Friday, July 17, 2009

No Wonder My Professors Don't Want Us Using AutoCADD!!!!

I recently got hired at Howl O' Scream @ Busch Gardens, which is forcing me to move my Tuesday/Thursday 5:30-7:30 "Building Arts" class to an earlier time. Well, there is no earlier time, so I decided to try and sign up for the Intermediate AutoCAD class instead. When I did that, the computer told me I hadn't met the prerequisite of taking a "Beginning Technology Design" class.....BULLCRAP! I've already finished the Beginning AutoCAD class and taken an entire year of Architectural Design! I'm not computer illerate, I'm part of the millenial generation!!! Anyway, so I said "screw that, I'm CLEPing these exams," meaning I'm going to learn AutoCAD on my own and take the exam to just get the credit hours with no grade, which is fine by me.

Like I said, by now I've already taken a "Beggining AutoCAD" class and have figured out by now that this program has some serious flaws. Actually, let me back up. My PROFESSORS have some serious flaws. Both semesters of Architectural Design, my professors gave us a rule of NO AUTOCAD!!!! I understand the fundamentals behind learning to draw and such, but they wouldn't even let us have drawings AND AutoCAD renderings on our final presentations......ONLY drawings. I found this as somewhat shocking, since I had figured the primary tool in the design industry was AutoCAD. The last project I did, I REALLY needed some kind of design program to help me figure out the floor plans of my building. Since I didn't yet know how to use 3D AutoCAD, I downloaded google sketchup.

I'll start this paragraph off by saying GOOGLE SKETCHUP IS AWESOME. For a beginning architect student like myself, this program will teach you basic comands, let you play around with your creative ideas, and is also very fun and simple! After using this program, I began to think even more about how crappy AutoCAD seemed. I mean, I hadn't yet toyed with 3D AutoCAD, but I was already very frustrated with simple 2D, so I couldn't even imagine how angry I would get with 3D.

Anyway, returning back to the flaws of AutoCAD. The number one thing I have noticed with it is that it isn't intuitive....AT ALL. It doesn't know what I'm trying to tell it to do, where I'm trying to tell it to go, or how I'm trying to tell it to work. It has a mind of it's own. I'm guessing the reason behind this is because it isn't an object based program, but I could be wrong. The point is that a free program that google made is WAY more intuitive than a $3,000 program, and quite honestly, that can be frustrating to those who have already spent that huge wad of cash. I have gotten SO FRUSTRATED from trying to learn this program that I have slammed keyboards, mouses, banged computers, had to restart computers MANY TIMES, screamed, and CRIED for crying out loud! I sometimes feel like I should just rip the monitor right out of the computer and throw it out of the window!!!!

So, I went searching for something else. I tweeted how frustrated I usually am when using AutoCAD and someone replied telling me to try Revit because they understood the feeling. I've heard of Revit before from several profesors telling me that they only use Revit in their offices and that AutoCAD is on the way out the door. I decided to give this Revit a try. I then found a FREE educational download version which made me very happy and learned that AutoDesk is the same company that makes both Revit and AutoCAD. AutoDesk just keeping AutoCAD around for the old farts who can't learn new programs? Try this: Google "AutoCAD sucks." I get 178,000 results, 178,001 by the time I'm done. Now Google "Revit sucks," only 25,500. I think that alone says something.

So my question then becomes, WHY am I being taught AutoCAD and WHY is it a requirement to know the program before I transfer to a University for Architecture? If this thing is on the way out, shouldn't I be learning something that's on the way in? I guess I can't depend on the school board to figure this one out, so I suppose I'm teaching it to myself. Unfortunately I still have to CLEP both 2D and 3D AutoCAD exams to transfer to a University, but I'll do whatever it takes to get there, even if that requires learning a software programs that dinosaurs invented.

No wonder my professors don't want us using AutoCAD for Design Projects...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This week in school #1

Well actually, I just got out of school for the summer yesterday, so I suppose I'll recap something I learned about in my previous Business Calculus class. I found this interesting because using this would be very helpful in such architectural uses as calculating the square footage of an odd shaped room.
Definite Integrals!
Sounds scary doesn't it! It's actually pretty cool. SO...finding a definite integral means the same thing as finding the surface area of something. However, not every shape has an equation to find surface area like a cube (6a^2), sphere (4pi r^2), or a rectangular prism[box]
(2ab+2ac+bc) does. So to find the square footage of, let's say, an egg shaped room, we would have to use some other kind of method to find the area. Before the AMAZING invention of my handy-dandy TI-84 graphing calculator and the not-so-user-friendly AutoCADD, Reimann's Sum was just about the only way of finding an odd shape's area. Reimann's Sum is basically this: To find the approximate area under a curve, you chop that curve up into rectangulare pieces, find the area of each rectangle, and then add them all together (visual example to the right). OR...
where [a,b] are the limits on the graph, n is the number of times you are chopping up the curve, and f(x) is the area of each little rectangle.
I mean, I'll give it to
Reimann, he came up with something very literal and something that you can make as approximate as you wanted, depending on how many times you chopped your curve up. What else are you gonna do when you don't have computers, right? BUT, the thing is that it just sucks and isn't completely accurate. The more accurate you want your answer to be, the more rectangular area's you're going to have to find, and that's not fun or fast! We have graphing calculators now, so let's use 'em!

