Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chitchen Itza, Mexico. . .

This is the pyramid where the Mayans held religious ceremonies.  The corners of the pyramid are exactly at North, East, South, and West, and when the summer solstice comes the effect between the sunlight and shadow creates a giant serpent coming down the pyramid.  There 91 steps on each side, and one step up to the temple on top, making for a total of 365 stairs, the same number as are days in the year.

Temple at the top of the pyramid.  Notice the shape of a face above the door.

Glyphs on the walls represent serpents, a symbol of life.  The part that looks like an elephant trunk is actually the nose of the Mayan sun god.

Mayans were very good at making cantilevered archways.  This type of archway was used in their palace and as entrances to sacred areas.  Also known as a corbel arch, these arches were constructed using a series of overlapping blocks, each going a little bit farther inward until the archway could be blocked using a single capstone.  The voids between the overlapping rocks were then filled with smaller stones.

Although some human sacrifices did occur, they were not unwilling victims thrown from the top of the pyramid as Hollywood suggests.  Those that were sacrificed were volunteers, and the ritual took place on top of a platform about 6 feet off the ground.  Since the sacrifices were a communal event and onlookers would not be able to see the top of the pyramid, it makes much more sense for the ritual to take place in a location that allowed for everyone to see.

This is a closeup of the Mayan version of a wailing wall, where those who died in battle were commemorated by a low relief glyph of a skull.  The heads of enemies were placed on stakes above the wall.

The ball court.  One of the reasons the court has maintained structural integrity over the years is because of the verticality of the wall.  Trees and other roots tend to not grow and destroy walls that go straight up.

Relief glyphs depict the story of the games played at the ball court.  The ball game was a battle to the death, but it was the winner that actually was the one that was killed.  The Mayans believed this to be a sort of fast-track to the gods.

Observational temple at the top of the ball court.

If the Mayan ball game was like basketball, this would be the basket.  The ball would be more than 3 pounds, and made of solid rubber - and not the bouncy kind, the really hard kind.

Serpents represented life forces, and on the stairway on the opposite side of the building would be the end of the snake.  Mayans believed in "theological architecture", which meant that in constructed stairs, you never wanted to turn your back to or face directly the gods worshipped in the pyramid.  The stairs were made of a very steep rise and shallow run, so that you had to kind of scoot up the stairs sideways.

When reconstructing one of the buildings, they have a few left over they made this statue as a tribute to the Mayan sun god.  In actuality, the left over pieces were from previous periods.  The Maya were known for building bigger and better pyramids on top of existing pyramids.

The Mayan Observatory.

This building is believed to be a palace, but is still undergoing reconstruction.

The giant wood beams that supported the ceiling have rotted long ago, causing the ceiling to collapse.  It's really interesting the see the remnants of such an architecturally advanced society!

Writer's retreat. . .

My writer's retreat plan includes a public and private entrance, a space for public readings, a public space to hold conferences and meetings, a public bathroom, a private office, a private space for reflection or entertaining, private kitchen and breakfast nook, and a private bedroom and bath.  Looking at the floor plan below, the private entrance is at the bottom left.  Upon entering the church, the bedroom and walk in closet is immediately to the right, while the open space for reflection and/or entertaining is on the immediate left.  Walking forward, one enters the kitchen.  The room on the left of the kitchen entrance is the private bath with a garden tub.  The refrigerator is on the right, with floor and wall cabinets on either side.  The rest of the kitchen is galley style, with dishwasher, sink, stove, and wall and floor cabinets on the far wall.  To the left of the kitchen set up is the breakfast nook, which includes built in bench seating (and cushions) and a pedestal based table.  Turing right and walking past the refrigertor, you would see the entrance to the laundry room on the left and the entrance to the private office on the right.  If you were to continue down that hall and through a door, you would then enter the public space.

 Below are the section elevations of the writer's retreat.  Section A (top left) shows the private reflection/entertaining space.  The top right picture is the key for the elevations, while the bottom elevation shows the public reading and conference space (far right), the private office, bedroom, and part of the private reflection space.

