Thursday, March 26, 2009

Unit summary 2 - ALTERNATIVES

Church of the Gesu, Giacamo della Porta,( Roth, page 401)

This unit focuses on the progression of cultures and societies toward ALTERNATIVES from the ancient establishments that were set in place by the achievements of the Greek and Roman Societies. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD, the void left by the Roman government dominance was filled by the rise in power and importance of the churches. The churches took on the responsibility of reassembling an organized society. Of course, when the church took a central role in organized society, it lead to construction of great churches and temples.
Though the Roman Empire crumbled in power, the buildings they built were left to be studied and inspired the “Romanesque” churches and styling we can still see today. Circa 1000 ad – 1200 ad, patterns of geometrical surface decoration on the front fa├žade of churches became the main identifying feature of the Italian churches. A good example of this is the San Miniato al Monte in Firenze. Italian churches of the period also tended to break into separate buildings where French churches were more put together into one structure. By and large, continuities and distinctions arose between churches all across Europe during this period. Cathedrals in Europe represented a transformed classical order from the FOUNDATIONS laid by the Greeks and Romans into a new way of interpreting the standard.
Moving forward with the renaissance period, RATIONALITY became the underlying theme for the mentality of the thinkers and designers of the time. The goal was to “bring things to rest” with the use of verticals and horizontals. This can be seen in the palazzos such as the Palazzo Medici, where the designs are developed out of the necessity for residential living quarters in an urban city and working environment. The typical pattern for a palazzo was to have a grand yet simple in looks 3 story structure; the ground level floor was where business and work took place, the second floor or, “piano nobiele” was the floor for entertaining guests and the third floor was the private living quarters for the family. Like the Medici family, many wealthy families constructed these palazzos to demonstrate their “high” place in society.
Emerging from this period was a designer who some would claim is, “the most influential and copied designer of all time,” Palladio. His work was largely influenced by the classical work of the Greeks and Romans like many others but his “alternative” was to take the front columnar facades that were previously only used for temples and government buildings and applied them to residential structures. In his Villa Rotunda, he used large elaborate facades on all four sides of the structure, not just the front. The main reason for Palladio’s popularity and widespread influence to other designers (including Thomas Jefferson many years later) was that he was the first to write and publish volumes of books on architecture and his philosophy towards it. This now enabled information and design to travel and be spread more widely and efficiently than ever before.
Right on the heels of the renaissance movement came the baroque period. While the renaissance mentality focused on the rotational, it was the goal of the baroque period to pursue the emotional element of design and style to the fullest. This involved the pushing and pulling of planes in the interior spaces as well as the facades of buildings in an effort to create more drama. Columns would be embedded into walls in full form as opposed to just a pylaster. Though the period was very effective in creating an obvious style that is easily identified, it also is heavily criticized as being overly flamboyant and gaudy. It was in effect this over elaborate style that lead to people becoming exhausted with the style of the baroque and lead to the next era of the Architecture Parlent, Following the baroque period, designers pulled back and reverted to “re-writing” down the rules of ancient architecture. This is where we keep moving forward into the study of the history and theory of architecture.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Opus entry 8 - GRAMMAR : SYNTAX

Slightly different from the standard definition of GRAMMAR, where it is applied to the study of language and sentences, as in with words alone, GRAMMAR is relevant for us as students and designers in the IARC program because what we are studying is absolutely GRAMMAR, just of a different medium. I think the word SYNTAX does a better job of closing the gap between written language and architecture in that it refers to the rules or patterns studied, in any situation, not just sentences alone. In history class we explore what has happened before us, in drafting and drawing we are learning the proper techniques and methods to clearly and accurately translate information and communicate our ideas. If you have a brilliant idea, what is it worth if you cannot communicate it to anyone? Hence the importance of GRAMMAR and SYNTAX.

“The term baroque came to be used by the late-nineteenth century art historians such as Heinrich Wofflin in a more positive, descriptive sense, to describe any art that was elaborated, embellished, and complex, compared to preceding simpler forms” (Roth, 398.). The baroque mentality revolved around the idea of taking what already exists and adding drama; elaborating and embellishing it to bring out and express emotion. Designers of the baroque period were after [RE] VISIONS of what came before them, and they did a good job of it. The painting I did above is my example of a REVISION of how I saw some tree branches. While I would not describe this painting as being in the style of the baroque period at all, it is definitely a REVISION of something I have seen many times before.