So going back to our egg shaped room now! For almost every shape you could possibly make, there is a series of functions that when put together could form a shape very similar, if not exact, to the one you want. Now, I just finished taking a very simplified calculus class, so I'm not going to get into it like it does on Wiki, and I'll skip all of the less
on teaching on finding derivitives and integrating because you don't really need it for this. All you really need is a graphing calculator. So if you wanna play along with me, I'll include instructions. To enter functions for your calculator to graph, hit the y= button and enter in
Now hit graph. You should see somewhat of an egg-shaped function. Now, first you must find the intersecting points of your 2 functions, so hit 2nd TRACE which will come up with a list of calculation options and hit 5:intersect, ENTER, ENTER, ENTER. The X value is 2.236068, which means the opposite intersection will be the same number except negative (these are your "limits.) Now, to find the surface area for the area under the first curve (y1) hit 2nd TRACE, 7: ~f(x)dx. It will say "Lower Limit?" and enter in -2.236068 ENTER, and "Upper Limit?" is 2.236068 ENTER. I will find the surface area above the first curve until 0, which is 7.45356 (the negative does not matter, since there is no such thing as negative surface area.) Now we need to find the surface area of the top of the egg, so repeat the above steps with only the y2 equation graphed (your limit of -+2.236068 is the same). You should end up with 14.904401. Now add the area from the top and bottom of the egg...
And there you have it! Lol, it sounds and looks confusing but really isn't once you learn all the cool stuff a TI-84 can do. But this way, an architect can know the EXACT square footage of an odd shaped room (not that there are very many odd shaped rooms that don't have angles, but just in case there were!). So if I were ordering hardwood for this floor I would order 23 square feet (wow that's a tiny egg-shaped room!)to minimize my cost, increase revenue, and use less resources. Of course, it can get way more complicated like finding volume by definite integrals, as the picture illistrates on the left, but I don't know how to do that.......YET!

Oh how fun calculus can be!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ugh, that green building "standard" look....

Do you know what I'm talking about? You know, that standard look of a "green building?" It has clean lines, minimal accessories, and an obvious appearance of, well....being green! It's just opinion to say that this expanding style of architecture is "ugly" but I almost feel the urge to yell that it's true! For example, the building to the right is from a Korean architect firm named Mass Studies and it's main feature is the herb/flower garden that is planted on the facade of the building. It's intriguing at first, but after looking at it for a while I just find it awkward and ugly.

I don't think that a green building should necessarily yell "HEY, I'M A GREEN BUILDING!" to an extreme literal sense, like the fashion retail store to the left that looks like something out of Jumanji. I don't think that "green" should become a new style, but rather an incorporation into what already exists. Don't get me wrong, I think very modern architecture is intriguing and can be very beautiful and welcoming, but it's starting to become extreme. Style is an opinion, and not everyone has the same opinion, which goes without saying that everyone isn't going to like modern architecture. Architects nowadays are changing the way they think and build. Green building is on the rise, and eventually it is all we will be building. I'm hoping that one day, new codes will come into place that will require a building to meet a minimal LEED point value to even be built. But in order to do that, we need to learn to build "green" without appearing "green."

An example of what i'm talking about is to the bottom right. This is the new dormatory at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. This building looks very typical: no fancy windows or grass growing on the walls or stagnant building appearance, but this building is actually the second building on the college's campus to have a Gold LEED certification, meaning that the building has reached eco-friendly benchmarks such as energy and water conservation, reduction of green house gas emissions, and waste that is sent to landfills....but you would never guess. I find this building to not be the most attractive building, but it also doesn't scream "HEY LOOK AT ME, I'M GREEN!!!!"

The point I'm trying to make is that the label of "green building" needs to die out at some point. I AM NOT saying we need to stop green building, what I'm saying is that architects need to incorporate it into whatever type of building they are constructing. The flaunting and bragging of having a LEED certified building is going to get old at some point because there will be too many of them to care. I do think that every new building should strive to be built as a LEED certified one, but I also know that the circumstances, economy, and resources make that goal seemingly out of reach....right now. President Barack Obama is making strides to turn our country into a "green" one, and it has taken way too long. One thing he does fail to mention is that not only will turning our country green provide more jobs, turning our buildings green will provide even more. Major points towards a LEED certified building are won by using materials that are manufactured and made within a certain distance of the building site, which means that more business' and jobs could be made by making our building construction materials in America. More jobs would be needed for the installation of solar panels, water recycling systems, energy efficient circuitry, and much much more. Architecture has taken a sharp turn, and it is a very powerful and well-needed turn too. Now we just need to put our foot on the throttle.

In response to: "The Bad News About Green Architecture" by Cathleen McGuigan of Newsweek