Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Reflections unit summary

The Reflections unit started with an architectural parlance, started in France in an effort to rewrite the established architectural rules of past cultures. With many revolutions starting during this time (industrial, agricultural, financial and transportation) the world was at the tipping point of finally connecting information in one country with another with much greater speed than ever previously imagined. The advent of mass media such as magazines, books, and newspapers changed the influences of design by this connection. The 18th and 19th centuries made the world smaller, in terms of the speed that information could travel. In the architectural realm, The Place de Vosges was a series of townhomes built to create the façade of a castle with individual homes contained within, with, this individual homes began to also have public spaces of their own, much like today’s subdivisions. This sense of belonging or the need to match the neighborhood context is the forefather of many modern day zoning regulations. With this new way of thinking, the enfilade or rooms for public activities in front leading to private rooms in the back of the home was not new, but was cemented as the norm during this period.
A movement of academic theory of architecture started with Boullee’s cenotaph for Newton, stating that the idea is just as important as the physical structure. This opened the door for a shift in the number of professions created, as more specialists were needed for these new ideas to come to fruition.
With Ledoux’s Salt works building, industrial structures started to become stylish or more aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand the Pantheon built in 1792, put structure first and aesthetics second. The world seemed at odds with itself, many designers wanting to keep the past references forever and a new breed of designers working toward reinventing architecture.
As America became independent from England, its colonies had traditionally been divided into north and south, the north following England’s example of wood structures emulating the homes and buildings built there, but in the south, the renaissance inspired Georgian mixed with Palladio’s influence. The southern structures stretched across the landscape and were built of masonry. Furniture in America starts to move away from English influence and begins to move outside of the established box of conventional design. Buildings like Jefferson’s Monticello, the White House and US Capital set an American precedent of using classical influence for civic building and universities, just increased the scale for this new use.
The industrial revolution brought about new materials and mass production techniques of existing ones. Iron and glass made possible the reengineering of larger structures with lighter materials. In Europe increases in population in larger cities spawned the need for shopping arcades like the Burlington arcade in London and climate control for these. Large glass and iron structures also housed exhibitions of technology and plant life not native to Europe. These buildings also provided the wealthy a space for social gatherings with a feeling of being outdoors but controlling nature as well, The Crystal Palace was the most famous of these. Using prefabricated materials these glass and iron massive structures could be erected in a short amount of time and moved if necessary.
As existing nations and new nations just created evolved, a nationalistic movement started. Gothic revival building like the House of Parliament, and Strawberry Hill conveyed the pure values, and romanticism and great emotion represented in this Nationalistic movement.
Trade with the east had been around since 500 B.C., but mass production made reproducing oriental designs integrated with European styles. China also catered to the individual European counties style and shipped many interior decorations to Europe. Clothing was influenced by eastern design as well. With Japan opening itself to the rest of the world in 1858 a new design influence came to light. Japanese influence becomes fashionable also. Bamboo, cranes and Asian flower motifs were seen in most wealthy homes in England and some in America as well. This highly stylized form of design, some from the comic and commercial ad used as packaging materials of goods, influences western art and design. This Japonisme style was embraced by many affluent people in Europe and trickled down to the middle class.
A rejection to the mass production was inevitable and as Massey stated “the most important reform movement to affect the interior in the 19th century was that of the Arts and Crafts.” With the influence of writers like john Ruskin warning against the practice of making one material look like another and warning that any new style could not surpass Gothic revival, and his critique of mass producing furniture and furnishings, led William Morris to create the Art and Crafts movement. Art and Craft was is some ways the forefather of sustainability. This short lived movement led to many shoot offs and soon died out because of expense of handcrafting all items. Beaux-Arts became the next evolution of the Art and Crafts movement by accepting machine made materials, but tailoring them to individual tastes. Beaux-Arts made its way to America with the designers Mckim, Mead, and White who designed the Boston Public Library with a mix of classic revival and Art-Neauvo. This new adaptation of using specialized iron forms as interior decoration became widely accepted in America.
The city of Chicago became the breeding ground of the new concept of taking buildings vertical and not horizontal. As the population exploded in America and the Great Fire in Chicago leaving the city to rebuild, a visionary group of designers brought innovation out of necessity. “The tall commercial buildings arose from the pressure of land prices, pressure of population,… vertical transportation, masonry construction into metal frame, and ideas from spans in bridgework.” –Sullivan. The Marshall Field’s building in Chicago by H.H. Richardson borrowed from Palazzos in Italy, broke the tall buildings façade into three parts, one at street level, the middle, and a top portion. As these buildings became taller iron skeletons were used to support the exterior and left walls thinner and more area for glass to let in natural light. This also increased the rentable area within to maximize production and rent for developers. This rise of the skyscraper led to a race for height between Chicago and New York City, which leaned toward the classical revival style and not the modern ideas in Chicago.
Residential structures in America were also changing during this time with designers such as, Frank Lloyd Wright and Gustav Stickley looking for the American style of homes. The 3 major groups of design were the Prairie Style, Green and Green-Arts and Crafts, and in upstate New York - concentrating on all aspects of design exterior and interior. These different styles in different areas of America made America a powerhouse of design in the world. All of these aforementioned ideas and styles combine to make modern design as we know it possible.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Alternatives - Unit Summary

