Tuesday, April 28, 2009

coming full circle

These are all images from my final studio project. We had to design a lounge to be used for the graduate students, that gave a sense of both celebration on meditation.


This first year of IARC has taught me a lot about community. We all rely on each other for help, inspriation, and friendship. In a greater sense, we are learning how to contribute to our global community. We are creating spaces that people will live in, work in, and use regularly. We have to understand the needs of the community and environment in order to successfully design for it. The images of my studio project show that I created a place the graduate students could enjoy together as a community, whether they are gathering together or alone.


"The conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care." (source) We are currently in a new era of design called sustainability, and the goal of this is to design responsibly and take care of our environment. Humans are the ones in charge of this planet and yet we haven't done a very good job managing it. This is the same idea as with community; we have to carefully consider what we are designing and what it's implications will be.


It takes innovation to move society and the design world along. It takes "thinking differently" to break out of the norm and create something revolutionary. Our history class has showed us many innovative designs from the beginning, from the post and lintel system to the sky scrapers of the 21st century. However, innovation shouldn't be the goal of a designer. I think innovation is a result of trying to create a good design.


Designers need to strive to be original and true to themselves, or else it's boring if everyone is designing the same thing. Everyone has an individual aesthetic that is just as interesting as the next person. Sometimes it can be hard to be yourself and you want to change to be accepted. However, you have to be yourself and possibly fail, because it's even worse if you fail while trying to be something you're not.

Monday, April 27, 2009

[pair]ing down...opus 13


Our assignment for the light habitat project was to create something that showed the duality of meditation and celebration. Above are photos of my final project. I created meditation through the soothing color and texture of the papers. There is a graduated rise to the center of my window which creates both meditation and celebration. This central focal point creates drama and energy, hence celebration.


I used different forms of paper to create different light effects. The white poster boards on the corners of the windows create more importance to the open triangle windows, which let in direct light. I chose the lace paper because it had a triangle pattern that mimicked my design. I wanted it to have a delicate look, yet have strength to resist tearing.


These words have to do with how you orient objects in a composition.
My inspiration/precedent for the light habitat was the cuts of a gemstone, so I attempted to take those patterns and turn them into something more abstract. I changed the orientation of the triangle shapes found in those designs to create something that was my own. This involved moving shapes to be side by side.


The balance of literal and abstract is something that we have dealt with a lot in studio this semester. We started out drawing inspiration from stories and trying to abstract them down to their essence. This principle is something that I now deal with through all my projects. It's very easy to get trapped in a design that is too literal, which is why we are always encouraged to abstract more.


How objects relate and communicate with each other in a composition creates a monologue or dialogue.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The words for this weeks opus are action verbs, the things that we do in this program.


Speculation has to do with thinking about and reflecting on a subject. This is the number one thing we have to do when designing. We have to think about the implications of our design, what it means, represents, and why we're doing it.


Composition is something we have to deal with constantly, whether the design is 2D or 3D. We had some practice with this in Suzanne's class with our boards representing the places we visited on the trip. The point was to compose the drawings and the super graphic in a way that created fluidity. This is a holistic approach to design and composition.


Energy is something many of us are lacking in these final weeks, but it's essential to our world as designers. We need to have energy and passion for our work, as its impossible to create something without any love for it. That energy will show in your work through a successful composition.


This is my light habitat project from studio, of which shape was extremely important for me. I created a 2D shape that was custom to the window and then brought that shape into 3D.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Unit Summary: Reflections


The reflections unit represents the Architecture parlent idea that came about at this time. This was a period when the rules of design were being re-written. Many changes were happening in the world, from revolutions to imperialism to technology. These events had an effect on how buildings and cities were designed, causing a new language to form in architecture. The major architectural movements that occurred at this time were classical revivals, Georgian, glass & iron use, Japonisme/Eastern influences, and the sky scrapers of Chicago and New York. The overall theme of this unit is that communication between countries created styles that imitated each other, yet encouraged them to find a unique aesthetic.

