Saturday, September 24, 2011

Design 1 Field Trip: Florida Southern College

Today was our first field trip in the architecture program. We visited Florida Southern College in Lakeland, which if you don't know, is the largest Frank Lloyd Wright collection in the world, right in our own backyard. We arrived at 9, took a tour of the buildings, then were given an assignment to use the tools we've been learning about (such as axonometric drawings and such) to diagram and study atleast 2 buildings on site. What a great place to visit! I, along with all of my other classmates, had a very enjoyable time. Here are some pictures posted below that I took....


Administrator Bldg.


Feiffer Chapel

Stairwell of planetarium bldg.

Interior Stairs of Feiffer Chapel. LOVE this.

Feiffer Chapel

Feiffer Chapel, looking up from pews

Forth Chapel

Forth Chapel, glass window detail

original Library

There are lots of very interesting and not so subtle things that were learned about these great works of architecture. All of the angles involved in these buildings are either 30, 60, or 90 degrees. Frank goes as far as to even angle stairs, walkways, and overhead conditions (sometimes towards you, making you feel very cautious)Wright's play with scale is impressive, to say the least. Most of the time walking around under the walkways and through the buildings you almost feel the need to be careful to not hit the ceiling or run into any sharps column creations, but there are points (like in the library and Feiffer Chapel) where the room opens up to a very large scale. I find it very warming in that it makes me feel much more in tune with the building and where I am in it. Frank puts a few hints of his previous influences in the Science building, where some of the overhead details highly resemble some Japanese architecture, which Frank Lloyd Wright had been influenced by in most of his architectural career. I found it VERY interesting to learn that many of the building were built with student labor, mostly female, because the buildings were constructed during World War II. Overall, it was a significant learning experience. As soon as I parked my car and got out, it kind of hit me that I was actually visiting a significant historical architectural piece of work. The buildings were, for the most part, beautiful. Apparently, Wright wasn't too aware of the Florida climate, so all of the buildings have terrible water leakage problems and have to be maintenced quite often. There are many places where large cracks have formed in the concrete, water drips from almost anywhere, cracks in the ground are appearing, glass tiles have fallen out of walls (you can literally feel small blasts of AC as you walk outside the building because of how poorly the walls are constructed for our climate). always, I leave you with some journal sketches and my first attempt at a panoramic...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Red Dot Story!!!

Steve, our professor, is a really great story teller. I've decided that I'm placing little reminders in my sketchbooks about some of the awesome and inspiring stories he tells us. The first one being, Red Dot Story.

When Steve was in grad school, the first assignment they were given was to take a 17"x17" piece of paper and put a 1" red dot in the very center of the paper, using a "great red" color. The assignment was....TWO WEEKS LONG. Steve thought, this is great! I have 2 weeks to create such a simple project! First, he tried figuring out what "great red" meant. He decided to use car paint as his material to creat the red. He goes into an auto body shop and gets severel different types of red paints. Chevy red, Mustang Red, Firebird Red, ALL KINDS of reds. Steve sprays them all onto a sheet and knows immediately which one is a "great red." WOW....THAT is a great red. Now, how to figure out how to put this red dot on his paper. He makes a stencil for his circle, places it on the paper, sprays the red, takes the circle stencil off, and the paint bleeds and spread everywhere. Not gonna work. He decided to try some kind of cling material, cuts a whole in it, sticks it to the paper, sprays the red, takes the cling off, and it's STILL bleeding everywhere. This process continues for several days of Steve figuring out just how to spray this damn paint on this paper without it bleeding. He figures out that if you just spray it for a split second, let it dry for an hour, do it again, repeat for about 8 hours, he could create the PERFECT Great Red dot! Presentation day comes, and their professor asks them to place their projects in a line on the floor. The students do so, and the professor looks at them quickly and says "This would be great for a lecture"...and walks away. Keep in mind, many students were up till all hours of the night figuring this project out and working impossibly hard. After the professor walked away, many students got pissed and just left. The remaining students stood there for a bit, and began to talk to each other about their projects. What material they used for the red, how they got the red dot on the paper, and their entire learning process and experience. Steve could tell the professor was behind the corner listening in, and it was then and only THEN that he realized what the intent of the project was!

