Monday, February 29, 2016

Samuel Mockbee and his rural design studio

By: Kristina Shrestha
Samuel (Sambo) Mockbee was the Architect- teacher at Auburn University at Auburn, Alabama. He was born in 1944 in Mississippi. He studied in Auburn University and later taught there after his graduation. He believed that architects were only for rich people who can afford to hire an architect to create their dream shelters.  He also believed that architects were not concerned about shelters for those who need especially the poor ones who cannot afford an architect.
To follow his dream to help needier, he decided to live in Auburn and teach the class of rural studio in Auburn University instead of looking for jobs in the cities which would pay him high commission. He had worked in small rural projects and he believed that an architect can play a key role in the society. He had been honored by MacArthur Fellow Award in 2000 AD and posthumously received AIA Gold Medal in 2004. He became a pioneer to introduce new trend to existing traditional architecture education. He led new architecture education which combines both theoretical and practical knowledge. The rural studio which was established in 1993 with collaboration of Mockbee, addresses the housing and community need of the poor.
The architecture students with high ideals would work with the nearby rural communities who normally could not afford an architect. The collaboration together has built many single-multifamily units, community centers and prayer houses. Mockbee would help the students to achieve their goals. He believed that every person deserves to have a shelter. He was “leader as a servant of the people, one who unselfishly lends his exceptional talent to serve his community” [1]. Later he located his rural studio in Hale County, Alabama as it was the poorest county and people needed help. He believed that the students can understand the poor state by smelling it, feeling it by being there at that place. With his new campaign to server local community in need, he developed trust between rural studio and the community. Some of his projects in Rural Studio are as follows:

Akron Boys & Girls Club, Akron, Alabama
Subrosa Pantheon
Yancey Chapel, Hale County, Alabama
Butterfly House, Mason's Bend, AL 1997
1.      Swet,Richard; Leadership by Design


Sustainable Facades

By: Ken Howder
For information on climate zones within the U.S. I was given a detailed book on the study of sustainable facades written by Ajla Aksamija titled, simply, Sustainable Facades.  According to Aksamija, building facades serve the dual-purposes of improving occupant comfort and creating the look for the building in which it serves.  When all else considered, these two functions can be determined as the central idea every building that is to be designed in the architecture profession.  
A typical basis for the design of a building’s façade is the climate zone in which it is to be built.  The author describes this process in depth and classifies the possibilities of 8 different climate zones.  These zones include: Very Hot, Hot, Warm, Mixed, Cool, Cold, Very Cold, and Subarctic.  Similarly, each zone come with an added humidity category of humid, dry, or marine.  These zones throughout the United States can be seen in the following figure.
(Map of us climates, Aksamija pg. 7)
There are several differing strategies per climate zone that a designer needs to consider when planning a building’s efficiency factors.  Aksamija explains, “In choosing design strategies, we need to consider the conditions of the climate zone to minimize their impacts and reduce energy consumption.  In Table 1-3, we see how design strategies are affected by climate types” (Aksamija, 2010, pg. 10).
Basic design strategies include: “Orienting and developing geometry and massing of the building to respond to solar position, providing solar shading to control cooling loads and improve thermal comfort, using natural ventilation to reduce cooling loads and enhance air quality, and minimizing energy used for artificial lighting and mechanical cooling and heating by optimizing exterior wall insulation and the use of daylighting”  (Aksamija, pg. 9).
The information and techniques acquired from this book gave me the idea for individual study of climate zone façade design with the control subject being the exact same building shell.  It is indeed a necessity, for efficient building skins to be present within each of the climate zones individually.  However, there is not a cookie-cutter solution that can be applied to all climate zones and be effective.  This lead to the idea of separating my designs into three different climate categories: Hot, temperate, and cold (there are several more, but these have differences relevant enough to produce an effective study).  Finally the concept of designing the same building (with the same program and requirements) for the three different climate zones individually to study the differences and relationships that will be present when creating efficient buildings in these different zones.  All of these basic design strategies are directly related to the outer envelope of a building.

Friday, February 26, 2016

ARC elective 502

By: Jeremy Clow

            The ARC elective 502 course continued, we have now completed our preliminary schematic designs both individually and as a group. The designs are coming together and display a variety of options for site manipulation, orientation, and seating arrangements. Some key factors of the location have led to very similar design responses. The strong sun from the south hits the hill side providing warmth during the winter, the heavy forestation will provide shade during the summer making a comfortable environment. During the winter however winds from the south come across the lake, with no coniferous forestation between the lake and site the wind is almost unbearable. This has led to a variety of site properties, portions of the site being blocked to the south to create a wind break. The food preparation area included, gusts of wind could make preparation burdensome. The seating and orientation is a prominent feature in the design. Should the seating face the view, the lake to the south? This orientation would be the most obvious in terms of aesthetics however the wind biting at the users face, the sun bearing blinding them, and the smoke from the fire engulfing them are just a few of the reasons why this would be problematic. Seats facing the north put the users back to the wind and sun and with the fire in front of them the smoke would be pushed away. The seats can also be constructed without backs; this will allow persons to face either direction during different times of use. The spectators in the seat will also be facing a guide or lecturer, teaching them about the site, surroundings, and environment. To limit the amount of construction the spectator platform can double as a food preparation area. Space in this particular construction can also provide the wood and food storage requested in the program. Limiting the amount of construction not only helps in time of hours spent constructing but it also helps us stay within the budget as well as minimize our impact on the natural environment. With the leveling of the earth a series of retaining walls will be constructed, one at the north side for holding the higher earth back as well as one at the south to hold earth up. A trench dug to implement these walls will also provide a series of drainage solutions including drain tile to ensure the walls as well as the earth aren’t harmed over time. With erosion already being an issue on the site due to human traffic, a thoughtful and careful design can help aid in the conservation of the natural environment. The walls being a necessary element for the sites success can also be a dual purpose construction element. The tops can provide a perimeter of seating, the north wall being seats level for the site and the south wall for users facing the lake. The additional seating located on the site would sit directly north of the southern wall, providing a stadium style seating for multiple users facing the lake. This would be a great opportunity for larger groups who are taking in the sunrise, sunset, or the wonderful view. The main goal for the finalized project is to limit our manipulation of the earth as well as the amount of construction and keep the natural beauty intact as well as the focal point. With a limited budget and only five graduate students doing the physical labor the project has many constraints both in time and finance. 