I chose an image from the 1893 World's Fair to represent this unit. The purpose of world fairs held at this time was to show off your country. We learned about previous ones held in Europe that were glass palaces, taking advantage of the glass and iron that were now available. This one held in Chicago was built in a classical revival because the architect who designed it was from New York. Chicago's design aesthetic at the time was searching for an "American" style, something that was different from the rest of the world. The buildings usually don't have a lot of ornamentation or classical details. The style in New York was highly influenced by Grecian and Roman revivals due to what those styles represent. Even though the World's Fair was held in Chicago, the organizers went with a New York designer so that it would have that kind of aesthetic. Perhaps they wanted the rest of the world to see classically designed buildings to show how important the U.S. was. For them, it was more important to show that the U.S. could stand up to the rest of the world, not necessarily the new design aesthetic we were creating.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Road Trip...Opus Eleven

Compression: Release

The growth of urban areas in the 19th century represents compression in society. Thousands of people were moving to big cities in America and Europe. The cities weren't designed to hold that capacity, so they had to be redesigned so that spaces weren't cramped. Napoleon had Paris re-planned, including new streets and water systems. "Numerous small parks were built throughout the city, and two enormous park preserves were created from royal hunting grounds were created at the west and east edges of the city; these Haussmann called 'the lungs of the city.' " (Roth pg. 491). The fact that the designers wanted to create an open space for people to enjoy showcases release, which is the exhale that comes from compression.


The Industrial Revolution completely changed the world of architecture. Along with the need to provide more structures for more people, improvements in industry itself provided new materials to work with. "Architects were also presented with new building materials, cast and wrought iron as well as glass, in quantities never available before, thanks to improvements in mass production." (Roth pg. 471). Iron and glass affected what and how designers created. New possibilities in form were presented because of the pliability of iron. Glass allowed for huge buildings that reflected light as well as let it inside.

While working on our drawings for Suzanne, it was important to accurately render the materials used. In the above rendering, I showed materials such as wood, steel, fabric, and stone. The key is to give visual clues as to what the material is. When rendering the stainless steel refrigerator i left vertical strips to indicate light reflecting on it. Using gray over the whole image wouldn't have made it look like it was shining.

We use roots to understand how it is something began. Relating to history, the use of iron began for specific reasons. England did not have enough wood for the amount of people on the island. The use of iron came just in time to create new structures. "At the very time that the need for iron began to rise, the English forests were fast disappearing into the charcoal furnaces." (Roth pg. 462). The humble origins of using iron for building eventually became a hugely popular style, as evidenced by this structure:


Design in the early 21st reflected many styles, some that were combined. Structures from previous centuries remain in many parts of Europe, and the Parliament building in London is no exception.


"The Gothic details of the new work allowed it to join with the surviving medieval portions in such a way that the line between the two is nearly indiscernible." (Roth pg. 477)


It's extremely important to have a concept when designing something. Sometimes you have your idea or concept from the beginning, or sometimes it's something that gradually comes through in the design process. Regardless, a concept is something that helps guide you along in the process and make decisions. Why is it that many government structures in the U.S. have a classical style to them? An explanation from Roth: "Or a new governmental building might be Grecian in style to relate to the contemporaneous political struggle of the Greeks in the 1830's to rid themselves of centuries old Turkish domination." (Roth pg. 469) This quote explains using a historical precedent as a concept.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chapel of Saint Savior by Mies Van Der Rohe

The Chapel of Saint Savior located on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus is the only religious building ever designed by Mies Van Der Rohe. It is composed of a modest design, where its simple structure is showing. This is in contrast to the Gothic and Romanesque churches that we have studied through the ages. This building offers a different approach to the religious building form in Western society.

Mies Van Der Rohe is one of the most recognized architects of the 2oth century. He pioneered the modern style and strived for simplicity in design. The Chapel of Saint Savior, also known as the Robert F. Carr Memorial Chapel was built in 1952. Therefore it is at the heart of the mid-century modern design movement. As the head of the architecture department of the IIT campus, Mies Van Der Rohe designed many of the buildings located on it. Design and architecture is extremely important to this school, therefore there is holistic approach taken to the planning of this school. The chapel fits in perfectly with the clean lines of the other structures such as Crown Hall.

This semester we have looked at churches from the Middle Ages and Renaissance that were anything but minimal in style. Designers of these churches used paintings and stained glass windows to display biblical scenes on the walls of these cathedrals. They wanted to reach as far as they could into the sky to connect to heaven. Columns and flying buttresses were ornamented with many details, which were awe-inspiring to anyone in its presence. This is one approach to the design of religious buildings that we’ve seen. However, the 19th century was a time architects broke tradition and had a new perspective on design.