We learn more from each other than we do from our professors. Being in a studio environment is FUNDAMENTAL to our learning experience, because we learn SO MUCH by talking with each other. Our professors can guide us to a certain extent for a certain amount of time during the day, but our classmates can help us out all day every day. We MUST work in the studio if we are going to learn and succeed in the program. What a great story, at least I thought so.

Year 1, Project 5: The Plan

Assignment: From the ideas-concepts-figural elements in your analysis from part A of this assignment, create a new composition (planesque).
Composition Format and Requirements:

1. 7 to 10 spaces.
2. The number and scale of spaces should include: 1 large, 2-3 medium,
3-4 small, 1-2 very small. (don’t consider function or this being a building or focus on flow/circulation)
3. Ideas of figural definition, spatial closure and organization from each architect/building/place analyzed should be considered/combined to create a new compositional gestalt -PARTI. Do not just focus on one
plan, function, or an architect but combine ideas to make a new gestalt – a new composition. This is not a building plan.
4. Don’t forget the nature of the 7 ¾ by 7 ¾ “site.”
5. A variety of spatial/compositional ideas must be present.
6. The process/visual notes of generating a new composition must be evident in your journal and/or other supplementary drawings.

This assignment resembles project 3, except this time we aren't given a set "kit of parts." Part A of this assignment was to diagram and research some very famous historical architecture and come up with ideas for this assignment. My major influences came from the Barcelona Pavilion, Frank Lloyd Wrights Guggenheim museum and Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye. The sketchbook pages to the left diagram some of my process sketches (the page on top was an idea I decided not to do, the one on the bottom I followed through with)

Final Selection

To the right you can see some more diagramming of comments from the pinup I got from my professor. My "Plan" seemed to be the simplest out of my group of classmates, but still was able to define those 7-10 spaces. There was a clear path of movement. A main design element I decided to incorporate was the gestalt principle of continuity. The top of the composition seems to go off the page, but your mind will tend to complete a circle figure, or perhaps something else, but the point is that your mind wants to go off the page in some way. This helped me out in the next assignment in which we took these plans and extended them into axonometric drawings.

Wondering what "Red Dot Story" is? The next blog post will be all about that =)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Year 1, Project 4: Mirror of Masterworks, A serious inquiry in line

STEP 1: Trace

Choose one photographic image from each of the groups (the image must be no smaller than 5"x5" and not already a drawing). Selection
should not just include exterior views. Enlarge the image to 11x17. Overlay trace paper and with pencil find all of the regulating lines, hidden geometries, proportions, construction lines and any other lines that begin to geometrically define the elements of the building(s). Then with black ink trace over the image and delineate the contour lines (single line weight -SLW) that capture the essence of each image without drawing every line or detail/mark you see.

Lombard St, San Francisco

Alvaro Siza

STEP 2: Freehand Thumbnail Sketches
This is similar to “Step 1” but now the training wheels will be
removed (tracing the drawing). Choose a minimum of 4 new images from the list opposite (have one from each group and one additional). Draw in pencil the regulating lines, construction lines, perspective lines and basic geometries/proportions in your journals. (Do not draw the entire image in pencil first as a background). Then draw in black ink a series of contour lines (SLW) that capture the essence of each image.

Self Explanatory. What's cool about this project was that AFTER countour tracing Lombard Street, my grandpa who lives in San Francisco sent me some money for school. As a thank you for him I scanned the image, inverted it, and framed it in a nice frame and sent it to him. Hope he likes it!

Year 1, Project 3: Gestalt Principle: Parts and the Whole

Assignment: Construct three different well-crafted, ordered compositions using the kit of parts/shapes. The three different compositions (boards) are not to be arranged sequentially. Strive to create a unified system of forms and a clear organization of 6-10 defined spaces.

 Kit of Parts:

Base Board: 7 ¾” x 7 ¾”
3 rectangles: 5/8” x 2-9/16”
5 rectangles: 3/16” x 1 ½”
5 squares: 5/16”
7 circles: ¼” diameter
2 arcs: (1/4 circle) 1 ¾” O.R. x 3/16” thick

Boundary – Edge
Positive- Negative
Form - Space

This project was fairly simple and fun, though you might be surprised about the fact I was in the studio for about 8 hours the day before it was due figuring out what I wanted to glue down. What was nice about this project was it's limitations. You were given very specific pieces and asked to make space with them. The board directly to the left was selected for discussion during pin up and was complimented as having very nice flow. A path is very clear and the spaces are well defined. The larger rectangles are anchored towards the bottom of composition keeping it well grounded as well. This project runs into the next design project where we have to create our own plan without a set kit.