The alternatives unit began with the chaos of the largest empire of the known world, Rome crumbling away, leaving behind uncertainty and disrepair. Without a central governing system, with wealth in its coffers, only a small amount of construction was done during the early period of the dark ages, mostly financed by the church. The rise of Charlemagne gave birth to Carolingian style of architecture, but this was a crude attempt at best for most of the information from past construction had been lost or forgotten. Charlemagne’s Odo of Metz, his private chapel, was almost directly copied from the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna
Domestic architecture became the dominate building being constructed at that time. Castles, with their heavily reinforced walls and moats kept out the roaming hoards of attacker that traveled through countries pillaging. The architecture style of these castles was crude and utilitarian to serve a purpose of safety and security.

The High Middle Ages began with a more stable feudal system, cities began to become culturally important again, and traveling through Europe was somewhat safer and therefore more possible. With the church rising as the dominate power in Europe, the construction of large scale churches and monasteries began to take place. At first, Romanesque architecture around 1000 A.D., financed by the church with its extensive land holding, was heavily based on the memory of the Roman style of architecture. This was not a stable time in history, so even the churches build had small windows and were fortified with the structure dominating the landscape, as in the case of St. Michael’s Hildeshiem in Germany. The common people of the era were starting to be more aware of a better life after this one; the church took advantage of this fear and began extracting money to begin a building campaign for itself.

This influx of money allowed the church to grow in scale and power. Gothic architecture rise in the High Middle Ages began to employ designers and construction specialist to reach for the heavens to impress the commoners. The idea was to implement as much stained glass on the outside of a church so that once entered, the lighting effect was overwhelming or heaven like. The Gothic movement focused on a positive life here on earth, many of these Gothic churches had a scale so large that multiple generations of labors worked to finish them. The Gothic Cathedral was an exploration of this new way of thinking, the Church of Notre-Dame is an example of introducing large amounts of glass into the walls, which require large support “wings on the outside of the structure to sustain it upright. The floor plans of the Gothic Cathedrals were independent from one another depending on Geographic location. The Catholic Church wanted to establish itself in Italy, and with this idea of permanence, raised the need for beauty on earth to match the beauty of heaven. This led to the Renaissance.

The rise of the Renaissance in Florence was a new way of thinking of the past and changing the future of architecture and art. The Renaissance movement was based on the limit of human potential to create and not repeat history. The Church was still the wealthiest contributor to this new movement, but the rising merchant class also became patrons for artist and architects alike. The Humanist began to reinterpret the written information from the past and to understand that the spirit of the words had more meaning than following the exact rules or standards set in the past. Brunelleschi’s Dome desired to out achieve the past and look forward at a new world of ideas and possibilities. Larger than the Pantheon, his dome set a president, that the only limit to design is ones imagination. The basis of this new style was borrowed from the past and changed; the Ten Books on Architecture by Vitruvius became the bible for the Renaissance. Residential and civic architecture became important and necessary in this time. Palazzo’s or city homes for the wealthy gained popularity and increased in size during the Renaissance. Borrowing again the forms of the past, but changing the ways in which order and placement were used, these grand homes became dominant over the cities they were in.

