Saturday, March 28, 2009

[Re]Actions...Opus 9

The 18th and 19th century was a time period of Enlightenment and people really started to study and think differently about the world. Philosophes had new ideas about society and government and there were new scientific and technological developments. Any sort of change that happens in a given society affects the design and architecture of that society as well. We have been studying these changes and new innovations in history class.


An example of using rotation in design would be how Thomas Jefferson designed his home at Monticello. He needed a large amount of slave labor to sustain his home, but he didn't want there presence to be overwhelming. This is why he rotated the slaves quarters to the back of Monticello, comprised of two underground wings. That way when looking at monticello from the front or back all you see is the main house.

I took this photo from the side of Monticello showing where the service activity occurred.


These are some sketches I did of my studio project, which I wanted to convey a sense of movement.
Showing movement in drawings is important because it gives a sense of life to the image. Movement also refers to a physical act, which is something we consider whenever we design something at a human scale. This was the case when Washington DC was being planned in 1792. The idea was to create the city right between the North and the South, as a place to move through easily. It was designed in a grid pattern with cross diagonal boulevards, as this is a sensible way to control circulation.


Reflection is about looking at what has come before and looking back on it. This is a theme we have seen many times so far in the history of architecture and it was no different during this time period. "By the beginning of the 19th century, architects were turning increasingly to specific source models, in a wide variety of historical styles, resulting in revivals of Greek and Roman Classicism, medieval and Gothic architecture, as well as Egyptian and even more exotic re-creations" (Roth pg. 461). For example, the Americans were establishing their new country and needed a style to build in. They chose to go back to the Greek style which came before the Roman. Roman structures were found all over Europe, which is what America was trying to disassociate from. The Greek style represented a more pure building form that better represented America.


For studio this week, we were to design an artifact that used light and relied on natural light. That mean that whatever we created had to harness the natural light source that is available and use it in an intersting way. These are some of my sketch drawings:

My idea was to play with the light shining through cutouts and creating a pattern of light. Taking advantage of the natural light that is available to the world is something that is integral to design and architecture.

In history, we have been learning about how the industrial revolution had a huge impact on the architecture at this time period. New technologies such as glass and iron opened new possiblities for structures. Specifically, glass provided the opportunity to create huge glass buildings that let the sun pour inside. Some examples of this were greenhouses and the Crystal Palace in London:



In drawing class, we often learn techniques to show light sources in our drawings and how to illuminate drawings. These are some furniture renderings that I did:

We started learning the techniques to use markers and create successful drawings with them. To do this you have to use light and shadow to add depth to the objects. Leaving white spots gives the illusion of light shining directly on the furniture, while using grays to create shadows shows that that spot is not lit.

The word illumination also brings up the idea of shedding light on something new and looking at it in another perspective. In the 18th century, an architect named Ledoux had ideas for normal, industrial buildings that were much more creative and engaging than the ones that were typical at the time. Viewers of a house he wanted to design for a river surveyor noticed how "the boldness of this new architecture is contrasted to the old mills and their water wheels visible in the shadows in the foreground" (Roth pg. 450). He wanted to show that it wasn't just churches that called for interesting architecture and design.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Unit Summary: Alternatives

The previous unit, Foundations, taught us about the basic architectural structures that dotted the landscape of our world. They included the post and lintel system, the orders, arches, and “wuwus.” The Alternatives unit exposed what came next. How did people beginning in the middle ages take what came from the Ancient period and transform it into something new?

After the Roman Empire fell, there were lots of small kingdoms that came into power around the world. The overwhelming force that influenced buildings at this time was Christianity. The main type of building that was being built was the cathedral. Designers and church leaders wanted to push the envelope and builder as high as they possibly could, reaching heavenward. This is the exact same concept we saw in the past, such as at the pyramids at Giza.

Elaborate decoration was used on the surfaces of these churches. Geometric patterns were used on some of the facades, such as at San Miniato al monte in Italy. This type of pattern was used because they believed geometry was the universal language that brings order out of chaos. It also gives more balance to a composition because the parts make sense to the whole. There were also paintings on the walls and stained glass windows that detailed specific scenes from the bible. Most of the general public couldn’t read the bible, so the idea was to show the events in picture form so they could understand.