As history moved forward and societies and cultures evolved, the importance of entertaining large groups of people in a private home became more of a priority. Whereas in the past most AUDIENCES of people where mainly found in churches and government buildings, the movement towards more complex social classism called for spaces where people could hosts their guests more comfortably; and perhaps even more importantly, show of their great wealth and “taste.” “A new approach to space planning typified the residences of the period from about 1720 to 1770. Versatility in planning to accommodate social events was the motivating force for this change” (Blakemore, 250.). The drawing of a comfortable looking side chair above is an example of seating that is definitely necessary when entertaining guests.

While the trends of the baroque style places heavy importance on drama, the architecture and design of the times developed an obvious sense of CHARACTER. The pushing and pulling of planes and details on, in and around surfaces was very common to enhance the visual experience of structures. As Blakemore says on page 253, “Style characteristics of the Baroque include the use of molded figures (often in restless or forceful positions) fashioned in high relief.” The picture of the San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane above is a perfect example of baroque style in architecture.

This period was one of TRANSITION from the renaissance which was mainly focused on rationality and logic to the baroque period which placed a large weight on emotion. Roth says on page 398, “Renaissance architecture had stressed easily perceived forms, but the new architecture projected a sense of mystery, so that where the interest had once been in intellectual comprehension and cerebral satisfaction, now it shifted to creating an emotional impact.” The painting pictured above I did is called “Quietude,” which is defined as the state of being quiet, tranquility or calmness. While this painting does not evoke the drama of the baroque period, it does evoke an emotion. My goal with this piece was to show movement in a subtle was and bring the viewer a sense of peace and tranquility when the looked at it.

Similar to the use of and EDICULE as a single unit of something that can be repeated and used as a way to measure something, the use of a DATUM as a single unit is important in design. Toward the end of the renaissance and into the baroque period, the us of staircases became largely important examples of DATUM. “It was not unusual for the staircase to be the single most developed part of a German or an Austrian Baroque palace” ( Roth, ). Staircases would have their own rooms that would sometimes be the largest room in the entire building demonstrating their symbolic as well as functional importance. In the drawing above I used a single shape inspired by the shape of a bird as my DATUM that I repeated six times and arranged in different orders to produce a model for a prototype of a coffee table I will build over the next couple of weeks. While this simple shape is far from the elaborate staircases I have previously mentioned, the use of a repeated form to emphasize its own is importance and power.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Precedent Analysis - DELIVERABLES


Perspective Views-

1. Plan View 18”x24” – lead on vellum

2. Centered view of lectern from center of the main space.
3. “Worms eye” perspective upward view of concrete ceiling trusses, windows and hanging lights.
4. View of central space including pews from rear balcony
5. View from the lectern facing outward into central space showing pews and balconies
6. View of the lobby and entrance showing benches and doorways
7. Detail drawing of lighting fixtures in the main space.

8. Close proximity “worm’s eye” perspective view of exterior concrete walls and window/roof detail.
9. Elevation view of exterior from across the street, showing the building in its context. (18”x24”, mixed media)
10. Perspective view of the main entrance doorway.

*** All views but exterior elevation and plan view will be 8.5”x11” format. Medias will vary from ink, pencil, marker and watercolor)

Essay Outline-

- How did the Unity temple come to exist?
- What did/does the building’s presence mean to the neighborhood in the city of Chicago where it was built and exists?
- How did the building mean to FLW in the path of his career?

- Explain the significance of the concrete construction of the building.
- Identify FLW’s goals for the construction of the building and discuss how well he did or didn’t accomplish these goals
- Relate the uses of concrete construction to his and other designer’s work that preceded the Unity Temple

- What significant role does the Unity Temple play in terms on its influence in 20th century architecture?
- Why is this a building of value and merit/
- Discuss the renovations of the building and how it is the only building of FLW’s early work that is still in use today


- What format will the final project be presented in? Large display board? Book format with all images and essay included?
- Is there a required or desired size for the final model?
- Is there a specific media that is preferred for final images? I plan in including a few different types.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Opus entry 7 - THE P WEEK

As humans in American society, we spend most of our lives working, playing, studying and existing in environments that have been created by people for people. I firmly believe that most of society spends little time thinking about this phenomenon. I believe that most people have many more things that are more important to themselves on a day to day basis to worry about then what the guy or gal was thinking about when they laid out the order and arrangement of the keys on the keyboards we type on every day. As a designer, and as a constantly curious person, it is these minor details that we live with every day and rarely think about that drive me crazy. Both minor details and massive spaces are equally important to designers. This is because to a designer, everything counts, everything is intentional. The words we have to explore in this “P Week,” touch on these ideals we embody as evolve as designers.

