Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Thesis Update #1- An informative First Few Weeks

By Nicholas Ouellett

As promised from my last two blogs, this week I will be writing on my thesis project and where I am as of this time. For the first couple of weeks of the semester I have been working on getting all the background information needed for my thesis in terms of site analysis, code information, and case study research. The first review for our thesis projects is in two weeks so I have been working towards it and getting as much information as possible for it so I can get a lot of feedback from not only my committee but also any other critics who might be there.
I’m going to be completely honest here, I was not prepared for the work that I would need to put in to get this project going on the right track. Don’t get me wrong, I was aware that this is a thesis and is the most important project of my college career and it was going to take a lot of work to finish it, but I guess I was not prepared for all the decision making that I would need to do upfront. Let me explain, normally when you have a studio project, a professor outlines you “need such and such program spaces with this many buildings across this much square footage of space for this amount of people.” All of the important numbers and figures are given to you, however with a thesis, all of that is determined by the person [me in this situation] who is developing the thesis project. I guess that was something I didn’t really take into account and think about when I was researching things in the first couple of weeks and now I’m faced with making decisions for all of these things and not knowing if it’s the right or wrong thing to do. It’s a scary proposition. I’m working though it and have some important decisions already but there are many more to come in the future for this project.
Over the past couple weeks I have been working on basic but important information regarding codes, site design and context, and program. Code analysis is by far the worst of those three I just listed. I have not done code analysis for other studio projects [someone else in class covers it most of the time] and I am glad I did not have to. Going through code is horrendous, important yes, but horrendous. It seems that anytime I looked for something, the code would send me to a different chapter for the answer, which would then send me to another chapter and so on before I could get the concrete answer I was looking for. It is like an endless cycle of circles that seem to go forever. Eventually I got to the information I needed but it took some time and even though I found the information I needed, some of it I am still unaware if it directly relates to my project or if it is a special case and actually doesn’t have anything to do with it, it is confusing as all hell. Other than the code analysis, the site context went fairly smoothly and the program for the most part wasn’t too much of an issue. The program did pose a lot of questions that I needed to answer and figure out on my own such as how many units I would have in total and how many parking spaces each unit should have since there is no set limitation in the code for the zoning district I am working in.
All in all, the first couple weeks of this semester have included a lot of background work that I needed to get done so I could continue on with my thesis project in the future. It may suck to have to go and find the information and it may not be the easiest to understand but it is necessary and I can’t move forward with a design until I have this information at my disposal. The next blog is due the same day as the presentation of my work for the first review so I won’t be able to discuss how it went unfortunately so I will have to come up with a new topic for my blog, maybe I will just update you all with where I am at again before the review and go from there? I am unsure at this time but my thesis will probably be the subject for most of the blogs here on out so I hope that you enjoy the insight as to what is going on with it and are interested to hear more as I progress!

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