Light was an extremely important element in the architecture of a Gothic cathedral.  That is why I chose the above image as something that represents this entire unit.  It is the Amiens Cathedral in France.  This photo conveys how light was used in these buildings to create drama and emotion when entering the church.  The enormous height of the ceilings is also shown in this photo, which gives someone in the cathedral a humbling feeling.  These sensibilities of using architecture to create emotion is what characterizes the Alternatives unit.

We also learned in this unit about the Renaissance and changes that occurred in society.  These changes greatly influenced architecture and design of the day.  For instance, citizens began caring about the aesthetic qualities of their cities and the buildings in them.  At the Ospedale Innocenti, money was given by the public to create a foundling hospital.  In Rome, citizens wanted to create a more organized system of roads to make it easier for tourists in the city.  To people during the Renaissance, it was important to create a sense of order.  They wanted to make things more refined and balanced.

Another example of bringing order to architecture was the Palazzo.  This was a building form that organized commerce space, entertaining space, and family quarters.  These areas were separated into three different levels.  On the exterior facade, each level had a different finish and different treatments to the windows.  This sent a message to people viewing the building about what it was used for.

Designers during the Renaissance also reshaped the facades of buildings so that they flowed together better.  This was done at the Piazzo Campidoglio and San Pietro, which in turn created a more regular space the connects to the city.  Middle class families in France also unified the facades of their homes to create buildings that together looked like a huge palace.

image source

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Opus 8 Grammar: Syntax


This week we focused on the beginning of the Renaissance and how architecture changed from the Gothic period. This time period is know as Baroque. The above images are sculptures of David created by two different artists, Michelangelo and Bernini. Both of these men were fundamental influences to this movement. Even though the sculptures are of the same subject, they have very different results. Michelangelo's is much more calm and rational, whereas Bernini breaks the rules and creates a much more emotional feeling. This thinking outside the box while also considering the classical details is what characterizes the Baroque style.

[re]visons"Renaissance architects of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries endeavored to create a new rational, mathematically describable forms based on what they understood of the Classical architecture of ancient Rome" (Roth pg. 397). Revising means going back to something you previously did and editing it. This concept can be applied to the Baroque period because the designers looked back to what came before them and added to it. They studied and understood what the rules were, which is what allowed them to consciously break them. An example of this revival style is the above drawing I did of the Tempietto at San Pietro. Bramante looks to the classical domes and columns of the past but says something different.


When writing a story, the audience is who will be reading the story. When designing something, the audience is who will be using the space. Michelangelo designed this staircase as an entrance to a library. "In the center of the room, the staircase has three parallel flights (which one to choose?), which fan out toward the bottom, creating a perspective illusion of depth greater than there truly is," (Roth pg. 381). The drama of this space is created as a statement on what the stairs are really used for. They transport people from the street to another level where they will gain knowledge. It even looks like it is an exterior staircase, perhaps saying that you bring your outside experience into the space.

characterCharacter is the warmth and emotion that you feel from a space while being in it. It is the feeling the designer wanted you to experience. An example of this is the palace at Versailles, which has a rich ,grand, and bold character. This is especially evident when looking at the landscape more so than the building itself. The king wanted "a man-made landscape that stretched along the great east-west axis extending from the heart of the chateau nearly as far as the eye could see," (Roth pg. 420). This was to symbolize the absolute power and wealth of the king, who owns everything that you can see far into the distance.

transitionWhile working on my studio project, transition was an important characteristic that I noticed in my natural artifact. The drawings above show the transition of the leaves from the center to the outer edges. The segments move from small to large and the cutouts vary in size. I was very interested in studying the exact patterns and shapes to understand how the system of veins flows. Therefore, I could translate it's sense of transition into the object I make.

Transition was also important in the Renaissance, especially to create a sense of rationality. There were lots of projects to unify cities and facades. Bernini had the task of creating a more uniform plaza outside the Vatican. "Bernini's problem was that the existing buildings of the Vatican palace intruded from the north, making it impossible to create one large, simple geometric enclosure" (Roth pg. 409). This was an extremely busy space, especially when religious events drew lots of people to the plaza. To create a more aesthetically pleasing transition, they rebuilt the facades of the buildings going down the axis of the plaza. They were all designed the same so that they flowed together.