Leadership Characteristics

By: Hunter Wilson

            I am Hunter Wilson, a student currently studying in the Southern Illinois University Masters of Architecture program.  I began my education at Vincennes University located in my hometown of Vincennes, Indiana.  After receiving an Associate’s Degree in Architectural studies, I transferred to SIU where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree and still study today.
            The design process that will be discussed is the Architectural Training at the U.S. Department of State: A Design Charrette Tackles National Security Issues.  This particular case study will look at how this architect used certain leadership characteristics to provide a special design solution.
            Out of the ten leadership characteristics discussed in the book, Leadership by Design, this design process sought to use the characteristic associated with lessons of the past which are used to provide a better future.  Part of the design process was to look at the presidency of Howard Taft in 1909.  Taft’s consultants brought in an architectural firm to overhaul the Treasury Dept.  After a thorough efficiency study, the architecture firm was able to improve effectiveness without even the design of any sort of built structure; only building process study.
            This approach can also be linked to one of the Four Building Blocks which is Creating New Value.  Creating New Value deals with creative inventive solutions.  Looking through the lens of building processes rather than space planning is a creative solution.  It is also mentioned that these solutions can be created for, and are essential to, survival.  By dealing with a national security issue, the firm used an inventive solution to improve the possibility for survival.
            Another characteristic is the persuasion to convince.  It is implied that the organizer encouraged a design charrette which is largely unconventional.  The client then accepted the unconventional solution possibly after some persuasion.
            Furthermore, the characteristic of commitment to serve needs was displayed.  The organizer, rather than seeking a solution themselves, presented to idea to gather a wide variety of professionals to come up with a solution together.  The organizer felt to get the best possible solution, many creative minds must team up.
            The final result brought about Order of Chaos.  It can be assumed that keeping embassies, that are scattered throughout the world, highly organized is quite a challenge.  Through research and extensive building process rearrangement, the final solution proved to be a success, creating order out of chaos.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Taroudant University

By:Hanan Rawashdeh
Located in taroudant Morocco standing against the severe conditions of the African climate, the University of Taroudant is constructed. The University borders an area of 2051.1 square meters. It was finished in 2010 by  Moroccan architects Saad El Kabbaj, Driss Kettani and Mohamed Amine Siana.
  What makes the project unique is its strong connection to the Moroccan architecture and culture. The identity of the southern Moroccan vernacular architecture is clear in the layout of the buildings and materials used in the site. Characteristics of the culture such as strength, massiveness and the claire-obscure are presented in the university’s complex. Much like the historical Moroccan vernacular architecture, the different buildings of the university vary in size, scale and width of pathways interweaving between them. The pathways between the buildings allow enough proximity for social interaction without disrupting traffic and reducing acoustical nuisance. By this type of approach a small community like environment is created.  This relates to the organization of the historical Morrocan city where the public spaces follow a hierarchy with the city center consisting of  the mosque , markets and schools then having a second layer of residential zone with the public bathrooms and small shops are interweaved in-between surrounding that center. The circulation between the placing of the buildings is organized around a courtyard garden, which is commonly known in Arabian and Islamic architecture. Al Dar or the historical Arabian house is known to have a central courtyard with no roof and the rooms of the house are symmetrically surrounding it. This type of approach came as a response to the somewhat challenging weather conditions in Morrocco. Since the climate is dry and hot.  Therefore, having a central opening creates a light airy space and contributes to natural ventilation and modifies the indoor climate while providing protection from the dusty winds and direct sunlight. Similarly The faculty of the university is closed and arranged around the non roofed central garden. The integration with nature and visually connectivity is achieved and can be noticed in the plan.  
In conclusion, even in our modern time we can learn a lot from previous historic architecture even with our thriving knowledge and complicated technology services in buildings we can sometimes lose touch with our roots and identity and simple human needs and integration with our surrounding environment. This is something which past architects were deeply involved and sensitive in achieving  even though they had somewhat basic ways of design and construction methods.


Architecture with low budget

By: Faezeh Ensafi
In my country architecture is a luxurious fantasy, but in much country which architecture is a reality. This building is located in one of the poorest districts of Tehran in Jeyhoon area, where let alone the architecture, you can hardly find a building that has the minimum standard requirements of a sane building. The architect’s consideration in this project was the social role of architecture and this project was a challenge for him. He knew he didn’t have any chance to earn money on this project, but he was determined to show that architecture can happen even in such economically and culturally poor area. There you can hardly make something that is not a square box. The only think you have to work on it as architect, is the plain façade of the building.
The decision for designing this project was to create a method that does not need any phase 2 drawings. The result was paying more attention to details and designing complicated details in a very simple way.
The space requirements were also similar to any small scale modern apartment building. In Iran, labor wage is proportionally low and the possibility of creating special designs on smaller scales is more than developed countries. In this project, the architect tried to be creative on using local labors and show how valuable a brick facade could be and the concentration of the architect was on the exterior of the building, Interior design remained nothing more than a functional space aesthetically related to the façade. In order to recall the traditional architecture, brick was used as the main construction material and made a kind of contemporary mashrabiya to cover the whole façade and to mitigate the glaring sun light of Tehran.

