Thursday, March 26, 2009

[alternatives] unit summary

a recurrent theme throughout the alternatives unit was the testing and breaking of boundaries. after all, this is the only way to come up with original ideas. to be truly innovative means to take ordinary objects and put them together in extraordinary ways. the city of venezia is a great example. the people living in the marshlands needed a way to cope with the environment and start building a city. they thought of pushing tree trunks down into the water and building on top of them. this had never been done before. however, with new situations and extenuating circumstances, architects must think on their feet. the result is innovative ideas to solve problems. sometimes innovation isn’t to solve problems, but to create a memorable impression. in the cornaro chapel, bernini did the ecstasy of st. theresa, but also put the cornaro family as an audience watching the scene from box seats. it adds to the sense of theatricality of the baroque period.

in addition to reaching past the boundaries, reaching upward was also prominent. many of the buildings we studied during this unit were churches. naturally, their desire is to be close to heaven. gothic cathedrals soared higher and higher. the walls got lighter and more filled with glass. it was all about the illusion of weightlessness. not to mention these structures were awe-inspiring because of the sheer scale. with the concept of reaching upward is the idea that the best things are at the top. the palazzo form is an indication of this, with the public store at the bottom and the private family quarters at the top. we organizing space, we do so through hierarchy of importance, function, etc. the ever-present power of three and porch/court/hearth re-emerges as we look at how spaces are organized.

transitions also seem to be of importance. throughout the unit, we saw the transition from the highly elaborate and vertical gothic period, to the rationality and rebirth of antiquity during the renaissance, and finally the emotionality and theatricality of the baroque. although they may not have built upon the immediately preceding period, each new style used elements from previous periods. even physical transitions bear significance. the way people move through the space can have more meaning than you think. stairs represent a way to elevate oneself and move to the next level. it is done progressively with steps rather than all at once. special attention is given to the design of stairs in the laurentian library and the spanish steps as two examples. the goal is to prepare the audience for the experience ahead. throughout the unit we have talked about how minor details can affect the bigger picture. this is just one example of how the everything in a space influences the overall experience.

a building that i feel represents the unit well is the villa rotunda. it is innovative in that there are temple fronts on all four sides. the use of the temple fronts adheres with the idea of reaching upward, not physically but symbolically (using the sacred for the profane). the form of the facades is reminiscent of the greek temple. on the interior, the sense of arrangement and hierarchy is upheld, with the working spaces at the bottom and private bedrooms at the top. the villa rotunda embodies many of the qualities that run throughout the entire alternatives unit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

grammar - syntax

A neat arrangement makes work easier to read and understand. Around campus I noticed that the windows of the buildings follow a horizontal DATUM on each floor. To further emphasize order, some of the buildings, like the MHRA and EUC buildings, have a horizontal band that runs beneath the windows. It draws attention to the datum and emphasizes the order in the space. Throughout history, order has been an important factor in any design. “The provision of axes to attain spatial distance was an important planning concept. Corridors, enfilade arrangements, and other room adjacencies were employed for visual extension” (Blakemore 183). The organization of space facilitates communication of ideas. “Rooms in the enfilade were aligned one after the other, with connecting doors close to the exterior wall. Social order was reflected in this architectural arrangement…” (Blakemore 178). Even in presentations, datum is important. In our presentation about the EUC, we had to keep a clean datum between the pictures to keep the focus on the pictures, not on uneven spaces between them. The alignment allows effective communication of our ideas.

Throughout our studies, TRANSITIONS have always been a point of emphasis. They connect ideas or part of a space smoothly. This week, stairways have been a recurrent point of emphasis, which is fitting for the idea of transition. They mark a link between different levels or parts, almost like transitions between paragraphs in an essay. Think about Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library, the Spanish steps as a landmark in Rome, or stairs in Baroque buildings. “The staircase provided a space for spatial experiment; from the base one seemed compelled to ascend by indirectly lighted spaces” (Blakemore 181). All of these works invite the viewer to see what’s on the next level. The way people move through spaces merits just as much attention as the other parts of the building. In present-day high-class homes and lobbies, there is often a grand staircase just inside the main entrance. It is the first thing you see is usually elaborate and high on the hierarchical chain based on its placement within the building. Even in the EUC, the double curved staircase has a central location and is made to accommodate the large volume of traffic it holds every day.

