Knock knock...

Good news, taking Structural Systems 1 over the summer paid off. I got an 'A' bringing my overall grade point average up .04 units. Will not taking the course this coming fall allow me to focus on my other classes like studio and ET 1? Let's hope so...

Anyway, third year is only 10 days away. I have Strand, who I took second semester of first year, and I couldn't be more excited. Should be an awesome semester and hopefully only a precursor to an even more awesome Italy semester.

Ready to get back into the swing of things after my dismal and under-stimulating summer.

Oh, and I had a weird dream last night. Hopefully sketches to come soon.

Sro housing + market.

The dust has settled on another year of architecture school and in the new-found clarity, I realize that I am now a third year and only one semester away from the Italy semester abroad.

To begin to summarize the latest project, I'll start at the end; my jury review. It was by far the strangest yet for many reasons but for one I don't think I received any actual critique. Instead, the jurors were more interested in why this idea would be practical instead of thinking about the theoretical implications of the design. This brings up a debate on architectural teaching ideology but my personal belief is while in architectural school, no matter how hard we as students try to make something 'real', all of these projects are going to be exploratory, so I think there's often no point in attempting a practical project.

ANYWAY, rant aside, here is some evidence of the preliminary investigations.

> image coming soon < For our final project of second year we were asked to design a Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) housing complex with a daily market for public use somehow incorporated. Attempting to do most of the designing through perspective hand drawing, we began by sketching a single living unit that could be somehow aggregated into any/all directions. I realized that by shifting my units down in the y-direction I could combine floor/wall/ceiling surfaces into a single undulating ribbon thereby connecting multiply spaces into one. What happens then is inhabitants in one unit can peer down/up into the units diagonally adjacent to them. This motif brought about the idea of surveillance.

Since SROs are commonly corrupt establishments known for human trafficking, illegal drug trading, various other crimes, and the like I wanted to take an idea normally thought of as a negative and turn it into a positive, thus creating an SRO that actively influences its residents in a positive manner. In the end, this system of surveillance creates a network of accountability since you can never be sure if someone is looking or not looking at you. Because SROs are places where people come to get back on their feet, to me it seems only logical.

The form-parti of the building lays the spaces out into a block of residential units, an adjacent block of community programs (laundry, kitchen, assembly room, etc.), and an urban ground floor dedicated to the public market.

One of the biggest problems with the design for me was creating a solution for the exterior skin. What I decided on was a conceptual screen comprised of the same undulating unit motif that could become more opaque/transparent based on its relation to the interior functions. As well, the idea of surveillance is further saturated into the overall design by creating various degrees of visibility through the screen. Occupiers of the interior can peer incognito to the outside world in some areas, while becoming completely exposed to the outside in other areas. I don't know if I particularly like what I did with the skin, but I think my doubt stems from my inability to properly render what I was seeing in my head.

Overall, I think my design posed some interesting questions about the the project in general. I never want to be boring, and this definitely isn't if my jury was any indication. BUT, I still think some things could have been done differently, some ideas pushed further, or other things left out entirely. Again I always feel like I run out of time and still need to figure out how to manage my priorities and time when it comes to final production. There aren't any pictures of my final model yet because my final model was actually my prelim and I'm completely ashamed of it, haha.

So, here's to next year.

Nothing new here.


So I didn't post the process of the current project like I said I would earlier. Some things don't happen when you're so busy you don't have time to do or complete anything.

I'm sitting in the computer lab, letting my Rhino model simmer, thought I would post something. Basically, I already forsee not finishing this project.....nothing out of the ordinary basically, but I'm contemplating staying up until I turn this damn thing in on Wednesday. Sucks that today is Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Isn't this fun?

Media, power, and culture.

It had always troubled me when I was younger how the prevalence of contemporary architecture [or designed solutions in general] seemed to simply not exist in the area I grew up in. It was annoying to not see good design around but even more troubling than not seeing was feeling as though no one around me understood or had even been exposed to such modes of thought [it was another shock when it seemed the same held true for my new classmates in architecture school]. In any case, I think it's safe to say that in its entirety, this nation is somewhat removed from embracing and advocating design in its popular culture. Of course then one has to question, "What IS popular culture? How is it influenced and how does it change?" In posing that question to myself, my reactions are many and mixed [but I doubt I'll have the attention span to hit on everything in this one entry]. In the post 9/11-mass media-information overload-globalized-digital age this country [and the world] is experiencing, public opinion seems to be easily influenced and unstable. Through instant access to 'as-they-happen' current events, social networking, and a myriad of communication tools this world is moving faster than ever before. It seems now that public opinion can now change at any moment. Take for instance sustainability. A movement that remained for a long time a largely counter-culture idea was scooped up by big media and essentially regurgitated through advertising and is now a buzz-word to get the public to buy into a product because 'green is cool.' And this all happened in what seems like a blink of an eye. Now 'sustainability' is as common a phrase as 'buy now!'