The entire city of Rome was also rebuilt to create a better transition as you move through the city. "To get to these dispersed ancient basilicas from the Porta del Popolo was difficult and meant traversing large parts of the ruin strewn expanses of the ancient city. Sixtus V resolved to bring order out of this chaos" (Roth pg. 414). Rome was becoming a tourists destination, yet it was awkward to travel the city. The re-designers established new streets and boulevards that had a more regular, pattern. The major tourists attractions, such as the Colosseum, were connected to other attractions with a straight line. This fits with the definition of a datum, which is a position where measurements are taken from. We use datum lines to create a straight edge to line objects up. An example of this is the display boards from Suzanne's class. We tried to line up our pictures on a datum line to create a sense of order:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

PA Deliverables Articulation

Chapel of Saint Savior by Mies Van Der Rohe


  1. Plan view of campus-pen
  2. Floor plan-pencil 1'=1/4"
  3. Exterior Elevation North-pencil
  4. Interior Elevation South-pencil
  5. Exterior Perspective-pen/watercolor
  6. N-S Section-pencil
  7. W-E Section-pencil
  8. Interior perspective-pen/marker
  9. Interior detail of ceiling-pencil
  10. Interior detail of platform and altar-pen/watercolor
Essay Outline:

I. Introduction

  • Building
  • Brief description
  • Why I chose it

II. Body

  • Mies Van Der Rohe-
  1. history, vision, influence
  2. only religious building he built
  • IIT campus
  1. placement and relation to other buildings
  2. importance of architecture at this school
  • Commodity
  1. Role of a church;
  2. comparison to tradition churchs and gothic cathedrals;
  3. non-denominational effect on design
  4. meditation space
  • Firmness
  1. Brick stacked walls
  2. no steel frame
  3. exposed celing-cost issues

III. Conclusion

  • Key points
  • Reflection

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Drafting portfolio

These are the drafting projects we worked on the first half of the semester.

First lettering assignment:

A model we had to draft for our first quiz:

Pat's chair sections:

Pat's chair elevations:

Pat's chair plan:

Crit room plan:

We had to create a 600 sq ft space with interior walls and draw thumbnails:

Southside selected Kelsie's design. Sections:


Isometric view:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Opus 7-The Five P's

peripheryPeriphery refers to what surrounds the outside of an object. It is similar to a previous opus word, boundaries. In drawing class, Kalani and I focused on the concept when creating a diagram of the EUC. Our diagram was about the context of the EUC or what environment it is situated in. We wanted to show the surrounding buildings, walking patterns, and trees.

Another example of considering the environment is the city of Venice. They built that city into the salt marsh and make adjustments to the architecture accordingly.

We use portfolios to show our body of work to other designers and potential employers. Our blog.folio is a digital portfolio that houses all of the work we have done in school. We learned that during the renaissance, artists started putting together books with examples of architecture.
"Published treatises by prestigious architects ranged in subject from theory to practical applications. Decorative artists and artisans used designs by these and other designers for components of interior architecture..." (Blakemore pg. 92). The benefit of a portfolio is to be able to look back at previous work and see the strengths and weaknesses. It can be used as a reference for you or others.


The renaissance saw a new form of architecture arise. Designers disregarded the rules of the Middle ages and came up with new principles to follow. They created a new process of design incorporating the importance of geometry. As you can see in the following drawing, the facade of the St Maria Novella is heavily influenced by the circle and square forms.

"Among the first buildings to demonstrate this mathematical proportioning was Brunelleschi's Foundling Hospital in Florence, designed in 1419 for his patron Giovanni de' Medici and the silk guild" (Roth pg. 362). The facade of the building also uses the natural rhythm and sense created by circles and squares. This gives a feeling of order to a building that is not as calm inside.

Besides the new influence of geometry, architects also wanted to take into account what they building was used for and what it meant to the public. "Here was an architecture rooted in the human intellect, serving not to convey religious dogma but to provide for the very human needs of orphaned children" (Roth pg. 353). The concept a designer has for a building steers the course for the design process of that space.

