Apr 30, 2006


Last night after a failed attempt a nap in studio, I started working on the final model. I'm making it out of my old study model since it involves a considerable amount of cardboard in the base. After looking at the other people's boards in studio, I felt ashamed of my boards, both in the quality of the computer renderings and in the sophistication of the layout. Looking at the boards, it really depressed me of where my project ended up. I think I had a really interesting conceptual framework which I didn't defend as strongly as I should have, and I think I lost a significiant opportunity. I feel very frustrated because this project had the potential to be something really sublime, and I didn't have the strength or the ability to really bring it to its fullest potential. The floorplan is workable, the main gesture is strong, but the details and how it interfaces the fence- the core of the the project concept- is BORING and CONVENTIONAL and TRITE. My peers think I'm not giving myself enough credit, and they say they like my boards. It's probably significant that I'm presenting first- my presentation is usually confident and professional- I'm the employee of the month in S----'s Architecture Office of Architecture Students. I realized today that he's running this class like a mini firm.
This paradigm has several significant implications- first off, he sees himself as the prinicpal rather than the instructor, and thus views our work in terms of his office, pushing his designs on our work. He's also going to be viewing our work from a very practical standpoint rather than theoretical. I think its much more important for students to focus on concept and idea. We'll get plenty of mundane reality in our internships and jobs. I also learned today that that head of of architecture division will be one of the reviewers for the first group. No wonder S---- has his favorites presenting first.

Anyway, back to last night, all this stuff is going through my head, I'm very tired, irrtiable, and dissapointed. I decide to call it a night, as soon I'm worried that I'll begin to take it out on the model. (who wants to work on something they hate? natural quality comes from working on something you love.) So I went home, showered, grabbed a bowl of chili and a beer, and plopped on the couch and watched a little tube. Afterwards, I went to bed, planning on getting 6 hours of sleep. Six hours later, I reset my alarm for another sleep cycle. At the end of that one, I got up and set again. So I got 9 hours of sleep last night. Woke up feeling better about my project, thinking about all the positive things about it, the really cool views you get, etc. Came back to studio and been working on my model and the BS boards we have to do (OUR studio was assigned two extra 30x40 boards to do). So now those are all printed out, and now all that remains is the model.

Dr. Morton brought us a big carton of strawberries and grapes from the big faculty gathering today. We've really been fortunate to have this guy teach us. I've never had a professor bring food to people in studio.

Studio is very tense and edgy right now. People are frustrated, extremely sleep deprived, humorless, absolutely stressed out to the max. People are quick to take offence and our studio is especially pissed off at our instructor for the BS work we have to do. Too many people are still laying out thier boards on the computer. The school printer opens at 8 AM tomorrow and reviews start at 9 AM. Anyway, I havn't though at all about what I'm going to say at my review. I'll have to meditate on it tonight. Back to the model.

Once more, I can't believe its been a year. A year ago, I was getting ready to go to Europe with Chase. A year of such intensity and experiance, exhileranting, and crushing. What will I think when I look back on it in twenty years time? Relief to have a more stable life? Nostalgia for the studio and the architecture student life? Regret for opportunities missed? Longing for simpler, less stressful times?

Anyway, back to model making.

Apr 29, 2006


Last night, I ended up stopping work on studio stuff at 6 AM. A full 24 hours before that I got up to go meet my mentor. I hate going to bed when its begining to get light, it just feels wrong. Anyway, got up at 9 AM again and went in to studio. It's around 5:30 PM right now, and I'm having my 4 20"x 20" boards printed upstairs in the print lab. We're all walking zombies around here, its not even funny. We all talk slowly because we need the time to formulate what we're trying to say. I'm actually relatively ahead of the game as most people are still laying out thier boards. I need to pick up some foamcore to mount my posters, but I may wait until monday to do that. I still have a model to make and the other two boards to do. The model shouldn;t be too bad. I'm just going to do a massing model from an earlier iteration that I have out of cardboard and chipboard. I might do the steel out of basswood though, which shouldn't be too bad. The other two boards we have to do I can fill with gratiuitous sections, plans, site plan, etc. It's a gratuitious requirement that none of the other studios have to fulfill. I'll print that off tomorrow I think or later tonight.

While I'm on the topic, our studio instructor gave us the list of presentation order for monday. Before he handed it out, he talked about the need for us to pin up our class site analysis work and emphasized that he'd help us pin it up. I got the distinct impression that he views this class as his office, and himself as the principal. He was very interested in making a good impression on the reviewers. My suspicions were confirmed with the presentation order. Out of the first group of five to present, four are his favorite students with projects he really likes. And I'm the first in line. On the one hand, its a bigger challenge as I have to do a good job of conveying the site and circumstances to the reviewers. The positive is that I get it out of the way first and can spend the next 8 hours relaxing, listening, and sketching other students.

