Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jenny Sabin lecture "Between Architecture & Science: Elasticity and Networks" (02.09.15)

Jenny Sabin spoke with us this week about her explorations into sculptural form and different architecture-based projects she has worked on. This presentation was very exciting and Sabin's use of unusual materials with the concept of the polymorph and differentiated knitting typologies were some of the main takeaways from the lecture. Her work for Nike as well as various universities set a standard for experimentation that I hope many of us can continue in future generations of architects and designers.

I felt her work was generally inspiring and her pioneering efforts made beautiful objects that pushed the boundaries of modern technology and provided spatial awareness in sensory ways which will likely inspire my work in the future. I really didn’t know very much about Sabin, but now that I have seen her work I feel greatly inspired by it and look forward to investigating other projects that she has worked on. Projects like Polymorph, eSkin, and myThread were incredibly explorations into creating new materials and finding innovative uses for common materials, such as zip ties. 

What I found most compelling about her work is that she unapologetically created a new style of thinking and creating. As a woman in architecture, it is a very competitive field that doesn’t always offer ample opportunities to distinguish one from the masses. The originality of her work was evidence that this is not always the case. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

LAR 560 Conference Call with Jefre Manuel (STUDIO JEFRE) + Gage Couch (Cadence) 2.04.15

This week we had the pleasure of speaking with two very different firms and received some great information about the profession and how these groups themselves operate. Although I found the work of Cadence impressive, I was most eager to hear Jefre speak and found his presentation very intriguing and personally valuable as he seemed to have a life path that was quite varied (which I can relate to.) As a person who has faced obstacles with health, I can relate to his admission that because we don’t know how long we have in this life, we need to make every day count. 

When I was in the process of moving to Scotland, I had been looking into Graduate school at AA in London, so I found his input about the school and their methodologies to be of great interest. What won me over the most was his enthusiasm about the profession and his willingness to step outside the box. I feel like many professionals we speak with still maintain some degree of consistency in how they operate on a daily basis. Jefre seems to be all over the place both literally and figuratively (in a good way) and the amount of creativity and energy is reflected in the work he produces and the types of projects he goes after.

I have only entered a handful of competitions, but hearing him talk about competition-style production and advocacy for social issues was very compelling. As future architects, I feel like we have a responsibility to enhance the quality of life (whether locally or globally), so it was incredible to hear that someone in my age bracket has not only accomplished so much but is actively working to implement change in the world. 

When Gage spoke, I felt he had an abundance of great information. From an aesthetic standpoint, Cadence wasn’t necessarily a firm that I would probably want to work for because stylistically I don’t think I would be a good fit, but I felt his advice for upcoming professionals was very sound and logical. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

LAR 560 Conference Call with Jane Amidon (01.28.15)

Jane Amidon is the professor and director of Northeastern's urban landscape program and I was really looking forward to her speaking with us. I imagine it is really difficult to speak to a faceless crowd articulately, yet Amidon had great clarity and wisdom in speaking with us about her profession and the challenges and opportunities in urban design and landscape architecture. What I found particularly fascinating was that as she dissected her own writings and explained what she felt was most significant, she also offered us very real applications to a more academic path than we had encountered in previous conferences with other professionals.

Something I find ironic is that many of those that do not intend to go into architecture often end up choosing a more academic route. It amazes me that so many people claim to have always known exactly what they wanted to do with their lives from a young age, yet I doubt that makes them any more capable of architects than those that do not know. In my own experience,  I never had any thought of being capable of going into architecture-- in fact, like Amidon, I had a diverse palette of interests, so it was difficult for me to focus on just one. As she described her path, I found it inspiring. There is still a rather wide gap in the existence of women in architecture and it is wonderful that someone like her is representative of how intelligent and resourceful a woman can be. 

In reading her work and browsing other articles, I find a high degree of brilliance present that is very impressive. Her awareness of our social and environmental issues-- the idea of these interdisciplinary sustainable cities-- are very intriguing viewpoints. 

