Thursday, October 30, 2014

We Are Here

By Stephen Tutka

As many of my colleagues have posted to this blog, we attended a lecture by Peter Eisenmen. This lecture was supposed to make us think, that was his goal. He said at one point, “I am here and I want you here too.” This was in reference to him requesting that everyone put away their notebooks and just listen to his thought process and self-discussion.
I found this to be very profound. I relate this to both life and architecture. In today’s culture I find many things to be very impersonal. Generalizations are made to save time and money and people are over looked. Architecture is a client based profession where we must not only design for the present but the future for which that structure will still exist. Architects find themselves riding on the wave of present and the future, the cutting edge. It is important that architects stay in tune not only with current events but trends and fads. Equally prevalent to an architect is the past. An architect must exist at all times. They must be then and now in thought. How does the future effect the present and how did that past get us there?  
Taking a step back from thinking about architecture is important for me. Hobbies are immensely important because they allow me to change my perspective on certain details or allow me something I may not have had influence from before. A few of my classmates skateboard, I myself inline skate and enjoy to roller skate too. The perspective of being a skater is outlined in other posts on this blog (Skate Break series by Ryan Northcutt or a couple posts by Nick Bosman) but my point is that hobbies allow you to look from the outside in. I really enjoy live music, hiking, traveling and hanging out with people who are passionate about what they do. All of these things are available to me here at SIU. I frequent Hangar 9 and the local music festivals here in Carbondale, Giant City and Shawnee are within a half an hour drive, I traveled with AIAS two or three times a year since I’ve been in architecture school, and everyone here is learning about their future professions… and not to mention there is some great food in Southern Illinois. My point is, I love architecture, but my life outside architecture influences my other passions.
One of my largest passions is music and dance. I am not classically trained and I’ve only had two classes in my life but music makes me move and I can’t resist it. As a dancer it is important that you listen to the tempo and rhythm so that you stay in tune. Knowing the previous parts of a song and other songs like it allows for you to predict the rest of the song. Your body is used as it is perceived in that moment as it hits each note and it is noticeable when you are not on beat. However, your mind is often moments ahead of your body. When dancing with a partner your bodies and minds must work together to collaborate on the beat. This is where the overlap happens. Architecture is a collaboration of people and elements just like dancing. The individual drawings that make up a building are the body and its parts. The music theory and construction is architectural history and precedent that leads up to your building. You and your partner are the people it takes to make a building; contractors, architects, draftsmen, clients, and everyone. The mindset is the same; it is in a constant state of past, present, and future. But when it all comes down to it you are only in that moment experiencing that one time. “I am here and I want you here too.” It is an interpersonal relationship. It is personal. Architecture is a personal expression.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Changes in Carbondale

By Chase Masters

For my 5th blog I wanted to share some of my experiences of being an architecture student and how it influences the way I look at new construction.  Whenever I see some sort of construction going around town I always am interested in what exactly they are doing, or what materials they are using as well as how things change the next time I walk by.  If you didn’t know already, the 710 bookstore closed and then was torn down.  There is now a new building being constructed in its place.  It will be an apartment complex that also has some retail on the first floor.  One thing from the construction that really got my attention was seeing a big crane in downtown Carbondale.  They were using this to lift and place the double T concrete floor panels on top of the concrete first floor walls.  They used different materials throughout the building.  They used CMU for the walls of the staircases, precast concrete flooring for the second floor, and they just started using wood for the residential part of the building.  This was very exciting to see since we are studying building codes for one of our classes.  The restrictions of the codes and trying to use cost efficient materials and construction methods start to influence what materials you use in construction.  The concrete fits in with the occupancy of the retail with stricter fire safety.  The use of precast concrete cuts down on cost of labor and thus total cost of the building.  The use of wood for the residential floors is a cheaper cost of materials, since it is allowable for the residential occupancy.  This all makes the total cost of a building cheaper, yet fit all of the appropriate building codes, than using the same material throughout the building.