The ideas of the Renaissance led to the Baroque and Rococo movements in the 1600’s. The wealth of the merchant class led to a cultural revolution away from the church and focused more on the individual. Architecture, both interior and exterior became more dramatic and heavy with detail. The need to entertain changed the floor plans of the structures build during this time, rooms were added and changed uses as an individual’s home reflected his stature in the class he was in. These new classes of people wanted a variety of options in which to decorate the interior and to separate the façade of their home from their neighbors. The grandest example of this is Versailles; build by the King of France, added to the dramatic effect of the structure by having large scale gardens as an extension of the architectural buildings themselves.

The alternatives unit was filled with despair and grandeur, a long period in history where humans proved that through necessity comes invention and reinvention.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Unit Summary – Foundations

The foundations unit deals with many ideas and examples of architectural history and the human stories behind them. The idea, that we as human beings have been our own master and servant to architectural history. The time passage section revealed that with the creation of a large empire, comes the need to express the importance of self through built structures. Egypt rose as the first large empire and with this began to build structures never seen before in history. Egypt was remote and had limited material for construction, but had established trade with other areas close by. This meant that the majority of material they used for construction was stone; by importing other material such as hardwoods they began the practice, though on a small scale, of thinking of interior space in an aesthetic way. The exterior façade of Egyptian structures remained the dominant feature. Using engaged columns, inspired by lotus and papyrus plants, to decorate the smaller square or rectangle post and lintel religious structures they were building at the time. The column became a structure element, as it could hold weight overhead; the Hypostyle Hall became the first known building to use columns as structural elements. The Mastaba is thought to be the first large scale structure built in that part of the world, but when the Temple at Zoser was completed in 2750 B.C., this sparked a building frenzy by each new pharaoh to outdo the previous rulers achievements. Improved understanding of mathematics and new construction techniques allowed larger Temples to be built and a more exclusive society to grow out of them. Urban planning was beginning to be given some, but during the later dynasties buildings were loosely placed around important geographic or religious areas, with alleyways between the modest homes of the lower class. Spatial relationship became a more understood and important concept of the structures of the more important ruling class. Interior furnishings became more common as Egypt became a larger empire and Greek states become an empire themselves. The furniture has a more feminine style than the architectural style of the time period. Culture became constant and not as sporadic as when divided into individual territories or areas.
As Greek culture rises, travel by water becomes necessary for trade within and outside of Greece. This brought with it influence of style and culture from foreign lands. The Greek empire introduced the first attempt at democracy, even though it was limited to persons with affluence. Multiple opinions and ideas, under this limited democracy, allowed Greek culture to flourish and grow into a dominant empire. This allowed specialized buildings, beside temples, to be introduced for a more civic lifestyle for all. The ordinary people of Greece were not left out of the empire and with structures being build having importance to trade, the agora, began the rise of the merchant class. Division of spatial order in buildings, like the megaron and creation of the classical order of columns, put Greece ahead architecturally, of the rest of the known world of that time. The classical Greek order included columns that were influenced by female and male auras, Doric more maternal, Ionic more masculine. As these new styles of architecture were influenced on exposure to past cultures, they were improved upon and changed to make new or different styles. The Acropolis was the crowning achievement of the Greeks achieving their ideal of perfection, as each style of column was used in a specific area for a specific reason. Each of these four major structures, carried different themes and levels of importance. The view from the entrance being the most important, it allowed worshipers to fully experience the magnificence of the complex as they walk through, passing small temples (Nike) and into an open space that allowed a full view of the Parthenon on its rotated axis. The importance of site placement was defiantly standardized by the Greeks at Acropolis, as their idea of perfection was the only one. Interior furniture grew again in importance as did interior treatment of upper class homes. These new styles once again, were based on previous cultures and improved upon. All of this translated into the next empire of Rome, who added more civic building including banks which again allowed the merchant class to influence society. With Rome’s addition of having citizens under the protection of an empire, common people start to contribute to overall culture and a feeling of belonging. Much of today’s social demeanor, culture, and role of government was heavily influenced by Rome. The idea of assimilation and adaptation from Greek influence, allowed Rome the freedom to steal an idea and change it to their own needs. Romans also perfected the idea of (bread and circus) or bait and switch, the practice of occupying the common mans mind, so he is oblivious to the workings of the government, much like today in every country in the world. Rome became occupied by architectural surface not its system, to create the most diverse architecture of its time. Using new building techniques, like arches and also new materials, like concrete. Rome became the closest to a modern idea of a large city than any culture before it. It dominated the landscape rather than flowing with it like previous cultures, this too is relevant to today’s culture. With impressive structures like, the coliseum and the pantheon, Rome began the practice of dominating the urban cityscape. This dominance over all citizens and conquered lands faraway brought with it the importance of the Wu-Wu and its large scale. The biggest Wu-Wu indicated the more important the ruler or general.
Civility was more apparent and important in Rome than previously because the more you have (furnishing, land, and housing), the better you look to your neighbor. Plumbing, roads and the addition of the number rooms in the homes of all classes of Roman citizens added to this civility. With the advent of Christianity first underground, and then allowed as an official religion, new structures where invented, based again upon the past. First in catacombs, building extra rooms in private homes. Then separate buildings for separate functions, then morphing finally into the great churches of the coming years. Buildings began to have duel uses, since the concrete structure lasted longer than the ruling