The external boundary or surface of any area is one way to describe PERIPHERY. The drawing of Falling Water house by Frank Lloyd Wright that I did above I feel illustrates the elements of the PERIPHERY of the structure well. I am greatly looking forward to making the trip up north to see this structure in real life.

A week and a half ago we had to turn in our PORTFOLIO for drafting class. As a student tracing back to middle school art class we have been taught the importance of the PORTFOLIO; A collection of your body of work. My senior year in high school, I received a “Silver Key” award from the Scholastics program for outstanding “breadth” or diversity of work in my portfolio. At the time all it meant to me was that I had to walk across a stage awkwardly in front of a ballroom full of weird people I didn’t know to accept this award. Since then I have learned to value the importance of keeping a solid body of work to refer back to so you can see where you came from in order to better see where you are going. The above painting I did on a wood panel and is titled, “Movement in Motion.” It is one of the stronger pieces of work I have in my current PORTFOLIO that I recently posted on to make my work more accessible to the world. This form of PORTFOLIO is both new and necessary to keep up today. It is very effective in showing my work to people all over the world.

As designers and as people we are constantly working on intentionally or unintentionally developing our PROCESSES. The above diagram is a super-simplified illustration of the PROCESS I typically go through for almost every piece I have created in my recent past. Almost everything starts in my sketchbook. A small thumbnail of fluid lines that are pleasing to the eye. Fluid lines that are easy and engaging to look at is the goal of anything I create. Once you have good lines, move on to building a PROTOTYPE or scale model, scale sketch, or adding colors to your ink drawing to help understand everything that needs to happen in order to build your final piece. This may be an arena, a painting, or a lamp. No matter what it is you are designing, these simple steps I have outlined are carried out in some form to end up at the final product. What happens next? Document your work, keep it in your PORTFOLIO and refer to it later to you can learn from what you have done.

In November of last year, I had my debut solo art show at the E M Gallery in Winston-Salem. The show was titled “Dynamic PERSPECTIVES.” I named the show this because as I mentioned earlier, it is my goal to have fluid lines moving throughout all of my pieces. I was nervous that the title was a bit ambitious but I went with it any way. Part of the fun of designing or drawing things is to find the best PERSPECTIVE of anything you are going to represent. The painting I did above that was used for the flyer for the show was mixed media on wood panel. This painting is titled “Graceful Power,” and shows a woman from a somewhat heroic and overpowering PERSPECTIVE. What I love about this painting is that if you look at it sideways, you’ll see that the woman is actually lying down and looks extremely peaceful and happy. Interesting how you can change the whole feel of a piece by changing the viewer’s PERSPECTIVE.

Before I enrolled in the IARC program, I was a working PROFESSIONAL in a different field. I was a full-time touring musician for the past 5 years of my life. The above ink drawing is a layout for a tour poster I drew with our band’s name in it. The blank road in the middle bottom of it is where the info on the other bands playing, show date and price would be later written in. That was a great part of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Now I am pursuing a different PROFESSION, I’m not sure what exactly, but I have the next few years to figure it out while I’m in the world of Interior Architecture at UNCG. It has been interesting and challenging so far and I look forward to a bright future the same way this drawing shows a bright future waiting down the road for anyone brave enough to chase it.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


My attempt to DIAGRAM the CONTEXT of the Foust building. I will let the text I placed in the diagram do the talking here...

One of my favorite and probably most often overlooked details of the FOUST building, the chimneys. Done in pen and marker.

This was my attempt to emulate the style of Greg Cappulo and Todd McFarlane, the pencil and ink respectively artists who created the bottom image in a SPAWN comic book. These guys were the heros of my youth so I thought I would take a chance and try to reach back to show a little bit of what I was in to in middle school. haha

The top drawing was done by me, trying to work in the style demonstrated in the bottom drawing by Thomas C Wang. Both were done in 2B pencil. I particularly like the way his drawing seems to fall apart as it moves away from the center. I attempted to accomplish that in my drawing as well.

The top drawing is one I did of the stairway that leads to the basement. I am trying to emulate the style of Elisabeth with very busy and quick pen strokes. This angle was challenging but I tried to get the same vanishing point in my drawing as she did in hers.

MACRO : MICRO - week 6

How important is the relationship between large and small? I would say it is all in the eye of the beholder. I think the relevance of both words is really impossible to define unless you have something to compare to; something that is set as the standard. The Guilford building on the corner of S Elm St. and Washington St. downtown could be considered a MACRO building in that part of town as it stands out as the tallest building on the southern side of downtown. However, if the Guilford building was placed on a corner in Manhattan, it would stand out even more as the smallest building in that environment. MACRO : MICRO ? I guess it depends on who’s counting.