A Short History of My Personal Thesis Topic

By Nicholas S. Ouellette

Good morning, afternoon, or evening to you that is currently reading this blog entry. If you have been keeping up with my other entries from the previous weeks, you will know that the last entry displayed a poster for the upcoming thesis project that I am currently looking to work towards for the next two semesters before graduation. The poster and associated text described some of the basic facts for my personal thesis topic but I felt as though more background needed to be stated as to why I am interested in this field of architecture.
As an undergraduate student here at Southern, you are required to take three building technology classes each with different material focus areas. The first is over wood, the second on concrete, and the final one on steel construction. During these courses we began to learn how buildings are constructed and assembled and also how to put together a full set of construction documents. I gained a new appreciation for how all the small details of a building work into one coherent system. Instead of working in Revit where all you do is place components into a pre-defined wall section or floor plan I worked in AutoCAD and had to think about how each element was applied to the structural system and draw each element on my own. Through this process I became more and more interested in construction as an assembly process and learned to appreciate the pages and pages of documentation that an architect would create for each building he designed.
For my thesis I wanted to focus on a project that had a lot of assembly elements and really be able to dive into the details for how this building would be constructed whatever it may be. In the end I chose to design an apartment complex for a major city dealing with housing issues because of the rapid influx of people moving into that setting. I chose an apartment complex because when I first started to gain a passion for architecture housing was always an interest of mine. As I continued my architecture career though, the projects I worked on started to shift my interest to a more community base and how these spaces could have a major impact on how people interact and communicate with each other. Putting these two interests together, my thesis developed into an apartment complex that would have a large public space element to it for a major city in the United States. My interest in assembly and construction brought a new pre-fabricated twist to the project with a heavy focus on how the structure is put together and how each apartment unit is attached and placed within that structure.
I chose Seattle Washington as the site for my thesis project. The west coast of the United States has always been an interesting area and a place that I wanted to visit. There are many cities on the west coast in California, Oregon, Arizona, and Washington that are growing exponentially and are in need of new housing solutions. Seattle Washington is also a major center for manufacturing and production which is another reason why I selected it as the city for my thesis project since the prefabricated elements would have to be assembled and produced in a large warehouse and transported to the site when completed.

No More Weird Buildings

By Haoyang Li

The President of China, Xi Jinping, has reportedly called for an end to the “weird buildings” being built in China, and particularly in the nation’s capital, Beijing. In a two hour speech at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Mr Xi expressed his views that art should serve the people and be morally inspiring, identifying architectural projects such as OMA’s CCTV Headquarters as the kind of building that should no longer be constructed in Beijing.
CCTV New Building

This statement is that it is an extension of his mission to crack down on corruption and extravagance within the Chinese Government, having removed 51 officials from government as of August.
In particular his statement that art should “inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste and clean up undesirable work styles”. It shows that Xi want to raise the traditional Chinese culture, try to avoid the architecture field in China become a test of international Architects.
Another interpretation, offered by Wolfgang Georg Article in Forbes Magazine, links Xi Jinping’s comments to architectural tourism, saying: “Chinese outbound tourists used to be impressed by futuristic buildings they encountered in places like Dubai and recently also London, but with more and more of such projects realized in Beijing… the pull factor of contemporary architecture for them is diminishing.”
Article also notes that the number of foreign tourists visiting Beijing has steadily declined in recent years, but while he concludes that ”maybe this argument will help to sustain future projects by world-class architects,” it could also have the opposite effect: perhaps Mr. Xi realizes that the draw of “weird architecture” is not strong enough to sustain China’s tourism industry, and therefore not worth the financial and reputation risks it poses.
Previously it had been thought that Chinese culture was simply not strong enough to support its building boom without the help of foreign architects: in early 2012, Mr. Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao wrote “the international culture of the West is strong while we are weak.” However, mere months later, the Pritzker Prize was awarded to Wang Shu, the first time it had been awarded to an architect both born and working in China. Furthermore, Wang Shu has been noted for his Critical-Regionalist approach, combining Western modernism with traditional Chinese influences.
Beside the criticism, anther results of this statement have reduced the number of new buildings. As far as I know, the firm I used to intern in China has canceled several projects. Some of them are design processing. And it is a good way to slow down the design process. Give time for Chinese to rethink what building is China need.
I will collect some really weird buildings in next couple weeks.