The architects in the Renaissance had a new found appreciation for things that had been mostly forgotten in the Middle Ages. This included the ancient scholars and the natural world.
"This new awareness and appreciation of the natural landscape was one of the important contributions of the Renaissance" (Roth pg. 356). This changed the way designers thought about the world the inhabit and how to include it's beauty in their creations. They felt suffocated by the architecture of the Middle Ages that was only concerned with religion. "The humanist scholar architects of the Renaissance, most of them trained as painters or sculptors, sought to create a new architecture cleansed of the mysticism of what they liked to call the crude work of the Goths" (Roth pg. 391). This is what led them to come up with new ways to use geometry and other characteristics of architecture.


Professionalism is extremely important in all of our classes, whether it comes to a presentation or the quality of our work. We had some practice with this is in Suzanne's class when constructing our display boards. We had to come up with sketches first to pre-plan the boards:

During the Renaissance, artists began being commissioned for work. This brought professionalism to a whole new level. "Increasingly, cardinals, popes, and other individuals, especially merchants and bankers, commissioned buildings, sculpture, and paintings for themselves, for the churches they patronized, and for their cities" (Roth pg. 354). If people wanted to be hired for a job they had to show that they are competent and produce high quality work.

This time period is characterized by a drive to change the status quo. Artist, architects, and designers made drastic changes from what came before them by putting more thought into what they produced. We look back to what they created constantly because the designs stand the test of time.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

and then...Portal Project

These are some images of the portal my group created for Suzanne's door. We had the Temple of Amon as our Historical precedent, so we incorporated it's essence by creating two large columns on either side of the door. This mimics the entrance of the temple:


Our words-Balance, Rhythm, Boundaries, and Proximity were imprinted into the design of our portal. The rectangular cutouts are arranged in a way to create balance without being symmetrical. They have a distinct rhythm throughout the composition, almost as if they bounce off of each other. The cutouts have large and small spaces between them, playing with proximity. Finally, those spaces between the rectangles and the black panels themselves create a boundary from the rest of the hall.

We were lucky to be very familiar with the person behind the door, Suzanne. Therefore we decided to use color as we think it suits her personality. We also thought color would look much more interesting with the light shining through the cutouts. Looking through the clear plastic at the colors underneath creates a kaleidoscope effect. Although this broke the rules, we really felt our idea would work best with it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Precedent Analysis proposal...part 2

The God Box:



I came across the Chapel of Saint Savior / Robert F. Carr Chapel by Mies Van Der Rohe and was immediately struck by its simple facade. Currently in history we are learning about the Romanesque and Gothic Cathedrals of the middle ages, so it's very interesting to see a completely different concept for a church. As a matter of fact, churches in general are usually more decorated in a specific style. I would be very interested in exploring a new perspective on the design of a religious building. It is located on the campus of the Illinois Institute of technology in Chicago, Illinois.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This is the inspiration image, found in Design Illustrated by Christina Scalise, pg 23

My inspiration image is the second rendering on this website.

This is the inspiration image for this drawing.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Opus 6 - Macro to Micro

This week's opus is concerned with incorporating all of the small details of design into the larger composition.  This is a drawing of a detail I did of the EUC.  We practiced this kind of drawing in order to highlight special parts of the building, kind of like a vignette.  I drew the following vignette of a small detail at the cathedral in Cologne, Germany.  Even though it looks somewhat complex, it's just a small detail in a large structure.  I wanted to show the position of the stained glass windows in relation with the columns and vaults.  Light is an important part of a cathedral, which is why the windows are such a large scale in relation to the building.  The architect who originally came up with this concept, Suger, "wanted to replace walls of stone with membranes of stained glass, which filtered and transformed sunlight so that it symbolized divine illumination" (Roth pg. 324).  These are the small elements that you have to incorporate in a detail drawing. 

 Details are very important in the cathedral, especially when it comes to decorative elements.  "The same kind of movement away from structural directness in favor of ornamental embellishment occurred in the Late Gothic period as well" (Roth pg. 342).  One of the best places to include this detail is on the stained glass windows, showcasing biblical scenes.

