Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Unit Summary: Explorations


Cenotaph for Isaac Newton




Grey Overcoat


Hobbit Hole


Minas Tirith


Taylor Theatre


A Scene Shop


Blacksmithing Forge and Anvil

Hebron Rock Colony


Symbol of the Grey Wanderer

Monday, May 4, 2009

Week 14

Community: The idea of community takes on a new dimension during this latest century. Though people have lived together since the dawn of time, there are two important building styles that enter the design community. The first, the suburbs, is more a collection of designs rather than a single design. It results in closely spaced houses with similar designs. The second is the rise of the apartment complexes. Small housing units close together, though not totally foreign, is presented in the form of taller buildings. This idea plays into Ken Yeang’s theory that these buildings attempt the “re-creation up in the sky, of ideal habitable urban conditions found at ground level.” (Roth pg. 609)

Palace of Abraxas Apartment Complex

Stewardship: The idea of stewardship is a very important one to the world of architecture and design. This term addresses the very important concept of sustainability and longevity of materials. There is a major switch in the viewpoint of design. No longer are architects designing only for the now, but also for the future generations that will follow. Roth says that this idea emerged to facilitate the continuance of the human family. He says this “requires a parallel concern for sustainability of the biological environment, the sustenance of the encompassing community of flora and fauna on which humans are utterly reliant” (Roth pg. 608).

Good Sustainable Stewardship

Innovation: In the early twenty-first century, many changes and evolutions in the building industry occurred. Just as glass and steel revolutionized the early 1900s, the changes in the way the materials are manipulated revolutionized the early 2000s. New buildings, such as the Birds Nest built in 2008, began to come on the scene. These materials shape the beginning of this new century. Also the introduction of the computer revolutionized the way that we design buildings entirely. As Roth says, “turning to the computer for initial design work and subsequent design development will seem second nature to architects” (Roth pg. 611).

The Computer helped to revolutionize the field of Design

Authenticity: In this part of the century, we begin to see a disappearance of authenticity in the world, mainly with the institution of the suburban neighborhoods. There are styles that are borrowed from all across the globe that are twisted into cheaper versions of these exotic styles. Over the years, these styles blended into the grand melting pot of culture, making it hard to distinguish between the individual, unique styles. As Roth writes, “Compared to a half century ago, architecture today is to a far greater extent a global phenomenon.” (Roth pg. 610). Because of this greater reach, the blending and degradation of the original style is also to a greater scale.

An example of a Suburban House

The latter part of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first marked a period of change in the way we designed buildings in the past. We move from buildings constructed for one single purpose to buildings that serve a variety of purposes. Buildings are now being made with renewability in mind. Materials such as bamboo that replace themselves quickly are being used in place of slower replenishing materials like wood. We now, as a people, push from the now to the future of humanity as a whole.

Roth, Leland M. Understanding Architechture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning. 2nd. Colorado: Westview Press, 2007.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Week 13

meditation/celebration – These two words describe the process that occurs upon the first viewing of a new building. When I first see a new structure, I first think about what the building is trying to convey to me. What is the building telling me? No part of the building is insignificant, as Roth writes, “The mind does not interpret incoming data as signifying nothing.” (Roth pg. 67) All of these parts come together to form ideas about the structure. After I decide what the underlying idea is, I think about how well it does what it was intended to do. After this, I enjoy the building because of the feelings that it conveys to me. I celebrate the elements that come together to form the structure in front of me.

This column reminds me of the strength that it carries. It is perhaps the most celebrated building style.

light/shadow – Details that live on the façade of a structure are what, in my opinion, make a finished product. The only way that these stand out, however, is that they hit by a combination of light and shadow, allowing the details to pop out to the eye. Our eyes, as Le Corbusier says, are “made to see forms in light.” (Roth pg. 67). We see the pairing of light and shadow and it draws our eyes because of the contrast that exists there.

transpose/juxtapose – In music, the term transpose relates to the key of music. When you transpose a piece, you take a melodic line and move it to a key that is more easily performed. Juxtaposing music allows the composer to translate one phrase into multiple similar phrases later in the piece. To apply this to architecture, I see the phrases as motifs in the building patterns. An idea may be translated (or juxtaposed) somewhere else along the façade, or it may be transposed into a similar (but not identical) idea. This repetition of ideas plays into the appeal of rhythm in a structure. Roth writes that, “This is one way that architecture is like music, for both must be experienced in time.” (Roth pg. 76)

The idea of sails is repeated, but not copied, through this structure.

literal/abstract – The relationship of the literal vs. the abstract is very important to the we view a building. If we all viewed buildings based purely on the literal viewing, I do not think architecture would be nearly as affective. We would see the buildings for what they are; a collection on stone, metal, and wood arranged into a tidy pile. We can appreciate the building for that, but only because of the work that it took to create that nice stack of materials. It is only when we add the abstract that a building really transforms before our eyes. We see not only the effort, but also the symbolism that “inhabits” the building. Roth says that the human mind is, “programmed to seek meaning and significance in all sensory information sent to it.” (Roth pg. 67) We see the inspiration behind the building and the metaphors embedded in that thought.

