Jumping over the lazy dog

or, taking the bull by the horns.

4000 cubic feet and other architectural recipes

Short stories, and illustrated, at that. Bon appetit!

4000 c.f.

Our first project of the semester asked us to create a pavilion on an imaginary site, incorporating a tectonic language that was integral to the form-making of our intervention. If nothing else, my vocabulary is improving.

I created a module composed of a perforated sheet that expands to create internal volume. The module is then repeated and varied to create a wall and roof condition. I was really trying to capture diffused light and create a moire effect as you pass through the site.

One of the biggest challenges of this program so far has been transitioning from digital to traditional drawing techniques. I seem to have a fear of failing in a hand-drawing, and so try it out first on CAD. This might be counter-productive to my desire to get more than 5 hours of sleep a night...

Our final review was last Monday and Tuesday (gosh, I can’t believe it was a week ago – time flies incredibly fast around here…) and I got a pretty good review! The guest critics got a bit distracted by the drawing below, and wound up spending most of their time talking about that drawings potential.

This drawing was a preliminary study of the surface of a ball of yarn...I extrapolated the way a thread of yarn, as a line, pulls itself apart to create an internal volume. We never really got around to talking about that bit in the critique...

But overall, I think it went well. A classmate took notes for  me, and a good thing too, because I barely remember what happened (not because of sleep deprivation, but because it’s a bit like performing on stage – the highlights you remember aren’t those the audience remembers).

Formal Analysis with Peter Eisenman

Where we learned that Louis Khan died $4 million in debt and we should assume a similar fate awaits us. We also try to analyze buildings.

Our first drawing asked us to find the critical difference between Brunelleschi's San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito. I looked at the axial relationships in San Lorenzo that are inhibited by the rigid adherence to the grid in Santo Spirito.

These two drawings were my first attempts at ink on mylar. It's both challenging and very zen - you draw all your verticals, then wait, draw all your horizontals, then wait, draw all your diagonals in one direction, etc...wax on, wax off. (These are the preliminary CAD/Illustrator files, by the way...my line weights for the final drawing were much better).

Other waking hour preoccupations include…

  • Visualisation II: A continuation of my summer studies, with a lot of sketching leading to a drawing each week. I’ll post the sketches and drawings after our first review next week.
  • Modern Architecture: I get to sit and listen to Kurt Forster talk about architecture. That’s pretty awesome. Like most of our faculty, he has a good sense of humor and doesn’t hesitate to bring it into the classroom. Last week he managed to reference both Harry Potter and Star Wars.
  • Structures: I’m really glad we have one no-nonsense class. I’m learning a lot, math and engineering wise, but am glad I did a design degree as an undergrad, because the professor likes to skim past construction terminology that some of my classmates aren’t familiar with (CMUs, flange, shear connection, etc.).

A non-architectural side-note: Brownie Sundae Sunday

My roommates and I hosted a get-together / impromptu house-warming party. There were delicious brownie sundaes and refreshments. Everyone mingled nicely. We cleaned up within an hour of kicking the last person out the door. I’d consider it a success.

The roommates and I in front of our darling black board. Unfortunately, only W got the suit memo.

Next time on Jumping over the lazy dog: Amrita gets to be a prisoner and have a round-table discussion with Peter Eisenman.

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Buy the gal a drink, she’s made it through the week.

Week one of Architecture Boot Camp has been a success. A true representation of studio-culture, it included deceptively simple projects, late nights at the drawing board, readings from Towards A New Architecture, and jokes about ducks. I’ll explain.

Deceptively simple projects and late nights at the drawing board.

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in studio at 9AM on Monday, but it wasn’t as scary as I would’ve thought. After a round of paperwork and a tour of the building, we got to know our studio-mates and faculty with a quick round of introductions. We then promptly got our first homework assignment: a self-portrait using a mirror.

So the mirror I had handy was my iPhone...which became a commentary on our dual lives, having to create a digital persona and the bleed between the two realities. Not too shabby.

The rest of our studio assignments were familiar tasks, to me, that is: draw a room in your apartment, select and object and describe it using freehand orthographic projection…and would have been relatively easy, but I thought I’d challenge myself by choosing a spray bottle as my subject for the latter assignment, which proved more complex than the drawings I remember doing in drafting class when I was sixteen.  By the time I left studio at 2AM on Friday, I’d managed to wrap my head around a double rotation of picture planes in my auxiliary view (yeah, it’s as complicated as it sounds). Two hours later, as I tossed and turned in bed, I decided I wanted to re-do one of my earlier drawings, so wound up back in studio at 7AM, taking another crack at a section of my spray bottle. It all turned out for the best, I learned a lot more from tackling this project with the complex object I chose than I would have had I selected a simpler form.

The spray bottle: space towards the bottom left to be filled with another drawing, whenever I get a chance...

Towards A New Architecture and ducks.

I was very impressed by my peers: our group has representatives from across the United States, from Hawaii to upstate New York, from schools both in and out of the Ivy, those who’ve traveled around the world, worked on fishing boats in Alaska or flown in from Asia only two days before classes began. Though no one has a formal background in architecture, many have pursued the field through hobbies or internships or summer programs, and all are very intelligent, accomplished individuals. All of which made me (and my accomplishments) feel very minuscule in comparison! But it’s a good place to be – when you feel dumb, you can only become smarter, so bring on the lessons!

Speaking of lessons, we’ve got 200 pages of readings to do each week, and papers to write, on top of all this studio business. So far, I’ve sunk my teeth into bits of Le Corbusier, Venturi (thus, ducks), Rossi, Kruft and Scully. I think my perspective on architecture falls somewhere between Corb. and Rossi. I believe that architecture should first serve its utilitarian purpose before attempting to make any other statement, and that often another statement need not be made. But I don’t think that buildings are machines, and certainly don’t believe there is a ‘perfect form’ that represents the Essential home or Essential office, etc. On the other hand, Rossi’s argument for urban artifacts, connected to time, focused on individuality and memory…it’s starting to sound like my senior thesis all over again…though that itself might not be a bad thing. There’s got to be a reason why I keep coming back to it, right?

Anyway, before you start thinking we’re a bunch of stuffy snobs, smoking a pipe as we draw our hands across sheets of vellum, twirling compasses and articulating the ends of our line segments while cracking jokes about quacking buildings, I will point out that after our exhausting week, we went out for a rowdy night on Friday, and said almost nothing of architecture itself…for a whole three and a half hours.

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