The relationship of macro to micro is demonstrated well in the normal process of creating almost every piece of art or design I create with the use of COMPOSITION sketches. In the image above you see a composition sketch I did in a note pad of a large light box piece of wall art I have been planning on building for almost a year now. As you can imagine, I started small, (the sketch is only about 5 inches wide total) with a thumbnail sketch. While the drawing is small, it is telling of all of the information I needed to build a scale model COMPOSITION that I built shown in the right side of the image. This is just a study I did with some scraps in the wood shop, (about 20 inches wide) to try to get the desired proportions of the final piece, which will be about 36 inches wide. Now that I have the shapes of each element of the piece figured out, I can begin to study the colors and types of materials I will use for the final piece. This process is long but necessary in order to end up with a solid COMPOSITION that really does what I want it to. With the rise of the Christian churches, architects had to rethink the COMPOSITION of the Roman structures that came before them to try to end up with a structure that really did what they wanted it to. “Constantine and Church officials looked to secular public buildings, and the type they selected was the basilica. The basilica had originally been devised for public gatherings and its symbolic connotation, having to do with the equitable administration of earthy justice was positive. It was a simple matter to replace the small altar devoted to the emperor with one at which the Eucharist or ritual communal meal, could be celebrated” (Roth, p. 280)

It can be argued that the first structure to make use of the three elements of the PORCH : COURT : HEARTH as a system for defining how a building should work was the Megaron in ancient Greece. This powerful yet simple example can be traced to all building forms in one way or another in all building forms from Greece forward. For example, Constantine and his architects incorporated this idea from the Greeks and then Romans into the Basilica of Saint Peter. “One of the largest basilicas in Rome, this was built by Constantine over the sport where Saint Peter was believed to be buried after his martyrdom” (Roth, p. 281.). The PORCH is the symbolic and useful entrance, the COURT is where people socialize and the HEARTH is where people gather around as a central place of importance. The ideas started by the ancient Greeks are still relevant thousands of years later in one of the most important architects in the last century, Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. Many of his buildings demonstrate an obvious importance and hierarchy of design elements in the HEARTH. This is image of a HEARTH in Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio from the book Frank Lloyd Wright Glass by Doreen Ehrlich. He chose to incorporate text above the hearth to literally point of the significance of the HEARTH in his own home.

As designers, we must be in full control of every image we convey visually. It is interesting to me that through pictorial DIAGRAMS, we can communicate universal messages that people around the world who speak all different languages can easily understand. How clear and easily understandable any diagram is has a large part to do with how successful any DIAGRAM is. Or better put by Tom Porter and Sue Goodman in the Manual of Graphic Techniques, “Although we have discussed its pictorial potential, the plan is, in essence, an analytical diagram. In this sense, the plan functions as a graphic mechanism for defining the enclosure of spatial variety.” In the image above, I attempted to DIAGRAM the CONTEXT of the Foust building. I wanted to show how the building fits in its surroundings and how human interaction surrounds the building constantly as it makes up our environment when we are on campus.

All diagrams are intended to give you an IMPRESSION of what they try to describe. The word IMPRESSION can be taken in many directions but I would like to describe it as the gesture or feeling you get that really tells you something in a way that sometimes words cannot. In the drawing above, I have done a study of different ways to try and best convey a tree from an aerial view. I know I cannot physically draw every branch and leaf of the tree, so I do my best to relate my IMPRESSION of the tree from above. These trees were to be used in my previous drawing of the FOUST building. It is obvious to me how much better the building looks with trees and foliage around it vs. a building sitting randomly in space. In the late Italian Renaissance period, an emphasis was put on gardens and trees in an effort to give a better IMPRESSION of the buildings they surrounded. “Landscape architecture had been revived early in the fifteenth century as another manifestation of Classical civilization” (Roth, p. 386.).

Attention to DETAIL applies to each of the elements of design I have discussed thus far. DETAIL is also directly related to the theme for this week’s entry in the MICRO aspect of things. It is sometimes the smallest parts of a building, or car or a painting that really help bring a piece of art together and be successful. During the renaissance period, and emphasis was put on the detail of things with the work of Michelangelo. “In every one of Michelangelo’s architectural designs, what appear at first to be standard classical architectural elements are in fact subtly manipulated in defiance to the conventions of Classical design, for Michelangelo was molding them as elements in gigantic sculpture” (Roth, p. 382.). The painting above I did is titled “The Fire Within,” and I had to focus a lot of attention on the black detail in the background of the painting. What you’re actually seeing as the black and white area was done with a paintbrush and black ink on white paint and was inspired by a photograph from a satellite of the Siberian Permafrost. I chose to use this highly detailed image as a background because in the COMPOSITION, you don’t really focus on it, however it just gives the right IMPRESSION I was going for. DETAILS are the MICRO part of everything, but would be mostly useless if not placed in context of the MACRO, the big picture. Nothing stands alone by itself, everything in the world and life is interconnected.
FOUNDATIONS - Unit Summary