The architects designed a tridimensional brick wall which also has a cultural value. In respect of the low budget, they needed to create a method which does not make them produce lots of executive drawings and does not require a great amount of time for supervision. So they invented a new and extremely easy mean of communication based on a table including all needed information for creating the facade. This is something similar to the instructions traditionally recited in the carpet workshops during the work time to coordinate the activities of several weavers working on the same carpet. This method is like putting together pieces of a simple puzzle, each has a code to identify the location and orientation.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

By: Daniel Roman

            Today, the idea of making something by hand is getting out of date. Which means if someone is at home and is in need of a small coffee table, the first thing that comes to most of people’s mind is let me got to IKEA and see what they have. It is a bit different in the field of architecture, most of the students or designers who are in a field like this one have a different mentality. When in need of something, the first question I ask is, can I make it. Do I have the resources in my hand to where I can create such item? When designing something there is a sense of pride and accomplishment. As a designer one takes a design and make it better, or design something to make the life of the user better, or allow to improve for sure.
            Then there are those who see a problem and flat out fix it. There are some people who can fix things on a small scale, and those like Elon Musk who take that to a high level. Elon Musk not only is he a visionary but a designer from who takes his ideas and makes them realistic. He has been able to make his name a house hold name from which you can own a solar polar car, to being part of his Space X program. He has made companies such as Pay pal. When ask how he has been able to work on all these programs he wasn’t able to answer, and in reality he is a designer who has the confidence in his ideas, and knowing that they can make them work. Musk sold his first company Zip-2 at the age of 28 to what is known today as Compact, making him an instant millionaire. He could of retired and call it a life time, but he did not stop there. He took what we take for granted; and founded which was able to make payments online. There was another company that he competed with and they joint forces to compete against companies such as Ebay. Eventually Ebay thru in the towel and bought the new company Paypal.
Ebay acquired Pay Pal in 2002 for 1.5billion he was the highest share holder and walked away with 180 million dollars. After not being complete satisfied he went to the next level and go to space. In the early years he fully funded SPACE X, which cost him almost all that he is worth at a tune of almost 100 million dollars. He knew we had a way to get to space, but he wanted to design a way to get to space cheaper. Rockets had not been redesign since the 60’s. He became henry ford, ford did not invent the car, but he made it better and more affordable for the consumer. If SPACE X was not enough, he helped fund and a Solar Network. Solar City, is the largest solar provider in the united states, by no money down, making eligible for many home and business owners. His life became similar to an infomercial, “but wait there’s more”. He wanted to bring an electric car to the market. In April 2004 he helped establish Tesla Motors, 6.3 million dollars of his own money, it was the first car start up in a really long time.

            He has been able to break thru many obstacles, financially and morally. I have looked up to him as a designer for a very long time. He has been able to take risk and invest almost all of his personal money, and was able to make a fortune with his crazy scary investments. It is there to learn to believe in ourselves in our design ideas and life goals. 


By: Cole Hartke
            The location of the proposed thesis I have chosen (a self-sustainable island resort) brings up many difficult challenges. On challenge being how to get people to and from my island, by either boats or by plane.
            For boats the challenge is not as difficult with far less rules and regulations, but by plane the task becomes greater. The first step to take is where a runway can be placed on a small body of land. One must take into account the terrain and the ground material, if it be sand, dirt, rock, or what have you. The land needs to be rater flat because to move a long wide strip of dirt or sand would cost countless time and money.
            Once the general location is choosing on where a runway could be placed the next step is determining the minimum and maximum distance the runway can or should be to land plans. Researching what types of planes could land there is an easy way to get an idea on what will be going on with the runway. For my specific island, I have found the right area for a runway and I have determined the maximum distance that I can acquire. After researching the types of planes I want to land on my island I found out that I don’t need the maximum distance to land the majority of small planes.
            Now that the distance needed is found, width is the next obstacle. Most information won’t tell of an exact size for the width of a runway. Critical thinking which most people are good at can solve the problem. With the research of the places to find the minim landing distance someone can look at the wingspan of that particular aircraft. With that information to have a runway that is twice the size of the wingspan is a good rule of thumb when laying out the site.
            The final shape of the runway is now completed and can be used as a guide of undevelopable land. Always with these types of things there are added rules that may not be shown on plan views. With the runway placed there must be the required RSA (required safety area) which is located at each end of the runway for safety purposes.
 In my case my required safety areas are located over water because I don’t want to waste the land I can use. The FAA suggest that this shouldn’t be done because this area needs to be accessible to safety equipment, but with an island safety boats can be quicker to the scene that wheeled equipment.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A study on architect, Samuel Mockbee…written after reading “Leadership by Design”

