau which brought in a lot of trade for the Shona tribe (Mcintosh, 1998). 

Notes: (2014). Shona People Traditions & Culture. African Crafts Market. Retrieved from (2014). The History of Shona Tribe of Zimbabwe. Bulawayo History. Retrieved from
Mcintosh, Roderick J. (July/August 1998). Riddle of Great Zimbabwe. Archeology Archive. Retrieved from

Pikirayi, Innocent. (2001). The Zimbabwe Culture. California: AltaMira Press.

Time Flies When You're...Working

Joshua Fowler here,
So here we are in the masters program at SIU finishing up thesis work and class work and the future lies on the horizon. and it is a bit daunting to be perfectly honest. Thesis work, 20 page paper to write, jobs to look for, jobs to continue in the midst of all of this other work. It almost seems too big to handle and too much to do, but I have a bit of advice for everyone which I have discovered myself while also toiling in this soup of stress, and that is to just take it a day at a time, or to take it one step at a time, or insert here on of the other various sayings noting the same or similar message.

That being said I would like to share with all of you what I have been working on for the past few months in my graduate career here at SIU. One of the more interesting projects which I have completed for my ARC 532 Global Architecture History class consisted of choosing a structure of a non-western nature, physically  constructing it, and documenting that process.  Now with my interest in bringing back more of the mathematical and geometric side that seems to have become diluted in much of architecture today, I chose my structure to be what is called a Jali or jaali, (Hindi:जाल).

The geometric patterning and the mathematics and geometry behind Islamic art and architecture fascinate me. And while the the project was interesting to me in that regards, it was even more interesting to me in the notion that I wanted to use a new method of delivery for the presentation of this project which I had, until recently, been ignorant of. So I felt it was time to learn Adobe Premiere. This is a video editing software that I chose to learn and use for the required documentation of the project. I was excited to use it and was fairly please with my outcome. As I do not regularly post videos online I do not have a way of showing you the final product…yet. I do plan on adding a link later that will take you to the video I had created. For now here are some final construction images…

Additionally I have been working on quite a bit of thesis work which seems to be ever-evolving [as I believe a good thesis should].     Here are some development images of that as well…

While finding out that my initial approach was perhaps not the appropriate one I did learn I should probably take a bottom up approach where I focus on the design of the components first and let that lay the framework for the rest of the design. The plan now consists of incorporating specific lighting calculation that will influence the design as well as address how the overall design meets the ground and the sky. Additionally the materiality will be extremely important to the project components as well as the project as a whole.
That’s all for now, more next time.

More Thesis Development

By Alan Kirkwood

This blog post just shows more of my thinking in regards to my thesis on city centers and focal points for development and redevelopment to the surrounding areas. A sample from my future thesis book:

The first and primary spot for redevelopment is the current Lincoln Mall site and that area around it. The reason for this is because Matteson is known for Lincoln Mall. It's current failure and state is one of the primary things that one associates with Matteson initially. Just the signs posted inside and on the exterior of the mall led to much community excitement, and stirred thoughts for a brighter future for all of Matteson as a result of this mall renovation. Redevelopment for this site is the main driving factor for the entire community and village. As a result, this will be a mixed-use site which includes educational, cultural, business, retail, food & entertainment as well as some residential and outdoor space. This focal site is almost what one could say the catalyst for the future redevelopment of many other areas of Matteson, a first step to many goals over a forty year time frame.

From what I've notice from many city center redevelopments as well as many master planning projects in general is that there is a part of the overall site/area that is a focal point that feeds into the overall design. This particular spot is the stimulus for a new attitude or mindset for its surrounding parts whether it be a small feature of a building that becomes a part of the overall concept of the building or something large such as a new park that creates the entire feel of a new building complex or community built around it.

In the case of the Edmonton City Centre Redevelopment Plan, the history and culture of the former airport was the driving part of the different firms that proposed their ideas to the competition. By using ideas of connectivity that one could say stemmed from the idea of airports and air travel and how that connects people from place to place. Other areas will use this one catalyzing new development to cause a rebirth or a refresher to its existing surrounding area. This can be seen in a development like Millennium Park in downtown Chicago.

[re]Imagining the “Sick” Space through Art

By Brittany Ricker

Time is running out.
Most are freaking out… some pretend like they aren’t freaking out... BUT either way 5 days remain before out last arranged pin-up of our thesis designs (The final is due in the middle of July and some will hate me for even reminding them).  Also, not to mention this weekend is Easter but that usually doesn’t mean much when you’re in Architecture (at least from personal experience). It usually means eating whatever’s in your fridge, some have a relative or friend to come visit just to feel like they aren’t alone for the holiday (that usually is stressful too), some are lucky and can drive home for a home cooked meal if they live close, BUT most tend to continue working on their project hoping to crank something out. It is always hard to tell your loved ones that you won’t be able to make family events, especially when you live 5+ hours away.

So on top of planning out your final defense for thesis… there is more stress being piled on if you are disappointing some people or even if your family completely understands.. it still sucks sometimes to know you can’t spend more time with them. Even if you do go home and you finish everything before you leave… imagine what else you could produce and make it that much better if you had the entire weekend to keep adding to it. Call me crazy but I get so wrapped up in design that I always work until the last minute because I always have something to add… design is NEVER complete, there is ALWAYS more you can add, change, detail.. ALWAYS. I don’t care who you are, or how long you have been an Architect or designer.. In my eyes a design has a million different routes it can take so there are endless possibilities.