Every building has a language that hopefully the AUDIENCE can understand. Every building is designed with an audience in mind. The way the audience views or moves through the space is an important consideration. Designers of churches had to keep this idea in mind because churches were made to be seen, visited, and admired. The architects have no choice but to think about the audience and how to accommodate large groups of people. The piazza and colonnade at St. Peter’s are a way to deal with this issue. “A broad space was needed to accommodate the crowds who gather at Easter” (Roth 408). An open space was incorporated into the design to meet the needs of the audience. Sometimes, the audience is installed in the work itself, as is the case in the Cornaro Chapel. “The marble-paneled sidewalls of the chapel contain ‘box seats’ in which Bernini depicted members of the Cornaro family reading and discussing the miraculous event being depicted” (Roth 403). Bernini included his own audience to the Ecstasy of St. Theresa. This part of the composition makes it unique in that he took his design a step further.

Designs often have many layers that are not understood upon a first glance. I chose to think of [RE]VISIONS as taking a second look. Things are not always what they appear to be and designs are more complex than they may seem. This was especially true of Baroque buildings. “Baroque buildings, in contrast, are so large and complex that they cannot possibly be comprehended in a single glance” (Roth 414). When you take the time to look deeper, it opens up more information about hidden details embedded in the work. This is the same process I am going through with my current studio project. We took objects from nature and used it as inspiration for our design. I started drawing a flower and leaves as I saw them. But when I looked closer at them, I found even more interesting elements that I had not seen at first glance.

Each building has an individual spirit or CHARACTER. It is the voice and language a building speaks. The architect, context, and data (single elements) that comprise it all affect the character of a building. These things make the building unique and give it a different language from others. Thinking about S. Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane, the undulating walls inside and out make it stand out from any other building. It interacts with the audience, making them want to know more about what it inside and the all the details that went into the design. I had the same feeling about the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. My drawing above shows the exterior curves that reach out to the viewers, drawing them in. I was intrigued because it had such a unique language that contrasted with surrounding buildings. This is the effect I strive for in my studio projects. I want to create a memorable character that brings the design to life.

Architecture is composed of parts that come together to form a complete thought or idea; much the same way words come together to form sentences and thoughts. The same parts can be put together in different ways to create a whole new meaning or language. A designer’s job is to put the pieces together in the right way so that the intended message is conveyed.

Blakemore, Robbie G. (1997). History of Interior Design & Furniture. New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold Roth,

Leland M. (2007). Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and
Meaning. Boulder, CO: Westview Press

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

PA : deliverables

[Essay Outline]

I. The Basics
A. Designers
B. Location
C. Planning
a. Original plans for 2 towers and a hotel
D. Dates of Construction and Completion

II. Major Components
A. Square footage, height, and number of stories
a. Square footage for lobby, offices, penthouse, gardens, parking
B. Merchants/Offices

III. Anticipation
A. Original plans
B. Skepticism
C. Intentions of Designers
a. I.M. Pei and Partners
b. Dan Kiley (landscape architect)
D. Intentions of Client
a. Campeau/Criswell Development

IV. Context and Previous Work
A. General history of the ‘80s
B. Previous work of I.M. Pei and Partners
C. Previous work of Dan Kiley
a. How all three influenced the design

V. Awards

VI. Conclusion

[Drawing Proposals]

~Exterior perspective: ink and watercolor on watercolor paper
~Exterior perspective of entrance: colored pencil on bond
~Site plan (1/4" scale): ink on bond
~Floor plan lower floors (1/4" scale): pencil on vellum
~Floor plan middle floors (1/4" scale): pencil on vellum
~Floor plan upper floors (1/4" scale): pencil on vellum
~Section (1/8" scale): pencil on vellum
~Perspective exterior fountains and landscape: ink and watercolor on watercolor paper
~Perspective office space: colored pencil on bond
~Floor plan office space (1/4" scale): pencil on vellum

My only issue is finding floor plans for the building. I will try contacting the architecture firm to see if I can get copies of the plans.

[p] week

Nothing comes out perfectly the first time around. There is a PROCESS required to get a polished final product. In studio, we talked about how designing and storywriting both have a similar process. I wrote an article about how both involve an initial idea or concept, a lot of editing, and close attention to details. All the steps in a process are necessary to get a well thought-out and successful final result. When designing for clients, we have to be able to express our ideas and process in a concise way. They will want to be informed of every step of the process. We can use storyboards and presentations to communicate these ideas. That way they will be aware of any changes that were made. The goal is to get better with each revision along the way. We learn and improve as we progress.

One way we show our progress is through a PORTFOLIO. This is a collection of work that showcases who we are as designers. It shows how we have grown to become better. Looking at my portfolio and work form last semester and even earlier this semester, I see what I have improved on and what areas still need work. Not only is it a learning tool for ourselves, but it is used in the professional world. Potential employers want to see what we are capable of through our portfolio. It is like a resume we use to market ourselves.

