Thursday, April 28, 2011

Unit Summary 3

            During this unit we further understood architectural explorations beyond World War II. We not only discovered the impact of distant cultures, but also the exciting and confusing innovations in design established through the analysis of modernization.

          Architecture is not native to one part of the world, but instead is a conglomeration of ideas from all different areas. Since 1851, when the first one was held, people have been able to experience other parts of the world through the World's Fairs. The world's fairs can be used as evidence of thinking out loud, taking universal, national, colonial, and inter-colonial concepts to create a great spectacle. Supported by governments and large businesses, these celebrations are commemorative, commercial, collaborative, and celebratory. The world's fairs are intensely national and regional in reality and each one competes to be bigger and better than the last. Some fair locations were thought to be especially successful and have been used more than once. The architecture and design of these fairs utilizes concepts that let us look forward and backwards in time. Design qualities were pulled from our Greek and Roman past to create a timeless design. Many times, the world's fairs helped legitimize the image of the state. Especially after WWII, they made a statement saying “we made it through tough times, we are here and strong.” The venues used are institutional legacies in each city. The fairs are created to be temporary, using an easily assembled kit of parts. Thanks to the industrial revolution and mass production, these kits have been used in many of the fairs, creating repetitive qualities amongst them. Once electricity was invented and available, these fairs were able to stay open much later. People come from all over the world to experience the world's fairs and they have helped us evolve architecturally.

          After WWII everyone was in search of the perfect American design style. Modernism was thought to be this perfect style, the only problem was that everyone had a different interpretation of it. A lot of experimentation was done during this post-impressionist search for modernism. For example, explored the use of light and material as design elements. Fauvism and cubism became popular to create the appearance of flattening out a space. Expressing geometry and thoughts about the future were prominent in design. We dealt a lot with buildings that looked like factories and the use of systematical architecture as part of decoration. The automobile brought forth a new style that emulated speed, motion, and pushing the limits. This search for modernism also brought about the sky scraper race. Beginning in the early 20th century, the world ,architecturally, began the race to the heavens. One of the most famous sky scrapers is the Empire State Building. At the time of it's construction, this 40 story building was monstrous compared to it's surroundings. Modernism was further developed as a style and grew out of a school in Germany called the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus was founded and run by many famous and talented designers. As modernism was taken from the Bauhaus to other locations in the world, it took on even more forms. Modernism soon became a world-wide movement and was an extension of what was going on in the 19th century. There were some criticisms of modernism because people did not like that the uniqueness of buildings seemed to be lost. This simplistic and homogeneous style was confusing to society because they did not understand the language of the buildings. Modernism was a whole new concept that changed how people looked at design and architecture. Phillip Johnson had some very interesting thoughts about modern design. He said, “comfort is not a function of beauty. Purpose is not necessary to make a building beautiful. Sooner or later we will fit our buildings so they can be used.” Basically what Johnson was saying is that modern architecture and design does not have to be comfortable, purposeful, or made for human life.

          The earth has endured centuries of changing design and architecture. As time goes on, human's will obtain new perspectives and ideas, these will spark new changes. Modernization still can not be simply defined and continues to be perplexing and distasteful to some. Design is still influenced and constructed by combining multiple concepts from through out the world. Through this unit we extended our appreciation for the architectural investigations of the post-World War II time period.   

Monday, April 25, 2011

Personally Influential Object, Space, Building, and Place


One object that influences me, as a designer, is the contact lens. Much like the contact, I believe that design should be universally and personally beneficial, making life clearer, easier, and more aesthetically pleasing.


I think that boat cabins are very inspirational spaces. Boats usually have very limited space, well designed cabins utilize the space to be functional and organized with out feeling cramped.


A building that I find to be inspirational is The Yellow Tree House in New Zealand. I think that nature is a huge contributer to successful design. 


The following is a picture of myself over looking Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan influences my design because it looks like something it isn't. The clarity and motion of this beautiful lake echoes that of the ocean.


The following is a comparative composition focusing on Thomas Jefferson's "Monticello" and Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater."