THE ACROPOLIS (Roth, p. 233)

In this second unit of our History and Theory of Design class appropriately named foundations, we started at the beginning. Starting with discussion of the ancient Egyptians and the advancements made by their culture. Key contributions from the Egyptians included the first use of “post and lintel construction.” As Roth said on page 188, “Egypt is where western Architecture begins, rooted in ancient Egyptian religion and science.” Religion was extremely significant to the Ancient Egyptian culture. They believed in many gods. Ra, the “sun god” was the highest and most important god in their society. Of course the giant pyramids are the most recognizable achievement of the ancient Egyptians. These were great temples trying to reach as high as possible to the heavens to reach the gods. These “Great Pyramids” were constructed of sandstone because it was the most readily available material.
The Greeks built their society with a lot of similarities to ancient Egypt and went on to contribute many important things to the way structures and society is formed today. While the Egyptians depended on the ever constant, dependable cycles of the Nile River to nourish their community, the Greeks used water in a different way. The geographic setting of Greece and the constant surroundings of water made it easier to travel over water than land. This lead to the influx of cultural influences from all over. There is no doubt that the Greeks built on the post and lintel construction methods developed by the Egyptians. One key development attributed to the Greeks was the use of post and lintel construction to develop structures that repeatedly made use of the porch, the court and the hearth. These three design elements can be traced in all building forms from that point forward. Another addition to post and lintel construction that was used a lot was the use of a “tympanum.” This is a usually triangular shaped ornamental figure that would be placed on top and center of the lintel and was typically symbolic of the space you were about to enter.
Order was possibly the most significant element of Greek society that echoed throughout their architecture and on into the Roman architecture that followed it and even into the buildings that are designed and constructed today. The Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite orders in columns exemplified the Greeks pursuit of the ideal. Like the design, redesign and modification process of the columns themselves, the buildings were prototypes and an ever progressing attempt to reach what heaven would be like on earth. The pinnacle achievement of Greek society, (aside from their development of democracy,) is considered by many to be the Acropolis. This the inner group of buildings surrounded by a great wall in Athens. The focal point is the Parthenon, the great temple for Athena. The Acropolis had several buildings, each with its specific purpose and is what I believe to be the earliest template for an organized city like the ones we typically see in western society today.
The Romans came in to break all the boundaries previously set by any culture before them. They absolutely built on everything the Greeks had accomplished, and even went on to establish what came to be known as an empire. Like the Greeks the Romans focused an enormous amount of attention on an organized city. Their policy was to stop at nothing to achieve the ideal, the constant pursuit of extravagant pleasure, exemplified in the form of a modern city. If a mountain was in the way of the plan, knock the mountain down. They key component of Roman advancement in architecture that made many of their achievements possible was the development of the arch. Arches were used on top of columns to build buildings taller and more breathtaking than ever before. The arch was repeated in a circular pattern to create massive domes, the most impressive perhaps is the dome of the Pantheon in Rome. Arches could be placed side by side for a long stretch of space to create long halls or basilicas in which great bodies of people could be assembled and a public speaker could use the shape of the space to help broadcast his voice so that many people could listen. I believe it is the dedication to public buildings as well as a conscious effort to DESIGN the way a society functioned that made the Roman society such a powerful and successful culture that people continue to study today.
The arch form as well as tall vertical monuments is used in the erection of great monuments in cities around the world to symbolize the significance of a place. Often times stories are written in images on the sides of these monuments in a way that is reminiscent of the hypostyle halls of the ancient Egyptians. The evolution of the arch into a dome evolved yet again into a stronger, higher and more dynamic form in the form of the pendentive. This is an arch placed on each of the four sides of a square, with a dome placed on top of the arches. The pendentive gave way to the next era of significant architectural advancement with the construction of the Christian churches and gothic cathedrals through the medieval or so called “dark ages.”
As we can clearly see the foundations unit did exactly what its title suggests… lay the foundation for the understanding of architecture in a way that bridges the gap between when people began to create buildings out of necessity up to the buildings we currently inhabit and occupy today. Looking forward to the ALTERNATIVES unit, it is my assumption that we will be looking into ways that societies took what had been accomplished before them and dared to ask the question, what if we tried something different ?