In the PROFESSIONAL world, designers have to market themselves, sort of like self-advertisement. The goal is to appear to be the most desirable for the job. Advertising agencies take this approach when marketing products. When I did this drawing of my phone, I was thinking of it as a magazine ad. The phone is the center focus and in the foreground, with the name of the phone clearly stated. The picture makes the viewer want to know more about the phone. This is what designers strive to do. They want to leave the employer wanting to know more about their work.

Potential employers also think about the unique PERSPECTIVE a designer can bring to a firm or a project. Everyone has a unique was of looking at things based on their individual background and experiences. Take Alexander Julian for example. He was asked to design the Charlotte Knights baseball stadium. He was chosen for the job because of his previous experience and the unique approach he took with colors. He used his past experience in the stadium with the multi-colored seats that align in a special way. He brought a new perspective to the project and as a result was selected for the job. His style as an apparel and furniture designer shines through, even in a stadium design.

Perspective can also be thought of in a physical sense. Moving around an object or room provides different views and angles. More information is revealed about the scene as the point of view shifts. With my drawing of my phone, I drew multiple portions of my cell phone. Some views were zoomed in while others were at a wider angle. With all the pictures in the same composition, it gives a complete view of the phone.

There is a fine line between innovative and just plain crazy. A forward-thinking designer knows how to balance on that line. Good designers live on the PERIPHERY and sometimes even push the boundaries. During his speech at DATS Nibo Qubein, president of High Point University challenged us to “dare to throw the box out of the window. Dare to be innovative. Dare to be different, not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of being better.” The only way to set yourself apart is to try new things. Using blind contour is a way for me to try new things. The image that is created is abstract and a nice departure from the realistic sketches I usually try to do. Designers push the envelope in all kinds of ways. That is what keeps design interesting and moving forward.

Overall, this week was about our future in the professional world. After we get out of school, the skills we have learned will carry us far if we use them to their full advantage. The thing that will set us apart from other designers with the same skill sets is our creativity; putting ordinary things together in extraordinary ways. Designers past have been able to do it and we will too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

euc revisited

as i looked back even more closely at the inspiration image, i saw that his black lines were more defined at the ends than mine were. so i went back and made the edges of the black neater. i also filled in some of the white cracks in the black.

for this image, i created a cluster of people to create a concentrated area of black like the tree in my inspiration image.

i added more contrast in this drawing and emphasized line weight more, with closer objects being darker.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

micro to macro

DIAGRAMS are a way to communicate more in a visual sense than with words. In drawing class, we are learning about ways to diagram a space to effectively convey pertinent information. The drawing above is a diagram of my house, showing the hierarch of rooms. Drawings such as this one “make visible systems, relationships, circulation patterns… so that all concerned with the design of a building could better see what they are doing” (Lockard 25). Diagrams like these allow us to convey and receive specific information quickly. The idea of conveying information visually rather than in words is also used in architecture. In history we talked about how the stained glass in churches served as a visual storybook for those who worship there. “Thus in stone and colored glass, the entire [cathedral] became a Bible for the illiterate” (Roth 328). The designers of the cathedrals used the structures as living diagrams used to convey Biblical stories to those who otherwise would not know them. Even now in literate communities, churches use stained glass windows for the same function. My church in Charlotte has enormous glass windows in the sanctuary, partly for education, but I think mainly as a reminder of why we enter that space every Sunday.

The windows are so large and located in the sanctuary for a reason. The sanctuary is the most important space in the building. It is the HEARTH of the complex. It represents the reason people come to church since it is where they hear the sermon and learn Biblical stories and lessons. But could it also be considered the COURT since it is where a majority of the people gathers? I think it could be considered both because when rooms serve multiple functions, the lines between the two begin to blur. Yet in the houses surrounding the monastery at Cluny, the lines are clearly defined. The lower level of each house consisted of a shop facing the street with a large window wall (PORCH), followed by a court, and finally a kitchen (hearth) (Roth 345). In this example, the sections are clearly defined. This trio of parts creates a foundation for the circulation throughout a building. Other rooms can be added to this core composition to create a functional space.