Apr 27, 2006

Use the Force, Mr. Sulu

I'm working in the library, letting my laptop run comptuer renderings for my final boards due monday. The library has a reading room which has a glass wall overlooking the basement gathering area known as red square. I walked to this window and peered down. Several gay and lesbian organizations had set up tables and booths with a few staffers sitting and talking. I immediately notice one person is wearing very hairy pants, and it takes me a moment to realize that its a person in a Chewbacca costume with a dress shirt and tie. And then Darth Vader walks into my field of view.

There was apparently a lecture downstairs and I checked back again when I heard people coming out after the lecture ended. I look down onto a long line of people. There is a flash of light, and someone has just taken a picture of two people, both holding up the "Live Long and Prosper" sign. It's the guy who used to play Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans.

Otherwise it's a quiet evening here in the library. Today's edible benefits are a large stack of oreos in the breakroom/workroom. I eat a few. They're good for some quick energy, but I've never regained my taste for them after a friend compared the filling to crisco with sugar.

The Project is in the rendering stage. I'm trying to capture the best shots of my project in the computer model so that translates to a lot of rendering. The software is great at rendering- my water looks amazing- but the complex calculations of rays, incident light, shadow calculations, etc. chews up a ton of processing. I wish I had one of those high end gaming latops. They're specially designed to process graphics quickly and crunch those radiosity numbers. After I get a few more images, its on to revising my boards.

For the school, we're required to have 4 20"x20" posters on posterboard. And a model. And 2 30"x40" boards with our plans and sections on them. So this means I'll be spending some money this weekend. On top of that, I need to study for my history final this upcoming thursday. And structures is shortly after that.

Today I picked up a student bus pass. As an ASU student I can ride free all over the Phoenix metro area. The only downside is I have to ride the bus. Tomorrow I'm going to go on a test ride out to my mentor's office. There's a direct route which picks up a block from the apartment and drops me pretty much right at thier door. The only catch is that it takes about an hour. I can drive there myself in half that time, but with morning traffic on the freeway, it may be up to 45 minutes to downtown Phoenix. Plus, if I'm going to be doing this all summer, that adds up to a lot of gas and ASU doesn't have "fill up free" cards. It would also be nice to do something for the enviornment. Anyway, going to see how this works out, so I may present my findings via videoblog.

I've discovered that for me there is a direct correlation between feelings of parionia and how much sleep I get at night. I'm getting enough, but I can definately sense the change when I'm cutting back hours. Tonight will be a late/early night too, as I want to get a new set of boards laid out for my mentor to critique before I get them printed.

I may have found someone to watch Suki- a classmate of mine is recently married and they're going to be here next semester. They just have to look into the pet policy of whatever place they're going to move.

But back to work.

Apr 26, 2006

"We're all in the same boat, but mine is sinking"

Busy morning. Ran over to the International program office and dropped off some paperwork and a photocopy of my passport. Then went to the bank to see if the Western Mutual people had released the hold on the money I tried to send through thier website. They hadn't so I still need to call them since it was cancelled. Presented my material on Rogelio Salmona in class today, presentation went fairly well. This was only a sort of demonstration of where you are on the material and the approach you're taking on the 16 page paper due may 8th (Yikes! got some interesting research but nothing on paper yet!) Perhaps I should get started on that. Like really really soon. We had a short class today since our Argentinean professor was selected to give a presentation to a visiting delegation of Chinese from a Chinese Institute of Science and Arts. I told him to say "Ni Hao". He was really nervous about it too since HE still needed to work out his introductory remarks. The above quote is his. English is his second language, and he's thoughly enjoying playing with it.

Anyway, in architecture hist we're finally catching up to the present- opening with Renzo Piano's work in Paris with the Centre Pompidou and Robert Venturi. He asked if anyone had been to visit it, and I raised my hand and told the class about how Chase and I were wandering around and stumbled on it past midnight. Anyway, last class is thursday and then the final exam is one week from that day.

Our architecture projects final review is this monday. Yes, you heard me right, its due in five days. I'm really not that thrilled with how its turned out. I've got some interesting gestures, but its very conventional construction, and the big selling point is that it breaks the fence between the school and the park, but it does't do it that well. I should have stuck with the canyon idea, and blow off whatever the studio instructor said.

I had one teacher who as a studnet would work on two projects concurrently- one to distract the teacher and one of his own radical invention to be shown at the presentation. Wish I had that kind of time.

The housing issue is coming togather, I think Aldo Estrada, one of my Buenos Aire roomies, may come to live with me at the apartment here after Ben moves out at the end of May. I'll assume Ben's rent and the electric and Aldo will just pay me. Still no takers on Suki yet. Worried about that.