From this project I learned about the differenct concepts above, especially closure, continuity, and proximity, which I think are present gestalt principles in all 3 of my compositions. I also learned that using a dull blade to cut thin paper is a stupid idea, because it doesn't work at all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Year 1, Project 2: The Zen Line

Assignment: Using watercolor, create a "zen line" of a natural object.
Length of Assignment: 1 week

Design 1 is split up into 2 sections: Monday, Wednesday, Friday are design days and Tuesday and Thursday are graphic days. This was a graphics assignment during the same time as the line with 3 corners project. The class always has you working on 2 "projects" at the same time, and later on, the 2 sections will begin to merge with one another. The project was very self explanitorty and simple. We had to create 50 zen lines, which are essentially quick stroked watercolor lines that create the essence of an object, pick our favorite one, and put it on a 11"x11" piece of white paper. Here you can see some of those 50 zen lines. I'll let you guess what it was I was "zenning."

I had a lot of fun with this project. Before this I tended to get really frustrated with water color because it never really did what I wanted it to do. Through this project I learned different techniques with using different brushes, various amounts of water, and how to create really great textures to creat that "essence." I also had to buy some somewhat nice brushes and watercolor in a tube, so maybe my problem before was that I was just working with crap.

Final Selection:

Year 1, Project 1: "Line with 3 Corners"

Assignment: Create a line with 3 corners on a 7 3/8"x7 3/8" piece of white Bristol paper.
Length of time: 5 days

Seems like quite a simple assignment for the first thing I'm ever doing in graduate architecture school, right? Not quite. Granted, I wasn't up till 4 in the morning every night pulling my hair out over what "MY" definition of a line is, but it was still a challenging assignment for the reason that we weren't allowed to ask ANY questions. The project was completely up for interpretation.

I started by asking myself the simple question of "what is a line and what is a corner?" My definition of a line isn't necessarily 1 single solid, connected form. As long as the viewer of this "line" is directed in a path or direction, I consider it a line. For example, a bunch of squares placed next to each other at close enough proximity could be considered in my book as a line. A corner, I felt, is a physical  or mental connection of 2 lines or points that creates a feeling of surroundedness, not openness. Can a curve be a corner? ABSOLUTELY!

Along with this assignment was an assigned reading in which I found a quote that really tickled my pickle: "Try to grow straight and life will bend you." From this quote I got inspiration to make my line somewhat of a timeline. The "bends" in life can happen at any time; youth, middle or old age. This is where the "bends" in my line occur creating the 3 corners. The pen weight signifies and emphasizes the bends. In my opinion, we tend to distinctly remember things that greatly effect us, which is why the interiors of the corners are so bold.

Overall I thought it was an intriguing and though provoking yet simple first assignment. The best part though was the pinup. Imagine 45 people crammed in a small jury room and your professor announces you have 5 minutes to make the straightest line he's every seen with our assignments....then he starts playing the soundtrack from star wars. This is making people LITERALLY start to sweat. I have a tape measure in my hand yelling at the person on the other side of the wall "52 INCHES.....IT'S 52 INCHES OFF THE GROUND!!!" Finally the music stops, we barely get them up in time, and we notice a bunch of students from Design 3 in the back of the room. Steve (our professor) tells us they are here to help him "weed out" some people. He asks, "let's just start off with the basics of the assignments, the requirements. Does anyone see a project that doesn't fit the basic requirements." I point to an assignment and inform him the paper is way too big. Steve walks over, unpins it from the wall, and crumples it up and throws it on the ground. Everyone's mouth is WIDE OPEN and I quietly ask myself "what the FUCK!?" Another girl points out a project on the opposite side of the wall that has the wrong colored paper. Steve walks over, unpins it, rips it up and throws it in the air. Unfortunatly, the rest of this story I can not repeat, because I absolutely can not ruin it for all the students coming in NEXT year. =P