Gothic cathedrals share the cross-shaped plan, but differ in details and COMPOSITION. English churches are simple and horizontal, compared with Italian churches, which are highly colored and ornamented (Roth 333). The overall design and parts can remain the same, but differences in DETAILS can change the entire composition. Take this series of three drawings above; I drew the same table and lamp in each, yet they look completely different. I changed the line quality in each to create new looks. The same is concept is true of cathedrals. They all maintain the basic components (nave, aisles, choir, apse, transept), yet details make them unique. The white stone, geometric surface of Florence cathedral gives it a different look than the soaring, glass-filled walls of Saint-Pierre, Beauvais. By looking at a variety of buildings and drawings, I can understand how minute details can affect the bigger picture… almost like the butterfly effect. The same is true with anything in life. Paying attention to detail can make a world of difference and set your work apart from the rest.

While it is important to stand out, sometimes there need to be commonalities and unifying elements. This can also be addressed through details. My drawing above is a column found throughout the EUC, despite the varying functions and designs of the rooms. In our portal:panel project, our challenge was to create a unique design while also relating to neighboring doors and the hallway itself. We found unity in details such as the use of angles or columns with an overhang, yet the use of color helped us stand out. The designers of cathedrals went through the same process. Certain elements, such as light, link all Gothic cathedrals. “The presence of light, the symbol of god’s divine grace, became the pre-eminent symbol; the church building had to become transparent, and when it did so it was no longer Romanesque, but Gothic” (Roth 323). As light became more important, more attention was given to how light affected the interior space.

To me, one of the greatest examples of how subtle details (micro) can affect the overall IMPRESSION (macro) a building leaves is in the Gothic cathedrals. One technique is to use light to manipulate the impression of weightlessness and divinity. The soaring height of glass-filled walls enhances this impression. At Amiens cathedral, Roth comments, “further strengthening the sensation of height is the infusion of light in the Gothic cathedral, for the upper walls dissolve in light” (336). To achieve the sensation, the designer started with measurements and proportions. The proportions of the width and height of the nave contribute to the optical illusion of great height (Roth 336). Attention to subtle details early in the design process can impact the overall impression a building evokes.

This week ways about the exploration of how microdetails come together to affect the big picture. As a designer, I realize that attention to detail is essential. Small mistakes or lack of attention can detract from a potentially great design. At the same time, carefully thought-out details can put a good design over the top. The key is to take even the smallest aspects of your work into consideration.

Lockard, William Kirby. (1968). Drawing as a Means to Architecture.

Roth, Leland M. (2007). Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning. Boulder, CO: Westview Press

Sunday, March 1, 2009

[foundations] unit summary

one idea that stuck out to me as i reviewed the foundations unit was about competing elements and striking a balance between them. how to you achieve balance between male and female?... real and ideal?... superhuman scale and human scale? … past and present? … civic and religious? … as with anything, it is difficult to achieve perfect balance, no matter how hard we try… sometimes we intentionally leave things unbalanced… and sometimes what seems balanced in one context is not deemed so in another.

balance can be approached in a variety of ways. hapshepsut is an example of achieving balance between male and female. as a female ruler, it was imperative to gain respect. she did so in the construction of both male and female forms. her temple was horizontal and built into the landscape, whereas the obelisk at the temple of amon soared vertically from the land (a wu-wu form). the same balance is achieved with triumphal arches and columns like the column of trajan. both of these elements can be integrated into the same structure, such as in the baths of the diocletian, which has rows of columns and arches throughout. the greeks, however, did not strive for balance. they denied reality and focused on the ideal. their cover-up of imperfections by using optical illusions speaks to this fact. the way societies deal with balance varies throughout history and can be interpreted in different ways.

throughout the foundations unit, the most recurrent design element was scale. our natural sense of hierarchy tells us that the largest object is the most important. exaggerated scale emphasizes the significance of the designer or the function (commoditie) of the space. the trend started in ancient egypt with each pharaoh trying to top the previous one with the size and grandeur of their temples and tombs. the greeks followed suit with the planning of the acropolis. the parthenon was the largest building and the focal point of the complex. the same is true in rome with the pantheon and florence cathedral, which tower over the neighboring city. reviewing each society, i find that religion was the most important thing in all of them. religious buildings were unquestionably the most dominant buildings on the landscape. looking at the scale of architecture has given us a clue to the ideas of a culture.

one structure that embodies the qualities of the foundations unit is the eiffel tower. the obvious wu-wu shape is supplemented by arches (the female form) at the base. its construction achieves balance between male and female, but also between superhuman and human scale. although the tower was the tallest structure when it was built, there are gift shops, elevators, and restaurants that are human scale and make people feel comfortable inside this grand structure. as a designer, these are all things i must consider when creating a design. the design elements in this unit basically are the foundations of any good design. questions about scale, hierarchy, form, and function must all be answered before moving forward.