This semester has been like a master juggler throwing up dozens up plates high into the air: now they're all coming down and I have to be manuverable and plan well enough to break as few as possible trying to catch them all and bring this thing to a close.

Got really good feedback on the video. Maybe I'll make that a weekend update kind of thing. Maybe I can play with the quality of output on my end so it actually looks I'm talking in this one. Maybe suki will have an on screen cameow.

(groans all around).

Apr 19, 2006

checking in

Got up after three hours of sleep and decided that I needed an extra sleep cycle. Went back down for another hour and a half before getting up and getting back to work with the computer model. Got some more interior shots and decided to call it good as studio came closer. Did a quick layout of my 4 20"x20" boards and took my laptop to school to print them out on our class plotter. It was broken. And so was the printer in the computer lab. Ended up printing a half sized version on a friends printer he'd brougt into class and just pinning that up. Our studio had a pretty pathetic pin up for this first round. We've just had no time for anything. Our final final final review is May 1st. Anyway, I ditched studio after talking with Steve and went home to eat something at five. Biked back to school at six for the Glenn Murcutt lecture. Murcutt is an Pritzker Prize-winning architect (the most prestigious award in architecture) from Australia who is about 7o years old. He runs his office out of his basement and his coworker is his wife. They do EVERYTHING from site surveying down to the electrical plans and gutter detailing for the design. And they do it all BY HAND. His works are heavily influenced by the designs of Mies van der Rohe, but combine them with a planar sensibility and organicism of Wright. Prett cool stuff actually. The only thing is that since its just him and his wife, he takes YEARS to finish designs. He's an interesting and especially provokative lecturer, criticizing everything from Starchitects to LEED certificiation. Very compelling ideologically, with definately strong social progressive overtones. Maybe I've just been too accustomed to american conservativism. Anyway, he lectured for three hours without break so there were no questions at the end.

It was fun before the thing started, as the lecture hall was packed with a varitable who's who of Phoenix Architects including Will Bruder and a bunch of other architects I've seen at major architecture functions. Of course all my archtiecture professors, past and present were also in attendance. Every seat was filled.

Afterwards, I went home, had some of Sally's leftovers, and watched part of Alien3 before begining this blog. I still have so much research to do for next tuesday, and our studio teacher wants another print out of our 20 x 20 boards for monday.

Even items on my list have thier own lists now.

Time for bed. I can't even think clearly anymore.

Wednesday, Either Way too Late or Way too early.

Sunday night got three hours of sleep, monday night I got 4.5 hours, tonight I'm getting 3 hours. All comptuer modeling. We have to have 4 20x20 boards for tomorrow's class which I hanv't even started. Plan it out in the morning I guess before studio. There's a special tutoring session I really need to go to at 10:30 AM tomorrow before studio too that I really should go to, regardless of what I have done for studio. I've never been this unprepared for studio in the past semesters. Thank God Steve loves my work and ideas. Bleh. At least I'll be able to recoup some sleep deficit tonight.

Apr 18, 2006

Blazing Sun: The Music Issue

Been listening to a lof new music lately. Some recommended by friends, some just from exploration on my own. A friend told me about a website called Pandora. Pandora is an extention of the Music Genome Project which undertook to analyze music by tonality, beat, charactersitics, vocals, etc. Basically, you start by entering the name of a song or artist you like, and then it begins playing either that song or artist at first, followed by songs or bands similar to the one you selected based on those internal characteristics. It saves your "stations" and as you either give it thumbs up or down, learns your musical preferances. It's completely free, runs right off the webpage, and seems to stream music of pretty high quality. I find it works best to use only one artist/track as the "source."

I recently rediscovered Bush and have been trying to get my hands on more of thier music. Maybe its the grungy vocals and harsh guitars.

At school, everyone on the building network who is using iTunes simultaneously can see and play each other's music. I've browsed a bit, listening to more indie artists like Yo La Tengo, and Death Cab for Cutie. I like the latter one better, although its very quiet music. I was lucky to find someone had the music from Triplets of Belleville, with its french jazz.

Also enjoying some Norah Jones and early Alicia Keys. Found a ton of Enya, which is nice for a change of pace. All this new age and jazz- must be the stress.

A friend introduced me to Imogen Heap who have some unsual distorted electronic vocals in their "Hide and Seek."

Beck is also pretty cool. Especially thier Guero album. Kind of reminds me of Pedro The Lion with a little harder sound with the electric guitars and a hint of Mexico.

Speaking of which, the Colombian artist Juanes has some good music, especially "La Camisa Negra" and "A Dios le pido."

Other music I'm listening to: Muse, Aphex Twin, Franz Ferdinand's new album, New Order (Crystal is a great track), Steven Lynch, and other assorted trip-hop, electronica, alternative, and grunge.