So how long will design stay underground? According to my television the answer is 'not soon enough'. There once was a time when the families featured in advertisements lived in the same kinds of houses as the families in the market they were trying to reach. Mom would spread Jiffy on bread in a traditional kitchen just as the bus came for school. Yet now increasingly I seem to see families living in modernist and well designed homes. A woman will speak to me as she sits on a vintage Eames fiberglass chair or an environmentally-friendly car will zoom past cool New York City lofts. So why the shift? Is the public now more accepting of design and contemporary architecture? Is design thinking finally permeating down to Joe the Plumber? Or is it the other way around? I seem to think that possibly the prevalence of design in television commercials is/will aid to the public acceptance of contemporary architecture. Maybe someday soon the majority of new architecture projects will utilize real design instead of remaining committed to nostalgia. Architects everywhere will be able to practice freely instead of absorbing themselves into niche markets. It has already been proven that the media has this power over popular culture, but will design really catch on in The States? [It would be interesting to examine why Europe has more public accessibility to design and if the way in which that happened will be duplicated in American culture…]

However it happens, one thing is uncertain: will this really be good for architecture and design? Maybe I'll leave that question for another day. In the meantime, here are some ads that I've seen on TV that illustrate my observation.

The end of second year.

Preliminary investigations for our final project of second year studio have commenced. After the last project, it's nice to have a new start. But, as all of us in studio understand, the project's success will heavily influence our final grades for the semester, making this project incredibly important. At this point, I think I have a lot to make up for after the last two projects; if not for the sake of my studio professor, definitely for my own personal reasons. I'm feeling optimistic though. The project is similar to the final project of last semester. Although that project was well-received, I had accumulated [many] failures throughout the course of the project. It's not that they were failures maybe, more just things that I knew I could find a better solution for, but never cared enough to push towards something that was actually better. [Such as undesirable public stairwells, problematic room layouts, and the like.] Since I've potentially already make these mistakes, I think that will help me dwell more on things more architecturally interesting. At least, that's the hope.

The project is single room occupancy housing [intended for low-income residents, etc. a.k.a SROs] with a public market somehow integrated into the typology. The project is sited in Cleveland adjacent to Shaker Square in Shaker Heights at the corner of E 130th St and Shaker Blvd. We did a site visit prior to spring break and got a good sense for the community. The site itself is in an awkward place, sorta wedged behind the formal commercial building within the square and adjacent to a residential neighborhood comprised of single family residences. Whatever we design, it seems it will somehow loom over both the square and the houses. Across the street is the Rapid Transit system and a tall apartment building. I'll post more soon on the beginnings of our design process.

store fronts within shaker square.

the site.

Kent independent film center.

Our second project in Design Studio 2 has finally come to a close. We had an informal jury directly following the turn-in at 1:10p. Needless to say, I was pretty tired and had only slept 16 hours in the span of 5 days in hopes that I would finish with a final project I could be proud of. To my amazement, my work once again came up short of my expectations. I didn't finish a section, plan, and elevation, and didn't even come close to touching the drawing I really wanted to do; a multi-view immersive perspective. Oh well, I'm only human, I suppose.

Our site was given as the corner of water and main in downtown Kent, Ohio. The program > an independent film center for recreation [movie theater], implementation [movie-making], and education [film-school]. To begin these projects there is always a process which is essentially given to us and guided by our studio instructor. Frankly, this was the most confusing and nonsensical process I've ever been through. We began by observing a movement throughout the site. There wasn't much going on, it was the dead of winter and everything was covered in snow and ice; but I was drawn to the Cuyahoga River which the site confronts. After some investigation in this we had to research a movement/technique in film-making, I chose film noir. Some of these discussions lead to the introduction of 'tensegrity', which I spent some time replicating. Then we had precedent studies in which we had to essentially publish a book on a certain project, which for my team was Diller Scofidio + Renfro's plan for The Lincoln Center and Alice Tully Hall. Eventually we began constructing program relationship vignettes and then FINALLY built a sketch model. Once we reached this last point we had two weeks until the due date. Awesome.

It's hard to say what I got out of this schizophrenic design process. It was incredibly hard to relate one idea to the next and to keep moving forward. Because of that, I feel my final design, although good, was lacking. I still like it though, maybe I'm just being hard on myself. I definitely feel as though there was a lack of interest from my professor during the 6 week project. He would be excited to talk about tensegrity, Archigram, or the Tate Modern installation, but as soon as the discussion led to what I was actually producing, we would hit a wall. I still don't know how he felt about the whole thing. Awaiting the grade to beam to my inbox.

Anyway, here are the basic floor plans. My main idea went with opposing forces; I first separated the three main programmatic components to give them each a formal identity and so that they could each impose on the other (without separation, there could be no opposition). This allowed a large public pavilion within a semi-interior condition of the building. One of our discussions had to do with Hitchcock's Rear Window in which all the drama takes place in one set. The public would be able to sit on a bleacher-style form in the center and view activity in all three zones of the building from one place. As well, the plans are kept largely open with few interior walls in order to foster a sense of involvement within the building itself and the broader community.

The sections reveal cuts through the building to allow more light into the interior and to gain views from one floor to another across disparate programs.

Aesthetically, the design for me recalls the impression of a geode, whose surface has been chipped away to reveal a crystal interior, defined in this iteration as a triangulated glass curtain wall.

