Category: Spring ’10


Hello! Sorry about the delay in posting, its been insane lately.

First things first, my project was selected for first year competition! Secondly, I did not place! I had a strong project and concept, but the five that were selected were impressive works.

Review and Competition
The review went well, overall. Professor Peter Pittman was a reviewer, and offered good criticism. The most important thing I learned, was about sacrificing one element for another and weighing the effects, which is an issue in every design evolution. “Never stop at the first ideas,” I was advised, which I apparently did. Though my first idea was a good one, it could have been a much stronger conceptual argument, and better program and contextual relationship. That was my concept critique, and for the technical aspect of my project, I was advised to work on my drafting, and never let Francis DK Ching leave my side.

Into the competition! The proposed building, by the way, was a “Trans-boundary Migration Wildlife Research Center” in Kennesaw Mountain State Park, 1200 square-feet, built to code. Three were selected from each of the nine studios to enter into the competition, so the 27 best concepts were hauled up to the N building for one last silent review from five judges who developed a point system, and collaborated on which projects they thought best represented the proposal. The five students that were selected had a strong design concept from the very beginning, with a clear idea and narrative, though not necessarily a completed building or program (which confused several entries…). Congratulations to the winners!

I plan to scan the remaining four sketch books, as well as project 4 (competition work) and the final project (still underway) for dCom. The end of the semester is so close! For the summer semester, the architecture program is offering Cultures I ahead of the time, which is normally offered during the Spring. I’ve signed up for it, as well as Physics.


Never stop at your first ideas.

Later,
Amanda

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04.08.10

Busy, busy, busy. Firstly, a quick rundown of what’s been going on in first year architecture the past week or so.
Design Communications has been very busy, with homework and class work. We just finished a quick introduction to Photoshop (most of us use CS3), in which I knew more about the program than the professor did. Lovely. I was running small tutorial sessions before studio for other people about how to delete backgrounds and insert fills or textures. Now we are moving onto perspective drawing, which I think is going to lead into our final project which uses Photoshop.
Studio….oh studio. Our buildings are coming along quite nicely. So far, we have grounded a building concept, a site analysis to determine building orientation, and building form. Last, we worked towards an interior program (how the interior space is used). In my interior, there is a private research space, a gallery, informative space/lobby and men/women restroom. Next, we are approaching finalized plans, sections and elevations, along with a model and axonometric detail.
Skin and Bones is going swimmingly. I’m currently working on a presentation about SHoP Architects , and getting ready to make a site model for Auburn’s Rural Studio outhouses. Exciting? I think so.

Before I forget, I saw this video from TED Talks by Bjarke Ingels of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) some time ago, and someone showed it during their presentation about Ingels yesterday. I got excited about his architecture all over again! Even if you’re not necessarily interested in architecture, its still an interesting watch. (By the way, he’s Danish– not Austrian, though he sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

The last review, which was an interim, went very well. Our reviewers were a local architect from a firm in Atlanta, and Judy Gordon, to give an idea of what kind of people are invited to reviews. They were quite complimentary, but offered excellent insight into my concept, and helped me to find my weak points. I felt my project was much stronger afterward.

These are sketches relevant to my concept, and I will post a finalized rendering of my building soon.
I’m really excited about seeing what my structure is going to look like; I’ve nurtured this notion of contours extracted from the site into a form and design, and it is coming along beautifully. The other projects from my studio mates are also coming along nicely (some nicer than others), but I’m anxious to see what kind of buildings they produce. There are some concepts that are quite exciting, like invisibility.

Until next time,
Ciao
Amanda

03.27.10

Hello all:
Past few days have been intense in studio: the concept of site plans were introduced, and blew a lot of people’s minds. Now it feels that we’re being thrown into the deep end after what has been a successful first half of the project.