Apr 17, 2006


Last few days same as usual.

Strange, wonderful, frustrating, and busy. I can't even remember what I did friday. The entire day is blank slate to me. Maybe I'll remember by the end of the post. Saturday afternoon I went to the the Arizona Science Center. For my history of architecture class, we have to write a paper for monday between 4-6 pages. The subject is unusual, not sure if I've mentioned it before. We have have to write as a famous old architect about a more contemporary work, using thier opinions and eyes to analyze it.

Took me awhile to figure out what to do with it, as its a glaringly open topic. I decided to become Sir Christopher Wren, London's most famous architect of old (designed st.Pauls), critiquing Predock's Arizona Science Center. The tie is that Wren was one of the last Renaissance men, who was the Chair of Astronomy at Oxford, invented blood transfusions, documented the anatomy of the eye and the phsyiological features of optics, and was the first to draw microorganisms with the help of his friend Robert Hooke. I figured it would be fun to have a foundng member of the Royal Society critiquing a center to promote interest in science.

Predock, the architect, has a background as a painter, and so its also interesting to see how they would react to each other, neither architects by primary means or education, the painter and the scientist.

Anyway, the paper's taking forever to write. Got a good bit out this afternoon at work, but its slow going as I'm trying to capture the essence and language of the time. Here's a bit from the beginning. I decided to structure it as a letter to Robert Hooke from Wren:

This twenty-first Centurie is a Miraculous one indeed! I am still becoming accustomed to these small letterd Buttons from which this Text appears as if Magick. I trust you are well in Paris. I long to visit this Pasteur Institute, but they would think me mad if I told them that I was the first to doccument their tiny Animacules. I am greatly releaved to find the City much the same as I left it, its Grand Architecture still whole over these Years.

And so on.

Anyway, the forward-thinking people got it mostly finished before the weekend so they would be able focus on the assignment for today in studio. We were to have 4 taboid spreads mocking up presentation boards, with views of a 3d model. The Science center took a few hours to get through and doccument (althogh my camera wont read or recognize cards anymore, so I need to take it in ASAP and get it fixed) so I did some sketches and took a lot of notes in the character of Wren. Not as much fun as I remember it being when I went a long time ago when we lived in Phoenix. So didn't get much done on paper that day.

Sunday, Sally and Jonathan invited me over for Easter dinner with more of thier family. Had some really great ham and I left totally stuffed. But not empty handed. Sally saddled me up with four grocery sacks of food to take home, including several complete bag dinners, cheesecake, cherry filling, artichoke dip, crackers, a big bag of rolls and fresh homemade strawberry jam. I brought over a bottle of wine, and some easter eggs filled with Jelly beans for Sara and Gabriel. Wore my pastel striped dress shirt. Havn't worn it since Easter with Jen's folks a year ago. Feels like a lot longer than a year has passed.

Anyway, so the long and short of it was that I gave up on my paper at three pages, only about one of which is really useful as information. I sat down at my computer to begin modeling at 7 PM Sunday night.

Ah yes, Friday, I went grocery shopping with Ben because we were out of food again, and then all afternoon and evening I spend studying and cleaning and organizing my room and stuff. I've started a goodwill pile with is slowly growing. That evening after Ben went out with friends to the bar, Ian, a friend of ours from 4th year dropped by looking for them. We talked for a bit, and he told me that in 4th year people were being called for using Sketchup for doing thier final renderings. It's great for concept and development, but it really does look cartoony, so FormZ it was. FormZ has a great rendering engine, but its uncomfortably halfway between AutoCad and Sketchup. My copy also keeps crashing on me. It must have a Catch-22 bug. I save often to avoid losing my latest work but saving sometimes causes the program to crash and when it crashes while saving, the entire file is wiped clean. I ended up just making tons of copies using Save As. Saving twice in a row so if it crashed and wiped at the next save I'd have a secondary backup. Anyway, that was very frustraing to say the least and I eneded up making the same set of trusses at least four times.

Ended up working until 4 AM, or nine hours straight. Went to bed for three hours of sleep and got up to continue work at 7 AM. Went into studio since I needed to reprint some autocad site plans and worked from there. That morning, i took images from the model and from the floorplans and converted them to formats I could use in my boards. Got four boards laid out and exported to PDFs for printing at 1: 10 PM, and walked out to the computer lab next door. Printer was broken so I walked back and noticed that in the last five minutes someone had posted a sign.

Studio had been cancelled for today. Nobody believed it. We all waited another five minutes and then EVERYONE split, probably to finish their history of architecture papers. I spent a few hours working some more on my computer model and then went to work down in the library. In the library I got another page or two pounded out on my paper.

Got a call from my supervisor asking me to ask a coworker to give more notice when she can't make her shifts. My supervisor can no longer get doctors appointments because he's had to cancel so often due to people being sick at work. He's up to six cancellations I believe. Not sure why he called me to ask her. Usually he's pretty direct and up front. My guess is he's feeling a lot of pressure right now and just had to do something. He wasn't unpleasnant, and commended me for my good track record of letting him know when I can't make it, but he just seemd really irate in general.

Anyway, here I am at 11:37 PM. I knew I'd remember my Friday night, although it was hardly memorable.

Apr 13, 2006

Hola, Buenos Aires

Today was the announcement of the winner of the $3000 travel scholarship. I guessed before we even had our interviews that Jamie would win, and I was right. So I will not be going to Japan this fall. However, before announcng the winner, last years winner gave a presentation on what he did. The four of us were all sitting togather, and each one us had really selfish proposals benefiting only our education. This guy went to South Africa to design and build shelters. For childeren and people suffering of HIV/AIDS. Had a really interesting presentation with lots of good pictures, some of which were difficult to look at due to the graphic nature of the reality of daily life down there. Anyway, Jamie won - she's going to use the money to take excoursions from Barcelona during her internship there with Enric Miralles studio. No hard feelings, I was actualy not sure what I'd do if I won as it comes right between internship and Buenos Aires. She's coming to BA, too, literally right after her intership in Barcelona. I don't envy her schedule. We're going to be roomates in Buenos Aires along with our friend Aldo (actually pretty much everyone is friends or aquaintances in this program). Jamie was in my stuido last semester, and Aldo sits across from me in studio now. Aldo grew up in Mexico city, and Jamie is minoring in it, so I've good language resources living with me.

Tonight after the presentation, we looked at apartments online. Our program coordinator talked to a leasing agency there and got us some great deals on apartments near the school. We looked them over and pickd this one as our top choice. On the sheet he gave us, he listed the price as $940 a month, considering how long we'll be there. It's only 2 bedroom, but its 1125 sq ft, and an amazing balcony and location. The price also includes weekly maid service, all our utilities, furnature, etc. Here's the listing.

Tonight I sent an email asking our contact there to hold the place for us if it is truly $940 a month. If not, there's a slightly smaller apartment for about the same price as our second choice. Anyway, I'm gettng really excited about this whole thing. The part of town this is near the historic center, the really trendy old town with the cutting edge clubs and stores, and this area is noted for its internaitonal cuisine, apparently the food center of the city, with the most parks. Oh man. Just got to get everything in order here.

Apr 11, 2006

Pylon (it's a long post, get it?)

Feeling a little more upbeat last two days. I abandoned my research topic in Latin American design which was getting me nowhere and so now I'm researching a Colombian architect by the name of R. Salmona. A lot more material and a lot more interesting. So decided that monday. After fighting with the CAD program for hours over the weekend and struggling to get my plan and sections printed on the big sheets, my studio instructor pulled out my hand-inked wall section to show the class the level of detail we were supposed to be working at. Poster boy Alec once again. I feel like Vanna White. Anyway, he's really enthused about the direction I'm working in and I think I've got a pretty good handle on it. Should be able to fine tune it with the 3d computer model I'm building in sketchup and a bit more cleaning up the plan. Monday night was also Molly's 21st birthday, so after work Ben and I walked to the Irish pub Rula Bula at midnight. We met a few of our friends from studio there and then Molly showed up with her party entourage along with David, the constant DD. There were at least 20 people there, mostly friends from studio and from thier house, and the only one who didn't enjoy himself was the bartender who (although he sold quite a few Irish car bombs and many pints of Guiness) had been expecting a quiet evening. Ben and I took off about 1, the same time Molly called it quits for the evening, and I got to bed around 2 walking back.

At 7:40 my mentor woke me up because he explained that he had to talk to some laywers at the office when I'd emailed him planning on coming in. I got up and told him I'd be there at 9. Shower, Corn Pops, collared shirt, slacks, belt, Suki, keys. Also drawings I'd picked up passing studio on the way home from the pub the night before. Traffic was bad, so it took me 45 minutes to get to the office, so I arrived right on schedule. I showed my mentor my floorplan, and sketched out the concept. He gave me some advice on materials and acoustics, like the scheme I'd developed, and recommended some projects to take a look at for further reference and inspiration.

Drove back home, hopped on my bike and hit the library to see what I could find on Salmona. The answer is not much, but enough for a decent paper, especailly after I found an entire book on his projects and work. I sailed through the architectual periodical incidies and found the bound periodicals I needed with no trouble. There are some definate advantages to working at the library. Only problem was some of the best periodical articles were MIA so I may have to try to find them online. There's really not a whole lot of American writing on him as he's a Colombian architect, and assumably its difficult for Americans to tavel to Colombia and evaluate his projects, so I tend to rely on spanish, german, and italian articles with thier english translations.

Another gorgeous day today. Not sure if there's anyplace nicer to be in the early spring than the valley. Just a hint of the heat at a high of 83 today. It will probably be an unusually infernal summer with the radical weather changes lately. All the paloverde trees are in full bloom with thier brilliant gold explosions. For some reason, my camera keeps getting card read errors so I cant take pictures. I'll have to look into that. Hopefully it will go away as its happened to it before.

I have a five page paper due next tuesday for history of architecture I've read five pages for, and the latin american design paper is due a week after that. Finals begins the 4th, although the only final I have to worry about is structures, and we're doing nothing but review for the final from here on in. Then there's the architecture project. Our studio instructor wants us to be essentially done designing and ready to begin presentation materials and setting up our presentation boards next monday. I need to start blocking in hours I'm going to spend of each of these things on my calender. There are the two papers, and then all the visa stuff for Argentina. The good news on that is that a friend of mine called the consulate in LA and they said the requiremnts I'd listed were for a year stay: the semester stay is much abridged, not requiring the psychohealth check or the non-criminal record statement. May still require a trip to LA though. Time to get that going, too. What's happened to this semester? I have literally three weeks of school left. Just when you think time can't speed up any more...

We looked at buildings in Paris today in history of architecture, and it made me smile and think about all the good times I had with my family and walking everywhere with Chase. Ah, Paris. I'm so spoiled. I've been there three times, but my nation's capital? Never.

Speaking of family, definately check out my mom's blog- she's got some amazing pictures from Abu Dabhi. There's something so photogenic about the sand dune desert against the sky, something so minimal that it provides a poetic backdrop for the action of even something as mundane as sandboarding.

Apr 8, 2006

Weekend with the architects

Friday I couldn't focus on anything- my mind was elsewhere all day. I did catch Eddie Jones lecturing a group of mostly interior students. He displayed a bunch of his works and talked about it, which is the best way to begin to understand where the architect was coming from- hearing the architect himself describing it. Eddie Jones is probably second only to Will Bruder in terms of recognizability in Phoenix. His clients are extremely high end, so he does a lot of houses for people who want thier house to really stand out and be "architectural". So they throw vast sums of money at him and he comes up with some really interesting houses involving zinc titanium cladding, stacked glass, etc. He also designed the Lattie Coor building for ASU. Got some good points about design from him too.

Around 7 o clock, I was hungry and frustrated from such an unproductive day, so I went home and split a pizza with Ben. I asked a friend of mine who usualy knows where the parties were what she was up to, and she told me to come over and go to First Fridays. First Friday's is an extremely local event in downtown phoenix the first friday of every month starting around 7 and lasting until around 10. There's an artist community down there in the old urban neighborhoods, and they all open thier galleries to the public. These galleries range from the downstairs of thier houses to professional architect's office spaces. In addition, there are garage bands which play, tons of craft vendors selling thier art on the side, street performers, and even a band playing from the back of a moving pickup truck. There was also this kid, looked about 10 years old, playing the drum section live from recorded songs. He was playing a full set, in his socks, from this stoop of an old house, and he was literally rocking out. And he was amazing. This kid has a future as a studio musician for sure. So anyway, Molly and the rest of the group drive down there and we meet a few people from my studio while we're down there. There's always tons of people and the galleries are always packed. Everyone who even thinks about art, fashion, and design is down there. Matrons wearing original jewellry, moms pushing strollers, hipsters, punks, rebellious artists, graphic designers, and anyone and everyone who picks out stylish glasses. So that's a cool time. Anyway, afterwards I come back home and crash.

Today I went into studio early again and got a lot of work done in a short amount of time, bringing my floorplan into CAD. It was another phenomenally beautiful day. Around five, I got ready for the college of design alumni dinner party. There was an email circulated asking for 12 college of design students who wanted to go to dinner with the alums. I jumped on it. Anyway, after gettng the confirmation invite, a student organized a carpool so I said sure and took three students in my van. It was a strange feeling, driving students who were all older than me in a minivan no less. There was only one girl I knew that came, a crazy double masters in arch and planning that I always see in the library. There was a friend of hers in planning, an older landscape student, a few industrial designers, and an extremely nervous looking freshman.

Anyway, the house was way out in south mountain foothills in a gated community, one of the architect's houses, so it was like a nice community of scottsdale. The whole thing was very informal, with eveyone getting tagged by nametags at the beginning. We mingled and chatted for awhile and I talked to my old friend Michelle, the one I met as a senior in HS who organized that first masonry challenge thing. She;s got her own firm now and I got her advice on licensure, grad school, etc. One thing I heard from one of the dinner guests was that graduate programs you need to apply in the fall of your senior year- in other words, when I'd be in Argentina. I need to cooroborate this, but it may mean that I need to get the ball well on its way this summer. The house was very nice, and there were these two tiny white fluffly dogs which were constantly running around underfoot, and an electric koi which swam slow circles in the pool. There were appetisers, beer, wine, and then they served dinner buffet style and we all sat down at a series of tables outside. Dinner was this delicious chicken and vegitables and they served home made green tea ice cream for dessert, which was interesting but tasty. Most of the architects were really young, like people who graduated in the last five years or so. I sat across from this young couple who were recently married. The wife graduated from the bachelor program last year at ASU and was AIAS president while I was a member. Her husband looked a bit older, but he was in the first gradating class of desert mountain and knew John Prather really well. He is actually getting ready to teach an AP english class of his own and we talked a bit about what worked in Prather's class and I recommended Bourges and Neuromancer as summer reading.

It's very strange, I was probably one of the more gregarious students there. Maybe because I knew Michelle from before, or just because I have more experiance with dinner parties I was able to converse much more easily than the other students. Anyway, when I looked over and saw a really quiet and awkward table of students sitting with a landscape architect, I slid over and started some conversation and then realized they were all aching to get back to studio. It was almost 10 by this point, and we are working students, so I got up and we started the process of thanking everyone and last minute pictures were taken.

Dropped everyone off back at school and now I'm at home, enjoying a glass of chardonnay, (not nearly as good as the stuff at the house). I'll probably head to bed soon, as I want to get up early to see the start of the ironman triathalon at tempe town lake. The race starts with the athletes throwing themseves in the water for the 2 mile swim.

Apr 6, 2006

Lost in Spring

Today was a tragically beautiful spring day. Tragic, as I had a major history of architecture exam in the middle of it. Doubly tragic, as the pleasant breezes and bird song will dissapear in a few short weeks when the pleasant breeze turns to a furnace blast and the birds spontaneously combust on the wing. But for today, I staked out the secret garden and studied there in the morning, went to class for the test, and dozed there again afterwards in the afternoon. The test went fine although I missed a few dates. I just dont have a head for detached figures like that, and my time is better spent studying the structure itself than trying to drill a meaningless figure into my head. Plus, it was a gorgeous day out, and the trees in the secret garden were in bloom.

The so-called secret garden is one my favorite spaces at ASU. It's a courtyard of an old girls dorm which is now a school for social work. It's built of whitewashed brick and block and two stories tall. The courtyard itself if beautifully proportioned to the two storied building: small enough to feel private, yet large enough to seem to give everyone their own personal space. The surrounding building blocks any noise from outside, and the space is mostly surrounded by wide planters holding a variety of old trees and plants which shade the area. The whole thing is coverd in grass, except for an old concrete landing which has a fireplace set into the side of the building. The "secret" of the secret garden is that there's two rather inconspicuous entrances from the outside, one of which is in a narrow alley between two buildings. One must actually decend a ramp and pass beneath the building to come up into the courtyard. Anyway, spent a bit of time there today, watching the sun on the trees, listening to my music, and watching hummingbirds chase each other.

But on to reality. Tomorrow it's back to cranking out a fully realized design for my pool project, with some minimum requirements to have for monday. Should be a pretty cool building if I can pull it all togather. Saturday night I signed up for a dinner with the College of Design alumni along with 11 other students from the COD. It's a dinner party, so time to break out the Ms. Manners guide.

Also got some exciting news back from my mentor- since he contributed to the college of design certificiation process, they're letting him pick a student for summer internship, and he asked me if I was still interested in working for DWL this summer. I responded enthusiastically that I'd much rather work for them than play russian roulette with the valley design firms. So that should be really cool.

Apr 5, 2006

Dear Taylor

It sounds corny, but I can't believe you're 17. I know, I'm 4.5 years older than you and when I work the math it helps. The world has moved on so much faster since I moved away from home, so even though you're rearing to get out, appreciate not having to worry about feeding yourself, doing your laundry, or paying bills. I'm sure you've noticed time speeding up in your later years of high school. In college, it goes a lot quicker. I still can't believe I'm coming to the end of my third year here. So preachy lesson #1: don't live faster than you need to.

I've always been amazed at your range of talents. You are a wellspring of charisma, people just like to be around you. Your strength and stubborness will serve you well in life. And I've always been floored by the way you beat me hands down in a variety of athletics from ice skating to tennis to ping pong (although I can catch food with my mouth better than you ha ha). And the acting took me completely by surprise, although with your charisma and intuitive quick thinking, it shouldn't have. Watching you in Guys and Dolls was the highlight of my Moscow trip. When you want something, when you love doing something, you get it done.

I've missed you down here in Tempe. You've changed so much since you've been gone, the natural result of high school, intensified by your life over there. But when we hang out I still catch glimses of an younger Taylor, a Taylor who once used to make me snack when I got home from school and who loved macaroni and cheese. Keep letting your big heart guide you and never lose that kindness.

I hope you're enjoying Abu Dhabi, but I know it must feel strange and alienating knowing that you'll be coming back there and leaving your friends behind. I know what thats like, but I never had as many friends as you. Hopefully, you'll all be able to stay in touch through blogs, myspace, etc. And I know that you'll make new friends in Abu Dhabi, which is a small consolation. At any rate, its good experiance for the feelings of dislocation and change you'll find when you come to college. But you'll quickly get over those, swept up whats going on around you.

Anyway, I wish I was there to wish you a happy birthday in person, and to buy you a cold stone chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cake (some things never change), hit Zara for the latest men's fashion, or just hang out and watch old episodes of Family Guy and the Simpsons.

Love always,
Your brother
"Strength and Honor"

Apr 4, 2006

Ah, the heady rush of publication!

Today when I came into work, Molly brought in a copy of Zombie, the new student run newsletter from the college of design. In the 8 page newsletter, an entire spread was devoted to entries from my satirical "Student Encyclopedia," thankfully the best ones, although the entry on the AIAS was NOT included, which although it was a scream, did not have a good chance of making it in as the main editors were AIAS officers. The rest of the newsletter, as the title indicates, carried this sarcastic tone through several other articles. I felt honor bound to place it among the better known journals of architecture in our reader room in the library.

In other news, student dissatisfaction with our structures professor has risen to such crisis levels that the director of the college personally interviened and set up saturday sessions with a TA to give remedial tutoring on top of the regular class.

Just as a thought of the day, maybe the problems we have in modernity arise becasue we struggle with a paradoxical existance which arises from a much more complex lifestyle. Why didn't midieval pig farmers struggle with existentialism? Because they were simple pig farmers who raised pigs to survive and that was the majority of thier identity. They weren't pig farmers AND pork belly speculators AND government agrarian inspectors. There was no real contradiction in thier lives.

Modernity is about paradoxes. As Americans, we're the hardest workers and are paid the best, but we have no time to enjoy that success. After the fall of the Roman empire, the human being was divided into the spirit and the flesh, two entities which divided, unhappily jostle for control. The places I've been and things I've seen would satisfy lifetimes in the old days, yet I am still too young to rent a car. I forget where I'm going with this, and too much unfocused rambling drives down readership anyway.

Apr 3, 2006

10,000 hoops to Argentina

Busy weekend, mostly spent working on my studio project. We had a pin up review today in studio. I took it easy, and made myself go home at midnight. Got at least 8 hours of sleep before getting up today and going to our small group meeting for the Argentina Exchange Program at 11. Got the dates of the program- the professor wants us down there for a immersive language program and is officially starting the program August 4th. This spanish program is $120 and lasts 4 hours a day for three weeks. However, our actually semester will not start until August 21st. At this point, I'm not sure what to do. While it would be nice to start the program with about half of the other students, and get my bearings in Argentina while brushing up on Spanish, it would effectively kill any time to spend with my family this summer. That's also assuming I don't get the travel scholarship to Japan, which I'll find out this wednesday.

Anyway, in the small group we spent some time going over student visa requirements. One can travel in Argentina for 90 days without a visa, but for longer than that, a student visa is required. Apparently, the US has such heinously complicated and difficult student visa requirements that Argentina felt compelled to make thiers equally difficult. Items I'll need to compile:

  • Passport
  • visa application form
  • original enrollment letter from the Argentine school (our program is procuring those for us)
  • Proof of medical insurance and sufficiant funds
  • police certificate of non-criminal-record (which I can get from the Tempe Police) with the signature of the issuing officer notarized and then legalized by the county clerk's office.
  • Health and psycho-health evaluation certificiate signed by a doctor and a verification of the doctor's licence by the corresponding medical board
  • Two passport photos, one of which 3/4 right profile.
  • Consular Fees of $280

And it gets better: All documents in English must be translated into Spanish and signed by an authorized translator or notary public. The translators signature must be notarized. In all cases, the the Notary Public's signature must be legalized by the County Clerk's Office.

Then you take your heavily notarized, translated, re-notarized and legalized documents and you have to physically take them to the consulate for processing and interview in "personal interview". As there are no Argentine consulates in Arizona, this means I actually have to drive to Los Angeles and get to the consulate at 6 AM in order to make sure that I can actually see a consular officer during thier working hours of 9-noon.

This kind of load of beauocracy makes the Russians look Swiss in comparison.

Medium is the message

I moved the blog again. I deleted the Tumblr account and moved everything to Medium.com, a more writing-centric website. medium.com/@wende