By: Casey Bucher

Samuel Mockbee was an architect and teacher in the deep south at Auburn University.  After graduating and becoming licensed, Mockbee chose to remain in the rural area instead of migrating to the large cities with the large projects and bigger paychecks.  He felt that his hometown is what needed him the most, so he remained in the poorest areas of Alabama to create a better community.  It is stated in the article that Mockbee won numerous awards for his work, most notably the MacArthur Fellow and the AIA Gold Medal, yet his projects were far from the urban architectural elite.  The true reason he became one of the greatest leaders in the architecture world is by sticking to his own personal beliefs.
According to Robert K. Greenleaf’s ten traits characteristic of servant-leaders, Samuel Mockbee has the potential of being identified with every single one.  After reading the article about his life’s work, I do not doubt that there isn’t a trait that he didn’t possess. However, there are a few that definitely define his work more than others.  “Empathy to accept and recognize people for their special and unique spirit.”  This is a characteristic that is the basis of why Mockbee is who he is.  He sees the need in his community and is drawn to help, no matter what that person’s circumstances may be.  “Awareness - especially about values and ethics.”  Mockbee knows the limitations of the poor communities and is receptive to the decisions that need to be made to improve the areas.  “Foresight to understand the lessons of the past, the realities of the present, and the consequences of a future decision.” By creating his classroom, known as the Rural Studio, he addresses the housing and community needs of the poor and can teach his students the best kind of decisions for the problems at hand.  Most architecture students are given studio projects located in the big cities with unlimited budgets, but through his studio a student can see the opposite end of the spectrum and really work through the problems of rural areas.  “Stewardship to hold something in trust for another - a commitment to serve the needs of others.” Again, Mockbee’s beliefs were that everyone is deserving. This meant that no matter what the poor could provide, he would find a way and make it work.  He was a leader of the people and his community, serving their needs to his fullest potential.
When reading this article on Samuel Mockbee, one Building Block of Building the Architecture of Trust really stood out.  “Creating new value: Limitations Power the Creation of Original Solutions.”  In the article it says, “when people throw their hands up and say ‘it can’t be done!’ they deny themselves the most exciting experience of engaging their own creativity.” I feel that this couldn’t explain Mockbee’s work any better. He chose to stay in one of the most challenging areas for architecture.  He chose to serve his community’s needs no matter what the personal risk may be.  It is hard to building buildings and homes in an area that has no money, yet he did it and excelled at it.  In this process, he also showed his students that it is most definitely possible and CAN BE DONE! 

   In the end, with Mockbee’s Rural Studio, he has created a lasting program for teaching the importance of community needs, creativity, and carrying out his beliefs on social welfare. His views on architecture being incorporated everywhere, no matter how big or small the community is, is a quality every architect should believe in.  Many architects get caught up in the bigger picture and leaving their stamp, when Mockbee is just trying to create a design out of the materials he was given.  His views on architecture and how it is important everywhere are something that really hit home for me.  I’m from a very small community and this article just proves that anything in architecture is possible and creativity is key.  Samuel Mockbee’s leadership qualities and beliefs are characteristics that I will strive to achieve when I am one day working in the field of architecture. 

A few of the influences for my project

By: Andy Cunningham
I’m back again, Hope your semester is going good. I’m going to write today, about a few of the influences for my project.
Ballpark Village is multi use entertainment development right next to Busch Stadium in St. Louis. It contains over 100,000 sqft of retail, dining, and entertainment. Ballpark village has multiple sit-down restaurants and take-out restaurants. Ballpark village in my opinion works so well, because it gives people another reason to go to the area other than going to a game, which brings in more money to the area. Its location next to Busch Stadium helps, because the cardinals have been doing so well there’s a lot of people there anyway, but I feel that even if they weren’t playing so well it would still get a lot of business.
Like the Cardinals, the Chicago Cubs are constructing their own entertainment plaza next to Wrigley Field. Like St. Louis, the plaza at Wrigley Field will include some retail and dining options, but also an outdoor space with large screens on the side so those who aren’t attending the game can still watch. Even with the area of Wrigleyville have a lot of bars and restaurants already, this brings in a new option for people to go where they don’t have to be inside a bar to watch the game, and enjoy the game while hearing the sounds of the stadium.
The Detroit Redwings are taking their entertainment renovations around the Joe Louis arena to a different level. They are trying to do more than just build a stand-alone building with restaurants and bars, they are planning on building and entire district around the arena. “Our goal, since we’re building this district, is to get people to come down two to three hours in advance, have their choice of places to eat and when the game is over, stick around … to really enjoy what downtown Detroit [will] become. Tom Wilson, CEO Detroit Redwings”

Entertainment plazas are starting to show up around the country at different stadiums, and for a stadium that doesn’t really have anything around it, building something that can bring people down earlier and have them staying later should bring in more money to the area.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Designing a school for dual-impaired children

