Sep 30, 2011

searching for morpheus

Been getting about five hours of sleep a night these past few nights. I started to fall asleep on the bus back home tonight. Our studio instructor says he's getting worried about the studio as we're way behind schedule. It's dour message, always presented in a clipped if not genial manner. I'm waiting for the real fireworks.

Tonight, I'm going to wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen (sorry, James!) and then hit the sack early, and wake up... whenever my body wakes me. It's going to be a long week in studio.

Shanghai plans are going smoothly- the passport expediters have my application and all the paperwork that goes along with it. I can't believe we leave a week from next Tuesday.

IHOP with the internationals

Long day today. Had the usual advanced building systems morning show at 7:30. After structures, however, Dew said "IHOP," and I said, "let's do it." And so Dew, Kenny, Chuck and I went out to IHOP and got way too many pancakes. 

There's something about the cumulative IHOP experience which is great- and its really the American Breakfast Chain kind of experience- the friendliness of the chunky coffee mugs, the slightly irritable waitstaff, the giant plates full of eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, and pancakes, the tightness of the spaces between tables and booths, even the laminate plastic menus and chorus line of syrups (none of which is the prima donna, maple). However, if you try to peg one thing, especially the food, the experience tends to fall apart. There's something really exciting about ordering a breakfast combination plate, but the pancakes are too doughy and bland, the bacon is always burnt to a crisp, the eggs are weak and forgettable. It's still fun though to go, especially with friends, talking, eating, drinking way too much coffee.

It was also a spectacularly beautiful fall day. Warm, sunny, breezy, blue skies with wisps of clouds. Everyone was outside around lunchtime, enjoying the weather. Tomorrow is forecast to be the same, so you know that its going to snow, or pour rain at the very least. 

Worked late in studio, almost until 1 am. Thought it was close to 2, so I came home to sleep. I'll be back up at 7 tomorrow. For now, I'm simply enjoying the sound and breeze of this windy evening.

Sep 28, 2011

East St.Louis

Last night, I worked in studio until about 2 am, crashed at home, and then got up at 7 to meet the client we're working with for our community development class. Although there's five of us on the team, the time we all meet for class is actually the only time during the week where we are all free. So today's site visit to East St.Louis only had three of us attending.

I got lost coming over, and the member of the team I'd carpooled with, a 2L SLU law student, was totally lost with the street atlas I had, but I was able to figure out where we were. East St.Louis is pretty small, after all. It's kind of an stigmatized city- one of the highest crime rates in the country will do that- but there has been new development which is encouraging. A large part of East St.Louis, however, remains mostly run down residential, car washes, liquor stores, and churches. There's really only two places one can buy groceries.

Anyway, the project is a renovation, really a gutting and a re-roofing, of an existing building. So I'm kind of excited. The client also drove us around the city to show us the kind of problems she is trying to remedy, and the strategy of her work. It was very interesting. Most people never go into East St.Louis unless its to continue drinking past 2am or to gamble.

Sep 26, 2011

Miracle mondays

There's a certain professor in the school, who is very gung ho about architecture and design. He has a local practice which mostly seems to do competition work. Might have a few small projects in there. Anyway, he was the first professor I had when Saori and I came into the program a year ago, as the head of the Orientaiton Studio, or as I liked to call it "boot camp." Eight days of nonstop studio. I learned Rhino from the first mouse click up, and we made a model every two days. We were pulled in to see him, each group alone, to give a quick presentation in an empty classroom. He likes to work late. Real late. I'll see him around studio between 11 and 3am. It was probably that late when we had our first review. He was leaning back in a chair, looking at the same time incredibly bored, and totally indifferent. "That thing," he said, "looks like a truck."

It's a little misleading because he does really care about architecture, and about student work, but not in that "oh once you get to know him, he's actually really fuzzy" kind of way. He's been about the most stone cold professors, with a presence like Snape. (Full disclosure, apart from a few reviews, I've never had him as a studio professor, which is the real test). Anyway, he is incredibly quotable, and this semester, I have the privilege of working within earshot of his studio. Last night, around 11 or so, I got a good one. He was going around, looking at people's work of those who were there that late. I don't know what comment precipitated it, but his response was phenomenal and totally sums up this guy's approach to studio.

"You can't make a good project in one day. I don't expect miracles on Wednesdays. But weekends are a gift. You have Friday night, Saturday, Sunday. I expect miracles on Mondays."

Over on our side of the studio, everyone catches each other's eye and silently grin like mad. I posted the quote on facebook, and someone in the studio printed it and posted it in the studio next to the "prohibited dress code."

Solutions to Problems that don't Exist

During most of the semester, the school hosts a weekly lecture series, usually by an architect of note, and usually on monday nights. The upcoming lecture is advertized on a poster out in the main hall. This week's lecturer was Neil Denari, formerly the director architecture at SCI-arc and a practicing architect known for digital fabrication. His stuff is vaguely reminsicent of Hadid's work (I'm not as well rounded on my architects as I should be, so this was the first I'd heard of him to be honest). The title of his lecture really pissed me off:
Solutions to Problems that don't Exist
Fantastic, I thought, we are in an increasingly marginalized and constrained profession, in a world of problems that Do Exist, and this image-driven architect is going to give a lecture on how he's jerking off.

To his credit, he addressed the issue head on, from the onset. I've seen a lot of image architects, but few of them were willing to come out and say, yes, this is mostly about image. Actually he gave one of the clearest and most coherant defenses of image architecture I've seen so far. He went so far as to call out the architects who take the ideological position that architecture should not be media, that architecture should be a bulwark against transient culture. (He's framing it in very absolute terms to highlight his position, I don't think that architecture should be necessarily eternal or reflect universal, ageless values). He comes down very clearly on the side which says architecture should reflect culture rather than shape it.  In my view, he is making a kind of vapid architecture which panders to a vapid culture. Comes back to the old argument about the role of the architect in society. He seems to take the minority position, to say we don't have the authority to make or define culture.

Hmmmm. Architects must have authority to define or shape culture, a kind of cultural capital. Where do we get it from? Authority is ultimately given, it cannot be taken. So as an architect, I must get my cultural capital from... the producers of culture? It is something given by the design community to itself? I don't think so.  I think its society, which ultimately validates what it considers architecture and what is not. I think that architecture community is deluding itself if it thinks for a moment that our authority flows from our degrees or our professional status. They probably help convince society that we have the resources worthwhile of their investment of cultural capital, but its not the thing itself.

I'm more closed-minded then I used to be, probably a product of getting older and thinking I know more than I do. Bad habit.

Sep 24, 2011

Donut Deserts and Giant Inflatable Colons

This morning, I couldn't remember if I was supposed to meet at the botanical gardens at 8 or 9, so I went down to the Tower Grove neighborhood at 8. Got a text halfway there that said they were meeting at 9, so I stopped for two donuts and a small, sweet coffee at World's Fair Donuts, so far my favorite donut shop in St.Louis.

There's a massive donut desert in the first and second ring suburbs of St.Louis, of which University city is pretty much the epicenter. If you go a google search for donuts in St.Louis, you can see what I mean.


View Larger Map

I was talking to a local historian about the issue and in his opinion there are two potential causes- first, there was the health food craze in the 80s and 90s which marginalized donuts as they are admittedly full of sugar and fat. (Come on, like donuts are the reason that our country is so overweight!) Secondly, the areas currently with local donuts shops in the city and inner suburbs had a large German immigrant population, which have strong cultural connections with donuts, if not the actual inventors of the donut. Areas like University City and Clayton, wealthier, whiter communities, were predominately settled by Anglo-Saxon stock. Also likely is the fact that the local donut shop was supplanted by corporate coffee.

This is really interesting to me, because in contrast with the historical immigrant populations of these older cities, places like Phoenix and LA have local donut shops which are predominantly run by southeast Asians. Why? The patrons at these places were not necessarily immigrants either- they were a mix of buisness people and locals whos wanted a good place to meet and drink coffee and chat. At a few donut shops in Phoenix which I frequented, it was just as easy to order a boba milk tea with a box of really good, fresh donuts. Maybe I'll do my thesis on the cultural geography of local donut shops.

Anyway, I digress.

I got to the botanical garden about 45 minutes early. It's free for local residents saturdays, so I took a stroll through the grounds. I'd never been to the gardens before. It's really pretty. If you know St.Louis, you know how lush and green it can be. It's almost perfectly situated between two climatic regions, so we get plants from both regions growing here. The park is also well over a hundred years old, founded shortly after the Kew Gardens in London. There was a "Green Homes and Healthy Living" festival going on, which was basically a mishmash catch-all. Lots of people from Barnes-Jewish. They were signs posted around the grounds, pointing to the various events and activities.


Wait, what?

So, I wandered through the park, following the signs which pointed me in the direction to the GIC. And finally, walking around the corner, there it was:


It was part of a table of Barnes Jewiish/Wash U's medical school raising awareness of colon cancer. I asked where they got  the thing. They said it was a custom order. I can't even imagine what the ordering process would be like. It would be fun to work for a company that does custom inflatable structures.

And a view from the inside, with giant approximations of polyps and growths.


That was pretty much the highlight of my day. Like a ten year old, I snickered through the rest of the morning.

Sep 23, 2011

Curry night

I had a really nice evening tonight with friends.

After studio, I went down to happy hour downstairs and had one of the $1 beers. (The business school apparently has tons of free alcohol, but I've heard its mostly Bud and BL) I sat and talked with some friends for awhile and then drove home to feed Suki. I'm feeding her twice a day, a quarter cup at a time, although I may try swapping in some wet food now and then to keep her hydration levels up.

Anyway, I met up with Dew and Chuck at the Asian grocery store and bought some stuff for Japanese curry. (But no potatoes, which are more traditional, because Dew's not a fan). Back at Dew's place I started the rice and they started chopping and cooking the curry. Some other friends from 419 were there, and we talked and had some beer, just a small group, and ate the curry together. Really really delicious curry. Dew garnished it with pieces of bacon and a fried egg, which was a nice touch.

Around 11 or so, I drove Chuck back to his place and crashed in front of my TV. Watched a few episodes of Cowboy Bebop. If you're totally closed, never-going-to-ever-watch-that-japanese-stuff, I won't try to convince you, but its widely regarded to be the peak of the form. It's just really good.

Studio is going ok. We have a pretty serious review next Friday, so its going to be a long weekend in studio. Although, although, I'm hoping to take a tour around the botanical garden tomorrow morning.

Sep 22, 2011

Fried-days

Thursdays are seriously a killer. It starts at 8:30am with an hour and a half lecture on building systems, then an hour later, I'm off to urban books for another hour and a half. Then there's this odd break for a few hours which gives me time to get downtown to SLU where my urban issues class is, and then it's another two hours of class. Classes end and I try to wrangle a ride back to campus from the other Wash U students, and then its another several hours of studio before I finally collapse on my desk and attempt to use public transit to get back home. So friday's I'm pretty fried. I don't really have much to show for studio's desk crit since really, I've only had about 8 hours to work on it.

Got a super political lecture today in urban issues- the speaker was describing Adam Smith's original conception of a free market economy as occuring in an equal playing field and in a closed system. In reality, we do not have an equal playing field. There are those who have power to set the rules of the game, and the leverage to make the game work for them, and there are those who tend to get shafted since that's kind of the outcome that the rule makers want. In democracy, politics is the method by which the equation of power is rewritten. However, in recent history, there has been a tenancy for de-politicization. People don't use the dialogue of politics, and the speakers' point was that anymore, everyone from the middle class down has become blind to the nature of the 'game' and their own disadvantaged position within it. He also reiterated a point I heard a few days before in a very different lecture and context, that most situations in life, like poverty, are made conditions. They're not resultants, they're not byproducts, they were designed. It's a very strong statement. Some agent or group of agents, has acted and made decisions that systematically disenfranchise and impoverish. It's not a shadowy cabal conspiracy, its part of the game that someone has designed.

 I don't know enough about economics to argue the merits of the position that there must always be poverty. I was under the assumption that the free market seeks an equilibrium, and the fact that the gap between the rich and poor has drastically increased, and that we have enduring poverty, and enduring wealth, makes me think, well, we're definitively not reaching equilibrium here.

Sep 20, 2011

Seven Terrible Limericks about Architecture

A large, scrap sheet of paper was left, so I ended up folding it into a book with seven spreads. To fill it quickly and easily, I decided to write some bad verse:



My closest companion's A CAD,
Rhino's eaten the memory I had.
I won't touch grasshopper,
(that buggy show-stopper)
When they say "Cairo pattern" I say, "plaid."


"Euclidean geometry's a pox!"
Cried the teacher who refused to wear socks.
His structures so squirmed,
No space could be discerned,
and they buried him an a rectangular box.


I'm on my fourth day without sleep,
and my pencils continue to shriek.
My computer is leaking
what appears to be Peking,
and everywhere, everywhere are sheep.


I've got great respect for Corbu,
and a fondness for da Rocha, it's true.
I think Rem's pretty kool,
and Ando's no fool,
but my very favorite architect is you.


"what is this thing 'architecture'?" is a toy
discuss designers with gusto and joy:
whether "art," or "a tower
as expression of power,"
or simply, "to let a girl see a boy."


Rival princes with great wealth and heft
built tall towers to leave the other bereft.
Gloated one "naught is longer!"
whence retorted the smaller:
"Yes, but look how it tilts to the left."

Sep 19, 2011

Territory, Authority, Microwavable Dinners

Today was not as productive as I'd hoped- I spent a long time modeling the structure of the Burj Khalifa for my building systems class. Adrian Smith, the architect formerly at SOM: chicago who designed it, was right- it really needs to have that proportions. If you squish the whole building down, it starts to look like a literal pile of droppings.

Lecture tonight by Saskia Sassen, author of Territory, Authority, Rights, and spoke about...something.... It was very vague and general, mainly about power, and inequality, and the conditions of our global society that are made vs resultant. Not sure I totally agree that the poverty level of 1 in 6 Americans was something engineered (by whom?) but some interesting, if general ideas. She spoke about the city as having a kind of innate ability to change collective behavior, and to subvert or undermine technological systems. I would confront her with the provocative TED talk about algorithms, which suggest that it is the other way around. Anyway, it made me interested in her book, since I'm always interested in who has power. Also provocative was the statement she made that the middle class around the world is beginning to push back against the powers that be, to revolt in various fashions, including the Arab Spring. She said that the American middle class, which is under assault as well, is oddly silent and passive.

Worked late tonight in studio. Just got home an hour ago and microwaved one of my last roommate's frozen dinners which has been sitting in the freezer for not a few months. Hope its still ok to eat.

Sep 18, 2011

Cahokia

After a slow morning of laundry and watching the rain, I decided to make a trip out to Cahokia mounds. About a 30 minute drive from here, its out on the Illinois side of the Mississippi. (incidentally, I found out today that Illinois was named after the Illini natives who settled here long after the disappearance of the Mississippian culture.) It was the Mississippian culture that created a city around 900 AD, which, with a population of 20,000 people, was the largest city in the northern hemisphere at the time. An early experiment in high density urbanism, if you will. Like the Hohokam of the southwest, they mysteriously disappeared or died out after a few hundred years of effectively ruling this part of the midwest. The visitor center displays tended to push the theory that reliance on a monoculture of corn, plus the health stresses of high density living including poor sanitation, pushed the Mississipian culture at Cahokia to disintegrate.

But before they did, they built a city of earthen mounds. The mounds still exist today and mark out a large urban space, now overgrown, partially collapsed, and bisected by a state route. I climbed up the largest, known as "monks mound" since the french settlers believed it was the high priest who lived at its highest terrace. It's quite a view, especially when is in the midwest where the tallest things tend to either be Love's gas station signs or crucifixes. From the summit, I could see the arch of downtown.

It was a misty, rainy day, but it added to the mystery and atmosphere of the place. The moss on the oaks glows green when it rains against the black soaked bark of the tree. Everywhere was gray and green. Interestingly, no one really knows what they called the city, since the Mississippians never developed writing. For all we know, a thousand years ago, they could have been calling it "Detroit." There's something that intensifies the mystery of the place, to climb a mound with a lost name, in the center of a city with a lost name. To name something is to nail it down, to take partial ownership.

Anyway, photos.
the dim pub at the Cheshire Inn

Mounds at Cahokia

Jazz festival at the train crossing




Sep 17, 2011

Towers and Jazz

Suki got me up early this morning. She is trying to teach me to be a less selfish and more humane person.

We had a meeting today with our systems professor, so I wanted to make an early start. Since there are no donut shops around U City or Clayton (hint hint all you entrepreneurial types out there), I ended up picking up a half dozen donuts at the Ladue Schnucks before heading into studio. I worked at studio all morning, modeling and researching the Burj Khalifa for my systems class. The structure is actually very simple. Very expensive, but remarkably simple. The 2' walls of the hexagonal core is buttressed by 2' corridor walls which run down the length of each tower lobe, and the whole thing is high strength reinforced concrete. Its kind of like three wide flange beams welded together at one of the flanges. The tower doesn't become steel until way way up almost to the top spire. So that's the secret.

Anyway, our 45 minute meeting with the professor was mostly spent talking about the other tower, not the one I spent my morning working on. We were trying to work out the structural system of this building, and we all ended up standing almost in a circle in his office acting as the various components of the tower- the professor became the core and supported himself with two outrigger arms against the super-columns of my team mates. He's a fun guy. Cracks me up. It's almost like we were all doing the robot dance really slowly, tracing out the load paths with our hands.

Spent a few hours trying to figure out how I wanted to do my book assignment for the week. I have to make a book for Thursday's class. I liked the idea of photographing spots where the city-county line runs through, since its a really arbitrary line, and often it cuts right through individual properties, although I can't tell you how exactly that works. If you look at the street, though, there's usually a line that shows you were the maintenance ends.

Went back to the British style pub in the Cheshire Inn. Drank an overpriced beer and read a white paper about the Burj as I sat in the dim space, surrounded by dark wood and leather. Ended up stealing a few hotel bath soaps and shampoos as I wandered around the building afterwards.

I drove out to Webster grove, south of Clayton, where there was a blues and jazz festival going on. The town, like nearly all of these little municipalities, has a quaint downtown main street, and they'd closed it off for the festival. Lot of people there, the street was totally packed. Vendors sold food and Verizon was taking the opportunity to hawk its phones and plans as well. I got a beer and moved towards the stage. It was a pretty uniform crowd- nearly everyone there looked white, middle to upper middle class, and in their 40s and 50s. Almost without exception. The music was very good. I was introduced to Marquise Knox and his band, and that is a smoking dude with a mean electric guitar and blues harp. Also, probably half the age of the median attendee.

I left around ten or so, and headed back home. Watched some more episodes of Cowboy Bebop. I just don't feel motivated to work these weekend nights. It's too depressing to be in studio friday and saturday night. So I'm going to work on being more sociable. Once I get this whole "less selfish" and "empathy" thing down.

Sep 16, 2011

Shanghaied

I just bought my tickets for Shanghai. Close to $950 RT. I'm happy its under a grand, but it's still pretty spendy considering that the school isn't even subsidizing this trip. This has actually been one of the most exciting semesters for me as far as studio is concerned. I don't think I've been nearly this jazzed for studio in a long time. Maybe its just a reaction from the New Orleans studio. The professor also gets me really excited. He's very easy going, but he gets very excited himself about the sites and conditions we're dealing with, and I really like his approach to architecture and urbanism, which is more of the "try something and see how the site reacts" rather than the "site analysis to death before you do anything" approach.

On the one hand, I'm still a little bitter about not getting to go to Shanghai this summer, and on the other, I'm really stoked about seeing the city again. The last time I was in Shanghai was '98 or '99, and we stayed in the vacant-seeming Peace Hotel. This same hotel is now part of the Fairmont hotels, and the nightly rate is about $400 USD. When I suggested staying there this trip, the professor just laughed. Times change.

Tonight, I went out with some friends to a Brazillian restaurant in Soulard for their happy hour. It's actually a pretty good deal. Fridays, from 5-7, if you buy a drink, you get all you can eat salmon soup, chips, nacho cheese, and spicy wings. The salmon soup is by far the prize- chunks of salmon, rice, peppers and tomatoes, got a nice kick to it too. They serve a real mean caipirinha too, real cahaca and as strong as I remember them in Sao Paolo. Actually, the best caipirinha I've had since then. I got a double, which was $10, but its a seriously strong drink that will take you through the better part of the night. You can also get a regular size for $5, which is what I'd do next time. The regular size makes you wistful for the hot nights and sweaty clubs of Lapa, the double makes you think that you're there.

Semester so far...

It's a lonely friday night, so its a good time to update the ol' blog. And buy tickets to China.

Anyway,


Studio- this semester, I'm taking a more "urban" studio, which is to say its taught by the chair of the urban program, a South African. He's really big on Asian cities, which is the focus of the semester. The site is a large area of the riverfront in Shanghai, on the same side as the Bund across from Pudong. We're trying to get a trip over there organized, although people in the studio keep flaking out. It's expensive (we have to pay for the trip ourselves) and we're planning on going for a week, which is a LONG TIME in graduate school. I really really really want to go. Actually, I'm debating going anyway regardless and try to find someone that someone knows shanghai really well to show me around once I get there. We started the studio quite intimately. We recorded in minute detail two days of our lives. What we were doing, how we felt, where we were, phenomenological aspects, scalar aspects, social aspects, etc. etc, and from there, analysis, an attempt to establish what it is that organizes our lives, and digging into the qualitative aspects of what makes us enjoy the things we really enjoy. Then making what I'd call a phenomenological model of our "life space" and finally aggregating it 500 times to create a city of me. So its been a bit of a challenge, but what else is new?

Advanced Building Systems- this course attempts to tie together structural and building systems, looking at the architectural potential of how the systems can interrelate. I'm in a group of five, and our group basically takes an existing building and tears it apart to understand the systems and to evaluate how well it works. Our buildings: two SOM skyscrapers; the Burj Khalifa and some new tower in Shenzhen, with integrated wind turbines which supposedly make it "net zero". At any rate, I've always wanted to know how the Burj works so that's been kind of fun.

Urban Books- softie course. Combined with the art school here, we learn the basics of making books, the content of which is supposed to be reflective of our understanding of St.Louis. Kind of urban design 101 combined with bookmaking. Kind of fun, useful for later when I'll have to make a book for Design Thinking (precurser to the degree project), and I like crafting stuff anyway. 

Urban Issues- (are you seeing a pattern here?) This one is also kind of a strange class- this is a combined class of Architecture, Urban planning, Law, Business, and Social work students from St.Louis University and Wash U. We make teams and work for a local community group. 

Anyway, it seems like its going to be a relatively light semester, although studio is getting interesting and quickly very complicated and intense. Urban issues could also be heavy, depending on how things go. Not too worried about the other classes.

Sep 14, 2011

birthday weekend- in graphical form!

So I turned 27 last weekend, and edged a little closer to 30. At this point, there are only four more things I am not old enough to do:

  • Run for the Presidency of the United States
  • Get senior citizen discounts
  • Withdraw from an IRA or 401(k) without penalties
  • Receive social security benefits
Whooo! Let the countdown begin! ::cough:: ::cough:::

So I turned 27 last weekend. Coincidentally, this was the same weekend that I was given the assignment to track 48 hours of my life in minute detail as part of a studio assignment. So, this rather exceptional weekend included five hours at bars, five hours of partying at a friend's house, a dozen beers (throughout the 48 hour period), a hot tub, and, surprisingly, 5 hours of walking. Click for larger image.
how I spent my time at each place

time spent organized by activity

graphical representation of my birthday
horizontal banding by place, activity by color
dotted line indicates emotional state
gray bars on bottom indicate people around me