A pile of materials or a tomb for the dead?

monologue/dialogue – In theatre, these two terms tell a lot about the characters as well as the situation and setting. In a monologue, we learn about a character’s personal intentions and motives through a one-sided conversation to the audience. In this direct conversation, the purest of intentions and truths come out. In a dialogue, the audience is not involved as much. It becomes more of a conversation between two characters, with the audience acting as an outside observer. If we substitute the word “character” with the word “element”, the descriptions can apply to architecture. In a dialogue with the observer, one sees the surface of the building. In this view, we are not able to decipher the underlying meaning of the building. Since the architect has been described as an “engraver of the history of his time” by Eugene Raskin (Roth pg. 119), we can say that the words “spoken” tell the story of the times. Only through the details and the understanding of the Literal vs. the Abstract are we able to “hear” the monologue that the architect tells through the structure.

All of these pairs of terms have something very important in common. They all provide a stark contrast from the other. These contrasts, however, come together to form the overall product or structure. Without these contrasts, the buildings would be very two-dimensional and flat. The contrasts provide the added dimensionality and depth to the building.

Roth, Leland M. Understanding Architechture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning. 2nd. Colorado: Westview Press, 2007.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Week 12

Speculate: The word speculate brings the idea of inspection and analysis to the mind. We do this all the time with buildings (and other things, as well). When we see a grand building, our first reaction is to think about why it exists in the world. It is by no shear coincidence that this happens, though. It is the intent of the designer for this to occur, to inspire some thought or idea. Roth explains that, “A building also has a symbolic function and makes a visible statement about its use.” (Roth pg. 16)

This "Monument to the March Victims" has mainly a symbolic function.

Compose: This word, for me, has a very particular meaning. As a musician, the first idea that comes to my mind is a musical composition. To create a grand piece of music, one my first create smaller themes and phrases to build off of. These smaller ideas, made up of only a few notes and basic rhythms, combine to create the great music that we know today. This idea can also be reflected in architecture. The phrases and themes are the materials that are chosen and then combine to form the overall structure. Friedich von Schilling summed it up best when he said, “Architecture is frozen music.” (Roth pg. 103)

A short phrase of Music

Energize: When I hear the word “Energize”, I think of building or creating electricity, or excitement. I think that any designer wants to create a sense of excitement and wonder for the building that they create. This is the way to make the building memorable and stand out in the minds of the people. This definitely is part of the delight portion of a structure and uses both the ideas of the Speculate, Compose, and Shape terms.

The Stairs at the Tassel House create excitement in its design.

Shape: Since the foundations unit of this class, the idea of basic shapes and geometry in buildings has been very important. In the early days, they sought new ways and shapes to build with. As time progressed, they changed and combined these shapes into grand and elegant structures. These shapes are very important to the way that we view buildings as well. As Roth writes, “The mind also seeks out mathematical and geometrical relationships…” (Roth pg. 71) Our minds are programmed to find these symmetries and shapes because order pleases the mind.

These random geometric shapes combine to make an overall structure.

Stretch: A stretching in architecture, in the most literal definition, can be a dangerous thing. So, I think that this term is not defining so much of a pulling motion, but rather a pushing motion. It is this pushing into the future, not the pulling of the past, that makes a building great. As Roth puts it, “Humans have an apparently irrepressible desire to ‘push the edge of the envelope.’” (Roth pg. 51) This idea of pushing forward can be found in structures such as the theoretical Cenotaph for Isaac Newton.

The Cenotaph

All of these terms focus on the actions involved in creating a building. Not only do they look at the actions of the mind, but also the physical world. All of these terms come together to create a structure that will not only last physically, but also emotionally.

Roth, Leland M. Understanding Architechture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning. 2nd. Colorado: Westview Press, 2007.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Peer to Peer Review

I selected the Grove Park Inn to do my peer-to-peer review on for the Precedence Analysis Project. The structure, built around the same time as Coral Castle, shares many styles and materials with my building as well.