Residential Design

By Meghan Shanahan

Hey welcome back and happy early Halloween! I am so excited to be down at southern for Halloween, I bet it is going to be a blast, though I have no clue what I want to be and it’s only two days away. Since we last talked I feel like only minor changes have happened.
My master-planning group is pretty developed I really have a great group that has really worked hard. I will refresh your memory and explain the project once again. We are looking at the site for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero and taking part of AECOM’s “legacy” plan and redeveloping it. Then from there we choose to design either residential or hotel. Image 1 is a diagram of our master plan from midterm two weeks ago. The brown residential area on the right side of the diagram is the area that I will be designing. I changed the plan since then I will now have eight buildings instead of nine and there are two different size buildings. I am breaking my buildings into four groups of buildings, which will be connected in the middle with a stairway that will reach each floor. Each connection will include one big building and one small. All of the smaller buildings are four stories and consist of 3 apartments per floor except for the first story that will have parking for itself and it’s connected building. Where as the bigger building are three stories with four apartments on each floor. When I have my plans a little further developed I will share them with you.
As for all my other classes they have been going well, we have been developing our structure for the eight residential structures in studio.  My thesis has not changed much, we just started working on our chapter three which is the program analysis. I can tell you that I am so excited to work on my thesis. When I was in undergrad the idea of a thesis was so terrifying but now that I am so close to it I cannot wait for it to come!
Thanks for reading, see you in November!

Twenty Minutes in West Town

By Kyle Fountain

Although my commute from the six flat walk up apartment I lived in, to my office in West Town Chicago was not as eclectic as Michael Sorkin’s “Twenty Minutes in Manhattan,” it was a dramatic step up from the suburbs.
Figure 1:  My Previous Residence, 900 W Wrightwood Ave

Still, my journey every morning was long enough and Chicago is integrated enough to provide a choose your own adventure approach to commuting.  For instance, depending on weather conditions, I might take the bus from Wrightwood Ave down Halsted to Fulton Market and walk fifteen minutes west.  Going home, especially when the Cubs had a night game, I would almost be forced to take the Green Line – East to the Brown Line – north, and then walk north a couple blocks home.  Full disclosure, I didn’t consistently use public transportation until last winter when my car was stuck in ice for two months.  After pouring a bag of salt, breaking a hammer, and giving the neighbor something to watch as they drank their morning coffee, I resorted to the bus, train, and walking every day.
Figure 2:  Typical Morning Fulton Market Obstacle Course

My office was tucked within three very different corridors in the West Loop.  Fulton Market was the closest stop on Halsted and an adventurous walk every day.  Lake Street was even less pedestrian friendly, and Randolph was the chosen path for coffee, or on my way home to stop into one of several celebrity chef’s restaurants, which is why it is dubbed restaurant row.
 Fulton Market is a street that is home to dozens of whole sale and individual sale butcher cold storage facilities.  In the morning from about 6:00 AM to lunchtime, the street is filled with forklifts, semi-trucks, and butchers running around with stains on their aprons filling orders for the day rendering this stretch a very exciting walk (assuming you aren’t vegetarian) and impossible for a car to travel through.  By lunchtime these places have finished for the day and the street is practically empty.  Currently, Google is moving into the largest cold storage facility in the area, the Fulton Market Cold Storage building, which I had the opportunity to watch demolition and walk through, since our office is the architect of record.  This building was completely filled with ice when demolition began, click here to see a cool time lapse of the melting process.

Figure 3:  Rendering of Fulton Market Cold Storage Building

The Lake Street walk was a path taken from the bus only on days when I didn’t want to worry about getting hit by a forklift, or worry about getting nailed by a pig on a dolly (this happened).  The stretch on Lake is filled with fast moving cars and semis coming from west neighborhoods and suburbs and speeding to work through an almost secret path between freeways.  If I had a nickel for every time I almost got in an accident on this road, whether driving, or walking… think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – valet joyride scene, or Blues Brother’s – police chase scene.


The latter experience is one of several reasons why I believe this area will be a great fit for my thesis site.  With the introduction of a new CTA stop on Lake Street, alongside hundreds of employees moving in to the Fulton Market Cold Storage Building, and majority of the properties from the wholesale meat packing businesses, the area is changing quickly and dramatically.  I believe a structure which has the potential to evolve within an urban fabric, rather than permanently change the context, will be a model for salvaging a neighborhoods culture, charm, and uniqueness whether in Chicago’s West Loop/Town, or a similar neighborhood like New York’s Red Hook.