This is our competition piece, which I introduced here, in my last blog. So far, we have completed a precedent study reviewing The High Line in NY by Diller+Scofidio, a collage (sounds pretty elementary, doesn’t it?) of our site and a site map. Due for Monday is a site analysis, which is exactly what it sounds like. Using our site map as a foundation for documenting the site, the analysis shows things like: wind direction, solar paths, contours, nearby amenities, existing paths/roads, noise level, etc. Also due are a longitudinal and latitudinal section of our site, a “program” for our conceptualized building, and supporting drafted models. Pretty excited. *sarcasm*

Actually, I am. I feel like we’re learning the essence of what architects do. We are like explorers, learning new places and documenting them exhaustively. I feel like Lewis and Clark–picking up leaves and identifying plants, figuring out wind patterns and where north is. That is the natural explorer. Then we are also conceptual explorers, conceiving ideas and tearing them apart, and building them up again, manipulating forms and materials to create what we would hope to be a built, inhabited structure. People using our ideas…this excites me.

Enough of that. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, handling all of that work on top of a report about the Vitus Bering Innovation Park for my Skin and Bones class, and some drafting work for dCom. I can handle it. 🙂

Other news:
The 2010 Pritzer Prize will be announced tomorrow! I’m personally crossing my fingers for the talented Steven Holl. (Also, there is talk of Diller+Scofidio standing a good chance…). Winner will be announced tomorrow at 11am, here.

Ciao for now,
Amanda

03.23.10

Hello all!
I had a really busy weekend/beginning of the week. Had a site visit, a field trip, an all-nighter among other more personal stuff to deal with. Hence the quietness around here.

Friday 3/19: Site Visit
Kennesaw Mountain State Park
Our first legitimate site! We are designing a research center for the park, only 1200 sqf structure, with outdoor seating for at least 50. We went to the park to investigate the potential of our chosen spaces, taking photos, making notes, and doing sketches of the surroundings. Its a really nice space, maybe a quarter to a half mile away from a small road on the south end of the park. It sits back off of a small field, with what looks to be an improvised walking trail that cuts to another trail. As my group started to leave, we saw 3 deer, who weren’t very impressed with us and carried on ignoring our cameras as they chowed down on the abundant green grasses of the field.
Deer at the site
It was cool. Our site really is perfect for what I am picturing to be an observation lab, more than anything. A space to identify birds and other wildlife, as well as plants. More on design and purpose when we get there. 😉

Saturday 3/20: Clayton County Library Tour
Scogin + Elam Architects
A professor of mine hosted a tour of three Clayton County public libraries designed by Scogin, Elam and Bray (at the time). I’ll spare the details, and let the photos of the buildings speak for themselves. While down there, we had awesome bbq. 🙂
Check out the album!

Elam Clayton Library Jonesboro

Elam Clayton Library Jonesboro


Side notes:
Nature By Numbers is a very beautifully done, short, digital video about the Fibonacci Sequence. It is relevant to my interests, and even if it doesn’t sound relevant to yours, I suggest watching it anyways.

So, I was thinking this was going to be a long blog today, but I reckon not! Its about to really pick up though, in studio and skin/bones. We begin Photoshop in dCom next week! /giddy

Sayonara until next time!
Amanda

Precedent Study 03.18.10

Hey there.

(I’m trying out a new background….thoughts?)

We’re beginning our next project in studio, which happens to be a building! Its a proposal for a natural research center in a park. 1200 square feet of interior space, with a seating capacity of at least 50 outside. Its exciting!

The precedent study given is The High Line, a park space in NY, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro From their site:

“The High Line, in collaboration with Field Operations, is a new 1.5-mile long public park built on an abandoned elevated railroad stretching from the Meatpacking District to the Hudson Rail Yards in Manhattan. Inspired by the melancholic, unruly beauty of this postindustrial ruin, where nature has reclaimed a once vital piece of urban infrastructure, the new park interprets its inheritance. It translates the biodiversity that took root after it fell into ruin in a string of site-specific urban microclimates along the stretch of railway that include sunny, shady, wet, dry, windy, and sheltered spaces.  Through a strategy of agri-tecture—part agriculture, part architecture—the High Line surface is digitized into discrete units of paving and planting which are assembled along the 1.5 miles into a variety of gradients from 100% paving to 100% soft, richly vegetated biotopes. The paving system consists of individual pre-cast concrete planks with open joints to encourage emergent growth like wild grass through cracks in the sidewalk. The long paving units have tapered ends that comb into planting beds creating a textured, “pathless” landscape where the public can meander in unscripted ways. The park accommodates the wild, the cultivated, the intimate, and the social. Access points are durational experiences designed to prolong the transition from the frenetic pace of city streets to the slow otherworldly landscape above. “

Click here for information about The High Line park itself.