Non-studio creative outlets.

To start things off here's an article I wrote for t r a c e, the student zine that I co-edit at Kent State University. >>

In a time where our reality constantly feels as though it’s turning into a video game, it may be normal for one to question what constitutes their existence in the 21st century. With this in mind, insinuating that in the digital age many of us reside in a form of virtual space more often than in “real space” may not be as far-fetched as might be first perceived. Not only do many of us engage in conventional thoughts of virtual reality such as video games, we also enter other forms of intangible space as well. These spaces, often caused by a collision of new and pre-existing forms of media with the physical world, will increasingly define our existence and possibly even redefine what it is to be human.

Of the multitude of “media spaces,”
[1] most apparent of these for the young scholar are social networking sites. In digital platforms such as Facebook, it may seem as though a user is simply viewing online profiles, but while snooping around for the latest gossip, the user subjects themselves to a series of spaces that are constituted by an array of words, pixels, and friend requests; a space that is defined by the human interaction that occupies it. When one uses the phone, that person loses their physical body and is reduced to a voice lingering in the abyss. As well, listening to digitally reproduced music (a Mozart concerto over headphones, perhaps), interacting with an in-car GPS system, watching television, and surfing the web are all additional forms of virtual reality.

We can also see examples of media space in immersive online gaming environments such as Second Life. SL is an online virtual world that enables users from across the globe to interact with one another. Unlike other popular social networking models such as Myspace and Facebook, Second Life places people, represented by avatars, into a virtual environment that in many aspects attempts at representing real life. Still, the possibilities in Second Life verge on endless due to the fact that, as part of its platform, it easily adapts to the needs and wants of its users. Because of this, the computer program is generating a great deal of commotion among analysts, scholars, etc. for the potential and implications of the game.

So in these new conditions, where does so-called tangible space end and virtual space begin? It’s apparent the distinctions are becoming increasingly blurred. The consequences this virtual phenomenon brings with it are central to the way we live. As Tor Lindstrand has commented, “…The profound effect that we live our lives in an accelerating rate through media is something that clearly changes our perspective and understanding of the reality around us.”
[2] In these situations the space we occupy is not comprised of the physical and tangible elements that surround us. Instead, we find ourselves in a paradox of place; an absurdity of our indication of position as one or more sensations acts as a deceit to the truth of our current condition. It is true that many of us live life through interactive media that, in some respects, places an obscure threshold between the individual and real life.

Moreover, the way in which we interact with real space is influenced by our connection to these virtual spaces. Take for instance wi-fi signal. As CityofSound recently examined
[3], areas in which signal is strong, one can find a collection of illuminated faces toiling on unknown projects. Spaces where signal is weak or non-existent are considered undesirable, sometimes regardless of their physical spatial qualities.

In essence, our presence is constantly divided between two dimensions; one foot in the “real” world and one in the virtual. So what does this mean for the future of architecture and society as a whole? Will the succession of our lives into the virtual continually increase until we experience life in a wholly illusory environment? While life in the digital age continues to progress into unknown realms, experimentation in the world without limits becomes more and more legitimate and less ‘unrealistic’. In essence, our definitions of real and virtual could reverse, where what architecture now considers fantasy becomes the truer manifestation of human interaction and life as a whole.

For instance, in Second Life an enclosure is not meant for shelter from en­vironmental elements; there is no rain. Rather, architecture here serves a much more abstracted role in the lives of the users of the game. In any virtual reality the “rules” of architecture no longer apply. Therefore, ar­chitectural dialogue has an entirely new dictionary. Of course, designing for the virtual is nothing new at all. Lebbeus Woods recently released a set of conceptual sketches done for the movie Alien III.
[4] Although the movie Woods was commissioned for was never realized, his design for a decaying world of the future dealt with conditions of an entirely dif­ferent environment that is legitimized by the possibility that it could one day be our own.

In a world increasingly defined by degrees of virtualized space, considering the implications of virtual architecture, and at a broader scale virtual life, becomes more and more relevant. No one in the millennial generation can deny that our lives are experienced in both reality and a computer often simultaneously. If this is where we exist, then shouldn’t our spaces be informed by that juxtaposition as well? Whatever the case, it seems as though the newest frontier lies not beyond our atmosphere or even this solar system, but within the capacities of our technology and the little illuminated screens directly in front of us.

[1] Doesinger, Space Between People, p. 16
[2] Doesinger, p. 137

The begining?

In the cold and dark corners of cyberspace I have staked out this portion for myself, to write and reflect, and possibly find something interesting in my own thoughts that others may also find worth reading.

In this blog I intend to talk of my architectural studies mostly so that the mysteriousness of the allusive 'studio' may subside to those unknowing of what I do with the vast majority of my life.  But I hope to, occasionally, write of other things as well. things that inspire me, trouble me, confuse me, and so on.

I decided to name the blog as I have because it represents how we in the digital age exist in both the real tangible world as well as the digital world simultaneously.  This thought is always in the back of my mind and seems to constantly affect my thinking.  I feel that this will present itself repeatedly throughout the posts to come.

And so the digitally documented journey begins...