Figure 2 courtesy of:
Figure 3 courtesy of:
Figure 4 courtesy of: solo-female-travel-army/

Historical city: Bhaktapur – Part II

By Sabin Chakradhar

As stated in my earlier blog ‘Bhaktapur Part I’, I am going to provide you with some more information about the marvelous city Bhaktapur. The new byelaws (as mentioned earlier) has not only helped to conserve the historic fabric of the city but also helped promote tourism. Currently, Bhaktapur city collects highest revenues from tourism among other cities in Nepal. So, in this blog I want to discuss on some of the main attractions of the city.  
Pachpanna jhyaale durbar (55 Windowed Palace) is the Royal palace, built in 1427 AD during the reign of King Yakshya Malla, reflecting the rich culture and lifestyles of the Newars. The palace, built with brick and wooden structure, consist of a wooden balcony with 55 windows which is considered to be the unique masterpiece of wood carving. You can see the intricate details of art work in every piece of wood used as the structural element, doors, windows, struts etc. Currently, the building is used as the national gallery.
Durbar Square is the huge plaza in front of the 55 Windowed Palace surrounded by number of temples, statue of king Bhupatindra Malla, Patis, and huge entrance gate. Besides Durbar Square, there are few other squares (plazas): Taumadi, Dattatraya etc. These plazas serve as the interaction spaces for the local people. They function as the marketplace in the morning, big stage to perform dance or roll the chariots of god during the festivals and a pleasant public place throughout the year. 
Bisket Jatra is one of the biggest festivals in the city. It last for few days and during the event you can see that almost every person from the city is celebrating the festival in one way or another: by coloring each other, getting drunk, dancing on the streets etc. one of the exciting events of the festival is when they have tug of war between the eastern and western sides of city, a huge chariot carrying images of the god Bhairab is dragged by number of people from each side of the city. The event can get violent sometimes when two sides of the city start to fight each other.
Nyatapola is the five storied pagoda styled temple dating back to 1702 AD and is the tallest temple of the country. It is believed to be built in 5 months and using very primitive techniques such as bamboo scaffolding etc. Temple stands on the 5 plinth level which can be approached by climbing the huge steps and at each plinth levels the steps is guarded by two giant stone figures on each side. On the first level there are two stone statues of Jaya mal Pata (strongest man), a famous wrestler, on second level there are two elephants followed by two lions, two griffins and finally “Baghini” and “Singhini”, the tiger and lion goddesses respectively. Like every other temples in Bhaktapur, you can see the magnificent artwork in the wooden structures, struts, gates, windows etc.
Besides these famous components, there is still so much more in Bhaktapur that you can explore. Bhairabnath temple, Dattatreya Square, different pagoda and shikhara styled temples, the peacock window etc. are some of the other attractions that you would not wanna miss when you visit Bhaktapur. City is so rich in culture that, no matter what season you visit you get to see one or two cultural festivals going on. One of my favorite festival is Gaijatra where you get to dance among the crowd with two wooden bars as a prop (known as Ghintang ghisi twak). So, for an architect or just as a simple tourist looking for some adventure, Bhaktapur city is definitely one of the best choice.

 01. Bhaktapur Durbar Square
02. Nyatapola Temple
03. Idol in front of Nyatapola Temple

04. Peacock window

05. 55-Windowed Palace

The Use of Wood and Timber

By Michael Young

While reading the excerpt Rappel À L’ordre, The Case For the Tectonic by Kenneth Frampton I noticed how he described architecture as a form of art. According the Frampton, tectonics plays an important role along with the method of construction in architecture. The word “tectonics” in Sanskirt means “taksan” referring to an ax or carpenter. Frampton also discusses the use of heavy timber frame wall, which derived from the “primitive hut.”
I choose to find an excerpt that discussed the history, the change, and the use of timber over the decades. The book Construction + Materiality written by Lorraine Farrelly gives very good insight to the construction methods of wood timber. Timber is multipurpose building material. Farrelly explains, “It’s possible to design and construct a building entirely of timber, from its frame and wall coverings to the roof. In addition to its versatility, timber is the ultimate sustainable material.” Timber offers aesthetic advantages compared to other building materials. Over time the timber can weather and add to the design scheme. The use of wood and timber over the past centuries has changed tremendously. For example, in 5000 B.C. farmers introduced the style of Neolithic constructed by timber. The form was derived from the shape of Viking ships. It is highly possible the craftsmen worked on both houses and boats.  Farrelly states, “In much contemporary architecture the use of timber has become increasingly appropriate as the building industry responds to the sustainable sourcing and application of materials debate.” The innovation over time allows us to do some pretty remarkable stuff today with timber such as: simply using timber for a decorative effect, curved timber, and parametric structures. Many applications of timber can be used in the design and construction of a building. When creating the structural frame, a nice aesthetic way to use timber is by showing the exposed structural system. To strengthen the structure engineering timber can be used.  The roof frame will consist of several elements such as: trusses, beams, joists, and purlins. In the excerpt was a case study by Glenn Howells Architects and the design of The Savill Building. This building stood out to me because of the aesthetic of how they shaped the wood. The building serves as a visitor center for Windsor’s Great Park. The design of this roof structure was to draw the eye upward upon entering, which creates the vision to look over the internal facilities.
Exterior Perspective of Savill Building

