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.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Jason Young Lecture (01.26.15)-- "“skirmishes with the MacroPhenomenal”

For the first of many lectures this semester, we had the pleasure of listening to Jason Young, the Director of our School of Architecture, speak about macro-phenomena and  how we experience our environment from both the point of the object and in a manner of transcending what is physical and tangible. Jason’s enthusiasm for his subject matter infused an eloquence and transformative quality that gave us a sense of nostalgia. Whether in the form of a truck stop, a Home Depot, or even Nascar, he offered examples of how places are realms of experience. The illusory quality of the energy embodied in the object can be seen in the outward nostalgia we feel for objects, places, or other sensory elements. These can be translated into architecture in relatively minute ways or large ways, but the embodied structure is that of transcending classification.

In some ways, his speaking about Cabela’s as an outfitter and  the idealism of hunters who inhabit it translated to me in a way about an experience I had growing up. My mother was the manager of a fabric store and as a small child, it was a fascinating realm of dreams. I could make anything out of bolts of fabric if I wanted to-- the experience from being inside a store where there is a fundamental energy inherent within it symbolized to me a challenge and ultimately an end result or goal. There is an inherent idea in the object being transformative. But there is also a disconnect between point A and point B. The phenomenology of human experience perseveres even beyond the physical in forms of smell, touch, sight, and cognitive recognition. I find this fascinating and am curious how we can further translate individual experience and perception into architectural and landform designs in a way that can engage people with multiple experiences tailored to personal memory. 

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

Sunday, January 18, 2015

LAR 560 Conference Call with Shawn Balon (01.14.15)

For Professional Practice this week, we spoke with Shawn Balon, PLA, ASLA and I was very impressed by his extensive work history and methods of approach to design and practices.  I found his messages and candid accounts to be very striking and effective in demonstrating practical applications of his history in the field and his commitment to involvement in bettering society as a whole through architecture and education. Being a life-long learner myself, I could connect with his concepts about the need for constant challenging yourself and ultimately expanding your worldview. 

There’s always a chance to go back, but you’re going to learn more by going forward,” Balon said when discussing decision-making and pathfinding when navigating new professions and opportunities. 

I felt it was an incredibly positive information session and he had a great deal of information for us about his life path and the profession. His genuine frankness about the decisions he made and how he arrived where he was today was both inspiring and transformative.

Some great takeaways from the meeting were his lists of common pitfalls and some sage advice that struck me as very wise and practical. 

His “Common Pitfalls as a New Professional:”
1) Ask a ton of questions, but you need to ask more. 

2) Prepare more. We often feel underprepared. 
3)  To not be frustrated with ones’ self for not knowing all of the programs. 
4) Don’t be bashful.
5) Don’t be afraid to challenge the ways that things have always been done.

One of the best takeaways, for me, was: “Take advantage of the moments that you have.He had this vibrant, infectious enthusiasm about the transitory state of life and finding your purpose.