St. Mary's Writers' Retreat

This is my design for St. Mary's. By researching the writing process, I re-designed it to serve as a pleasant and functional writers' retreat. Utilizing a minimalist design, St. Mary's can successfully become an organized, fresh, and productive environment for visiting writers.

Material and Value Studies

We were assigned to experiment with pen, pencil, and marker and create a value scale for each. After that assignment, we picked a wood, carpet, textile, and stone to draw at two different scales and in five different values.


These are examples of one-point perspectives of the Gatewood Building. The first two show studio spaces and are rendered, the last one is a hallway and only utilizes graphite pencil.

In-class Scale Figures

These are drawings from when we experimented with observing and drawing people in motion.

In-class Sketches

These are a few examples of in-class sketches dealing with observational perspective.

Monday, April 18, 2011

In Class Discussion

     Today we split up into groups and discussed how the Eames' legacy plays into today's "Design Star" philosophy. Design Star is a T.V show, through which contestants compete for their own design show. Judges assign projects that have to be finished in a certain amount of time with limited resources. Participants do not need to be educated in design or have design experience.

As a student with a design-based major, I spend countless hours working on projects and presentations. In my opinion shows like Design Star, where the design industry is basically available to anyone, are incredibly frustrating. I think that education and experience play a huge role in the 'real world.' When someone wants to hire a designer they want someone that knows what they are doing. Education can be a huge reassurance to clients that you are not only knowledgeable but have also had professional guidance. Experience adds to your client's and your confidence in you as a designer.

Charles and Ray Eames' design process and the TV contestants' are very different. Eames' design has evolved through a lifetime, it is real and passionate. Their designs are well thought out and detail oriented.  Eames' products are not only made to please, they are made to last. The media portrays the design industry as this glamorous career (in fact, Design Star's logo is "Guts.Glory.Glam.") that anyone can do. I think that the media can be seen as insulting to the designers who have dedicated their lives to their passion for design.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Scandinavian Influence" BP13

         Scandinavian modern design has had a beneficial affect on present day design. Scandinavian design began in the 1950's as a design movement focused on simplicity, fundamentalism, and performance. Much of what was affected by this movement was both inexpensive and mass produced. A good example of how Scandinavian influence is still existent in today's design society is IKEA. IKEA is an incredibly successful Swedish company that sells home decor and appliances. The majority of IKEA products are not pre-assembled, saving the company time and the consumer money. There are IKEA stores all around the world and appeal to customers because of how inexpensive and simple the designs are. Scandinavian modern design has had an interesting influence on present day design.  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Good Design For All" BP12

     I believe that the Empire State Building represents "good design for all" because it employs the concepts of commodity, firmness, and delight. 
     The Empire State Building was built during the Great depression in New York City. Designed by William F. Lamb, construction began in 1930 and ended slightly over a year later, in 1931. It features an Art Deco style and by manipulating steel, limestone, aluminum, granite, and concrete the structure is both elegant and modern. For forty years the Empire State Building held the title of "tallest building in the world," and today it continues to be one of the tallest. It has one hundred and two stories and a circumference of over 100 miles can be viewed from the 102nd story. This structure is used for office space, communication, observation, and retail. The Empire State Building was and is important to Americans because it symbolizes man's attempt and achievement of the impossible. In 1986 it was named a National Historic Landmark. Over 130,000 people visit the empire state building each year. The Empire State Building frequently appears in literature, television, and movies since it's construction. 