Interior Perspective of roof in Savill Building

Frampton, K. Rappel À L'ordre, The Case For the Tectonic. 1-7
Farrelly, Lorraine. Basics Architecture. “Construction + Materiality”
Vol. 2, 68-97

Journal Article Review

By Anthony Michael

Hello again fellow bloggers.  For this week’s posting I feel that a journal article review is appropriate.  As I dive deeper into my research upon my thesis I have bene reading numerous articles, journals, and books about education reform. And thus I feel that it would be beneficial to you to know a little about what I have been finding.  The latest article that I read is entitled “Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns” this article can be found in the Washington Post by Valerie Strauss on Oct 24. 
In this article Alexis Wiggins who is a High School Learning Coach.  As her job pertains she works with teachers and administrators to help improve student learning outcomes.  As an “initiation” to this new job she followed two students around in their classes for two whole days, doing everything that they did; taking notes, tests, labs, etc.; to try and gain a better understanding of what actual life is like as a high school student.    After Wiggins is done shadowing the students she concludes that high school is actually rather tiring for students. 
One of the main reasons that she feels like students are exhausted at the end of the day is that they sit down all day.  The only times that they are allowed to actually get up and move around on their own are in between classes.  Other than this they are required to sit and absorb information Wiggins reported that one of the major things that she would have implemented had she realized this would be three things.
·       Mandatory stretch halfway through class
·       Install a nerf hoop that allows students to unwind and move about in the beginning of class
·       Incorporate a hands on activity into every class of some sort
The second finding that she reported was that most students do not even feel that their presence provides a worthy contribution to the class, since they are not allowed, or asked to provide any input during the majority of the time that they are in class.  This is either because the teacher is lecturing, other students are presenting, or a test was being taken.  This leads to student’s just absorbing information the whole day and not critically thinking about what is being said.  Wiggin’s feels that critical opportunities are being lost that allow students to choose or direct where and how they want their education to proceed.  Several of the various changes that she would make inside the classroom are as follows.
·       Quick mini-lessons followed by group discussions to promote active and critical learning
·       Ask the students at the beginning of class what questions they had over the readings or any previous classes
·       Only allow so long for a lecture and to not go over that time period, to allow for more question answer time
Overall more active and engaging learning environments need to be incorporated within a student’s everyday learning environment to encourage students to actually think about and analyze the information that is being relayed to them. 
Strauss, V. (2014, October 24). Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns. Washington Post.

What the Future Holds

By Drew Baldwin

As the semester progresses and we get more in depth with both our studio projects and thesis developments, I think we really start to figure out what we want to do, or at least try to do once we finish grad school. At this point, I don’t know if where I want to go in trying to find a job, and to be honest, it will probably come down to wherever I end up being able to get a job rather than me actually picking a city and searching there. Not to say that it is a bad thing, I am completely open to moving somewhere new, within reason. If I had to choose one or two places that I would prefer to go, I of course would choose Chicago, it’s a great city with lots of opportunities and it’s a city I personally really like and my other choice would be San Diego or somewhere around that area. I realize, for someone from the Midwest, San Diego may seem like a bit of a strange choice of location, but it is a great city in Southern California, one I enjoyed when I visited when I was younger as well as where I had contemplated going to grad school. As for now though, I am keeping an open mind as to where I end up.
As for what I would like to do/focus on, I know that personally, through developing my thesis proposal idea as well as the housing I have decided to design for my studio project, I have really started to take interest in both urban green space design as well as low-density residential design. Both can be designed as completely different entities, but they can also both be designed in coordination with each other to really create a nice living community. Along with these two things, I have also though about possibly getting into small scale urban installations as well. I think that it would be an interesting way to combine my architectural design and fabrication knowledge with my artistic side.