Though I could not find the paper on the blog, the outline, justification and drawings show good progress. The outline is very well organized and structured in a way that makes sense in the flow of the paper. The beginning tells the inspiration of why it was built and the style that it reflected. It then goes on to discuss the building materials and details that make up the building. Lastly, it focuses on how it has changed and adapted with the times. The ideas in the paper sound very good and I look forward to reading the whole paper. The only suggestion that I would offer, based on the outline, would be to look at delving a little deeper into the analysis of the structure. It might help by asking why the structure was built and for what deeper purpose. Also, consider why it has stood the test of time for almost 100 years.

The drawings at the Draft pin-up looked very good and well planned. I have no suggestions on that other than to keep up the good work! I hope that this helps you in the course of your project!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Patina of Place: Reflections

Artifact: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Furniture
Nature: Like some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs, some of his furniture also contained elements of nature.
People: The furniture was very sparse in his homes and designed more for the aesthetic and not for the use of people. This caused a few problems when people tried to live in them.
Material: Most of his furniture was made from natural materials.
Symbol: These pieces of furniture show the change that is occurring in the residential furniture. Furniture now is being designed to the room, instead of being made to serve any purpose.

Space: Crystal Palace
Nature: The greenhouse space is constructed primarily to house plants and other warm weather life. It has an impact on plant life (a good one) in a time of rapid industrial growth.
People: The people of this time period really enjoy these places because they become a grand place to hold parties and show off wealth. This impact is left in the minds of the lower classes.
Material: These buildings are made with the newfound materials, glass and iron. They are the primary reason that these types of structures exist. Without these technologies, buildings made primarily of glass would not be possible to construct.
Symbol: This building symbolizes man’s dominance over nature and their ability to capture living plants all year round. This leaves a new mark of superiority over nature.

Building: Marshall Field Warehouse
Nature: This building goes a lot against nature. It does not borrow any styles or themes, nor does it aid in the progression of nature.
People: This building was very important to people because it was a storage place for trade goods fro the Marshall Field department store.
Material: This building was built primary from stone, borrowing on the palazzo style from Italy.
Symbol: This building symbolizes the change to a society that focuses so heavily on trade and commerce. This idea is not new, but the level to which it is pursued is a great leap for society.

Place: Chicago
Nature: Though the city itself goes against nature in its industrialization, the architecture borrows a lot of styles and detailing from nature. Some ideas, such as leaves and trees, make a big impact on the detailing and bordering of buildings.
People: The people of Chicago embraced the changing times and were open to the new styles. The impact that they left set the bar for design style of America.
Material: Chicago employed a wide range of materials, spanning from new materials steel and glass to older materials such as concrete and stone.
Symbol: Chicago symbolized the pinnacle of architecture and designers. It was the ultimate place for advancement in the United States and (arguably) the world at this time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reflections: Unit Summary

In the Reflections Unit, we moved from the 17th century to the early twentieth century and to many locations across the world. The span of this time period covers many different styles and building materials. We move from buildings made of stone and wood to buildings made of glass and iron. This was a period of extremely revolution in architecture and the world as a whole.

Revolution, by definition, is a period of change. Whether this change is for good or for bad, however, is not always clear. This term can also apply to many different situations. War is the most common connotation, a revolution from a bad government or a changing of leadership. Other connotations, however, are revolutions in arts, technology, and general ways of thinking. This is especially apparent in structures such as the Cenotaph for Isaac Newton. This design, though entirely conceptual, is an astounding break in the traditional building planning of the time period. The traditional thought of the time period was that for a building to be appreciated as architecture, it had to be constructed in the physical realm. This means that it could not exist only in the realm of imagination and design. This new way of thinking is just one of the many examples from this time.

The next revolution in architecture is found in the late 19th century. The introduction of glass and steel into the building medium created new and exciting ways of construction. The flexibility of these materials allowed the steel to be shaped into whatever shape was need, all while keeping its strength. The glass could then be molded to the frame. This allowed for new types of buildings such as the greenhouse, train station, and skyscraper.

From a technical revolution, we move next to a cultural revolution. During this time period, imports from the east to the west became more and more abundant. Eastern themes pervaded all aspects of life, such as dress, art, and furniture. This also showed up in architecture in the details and dressings.

Near the end of this unit, we focused more on the United States and its own revolution in architecture. We, as a country, were trying to establish our own cultural style. One of the major players in helping us to this is the great designer, Frank Lloyd Wright. Though he is not the only American designer (as it seems at times), he is definitely one the most important. He incorporates building styles from many areas and unifies them into one, much like the culture of the American people. Many different types of people come together into one, unified country.

The title of the past unit, “Reflections” could stand for a variety of ideas. One interpretation is very literal, a reflection in one of the new important materials, glass. I think, however, that it is entitled this because it describes the mind of the people. It was a time of reflection and introspection for the people, leading to needed change. This period is very important in the evolution and revolution of architecture.