By: Alicia Luthy

Hello all!  Here we are approaching the fifth week of this semester.  The weeks seem to coming and going faster and faster. Some very important things are happening. We are currently in process of having our first review for our thesis. Also, did we seriously just apply for graduation already?! Time is passing by and graduation seems just around the corner. This week I have been working on finishing up site analysis, program, and concept. I have also been working on design considerations for my thesis. My thesis is designing a school for dual-impaired children. This purpose of the school is to teach students with one or more cognitive impairment and to help them gain confidence in carrying out daily activities. The building itself is to emphasize as many of the senses as possible. Some of the important design considerations include the relationship to the surrounding community, materiality, building orientation, and designing for the senses. One of the considerations I have been working with a lot is the building acoustics.
It is important to have good acoustic design. Echoing within a building like this can cause confusion and cause a student to become uncomfortable. However, a change in acoustics is a noticeable way to act as a change in space. Acoustic panels are important for both visual and hearing impairments. Where it is important to have low ceilings to reduce echoes, high ceilings are important for the design directed to the visually impaired. A square room with a flat ceiling is not ideal for a classroom for the dual-impaired because the sound would reverberate off the ceiling, then the wall, and come back. Reverberation often comes back louder as well. A better solution for the acoustics in relation to the ceiling is a slanted ceiling with acoustic panels at the peak to absorb some of the sound or a suspended ceiling with at least 2 or more feet so that the sound is absorbed. The suspended ceiling could also be made up of acoustic panels. The flooring also plays a big role in the echoing. In a hallway, hardwood floor could be helpful in navigation. Someone that is visually impaired and uses a cane can use the echoing on the floor to help with navigation and nearness to a space. However, in a classroom carpet or rubber flooring is more ideal so that there is not a lot of echoing or distractions in the learning environment. Also, a change in floor materials between the hallways and classrooms is a good key for navigation.

Well that is all for this week! Back to working on the thesis and running purely on coffee. 

The assembly line in the building industry

By: Aaron Neal

In 1913 Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile industry when he started the first assembly line for the Model T.  In the nineteenth century, car were made one by one as an individual product.  Ford took the production and placed it on a moving conveyor belt where parts were assembled at fixed work stations along the belt.  This allowed workers at each station to only assemble one part of the car as it moved down the line.  This continuous flow of production reduced the time it took to assemble a car from twelve hours down to two and a half.  As the Ford Company continued to grow, the idea of mass-production grew as well.  Other industries saw the benefit of assembly line production and the mass quantities that it brought with it.  This mindset of specialization, fragmentation of production, and the overall assembly line concept became known as Fordism.  Mass production soon found itself at the core of every manufacturing process ranging from not just the automobile industry, but in fields such as aviation and ship building.  As these industries adopted the Fordism philosophy, they grew from it and created their own improved manufacturing models.  In each of these industries – automobile, aviation, and ship building – one can see the change in production methods over the course of the twentieth century.  Originally each product was made singularly, but then an assembly line method was introduced and production increase.  Now each of these fields use a modular or non-linear approach to production.  This Post-Fordism way of thinking takes the assembly line and breaks it down into multiple sub-assemblies that can be produced concurrently.  Non-linear production drastically can shorten the amount of time it takes to manufacture a product, which is apparent in the success these industries have using a modular approach to production.  What lessons can the building industry – which still creates buildings singularly – pull from these other manufacturing industries?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Technology in Architecture

By: Stephen Lauer 
Post 9: 3D Modeling for Projects Other than Architecture

            Throughout my education at SIU, I have used 3D modeling programs for mainly architecture design but I think everyone should know that it is applicable to other situations than just architectural design.The program I use for most areas of design is SketchUp. I have used it because it is VERY simple software that allows for quick models to be built but also allows for intricate and complex designs. Over the years I have used it to design furniture, buildings, objects to 3D print, and many other things that I want to get a 3D conceptualization of before making it. My most current project has been a table design for my Arc 502 class, Furniture Design. I have designed a table that gives off the illusion that it floats while using age old joinery to construct it. By modeling it in SketchUp, I gave myself a lot of initial help just from taking roughly 2 hours of my time to get all the joints worked out and overall design finished. The model also allowed me to calculate the amount of wood I would need to buy in order to build the table by simply taking dimensions and finding the total amount needed. I was able to do this by taking my overall model and breaking it down to the individual pieces that are required to build the table. When I model in SketchUp I use groups and components frequently because in this case the disassembly process was extremely easy to accomplish by just selecting each group and pulling it away from the overall model. This is also useful in creating process diagrams by creating an exploded isometric of the overall model to show how each piece looks and fits into the project (as shown in the image to the right. The model also comes in very helpful during the construction phase because I am able to refer back to it to get dimensions of the wood needing to be cut or the location of a mortise and tenon joint. This is just one of my many projects that I have used SketchUp for other than architectural projects. In my opinion this is possibly the best software for making quick models that can be adjusted to be used for a detailed informational model. For those of you who have not used this software before follow the link ( to download and try it out for yourself. And as I have said numerous times before if you have questions about how to do something in a program use the internet to find answers. YouTube has tutorials, most software has a forum on its website that has help, or even websites like reddit has a subreddit for SketchUp help. Do NOT be afraid to ask questions and get help. Have fun modeling!

New Research Findings for a New Thesis Topic

By: Megan Crider
We are three weeks into the new semester already.  We have been hard at work beginning the long and difficult stretch of our thesis projects.  I myself have a little bit of catching up to do – in the first week of class I changed the topic of my thesis.  So now I am trying to complete the research ‘front-end’ stuff along with trying to begin the initial designing.  This should be interesting to say the least.  I have high hopes for it; I already am quite a bit more interested and excited in this topic than I was the last.  My new topic is a downtown revitalization in Marion, Illinois around the square and surrounding area. 
            In the short time I have been researching downtown revitalization I have already discovered a few key items and concepts to bear in mind for my design.   One of which is creating a sense of place.  Successful downtowns have a specific identity to them; their users strongly connect to this identity and immerse themselves within it.  Additionally, marketing and branding can play an important role in creating place.  Downtown areas may be labeled as specific districts and likewise may have a unique logo or image that is associated with them.  The names and images become easily recognizable to the public and enables them to further connect to these segments of their town’s environment.