The role of a church is a place of refuge and worship for a person. The design of this chapel fits perfectly with its function. Mies Van Der Rohe created large open spaces inside his buildings, which creates an all-encompassing feeling. This concept relates to the fact that it is a non-denominational church. People of all religions can gather in this space with one goal—to gather in worship. The clean lines and unadorned style of the space also creates a comfortable spot for meditation and reflection. The exposed beams on the ceiling show the humbleness of the design, as well as the fact that you can almost see the entire structure just by looking in the front windows. This shows that there is nothing to hide, just as what happens when a person enters a church.

The building measures 37 feet wide, 60 feet long and 19 feet high. A load-bearing brick system makes up the walls, with an exposed beam ceiling. The altar is a solid block of Roman travertine with a stainless steel cross in front of it. Behind the altar is a graceful screen made of raw silk. This is the main interior d├ęcor in the space and in turn makes a large impact on the viewer. The structure and quality of materials provides for a sound design, abiding to the firmness requirement of architecture.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Between Silence and Light - Opus 10


The trip to Falling Water and Monticello provided many lessons in the importance of craft. First, walking through Thomas Jefferson's house gives you a sense of all the hand-crafted elements created by woodworkers, artisans, and basically everything built. The different work places for wood, gardening, kitchens etc.also help you understand that everything found there was created locally and by skilled craftsmen.

The lesson at Falling Water is all about how a revolutionary technology at the time, steel reinforced concrete, was both a failure and success. Frank Lloyd Wright believed in his design, that the physics of the structure would work. However, there have been structural improvements in years pass to raise the cantilevered terraces. Yet even though the engineering wasn't perfect, it is still one of the most important pieces of architecture in the world. This is due to the fact that it is seamlessly integrated into the natural mountain environment. It is nestled into the rocks, which are even featured in parts of the house.


This is a photo I took at Monticello that I showed in my last opus:

I'm showing it again because it perfectly exemplifies the concept of public and private space. Jefferson reorganized the typical home at that time, so that the service areas would be hidden from guest. The work stations were located in two wings on the side of the home under ground. This way guests entering the back or front of the home could not see the workers.

Public and private space is an important duality that designers need to understand. What areas in a home are appropriate for everyone to see and use, and what areas do the owners want to remain private?


The technique we observed at Falling water was the cantilevered balconies, built using reinforced concrete. This is something that was not done before, especially since it was built into the rocks of the mountains over the water.
Since the initial construction wasn't perfect, this house shows that risks need to be taken in design. Frank Lloyd Wright was told not to build this structure the way he wanted, yet he did anyways. It is a continuous lesson in technique, as the new tension system create to support it has to be re-tightened every so often. This proves that there is always more to learn when it comes to ways of doing things.


Language is used in design to communicate a message to the observer. Sometimes it takes time to understand, but other times it's overtly clear. When you enter Thomas Jefferson's home, you are overwhelmed with all of the objects on display. This area is like his own personal museum where he can show off Native American artifacts to visitors:

This communicates to his guests that he is well-traveled, read, and studies the world around him. He also revives classic details that represents power and government, a theme found in many buildings at this time.


The word virtual suggests creating something that isn't really there. Both of these homes were retreats built to escape the real world. Therefore, they were built in places no one would have thought. Falling water was crafted into the side of a mountain over water, whereas Jefferson flattened off a tall hill in order to build Monticello. These structures are almost unreal when you visit them and truly accomplish the goal of hideaway.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rendering practice

The first assignment was to design a space and divide it into four sections. Then choose four different types of media and paper to experiment with. From L to R: watercolor on watercolor paper, marker on vellum, colored pencil on vellum, marker on marker paper. I think the last one was my most successful.

The next assignment was to re-design a classmate's room in any way you want. I did this in marker and colored pencil on marker paper.

3rd Skin

Our last studio project was to create an artifact that used natural light in an interesting way. But first we had to find a natural object to find inspiration from. I found this:

I really zoomed in on my object and studied the little cutouts in between the veins of the leaves. This is what inspired me to create an object with cutouts so that the light could flow through them.

These are some of my process sketches and models:

This shape wasn't working for me, as it looked too much like a tombstone. Also, I wanted to connect the panels through something besides a base.

The final piece: