Focussing on Small Scale Dilemmas
It’s been a few months…
So it’s been a few months since I last blogged and a lot has happened since then. I’m going to try and keep it short.
Finishing up Undergraduate Studies in Architecture at UC Berkeley
I finished my last undergraduate class over the summer taking 101 advanced studio officially ending my seemingly quick undergraduate career at UC Berkeley with a BA in Architecture. Without a doubt I learned a lot in the two years I was there as a transfer and will greatly appreciate the Professors who guided my way. I believe my education at Berkeley will never end as I continue to go back to visiting lectures and got a library membership. After finishing my summer studio I created a portfolio website as an alternate form of what was once a paper only medium. You can visit it at jarcellanaportfolio.wordpress.com.
My summer studio was a perfect way to end my education at Berkeley, as I could sum up everything I learned from undergraduate and formulate it into a physical project. The project which was created by Larry Doll, a visiting professor from the University of Texas, Austin, was a multi-use Market Hall located in the up and coming Mission district of San Francisco. A perfect project to theorize my education on design, urbanism, social and economic equity, and politics. I am grateful to get a professor who was very influential in my studies of creating experiences or phenomenons of chance encounters. With his help I was able to create a building in which the Form truly Follows Function with the actual form of the building conceptualized in the last 2/3 of the class. His views matched that of Stan Allen on the architect’s overview of a dynamic range of subjects. I could go on about how much I loved the class but it would end up being several paragraphs long. But I’ll say that I’m happy I took the studio at the end of my education because of the thesis type structure the professor implemented and his knowledge of all things architecture.
Post Studio and the Resurgence of Landscape Architecture
After Studio I took time to relax and reflect on four years of studying architecture and formed a position on where architecture needs to go. In short I think we need to have a resurgence of the importance of the architect. During the Egyptian era Imhotep was the Pharaoh’s first hand man, and seen as one of the few immortals depicted in the statue’s and drawings along with the Pharaoh and Gods. Today he would have the importance of the vice president in the structure of the government. The modernism of the mid 1900s saw both failures and successes in architecture. The most famous is the destruction of the Pruitt Igoe Housing Projects as a failure in the modernists approach to architecture. However I believe that Landscape Architecture was not nearly prevalent as it has become in the past four decades. During these decades architects were looked down upon because of their failure in modernism, but it gave time for Landscape Architects to rise to the surface with new technologies to remediate all the failures that industrialization and modernization have created. From concrete streets to toxic parks, Landscape Architects have recently (within the last 20-30 years specifically) tried to fix these problems. In a way Landscape Architecture has followed the footsteps of Architecture in the United States, with people such as Thomas Jefferson, an Architect and President, being followed by Frederick Law Olmsted one of the first labeled Landscape Architects. However I believe with the backwards direction of Post Modernism allowed for Landscape Architecture to advance to the same forefront Architecture has achieved through the technology boom of the 1990s.
Currently we are seeing a boom in Sustainable Architecture which has been greatly influenced by Landscape Architecture, such as green roofs or green streets. However there is a misregistration between the connection of Landscape Architecture and Architecture that is being practiced by firms which are purely profession based and not discipline based. A Profession based firm is what I call Plug and Play Architecture in which a firm takes components from sources in order to construct a building. A discipline based firm will not use these Plug and Play components and will instead design from without a preconceived notion of what they want the building to look like. Using the LEED standard or BIM programs that allow you to use manufacturers ‘sustainable’ components to plug into your building, however this provides a slippery slope to which your building may have the function follow the form instead of the other way around. The firms that are Profession based are the ones that put green roofs on buildings without considering enough aspects. I won’t name the firm that did it but the Academy of Sciences green roof is the most publicized failure in green roofs. Sure it may provide a habitat for insects, but according to a Harvard Landscape Professor it has to be seeded, weeded, and watered in order to maintain. In addition there is no interaction between the visitors and the roof making it a boring visit after the first 5 minutes. The Green Roof on the Kaiser building in Oakland was built in 1960, fifty (50) years before the Academy of Sciences building and is far more interesting for the visitor, however it is not known to the public and hard to access. Firms that are discipline based are the firms that are headed in the right direction for integrated design, off the top of my head I can think of SWA Group and Mithun, both of which are testing ways to integrate nature into architecture.