For those who are new to the idea of a precedent study…its research into a pre-existing structure, or concept, that will assist you in your design. You can often see in modern architecture, where a precedent study’s influence affected the outcome of the architect’s design. They are helpful in determining a possible outcome, or to decide what techniques didn’t work for another architect.

So, tomorrow, a site visit! Pretty excited about finally getting to go and design a structure that is intended to be inhabited (not like it’d get built, but still…the idea is there!) Also, Saturday, is a tour of local libraries hosted by a professor at SPSU. I will be making a model with a group of one of the libraries. I hope to include photos to share. 🙂

Ciao!
Amanda

Hello everyone, happy St. Patty’s Day! I didn’t even think to don green today…

Recently I finished reading John Maeda’s book, Laws of Simplicity. Anyone interested in any sort of creative, re-evaluative, constructive/deconstructive, illustrative, instructional or qualitative/quantitative process should read this book. I felt that it directly applied to almost every outlet of my life; from designing a space to using the remote control. Its an easy read, but full of insight into how we perceive simplicity and complexity, and how their relationships are inextricably applied to how we use things.

His website goes into great detail about the book, here.

Today, we start our first legitimate building (there is excitement all over studio, since we’ve been waiting for this challenge for what feels like forever), and I intend to apply what I’ve learned about making something simple, to creating what I hope to be a very elegant design that is neither so simple it is minimalistic and without emotion, but not so complex it is distracting. I’m really hoping I can update the process of making the building here, so that I can later come back and reflect on just how much I’ve progressed in skill, patience, and understanding.

Have a good day!

Amanda

A Typical Monday 03.07.10

I am away from my books, portfolio work, and sketchbooks. So, the topic I kinda wanted to write about today is escaping me. I shall save details and sketching for another day…but for today, I’ll take you through a typical Monday for me, which is also a typical Wednesday, and resembles a Friday. Vaguely. Like a second cousin.


5:30 am

I hit the snooze for 15 more minutes….the weekend is over now, and I have to shower, commute, and finish two assignments, preferably before 10am. I drag myself out of bed reluctantly, and until I finish my shower, I consider dropping out of college in favor of becoming a vagabond. I grab my green light saber paper tube filled with the drawings I neglected last night, my tool box loaded with the drafting tools I chose to ignore, a messenger bag with 3 sketchbooks, a laptop and adapter and camera, my portfolio that’s bigger than I am, and my little lunch box. I look ridiculous.
6:30 am
Sitting in southbound traffic, reconsidering the importance of an education.
8 am:
Arrive at SPSU, a little ticked off at someone who cut me off on 120. I crawl, over burdened, to my studio after a battle with the broken door and a worthless swipe card. No one is here yet, except  for a sleeper who smells a bit, someone playing music loudly on the other side of the building, and the janitors, talking amongst themselves.  I set up my dCom (design communications) homework, and finish by 9:15am. I sleep until 9:50.
9:50 am
I wake up, and gather everything for class. I look ridiculous again, this time armed with a T-square.
10 am
dCom. Someone left their T-square in studio, and constantly bugs me to let them borrow mine. I do, but only after resisting the urge to hit them with it. I cringe at my homework grade, then relieved by the A on my quiz. Good job, Amanda! I work pretty steadily on the new assignment, which is all drafting work, constructing boxes or very odd looking structures. Working with line weights and scaling dimensions, maybe practicing some poche in a section cut.
12pm
Freedom! I crawl back to studio, where I tweak what ever is due for critique at 2pm. People are in studio now, some panicking as they rush their work. Others just socializing or discussing ordering a pizza for lunch. I eat the sandwich and chips that I packed for myself, put my head phones in and zone out…
2 pm
Professor is here. We pin up, and I sit cross-legged on a table, waiting for my turn, drawing until then, occasionally throwing in my own comments. My turn. I did ok. Just ok. Good pointers from her, and I ignored the one guy who always has something to say. We do this until 5pm. Discuss the next “deliverable” and some topic we read about. We all kinda loiter around studio until 5:50, when my friend and I grab our stuff to go to Skin and Bones.
6 pm
We get to Skin and Bones, where I draw while the professor or someone else shares a building. This class is actually very interesting. But while I sit and listen to lecture and jot down notes about what I find interesting about particular buildings, structures, or specific architects, I tend to come up with my own creative ideas. Some really good stuff has come out of that lecture.
7:30 pm
Let out of class, I go home. Very long day, typically. I get to the house, crawl upstairs in a drained stupor, curl up with my laptop, and contemplate dropping out as I think about waking up at 5am for 8am US History the next day…