            Most of the time, downtown revitalization efforts happen in historic areas of communities.  Since this is usually the case, it is important to bear this in mind.  Revitalizing a downtown area may maintain some of the historical integrity of the town or city as well as filtering in some ‘new’ aspects.  This is usually beneficial for the local residents and users of the space because the downtown area can bridge between the town’s historic identity and new amenities and attractions; it can create an immersion of these two elements. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

My Experience

By: Kristina Shrestha

When I reached Carbondale after a long break, I was welcomed by beautiful Snowflakes with bone chilling cold breeze. Snow after a long gap triggered my ambivalent feelings making me happy and sad at the same moment.

It has been long time since we started thinking about our thesis. The Last summer we prepared ourselves for upcoming Thesis. We continued the same trend last semester too which led us to the official commencement of the Thesis this spring semester. Yes, we are almost at the end of our journey we started last summer. As change is constant, we were advised to rearrange our previous seating at our studio in order to allow students with similar Project or Thesis objectives seat together. Ultimately the new seating arrangement will allow students to discuss on similar topics. At one end of the Studio, students working on urban design project were located. Similarly, at the other end students working on Pre-fabricate projects were located. At remaining students who were working on Ecological buildings and other Projects were located at the mid-section of the Studio. I realized that new seating arrangement was really helpful in terms of class discussions.

In “Global Architecture” class, we did a small presentation about ourselves. It was interesting to see other classmates talk about themselves, their interests and their preferences.  In global architecture, we are studying about cognitive architecture which is one of the courses that amused me.  I had heard about Cognitive Science which studies human mind and its processes but Cognitive Architecture is definitely seems new to me. So far I know Cognitive architecture deals with how the people react with the built in environment and how architecture can influence human behavior. It would be interesting to research more on cognitive architecture so that it can be applied while designing quality spaces.

Similarly, in Professional Practice we are learning about leadership and we will study about the process of running a firm.  

Touch of Nature

By: Josh West

Approximately eight miles from Carbondale sits Touch of Nature. This outdoor space offers a lot to students of Southern Illinois and to any outdoor enthusiast in the surrounding area. Hiking trails, fishing ponds and cabins fill up the entire wooded area with plenty of activities for a weekend getaway. For our architecture program, Touch of Nature has really been a helping hand with giving the students a new learning experience; especially for our Architecture 242 Woods class for our sophomore students. In past years, the class has taken on a few different projects. The largest project to date is the amphitheater that looks over little grassy lake. This site really engages with every visitor with the woods and water and gives a new learning experience.
One of the newest projects that our current class will be taking on is the rocky ledge trail. This is one of the newest trails out at Touch of Nature and it is almost finished. The trail will start at camp two beach and meander up and through the entire site of the cliffs. This trail will be used primarily for a learning experience to get kids outdoors and understanding things that some may not have seen or done before. A leader from Touch of Nature will guide the kids stopping along the way at multiple kiosks that the Architecture 242 students will be designing. At the end of the trail, the students will end at the largest site along the trail; campsite location. With being the largest site, this space will have to have the most program. Sometimes there will be thirty to forty students, so being able to use the space to the fullest is a must. One of the biggest challenges we are going to face with this site is leveling the entire site to become a better working site. From the top to the bottom of the site is roughly a three-foot drop in elevation so creating a good retaining wall around the site is a must. Our goal for the retaining wall is to have an octagonal shape. We will dig a small trench with a layer of rock and concrete and then finally our landscape timbers. This will give a good feel to the entire site. Another thing we have to put into this site is functionality with the program. By having a campfire and students to feed. There has to be a food preparation station to were the leader of the students and lay out the food and prepare it to cook. This will include locking lockers to one, be able to keep food out there at all times, and to keep animals from getting into the locker. Finally, wood storage is very important. As wet wood is not good for a campfire, we will be placing wood storage within the site to keep the wood dry and ready for use whenever it is needed.
This site can be a very important piece to not just the trail walkers but any hikers or cabin visitors at Touch of Nature. The space will not only be used for a campfire but an entire new learning space about the history of the area and Touch of Nature. Overall, the site will be used to its fullest and will hopefully give each and every visitor a new outlook on nature.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Elective Class in Spring Semester

By: Jeremy Clow
            The spring has brought many challenges with and intense load of classes in the graduate program. My thesis of course is the dominant focus and the studio is dedicated time to work and communicate with peers and professors regarding the thesis. The professional practice course and global architecture are informative lectures that increase my knowledge and understanding of the working environment. The elective course I have chosen to go along with these is a small class of five students collaborating with touch of nature. The class is a design and build course in collaboration with the sophomore level architecture students as well. The sophomore level students will be designing a series of informational kiosks to be placed along a specific trail. The four students and I in the graduate program will be designing a camp site. The first meeting with our client, Steve from Touch of Nature was two weeks ago. During the visit we took the trail that will have the kiosks installed as well as experienced the campsite from the trail head as well as a proposed trail to circle back in.
            On the meeting with Steve he explained what items are necessary for his campsite to function properly. A fire ring to congregate the campers, serve as the center piece and focus of the site.  The fire ring and surrounding area needs to be level for the visitors to experience all aspects in a safe and comfortable manner. Benches and types of seating for thirty five to forty people, this would include facilitators as well. A food preparation table along with lockable storage for food items to protect them from the wildlife needs to be located in close proximity to the fire as well. An additional lockable storage for fire wood to keep it protected from the elements as well as uninvited guests. A kiosk will be located at the site as well providing an informational piece on wildlife.
The site sits on a hill just north of “Rocky Ledges” a space that overlooks Little Grassy Lake. Rocky Ledges is a rock formation that provides optimal docking and swimming from the bank.  A series of switchback trails will lead up the hill just west of the ledges. These trail systems provide a long lasting and environmentally friendly approach to replace the direct climb that is the current trail. Upon leaving the site a series of switchbacks are proposed to the east along a hillside ending at an “E-Loo” environmental toilet system. At the E-Loo there is an old access road that provides access for vehicles during emergency situations or loading and unloading of supplies.
On our most recent visit the group and I began measuring the site and minimal ground manipulation. Eliminating the leaves and brush gathered on the site to understand the true layout of the ground was our first step. Laying a perimeter out with limbs to give some boundary to the site and visualize the overall size. Using desired trees as boundaries by staying within them, not to damage their roots our layout comes to near two hundred square feet. After digging a hole on the north side, the higher side we found out that bedrock is approximately thirty inches deep. Across the site we anticipate a cut of over twelve inches on the north with a fill on the south of just less than twelve inches. After moving some of the dirt by hand it was easier to grasp the work required and factor it in comparison to the time allowed. We have started the initial schematics of our intentions for the site. We will need a retaining wall to the south to level the usable fire pit and site. We will also have to provide a retaining wall on the north side to keep dirt from