The perspective below shows the public space as seen from the front of the building and looking back toward the private space.  I choose to emphasize the shape of the roof by covering it with wood panels.  When thinking of the word retreat, I thought of a cabin in the woods.  Since the St. Mary's Church is right off campus in a city and nowhere near the woods, I wanted to bring the idea of nature inside.  I used slate columns to support a wood panel slanted ceiling.  The ceiling gives the impression of defined space for conferences and meetings, while mimicking the slant and materiality of the actual roof.  The cabinets between the columns add to the sense of defined space, but can easily be moved to create a type of podium for a speaker to give lectures or a writer to do public readings. 
For the private space, I wanted to maintain a sense of openness to the roof while simultaneously allowing the visiting scholar to feel like he or she were in a private residence.  Using the same slated panel idea, the office, public bathroom, hall, and bedroom would have a flat wood ceiling a height right above the existing windows - about 9 feet above the floor. 
The private reflection/entertaining space, kitchen and breakfast nook would all be open to the existing ceiling and defined by half walls.  The private bathroom's ceiling would mimic the conference space ceiling, with wood panels that peeked at 9 feet above the window and slanted down to 7 feet at the entrance to the bath.

 In the perspective below, the view is standing to the right of the fireplace and looking directly across the the public conference and reading space.

 Finally, my last and favorite perspective is that of the kitchen and breakfast nook.  I used different types of wood for the cabinets with a birch butcher block counter top.  The wall cabinets are ebony stained with frosted glass doors.  The molding, window and door trim, and floor throughout the house are a natural walnut color, a shade in between the dark paneled ceiling of the church and the lighter wood paneled faux ceilings.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Burda, Unit Summary 3, IAR 221

Burda, BP 14, IAR 221

Object, Space, Building, Place:  4 things that I love!

Object:  My snowboard

My snowboard is one of my favorite objects because it gives me the oppertunity to see parts of the world that I'd never get a chance to see if I didn't ride.  The view from the top of the mountain on a crisp, clear morning after a night of heavy snow is one of the most beautiful sights in the world.  Any noise is muffled by the snow and whether I'm sailing through fresh powder or riding the lift to the top, I'm filled with a sense of serenity that clears my mind and allows me to appriciate nature at it's fullest.

Space: Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy
I love the Piazza San Marco in Venice.  It provides a great meeting space.  You could spend days there just sitting on the steps and people watching.  There are a lot of artists there that are creating and selling their work.  There is also a ton of really cool shops and restaurants that surround the piazza.  It opens up to the water where you can take boat rides around the city, and the history and architecture of this area seem to adapt well to the modern buzz of the city.

Building:  Frank Gehry
When I was reflecting on really cool buildings I'd seen, two came into mind.  One was in Cleveland, Ohio, and the other was the building fronted by a giant pair of binoculars in Venice, California.  I had a feeling that the binocular building was by Frank Gehry, but I had no idea that the building I was thinking about in Cleveland, the Peter B Lewis building, was also by Gehry.
Peter B Lewis building in Cleveland, Ohio

Chiat-Day building in Venice, California
 The Chiat-Day building, also known as the binocular building, sits on main street in Venice, California.  Frank Gehry is responsible for the three facaded building behind the binoculars, while the giant binocular sculpture was created by Claes Oldenburg.  The binoculars serve as an entranceway for vehicular and pedestrian traffic.  Interestingly, Claes Oldenburg also created one of my favorite sculptures in Cleveland, a giant rubber stamp with the word "Free" on it.
Claes Oldenburg's "Free Stamp" in Cleveland, Ohio

Place:  Savannah, Georgia
I love visiting Savannah because of the tremendous amount of history and architecture.  The downtown city blocks are arranged beautifully, and the spanish moss dripping from the trees makes it seem like you are walking into another place and time.  The georgian and Victorian homes are breathtaking.  I also appriciate that SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design, has taken it upon themselves to purchase and renovate old and decrepide historic buildings.  In this way, Savannah is truely an architectural link between past and present.
Downtown Savannah, Georgia

One of the beautiful historic homes in Savannah

Yogi especially liked Savannah because the historic bus tour doesn't discriminate against Pitt Bulls!

SCAD building in Savannah, Georgia

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Perspective of downstairs hall . . .

For my perspective drawing, I choose a space in the downstairs hall.  I choose the middle of the hall becausse I thought the contrast between the way the brick wall looked up close, in perspective, and as part of the picture plane was very interesting.  I think the most difficult part of the drawing was how to represent a white brick wall from far away.  I wanted to make sure the viewer could read the farthest brick wall as brick, but it was difficult for me to read it as brick from the location I was drawing it.  It didn't help that on a bright sunny day, the windows were backlit and washed everything out.  In order to compinsate for this problem, I went to the downstairs hall at different times of the day on night to be able to more clearly achieve my goal.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monticello and Fallingwater comparative composition . . .

While looking through the pictures and sketches I had done while at Monticello and Fallingwater, I realized that landscape was just as important for both locations but in contrasting ways.  At Fallingwater, Wright positioned the house in such a way as not to disturb the natural beauty of the surrounding forest.  At Monticello, Jefferson carefully manicured the immediate surrounding landscape to suit his needs.  But he didn't have control over every aspect of the nature around his home, as the giant twisted tree in the front yard shows us. 
 I choose to highlight the natural and manicured beauty of each landscape in my comparative composition.