Now you’re probably even wondering why the heck my title was “[re]Imagining the “Sick” Space through Art” … well in previous blog posts I had discussed my proposal for my thesis… I am designing a psychiatric treatment center that will incorporate all five+ senses. There are sensorial spaces, therapeutic workshops, art therapy… endless possibilities that could improve psychiatric treatment centers and how they go about treating/healing adolescences. Since I have personal experience with struggling with depression, admitting myself into an in-patient hospital my senior year of high school, attending an outpatient program then regular therapy following that.. I still could not understand why I wasn’t getting better. Yes I had the coping skills they discuss over and over again… but I just felt as if I was a zombie… or a robot… telling the doctors exactly what they want to hear so that I can finally get out of all of this.. return back to the dreadful days of high school and get on with  my life because nothing was helping. After graduating a half semester early (no idea how that even happened…) I was still seeing a therapist occasionally. I started college and while I struggled the first semester in interior design.. trying to figure out if I even liked what I was getting myself into… I decided to switch to architecture. Now this may be a coincidence but, for those of you who know me, my designs are always art based… in some way shape or form… art is constantly incorporated and usually quite abstract. Since I began architecture, I missed meetings with my therapist.. usually because there was a project due or I was working on stuff for the project… I stopped going all together. Not to say what therapists do isn’t important because it definitely is, but for me and my family/friends… a drastic change happened when I was lost in the world of architecture (sounds kind of cliché or cheesy …but literally that’s how it feels). Since I even began studying architecture I notice that if I start getting anxious, extremely stressed out, panicky…. I can’t work on anything… and to clear my head I start building models, I begin painting or sculpting… anything and somehow it usually ends up forming my design for a project. This time around I was able to use my concept and create artwork that is technically a form of art therapy that will be used in my psychiatric treatment center. Luckily I have an awesome friend in studio that was willing to pose for these pictures… and some might find them quite disturbing…creepy… uncomfortable…but when I look at them I don’t exactly see that.. I see someone hiding.. and if someone pays close attention maybe they would notice the pain.. but usually it’s ignored. Giving people a chance… gives them hope…  It’s extremely hard to explain… not enough words could describe what I was thinking while doing this… but here’s some examples of what I have been working on. (I began working on this while I was stressed out about personal stuff, finishing design, and trying to figure out ways I could spend time with my family for Easter… this seriously calmed me down without even realizing it at first)

A special thanks to Lauren Hale for taking time out of working on her own thesis to contribute to mine! You’re awesome!!! 
Photo by Author
Subject: Lauren Hale
Photo by Author
Photo by Author
A combination of finished and in progress images transferred on to canvas
Photo by Author

History of the Kinkaku-ji Temple

By Phil Mevert

The Kinkaku-ji complex which translates to the “Temple of the Golden Pavilion” was originally an existing villa called Kitayama-dai owned by the powerful statesman, Saionji Kintsune. In 1397 Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu purchased the villa from the Saionji family. Having been constructed in the late 14th century, it was not designed by an architect as we would call them today.  At this time those who were wealthy enough to hire others to build their buildings were essentially the architects as they were the ones who would instruct the builders how the building was to look and what materials were to be used. It is unknown who the builders of the Kinkaku-ji actually were. 

The Kinkaku-ji Temple is divided in both style and material use by the three levels that make up the structure. Each level has its own unique use and purpose. The overall structure of the building is wood columns and beams. The pyramid shaped roofs are thatched with shingles and the top roof is topped with a bronze phoenix ornament. The first level, which is called The Chamber of Dharma Waters, is made up of unpainted wood and white plaster. The walls are shorter to allow natural daylight and views out to the water (  The Wood and plaster look on the outside of the first level allow the water and other natural elements to be the focus of the lower level to provide a peaceful feeling. The second and third floor exteriors are covered with pure gold leaf. Many think this is to reflect what is on the insides of those levels. Much like the first floor is a rather plain exterior to allow the natural experience to happen both on the interior and exterior of the level, the second and third floors exterior are to show the beauty on the outside of what is inside. The second floor is known as the Tower of Sound Waves and is intended as a Buddha hall ( The second floor gives off a feeling of impermanence with its slidding wood doors and latticed windows. The shrine on the second floor is dedicated to the goddess of mercy, Kannon.   The third floor is built in a more traditional Zen style and contains around 25 Bodhisattvas ( The third floor is known as the Cupola of the Ultimate.

As mentioned with the extreme beauty of the second and third levels having the gold leaf and the lower level being non exuberant color, the upper levels are able to complement the nature that surrounds the building and is connected to the first floor since the first floor is at ground level. 
The reflection pond that surrounds about a quarter of the building makes the building look even more beautiful by reflecting the gold upper levels and extending the beauty on to a horizontal plain as well as the vertical plain that the building itself creates naturally. It is possible that the beauty of the Kinkaku-ji is what kept the building standing through a civil war and two world wars even though some of the surrounding buildings in the complex. It is rather Ironic that the beauty of the Kinkaku-ji was able to keep it standing for around 500 years and that the beauty is also what cause a psychotic student monk, who hated everything beautiful convinced himself the only solution to solve his problems was to burn the building down. 
Although it is a shame to see a building that was able to stand the test of time disappear, the replication of the exact building actually became even more beautiful by the addition of more gold leafs to the second third levels.