By: Hunter Wilson

            I am Hunter Wilson, a student currently studying in the Southern Illinois University Masters of Architecture program.  I began my education at Vincennes University located in my hometown of Vincennes, Indiana.  After receiving an Associate’s Degree in Architectural studies, I transferred to SIU where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree and still study today.
            Recently, in our Global Traditions in Architecture course, we were given the task of reading about a certain phenomenon that occurs in humans known as Thigmotaxis.  This phenomenon is known as the evolutionary trait in multiple species that acts as a protection device.  Examples of specific protection devices used are the act of gravitating toward walls while walking along a corridor, keeping away from open space that is completely surrounded by activity, or posting up with ones back side to a surface with all activity visible in front.  As thigmotaxis deals largely with the human interaction within their environment, it can be said that this phenomenon is highly related to architecture.  The root of thigmotaxis is protection.  That may be why this trait has been survived through time.  Species protect themselves better with this trait. 
            When designing space for humans, this trait can be taken into consideration.  The feeling of safety in a space allows the user to have a better experience.  The feeling of safety also adds to the list of things that would want a person to visit this space even more.  This would especially be important in urban settings.  Positioning a lounging area or seating area in a manner that gives a user protection from the rear and a view of activity to the front would be ideal.  You’ll notice in many restaurants that the booths along the edges of the room are the first to be commandeered.  Naturally, the patron does not want to sit at a table seated in the very middle of a dining area.  They may feel surrounded with no shield.  In addition the view of activity from the center outward is not as concentrated and minimal compared to a seat along an edge.  The seat along an edge provides a view to a larger portion of the room.  The want for a larger view may be so the user has a better sense of defense.
            In terms of urban design, thigmotaxis can help make an urban retail area more active.  Providing structure on two sides of a pathway helps with the sense protection, though the view of activity is limited.  To help with the limited view of activity, windows at pedestrian level may be used.  This provides an almost television-like experience for the pedestrian as they walk along a path.  Walking along, each pedestrian gets a new scene to view through a window.  This technique is obviously used in indoor shopping malls with retail on either side.  The windows are filled with items for sale.  Although one may not be interested in shopping at that particular establishment, the window items provide a new scene to be viewed.  In urban areas that are largely open, such as a plaza, it is important to provide foliage throughout that acts as barriers instead of structure.  Posting up at a bench with a shrub to your backside is nicer than posting up at a bench that is surrounded by open space.

            So next time you enter a shopping mall, urban plaza, downtown, etc., just take a quick glance at how the pedestrians are walking.  It gives an idea as to how we are wired and where our real motives lay….surviving.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Diamond Ranch High ¬School

By: Hanan Rawashdeh

 “The intention of the whole is to challenge the message sent by a society that routinely communicates its disregard for the young by educating them in cheap institutional boxes surrounded by impenetrable chain link fencing.” A statement made by the architectural firm Morphosis after designing the Diamond ranch High school. One cannot deny the exceptionality of the school design from the typical traditional school layout with the double loaded corridor and classrooms on both sides. The Morphosis architects went one step forward in developing the design of educational spaces during the period of 1994-1996.
The one hundred and fifty thousand square foot project lies on a seventy-two acre hillside in Pomona Los Angeles. The school accommodates fifty classrooms, a gymnasium, cafeteria administration and parking for 770 automobiles. The building form is of two rows, each holding a group of classrooms and other programmatic functions in a fragmented yet interlocked way, creating a long central canyon like feeling in between. With the topography of the hillside penetrating the school’s different programs a kinetic and interchangeable experience is created. The school design allows and encourages the student to engage and interact with their surroundings. Connection and embracement of the surrounding nature are clear with the landscaped outdoor teaching areas that act as a buffer between the structure and punctuate the classroom units with views of mountains and sky. The street between the two rows turns into a linear space of social interaction. The high defined edges of the structure spark the curiosity of the students within. Each group of classes and grades are clustered in a way to create a neighborhood- like environment, increasing the sense of belonging for any student to that specific building part and transforming what was once an institutional educative space into a more welcoming and almost homey experience.
Social interaction, nature and creating an efficient educative space are three fundamental key points that are implemented in the design. As noted in the book “Linking architecture and Education” for Anne Taylor, the holistic goals of educational facility design is reaching  “ the whole learner”. In definition: a learner through body, mind and spirit. Learning through the body or physical learning can be achieved from the firmness and structure of the educational space. Learning through the mind, or cognitive learning is through the commodity and function and lastly the learning of the spirit or emotional learning is captured from the delight and beauty of the educative space.