Sep 1, 2011

The Best Part of the Semester

Yesterday, we went to the university theater to hear the option studio presentations. As a quick reminder, the way the graduate architecture program is set up, there is a series of core studios which are taken sequentially until you have four semesters left in the program. Then, you have three semesters of studios where you are mixed with everyone else in your year and up to three semesters ahead of you, where you vote on which studio you want to take. Since whatever studio you end up with takes 90% of your time in the semester, it's a pretty intense time. There is a stampede to find out the studios being offered when the Dean's Letter comes out the day before, there is a stampede to find out what studio you're in when they post the rankings the day after the presentations.

So, we watched the presentations. There were only eight studios this down, down from 13 last year. I guess they didn't like hearing from people who got their eighth choice from the top. Actually, its because there's a big group in BsAs and Seoul this semester.


So I found out today what studio I'm in: I got my first pick, a shanghai studio lead by John Hoal, who has taught a very similar studio before. The studio looks at high density SE asian urbanism, with the project of a high rise on the river in Shanghai. There is a trip as part of the studio, probably run me about $1500 after airfare, lodging, and food for a week. We'll find out more tomorrow when we have our first class meeting.

Thursdays are busy days. I started with advanced building systems at 8:30AM (yes, the one in the morning). Then I realized I'd forgotten the jump drive I needed for my bookmaking class, so I had to bike back home and pick it up. Biked back to school and barely had time to print it out before biking back out the library for our class at 11:30 After bookmaking, I went back to the architecture building and hung out until I had to leave for my urban issues class at 4. I had a lot of time, so I decided to take public transportation to get to the classroom where it was held at SLU.

I looked up the directions on Google, and boarded the metro. Realized that I wasn't going to be able to disembark as the station I wanted was closed, so I rode all the way to grand central station and had to take a bus back up. Wandered around the grounds of SLU for awhile before I met up with the rest of the class in the SLU school of social work. This class I'm taking, urban issues, is not the typical seminar.

First, the class is made up of five different disciplines from two schools. Architecture, Urban planning, MBAs, Law, and Social work from Wash U and Saint Louis University. Taught by five professors representing the five fields. The object of the course is to form teams to respond to social oriented RFPs in the St.Louis community, like master planning impovershed neighborhoods, remodeling buildings into community assets, and designing prototypical housing and developing recovery plans for natural disasters. Should be an interesting class. Took the bus back home.

At 9pm, we met back at studio to pick desks. Dew and Chuck will be in my studio, which is cool since I know them really well. There's only two girls out of 11 in our studio, and apparently there's a studio with all girls and only one guy. People were joking we need to have a mixer.

I don't know why we always meet so late. Is it because some students have classes until 9? And there's no good time thursday morning where people don't have classes? I don't really get it, and I'm a freaking vice president in the freaking GAC that organizes it. I think there's a definite division within the GAC of people who deal strictly with student functions, and those who also work for the administration. I'd say we're mere puppets for other puppets but then it would suggest at the end there's someone holding the strings.

There is something surreal and unsettling about not having studio yet. We're all slightly drunk with anticipation which is half fear and half exultation. Even without studios, without professors or desks, the vast majority of students congregate, pulse through the halls of Givens, reading new architecture books in the library, flip through pendaflex folders we've already checked numerous times. We're tracing our steps, like a dancer nervously traipsing across the empty stage before the first practice of the season. It's our own seductive dream, a prelude to the organized fantasy that is architecture school. Studying architecture in school is a fantastic game, like an incredibly immersion and addictive online game combined with the joy of art, design, and creation, and its everywhere, everywhere you look is architecture, you cannot help but be surrounded by it. There's not really a comparable profession: it's like a botanical genetic engineer is set loose in a rainforest, an athlete in a perpetual Olympics, a writer in an endless library. It's all architecture, all ripe for theft, subtle variation, criticism, homage, analysis, disgust, and delight.

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...