Over the past two years I’ve learned that (and you can find it everywhere on my websites), Architects must give a synthetic overview of a dynamic range of subjects. Why should Landscape Architecture not be included as one of the most important aspects.
The Lance Armstrong Era
I came into cycling as Lance Armstrong was winning his sixth Tour de France, a time today we for sure know was poisoned by cheating. I didn’t get into cycling because of Armstrong but because I loved the technology of bicycles and the alternate view it gave compared to walking and driving. I was never an Armstrong fan and I actually rooted for either Ivan Basso or Jan Ullrich to win as I suspected Armstrong’s dominance was a bit out of the ordinary. As I got into cycling and began to race at a junior level, work in bike shops, and follow cycling closely I began to form a position that the majority of those winning the long hard stage races were cheating. Even with the new technological advancements which like architecture and everything else has excelled in the past 30 years, I knew they couldn’t be breaking all these records without extra help. With the obvious doping in the 1990s with the Festina Affair I knew it was happening including Armstrong. I even had a feeling that Levi Leipheimer was doing it but didn’t say anything because of no real evidence. But like everyone else I thought there were clean riders such as David Zabriskie. But then came the USADA report on the USPS Team cheating organization during the Tour de France.
I’m not surprised Armstrong did it, nor are my surprised his lieutenants or the climbers such as Hincapie, Leipheimer admitted to cheating.
I am not surprised the UCI may have covered up a positive test, as they have been very suspicious over the past decade strictly supporting rules such as having a horizontal saddle, but very lenient on doping control, allowing Lance Armstrong race the Tour Down Under in 2009 without being tested a full six months prior which is one of their own rules. The UCI is corrupt in similar ways to US Politics, and it will be interesting to see where cycling goes in the next several decades in addition to seeing where politics will be in the next few decades.
I am surprised at the complexity in which the US Postal team cheated. The amount of effort put into cheating was far beyond anything I would guess, from completely pulling out of races to avoid tests to the sheer power Lance Armstrong himself held over both cyclists, workers, and organizers.
I’ll finish my short opinion on cycling with the fact that Lance Armstrong, with all the cheating, helped bring cycling to a forefront in multiple ways. He helped city designers and politics create better bike lanes in Austin, he helped bring competitive cycling to the nightly news, and he helped cycling simply become more popular and got people to ride their bikes. However he achieved all of this through cheating, possibly meaning we would not have all these positives if we didn’t have some negatives. However the negatives in this outcome are far widespread creating a very dark era of cheating, but at the same time making it more popular than it’s ever been.
What has happened to the Republican Party?
I’m going to keep this very short. I’ve been following the Republican party throughout this election from the very beginning when they had no clue who was going to be their nominee. Normally you don’t know because you don’t know their stances, but Romney was simply chosen because his competitors within the Republican Party are simply not straight minded (I’m not saying Romney’s straight minded, just in a less obvious way). Herman Cain dropped out after having an affair, and sexual harassment, and Rick Santorum lost out because of his narrow minded comments that easily offended too many people.
By choosing Romney as a candidate the Republican Party has shown they are desperate, and cannot find a good ‘puppet’ anymore. Romney, the wealthiest presidential candidate in this nations history, has shown that he is far from ideal as a president with most importantly his lack of transparency on what his plans will actually be as a president. In addition to his lack of, simply a plan for presidency, he is full of lies, disrespect for the middle and lower class, and “Binders full of Women.”
Romney is not only the wealthiest presidential candidate, but also the most dumb, narrow-minded, conservative? or moderate? ‘I don’t know because he says he is both’, etch a sketch personality ever in the history of this nation. Hopefully 2012 will be the year that an Idiot nearly won the election and not the year that an unprepared business person becomes the president for which who knows what can happen.
I’m going to end with an Article about why the Republican Party Platform will be a destruction of city life, and therefore truly see the fall of the middle and lower class into class warfare.