Monday, April 18, 2011

kinda random

Just reminiscing today and looking through some old's one of me at Art Basel in Miami, FL last year....

two views of design: a matter of confidence

After considering the role "pop" media and education has to play in the design field, I have a very strong mixed opinion.
Education, of course, is very important.  As a slightly older student who has some experience in the field, I realize that where the importance of education lies is a tricky line.  While going to school for fine art in Los Angeles, I spent my free time remodeling condos, pizza shops, and other small businesses with a group of friends and workers.  Since I was an involved art student that could operate a saw, everyone I knew wanted me to come and remodel or help them design their dream home.  While I appreciated the contacts and the compliments, I felt a little uncomfortable approaching someone in a business manner, looking over their place, and giving an estimate of the work to be done.  I attribute this uneasiness to the fact that while I have a good artistic eye, I really had no idea what I was doing or the proper process to take.  I think that process and developing your own style is one of the biggest components of working through school (be it art or design school).  Pulling yourself out of the comfort zone with people around you that have a vested interest in nurturing your personal growth and maturity is really one of the biggest plus sides of the time and effort put into college.
The other component of education is the actual degree.  In real life, and especially in the art and design field, employers want to see that you have the stamina to make it through those 4 and some odd years of college; they want to see that you have the stamina to see a job through to the end.  If you happen to luck out and land a killer job without (or before) getting your degree, then by all means go for it.  But in reality, most employers won't even look at your resume if they see you don't at least have a bachelor in something.  And once again, this is especially true in the art/design field.  I think anyone can be a fly-by-night artist and luck out by putting out some cool stuff that the right people in the right place at the right time will love.  But employers realize that most of the people that do this are (odd) really not the type of personality suited for the working environment.  They want to see the you can go the long haul.

As for the idea of "pop" media, I real think it is a necessary evil.  Wouldn't it be nice if we were still in a time where professionals did professional work, if you didn't know how to do something you hired someone that did, and photos were still taken with film?  The reality is, if you want to tile your bathroom, you search a couple youtube videos, head to home depot, and get 'er done yourself.  Photography, while I appriciate the field and the professionals, has moved to a place where any amature with a good smart phone can get lucky every once in a while.  Everyone and their brother is throwing stuff up on the internet, and someone somewhere is bound to find something they are willing to pay for if you get enough exposure.  Will this internet/media frenzy/amature to professional fad last?  Probabally.  Will it work individually for the long haul?  I doubt it.  When we spoke today about the design on the dime guy, Brice, a lot of people in class thought that he didn't deserve to be where he was because he had a limited educational background.  Well, obviously he's doing something right.  He's making a lot more money than any of us are right now, and he's the host of a design based television show.  If it were a matter of all luck, he would have never lasted in that position.  Clearly people are liking what he's doing or he would have been booted long ago.
Bringing it full circle, I think that people with a strong artist or designer eye are going to be involved in art and design even if their educated in banking (or whatever else).  If people like your work, well, that's a matter of taste and presentation.  And luck.  I believe that schooling is for providing rules and the thought process to break them.  If you can do that already and have some pull in the design world, then by all means go for it!

burda, reading response 13, IAR 221

Sources (for pics):

Monday, April 11, 2011

burda, reading response 12, IARC 221

Sources for pics:,

burda, blog post 12, IAR 221

The ARCO floor lamp. . . as good design for all!

Originally designed in 1962 by Achille Castiglioni, the Arco floor lamp remains one of the most recognizable pieces of modern design today.  A true beacon of “form meeting function”, the Arco lamp continues to be a symbol of the chic and prestigious in the design world.
            The simplicity of the design is what makes it a modern classic.  It has a simple rectangular marble base, a straight rod attached to a telescoping curved rod, and a lamp shade.  The curved form of the lamp shade is a reflection of the curved rod, providing balance and repetition as design elements.  The form of the metal lampshade has enough observable volume so as to achieve harmony and balance with the solid marble base.  A circular hole shape also ties the two pieces together.  In the shade, the hole is in the form of circular perforations, allowing the heat to escape.  In the base, a circular hole provides not only a place to attach the vertical rod, but also allows the user to insert something (like a broomstick) to make moving an easier task.  Instead of sharp right angles, the corners of the marble base are rounded, deliberately mimicking the curved form as a design element.  The materials used are also in perfect harmony; they blend natural with man-made, marble with metal, so when added to almost any d├ęcor, the lamp becomes an unobtrusive element to the overall design of a room or interior. 
            The multi-use functionality of the Arco lamp has also made it a staple in the design world.  Providing direct light onto a table without the need of a ceiling fixture allows for more flexibility in the arrangement of a room.  Since it has a telescoping rod, the lamp’s height can be adjusted to fit the need of user at any particular time.  Lowered, it becomes a useful task light. When raised, it can be used for anything from a spot light or a reading lamp to a source of ambiance in a room.  While sustainability was not an original concept for the lamp, it proves to be environmentally friendly because its materials are archival in nature, its purpose is multifunctional, and its design will never go out of style.
            Through clever and deliberate design, the Arco floor lamp provides a solution to a common lighting problem while unobtrusively adding style as an element to the design of any room or interior.
And although most people cannot afford an original arco floor lamp, there are enough reproductions of this classic design style in every price range so that nearly anyone could afford it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