My drawing showcases the vaults and stained glass windows, which all make a strong impression on a person inside the cathedral. The purpose of the large, elaborate structures was to bring the richness of heaven down to earth. A person walking down the main axis of the church would be awe-struck by the intricate design of the architecture.  "The presence of light, the symbol of God's divine Grace, became the preeminent symbol; the church building had to become transparent, and when it did so it was no longer Romanesque but Gothic" (Roth pg. 323).  The stained glass windows let in a glowing light, adding to the holy atmosphere of the interior.  

Composition was very important when creating our Portal project in studio.  My group mainly wanted to create balance with out design.  We did this by visually creating balance without making the composition symmetrical.  Here is a sketch idea of our panel:

The vaults and stained glass features of the cathedral also work together to form a composition.  "These elements of together synergistically, each expanding the potential of the other, to create a lighter and more visually transparent architecture" (Roth pg. 323).  

Castles and cathedrals were the two main architectural achievements of the middle ages. A combination of these structures was the monastery. Monasteries were almost a fortress for the monks, which included a church. They included a porch, court, and hearth as well. The porch consisted of the welcoming area for visitors, since there were many people at the monastery besides the monks. The court was the area the monks worked in, which could be on a farm or producing goods in a workshop. The dormitory or eating areas would also be part of the court, as this is the area where people gather together. The hearth would be the church, as this is the heart of the monastery. Worshiping is why they were there and the most important place for them. I drew the following diagram which clearly shows all of these areas:

This diagram is based on the Saint Gall Monastery Plan, which "is a most remarkable document, for it is the oldest such architectural plan to survive from the Middle Ages" (Roth pg. 310).  In Suzanne's class, we have learned that the point of diagrams is to make plans or similar views easier to understand for most people.  The monastery plan is very successful at this, mainly because it's still easy to understand 1200 years later.  It translates the goal of the layout of a monastery to the person looking at it.  "This plan would remain the conceptual blueprint for monasteries thereafter." (Roth pg. 311).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Unit Summary: Foundations

The first unit of the semester, Foundations, has laid out the basic principles that guided the first structures created. From the simple post and lintel form to the use of pendentives at the Hagia Sophia, we have studied how man has borrowed from those that came before them.

All of the regions we looked at dealt with the idea of bringing godly opulence to earth. The Egyptians built pyramids and tombs worthy of the Gods and that reached far into the sky. The Greeks constructed the elaborate worship area, the Acropolis, on a steep hill as a tribute to the Goddess Athena. Rome used the dome shape as a smaller version of the universe, which culminated in the building of the Panthenon as a temple for the seven major Gods and Goddesses. Finally, the Hagia Sohpia was built in Turkey with elaborate interior d├ęcor in order to recreate heaven on Earth.

There are two specific examples of design from the ancient world that have had a direct influence on our world today. First up is the Porch, court, and hearth concept invented in Greece. They began to build these three spaces in every home or building to provide a sense of order. The porch is the spot that welcomes you to the space, where you are transformed to enter. The court is the gathering space in the home, the modern day living room. Last is the hearth, the heart of the space. In Greece this may have been the altar in a temple, nowadays it’s the kitchen or the bedroom.

The second form architecture that affects us is using design to order civil life. The Romans planned outdoor spaces like the baths, forums, and theaters to fit a lot of people. Their cities had roads and buildings in a grid pattern which helped traffic flow in the most efficient way possible. Since the Romans conquered so much of the world, these notions were used in parts of Europe, which in turn were brought to America.

We ended this unit with a look at the Hagia Sophia, a basilica from the 4th century built in Turkey. It represents the fusion of different design ideas from different regions. The basilicas that came before it couldn’t find a medium between the circle and square shapes. The Hagia Sophia solved this issue by placing a circular dome over a square, inventing the pendentive. It was highly influenced by the Roman arch, as well as the importance of interior surface decoration. The versatility of the design is proven by the fact that even though it was constructed as a Christian church, it was later used as a Muslim mosque.

So far, this class has been highly influential and crucial to my journey as a designer. It is eye opening to understand how the buildings and furniture around me came to be. Learning the origins of design features is extremely useful when I’m trying to create something. For example, understanding why an arch was first developed and used would help me decide if I wanted to useit in my own design. I’m excited to learn about more periods of architecture and how they can further influence me.

image source