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

building selection and justification

Antonio Moretz

Name of Building - The Princeton Graded School
Date of Construction - 1925-1926
Designer - S.L. Smith
Location - 601-611 W. Edwards St. Princeton, N.C.

This school was one of 5300 schools built for African- Americans in the 1920’s, funded partially with personal money from Julius Rosenwald, the owner of Sears and Roebuck department stores. These schools brought together the small African- American communities to raise additional funds and collectively have a school of their own. The Princeton Graded School was built using a set of plans provided to the community and changed in size according to the needs of that town. The building utilizes a north-south direction that helps with heating and over sized windows provided natural daylight that was specified by the designer. Clerestories were utilized to provide additional natural light. A large auditorium was included for the students as well as a meeting place for the community. This brick building was build using the community’s volunteer labor, in addition to local skilled labor. This truly was a building built By the People, For the People.
This building is Crucial to the history of America and the history of Universal Design of desegregated schools being built today.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

“Commodity, firmness, and delight”
-Sir Henry Wotten
“Architecture is what nature cannot make”
-Louis Kahn

Roth, Understanding Architecture pg.3
“Design… deserves attention not only as a professional practice but as subject of social, cultural, and philosophic investigation.”
-Richard Buchanan & Victor Margoin
“Beauty will result from the form and correspondence of the whole”
Physical control
Functional frame
Social context
Cultural symbolism
- Chistian Norberg-Schulz
By beginning to study design at an older age than most, I have discovered that a great amount of the information I have collected through the years is wrong or just uninformed. By learning to make connections between two or more seemingly unrelated subjects or areas of design, I believe that I can learn to merge many styles or techniques together .


The cyclical nature of design from one century to the next or even every twenty years is, I think, human kind at a young age gets tired of a style or design rejecting as old, then as we get older that same style feels comfortable and is revived by an older population with more income or teenager with more disposable income rebelling against the establishment.


The carrying over of design from our past is becoming more necessary than it has been in the last 100 years. Revisited energy efficiency techniques and sustainable practices can now be translated into our future buildings and houses. Green Roofs and Clerestories from Egypt, minimal disturbance practices from Greek design, and using material that come from a 500 miles radius were all imperative for sustaining life and reducing the impact on society so it could grow to what it is today.


Any whole object is made of many parts down to the cellular level. The Power of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames brought the thought of how insignificant we as humans are and of how we need to keep written stories and details surrounding the making of all our greatest and maybe not so great art, architecture, and achievements. It seems that so many records where never kept or were destroyed, that it is hard to trace our own design history or story to this point.


The Stone structures at Carnc, Avebury, and Stonehenge bring to mind a sculpture garden. Could this not be the World’s first art gallery? These artifacts have baffled scientist for years looking for a why, and simply not appreciating the structures beauty. I agree they must be studied further, but dismantling them to understand them is scraping the paint off the Mona Lisa to see what is underneath.

Multiple views

I am just beginning to acquire knowledge on design outside of and including architecture, but already there seems to be an endless supply of different views on which elements are important. There are also many similarities in what one wants to achieve as the end result. Christopher Alexander wants to strip away the confusion but he seems to be restating the same core as Architects and Designer in the Roth book.

Friday, January 23, 2009