ETNASLA Meeting with Xeripave (01.29.2015)

I attended an ETNASLA lunch-and-learn at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens. It was my first ASLA meeting so it was pretty exciting. We conducted the meeting minutes and then received a presentation from Xeripave, a company that makes pervious pavers. Although the presentation was very thorough, I had mixed feelings about the product itself and I’m not sure that it is something I would want to use in projects as a Landscape Architect, but I appreciated the idea of the product and the filtration potential of stormwater. They showed us examples, such as a alleyway in Chicago that their pavers were utilized in, and projects like that seemed to have higher feasibility and potential than some of the more expansive projects, such as parking lots. I do feel that over the next few years, they will be able to refine this project further and therefore have more opportunities to use more local materials.

The product itself is relatively new and although it has undergone extensive testing, I don’t know if it has been tested by time enough to prove its effectiveness. I and others also were not completely enthusiastic about the fact that the pavers are shipped from the Pacific Northwest, as we don’t seem to have an equivalent locally (which is just not feasibly as sustainable as it could be.) From an alternate perspective, the cost is expensive ($25 sq. ft.) but that includes installation. The low-maintenance aspect of the pavers is probably its strongest point-- they felt confident it would last up to twenty years and replacement would be extremely easy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Paul Sacaridiz lecture (1.22.15)

1.22.15 // Lecture
Paul Sacaridiz, presented by VADSCO
A+A 109, 7:30pm

Paul Sacaridiz is a very interesting individual with a passion for art and form. Influenced by the Colombian Exposition in Chicago and “Windmills of the World,” his evolution of sculptural style ranged from the ornamental to streamlined. He feels his art is a combination of the weird and obscure and the weird historical moments become underpinnings for his work and have served as an aesthetic strategy. His process was initially centered around large objects in abandoned fields, which became urban art forms that invited visitors to appreciate them in their sculptural form. His work is greatly influenced by the Plan of Chicago and oddly enough, Martha Stewart Magazine. 

His earlier work is centered on ornamentation and one of the unique projects was “Minor Ornament.” This art project created small-scale ornaments on regular houses and buildings and challenged the notion of traditional ornamentation (such as the plastic ornaments of Louis Sullivan’s idealism of the a city surrounded by ornaments helping to create a more democratic society.) Paul’s work resulted from putting two moments together in different ways.

The landscape of the form was very important to him and he began shooting small objects in a way that was monumental, in contrast to the Colombian Exposition causing large objects to look smaller. He began playing with scale and found inspiration in bakeware with forms like Jello molds. As his work progressed, he began moving towards looking at issues of sprawl and interconnected, closed systems of surrounding objects and wooden platforms (inspired by Utopian communities.)Exhibitions such as “Overthrown” showed ceramics being utilized in new ways. He thought much about sculptural logic, presence, form, and the way things are made. I feel he is successful in making objects pragmatic with elusive logic. There is a quality of beauty inherent in his designs that even as he moved towards digital fabrication, was still reflected in the fabricated pieces. They have a spirit that speaks for themselves. 

LAR 560 Conference Call with Nick Gilliland + Carmine Russo of NBBJ (1.21.15)

This week we spoke with Nick Gilliland and Carmine Russo of NBBJ. We spoke at length about the differences between landscape architecture and planning, as well as the growing awareness of the public in green design and how this has affected their work over the years.

It was interesting to hear about their individual journeys and choices they made that influenced the paths they took throughout their careers. While the idea of working for a 750-capacity firm sounded daunting, their work was incredibly impressive and I was most impressed with how organized and thorough their resource-base was. 

The use of social media (such as the nbbjX blog) in particular was very innovative and offered clients and those interested in the firm something beyond the normal discipline of architecture. Blog posts and interactive web design invite the user to investigate the professional and academic realms in a more informed way.
Their advice for job-seeking was particularly informative and helpful. The importance of clarity, crispness, narrative, process, and personality in being chosen by a firm like NBBJ seemed like very rational advice. Process especially seemed to be a great emphasis, which surprised me because many of my classmates that I have spoken to have strictly focused on the finished project and renderings and less on how they conceptually arrived at that point. Their advice to push the envelope on what good design is and isn’t was also greatly appreciated. They also mentioned that when they interview, they look for growth potential and the capability of adaptation, which was also helpful advice as we begin looking towards the interview process for the upcoming Career Day.

“There’s a fine line from showing everything on a project to showing the right things for a project.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The contemporary landscape architecture professional is:

1. Responsible
2. Moral
3. Intelligent
4. Engaged
5. Respectful
6. Innovative
7. Skilled
8. Conscious (environmentally, socially, etc.)
9. Honest
10. Experienced