Empire State Building

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Unit Summary 2

                    This unit was called “Reverberations.” To reverberate means to re-echo, recoil, rebound, or resound. The following paragraphs will explain the overall themes of this unit. Design concepts that have been around for centuries have been reused time and time again through the east and west design rules, the breaking of the rules, and world-wide revolutions.
                   The east and west have historically clung to certain design concepts. These two hemispheres have both differences and similarities in their approach to architecture. Both the Parthenon and the Colosseum are two architectural structures that have been looked back on by designers throughout history. Designers simultaneously utilize design of the past and slam it in order to make their design look better or more important. There are many unspoken, world-wide, design rules; one example is that everything should look like it belongs together. Another example is that columns, stacks, and symmetry are all significant. It was important to show your family's profile through an architectural facade. A good example of this is the Palazzo Medici. This was basically a family owned pottery barn where they sold stuff from all around the world. It's facade showed that the family's work was on the bottom floor, social home was on the second floor, and private home was on the top floor by utilizing architectural decor. Most architecture followed an “if you've got it, flaunt it” method of design. The east also focused on the 'delight of the dance.' Countless objects, spaces, buildings, and places possess a stronger sense of rhythm and movement than that found in most western architecture. The east's architecture was also different in that they did not knock down decaying buildings, instead they just fixed them to the best of their ability. Eastern philosophy shows that they were more sustainable than the west because instead of demolishing broken architecture, they replaced whatever was broken. The East and West both celebrate surface decoration. The decor was largely geometrical and based on nature. It was common because it adds emphasis, pattern, and interest to architectural structures.
                   In the late sixteenth century it began to be very popular to create edifices for the purpose of entertainment. These buildings were all about parties, power, and showing off. They were longer and spread out to maximize theatrical impact. A new architectural concept of fluidity became fashionable and buildings began to seem more animated. We subsequently entered into the Baroque time period of architecture. Baroque was a theatrical, dramatic, and the last great design movement. This time period was all about breaking the rules and making architecture look as though it was impossible. Baroque style structures were commonly water like or massively over thought and decorated. It made something look like something it wasn't and used material that created an illusion. Horizontal architecture became more available and represented our attempt to control the earth. The Baroque time period was all about liquifying the rules and making up new ones.
                   A revolution is defined by Miriam Webster Dictionary as "a sudden, radical, or complete change.” We have endured many revolutions, for example: the industrial, banking, sexual equality, civil rights, and the American revolution. Through revolutions, we break the rules and see the world through different eyes. The industrial revolution effected the design world considerably. A new time period began with sequential thought and the understanding of history. Scientific approaches were introduced to design through engineering. Practices were changed according to the new technology produced during the industrial revolution, thus beginning the quest for modernism. The pure styles of architecture started to become less clear and more muddled. When examining structure it is very helpful to apply the idea of 'the language of architecture.' This concept takes the semiotics and ideologies found in architecture and assists in uncovering the latent meanings that radiate through a subconscious shroud. Architecture commonly has an impure language and are mixed from different time periods and styles. Revolutionary designers tried to create architecture that looked different than the catholic counter parts. In doing so, they emulated churches and applied new design techniques to them, turning matters on end. The quest for modernism was followed by the pursuit of sophistication. Showing how sophisticated and gentile you were became important because people wanted to appear worldly. Revolutions have taken place all throughout history and will continue to take place, breaking down barriers and changing ideas and perceptions.
                In conclusion, this unit focused on the east and west design rules, the breaking of the rules, world-wide revolutions, and the reoccurring themes throughout the years.

P.S ( I wanted to incorporate this but I couldn't find a place it would fit.) In this unit we also looked at both the architecture of happiness and the concept of looking at architecture as frozen music. Both of these ideas have changed to adapt to new time periods, collective opinions, as well as individual beliefs.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright's Masterpiece

Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fallingwater in 1936 as a private residence. It focuses on the concept of man and nature living together in harmony. It utilizes materials such as concrete, steel, glass, and local sandstone to give it a rock-like, sleek appearance. This structure is located above a waterfall, giving the impression that it is one with nature.  I enjoy the way that Wright combined modern structure with organic ideas. The use of earth tones and natural materials in addition to industrial components creates a compelling and unique piece of architecture.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Modern Monument" BP11

The Washington Monument integrates modern design concepts as well as ideas from the world's architectural past. This famous structure has a sleek and simple facade that stretches up to the heavens, giving it a contemporary appearance. On the other hand, it refers to ancient history with its' pyramid-esq crown. Our hunger for modernization has always been a societal motivator, but it spiked in the beginning of the 20th century. Our architectural advancement was a attempt to conform to the fundamental ideas of architectural design with the increasing industrialization and expansion of trade. Going through societal development gave our country a sense of achievement. In the beginning of the twentieth century, we were in need of the feeling of success and stability as a country because of our involvement in and distress caused by the two world wars. The Washington Monument is a treasured symbol of american ingenuity.