So, while it may seem like I have a lot of animosity towards the program, I love it. Being on Spring Break right now (day 2), is so boring to me. I have nothing to do except for write and read, and draw. Next time I hope to start uploading a sketchbook of mine to share. We shall see about that.

Good day, mates.
Amanda

Studio Culture 03.05.10

Hello again!

I’m now halfway through my second semester as an architecture design student. Its been three months since I updated (I’m really bad at this! Well, I am busy…) but I am now on Spring Break, and will be able to better update and catch you up on this semester and everything I’ve learned so far. That is my goal. Today, I want to share with you what I’ve learned/realized about studio culture, rather than about architectural/design theory…

People
There’s this notion non-arch people have about architecture students. That we live there. That we smell. That we are the reason an ambulance shows up on campus 75% of the time and that more pizza is delivered to our building than to the dorms. A good bit of this is true…..but for the most part, we are well groomed individuals who do have lives away from our work spaces, and have decent diets. But we do keep band aids on our toolboxes. We also know all of the best coffee places, what restaurants are open late, and how to make a sturdy plate from cardboard. We are simply hard working, creative “weird” people. H.S. Thompson didn’t know he was talking about us when he said “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” We are professional weird people, “uber geeks,” as one professor puts it. We find the “moments” in a structure, and analyze it. We look for shadows and light, and try to find out what makes it do that, or how to manipulate it. We dumpster dive. There are a lot of small things that we never noticed before, but can’t help but to see now, and we appreciate it. Architecture students know how to observe a space and identify its details that some “normal” people don’t even realize exist. We’re the ones on campus with our faces against the brick, ears to the concrete, and in Atlanta, we’re looking up walking into things.

There are those kids. Then there are those, that “scrape” by, just floating through the program, and never get excited about a project, and work defensively. They create animosity in the studio, which can ruin the creative atmosphere. They are also the most likely to steal your things. These students are the hardest to work with. If you are planning on being an architecture student, you have to love design. You have to be curious. And dedicated. If you can’t draw, that’s ok. (Refer to Frank Gehry). If you don’t know the names and work of every Pritzker prize winning architect, that’s ok too. All you need is to be weird…

Studio
Studio is mythical. No, there isn’t a party every night. Most of us enjoy studio, and being in the company of our friends that we’re stuck with for 5+ years; but we’re not up there to mess around. Some people play their music too loudly, or talk too loudly, or use their sander or dremel while you’re trying to sleep…but you can just crawl under your desk with your ear phones in, playing soft music to drown everyone/everything out, and get that delicious sleep….

People steal stuff. I think architecture students are the most intact with their primitive hunter-gatherer instinct. You’ll be sitting there, cutting some chipboard and reach for a new Xacto blade…..and its gone. Cardboard mysteriously goes missing….as does your HB lead or scissors. Light bulbs have also been known to go missing. Its all quite curious….

Reviews
Final reviews aren’t so bad. (Those are typically what follows an all-nighter.) The format is like this: professor(s), and at least one outside reviewer (typically an architect working professionally, or a retired professor) come in. Everyone in studio pins up what they’ve poured their blood, sweat, and tears–often literally–into, and wait for their turn to have their argument torn to pieces. Sometimes these goes well. More often than not, actually. But I learn more during my reviews about design, than I do while sitting in lecture or reading. Reviews are often the only chance you get to see or hear what your fellow studio mates are doing with the same design problem posed to you.
The reviewers, and other students, comment on your work. Often its “what if” questions, which are the best. They help you to see your own design in a new light and a different perspective. You probably won’t touch the same model again (you might even have to resist the urge to break it down and recycle parts), but you remember the insights from past reviews to help you challenge your argument, and run it through the paces before the next one. I’ll probably address reviews again in a later post.