burda, reading response 11, IAR 221

Sources for pics:

Burda, BP 11, IARC 221

Action.  Reaction.  Response.  Cycle.
Everything that is done is based, either loosely or directly, on something that's been done before.  The renaissance responded to the gothic and dark ages.  It created rules.  The baroque stretched and broke those rules, pushing the limits a little further.  Neo-classism wanted to once again go back to basics, and the victorian pushed the ornamental.  At the beginging of each of the design time frames, innovators were considered cutting edge and dramatic, evolving over time to acceptance and the norm.  Today, modernism is becoming synnomous with sustainability, reacting to our careless ways we've treated the environment in previous years.  Limited natural resources, along with space, force us to create and innovate new sustainable technologies.  For example, solar panels, once critized for high initial costs and less than appealing looks, are appearing everywhere, from the tops of highrises to streetlights to lawn ornamentation. 
Solar lights are becoming so descrete that they're barely noticable during the day.
Upcycling is another new trend in architecture.  Taking the idea from shanty towns, some firms have gone to the extreme, creating chic houses and other buildings with found materials.  Below, the dutch firm used such things as broken umbrellas and busted billboards to creating lighting solutions and handrails.

The dutch firm 2012 Architecten utilized google earth and local contracts to bring a whole new look to the "upcycled home".

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dining Space: parti, sketch model, and final model

With the dining space project, there were so many directions to go with it.  We had a few parameters, but the main ones - location and interior space - were not defined.  From the begining, I choose a path slightly different from other students.  I wanted to make my dining space more intuitive and free flowing, using elements of nature and instruments of dining from all over the world.  For my parti, I used shapes and materials that were cut organically and focused around a color scheme found in earth elements.
The dining space I envisioned was one that was mobile, and created the feeling of a close, intimate interior space while being outdoors.  I wanted to use bamboo, wood, and stone. 
I invisioned large elephant plant leaves as plates and chopsticks as serving utensils.  I wanted to have different chairs from all over the world to celebrate diversity and give the space a certain eclectic feel.

 For my sketch model, I used cardboard to make the table, sections of curved bench seating, bamboo walls, and "wooden" wall panels that would support a trelis type of ceiling overhang.  I envisioned the curved bench seathing to be backed by the living bamboo wall, creating the boundaries of the space.  The actual shape of the space itself would be an 18' diameter circle that could easily be positioned to the edge of a house or cooking area.

 Since the amount of people could vary, I felt that a table that could be utilized as a table for 4 or 10 person party was important.  But I wanted something a little I designed a table that in hindsight utilized the shape of an enlongated ying-yang that can be lifted apart to reveal only half a ying (or yang).  The stability of each individual piece was important, so I put a thick circular post at the widest part of each section and a thinner circular post at the narrow part.
 I did most of a my final model at home, with out seeing what the other students were doing.  During our presentation, I noticed that mine was radically different.  Since it was our choice to create drawings and a model that best represented the overall feeling of our dining space, I choose to focus most of my energies on the model.  I used birch wood for the table top, cherry wood for the leg posts, and cedar for the sideboard.  The wall panels, which created privacy and space definition, were inspired by my need to have supoort system for the trelis ceiling.  Why the trelis ceiling?  I wanted intimate lighting to be able to be hung above the table!  I also wanted the diners to be able to look up and see the stars between the slats above them.  I used a piece of reed fencing to create the look of my space being surrounded by bamboo.  Styrofoam and modeling clay were used to create the rock bench seating, which I thought might be necessary if people wanted to mingle before or after dinner without having to sit at the table.  The actual dining chairs, since they would vary by the location of the dinner party, would be unknown until the location was selected.