 In conclusion, one can realize how much architecture plays a vital role in stimulating its users in achieving their goals.

Monumental building in my home town, Tehran – Iran (Azadi tower)

By: Faezeh Ensafy

Standing guard like a sentry at the gates of Tehran, Iran, is the impressive Azadi Tower (Freedom Tower), built in 1971 and comprised of eight thousand white marble blocks. A combination of both Islamic and Sassanid architectural styles, the fifty-foot high tower commemorates the formation of the Persian Empire and is an interesting combination of both modern and ancient cultures. The arch rises from Azadi Square mirroring the Elburz (Alborz) mountain range just north of the city. Though not as wondrous as the snowy peaks of Mount Damavand, it is a 148 foot tall masterpiece of cut marble that marks the entrance to this historic city.

The audio - video hall of the complex which has been designed based on Iran`s geographical map displays the regional characteristics of Iran in so far as cultural, life style, religious and historical monuments are concerned. A mechanical conveyer allows the visitors to visit the hall in total comfort. Some art galleries and halls have been allocated to temporary fairs and exhibitions.
The architect, Hossein Amanat, won a competition to design the monument, which combines elements of Sassanid and Islamic architecture. It is part of the Azadi cultural complex, located in Tehran's Azadi Square in an area of some 50,000 m². There are several fountains around the base of the tower and a museum underground. The iconic Monument des Martyrs in Algiers (built, 1982) shows a strong influence by this monument, in its general design as well as its details.

Built with white marble stone from the Esfahan region, there are eight thousand blocks of stone. The stones were all located and supplied by Ghanbar Rahimi, whose knowledge of the quarries was second to none and who was known as "Soltan-e-Sang-e-Iran". The shape of each of the blocks was calculated by a computer, and programmed to include all the instructions for the building's work. The actual construction of the tower was carried out, and supervised by Iran's finest master stonemason, Ghaffar Davarpanah Varnosfaderani. The main financing was provided by a group of five hundred Iranian industrialists. The inauguration took place on October 16, 1971.

The entrance of the tower is directly underneath the main vault and leads into the Azadi Museum on the basement floor. The black walls, the pure, sober lines, and the proportions of the whole building create an intentionally austere atmosphere. Heavy doors open onto a kind of crypt where lighting is subdued. The shock is immediate. The lighting there seems to issue from the showcases placed here and there, each containing a unique object. Gold and enamel pieces, painted pottery, marble,the warm shades of the miniatures and of the varnished paintings glitter like stars among the black marble walls and in the semi-darkness of the concrete mesh which forms the ceiling of this cave of marvels. There are about fifty pieces selected from among the finest and most precious in Iran. They are in excellent condition and each represents a particular period in the country's history.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Site of My Project

By: Daniel Roman
            As the third semester in the graduate level courses takes flight and start to pick up, there are some things that are pretty much required to have set, one of them being the site of the project. Before I left on break I had made a decision that I wanted to look into a couple sites near Carbondale, I think it is important to be able to visit a site as much as possibly, so picking a site that was near would only be able to work in my benefit. That being said the site I picked was Cobden IL, which is about 20 minutes away, give or take.
            Looking close to Cobden it is made up of just over 1,100 people, 55% percent of that being male. It is very interesting to be able to analyze a town smaller than the size of the high school or even grammar school one attended. I am from Chicago where there are schools with a couple thousand students at any given time. The average age in Cobden is of 39 years which is above the average of Illinois of 37. The average house income is lower than the average of the state; Cobden is at 36,340 while Illinois is at 56,210. One of the main reasons I picked Cobden comes from its diversity, a diversity that even I was surprised to fine when I came to Carbondale, there is a large Hispanic population in southern Illinois, and Cobden has grown to be a location where people have gone to raise their families and work. Cobden at the moment is made up of almost 30% of its population is Hispanic, while 68% being white. Having a good connection with your heritage has always been important to me; I love the idea of being able to take them into account for a project of this importance to me and my career. Even though I don’t consider myself to go a lot in the urban design aspect of the field, I have seen the type of impact a project like this can have on someone.
            During my 4th year I was able to work hand in hand with another local town, which was Murphysboro, there we split into groups, and each group was in charge of a different area of Murphysboro and was in charge to help develop the area based on what the people wanted. We had a towns meeting where we talked to everyone who came out and where able to interact with the people who just move in to the people who had been there since they were little kids. Those are the ones that really hit the spot, when they talked about their town with so much love and all they wanted was to see their town improve. When we came back at the end of the semester to present the projects a lot of familiar faces came to see what we had come up with. A lot of great feedback was given, but it was realistic as some people not all being happy. In particular for the project we relocated the Mc Donald’s in town and when we relocated to an empty lot, well in the meeting there was a gentleman whom owned a building which would be next to the new location of the Mc. Donald’s and he didn’t want it there. Even though the new location was an ideal location that would help the community, he just didn’t want it there. So it just came to realization how hard it was to please everyone.

            The experience I got from working with the people from Murphysboro I hope I can have the same type of experience with Cobden. I do plan on reaching out to them and hopefully I can set up something along the same meetings. So far I do know some people that have been living in the town for many years. They will be able to start giving me a good idea as to what a typical day in Cobden really is.