November 2005 Archives

Crit Day


This is a week of crits. We had a bunch of architects and instructors in today to see our desk setups. Tomorrow our instructor is going from desk to desk critiquing our work. Friday we have our "exit interviews." It's a paradoxical mix of rushing to get work done -- we can work between crits to adapt our designs to the feedback -- and sitting and waiting or listening to somebody rip your work to shreds.

Here's my desk this afternoon:

Desk Setup

I finished off the site model with a couple of little massing models. They're pretty rough, but I just wanted to show relative size.

Site Model

Crit Eve


Tomorrow afternoon, a half dozen architects descend on my studio to discuss what I've been doing all quarter.

Tonight, I stayed late and managed to bruise two fingers making this (the glue and the bottle of mini-bungie cords are holding it while the glue sets):

Site model

It's a 1/32" scale topographic model of my site with the plan drawn on it. Tomorrow I will drop in some small cardboard massing models where the two buildings are on the site, but the bruising on my fingers is bad enough that now I need to give them a rest from cutting board. And some sleep would be nice, too.

Stupid Pens


I have a set of technical pens, Rapiographs, and they are the biggest whiney babies of the pen world, I swear to god. Today, as I'm drawing details onto my final studio drawings, they are cloggy and spitty, and my hands are covered in black ink. I do need to give them another go through the ultrasonic cleaner, but I think some of the finer nibs need to be replaced, especially the one in which I made the collosal mistake of using white ink -- official Rapidograph ink, but it turned out to be cloggier than the fine black ink that's the standard.

I'm on the edge of just trashing the set and replacing them with Rapidoliners, which are the same basic thing but with disposable ink cartridges that incorporate the nibs, so every time you refill you get a fresh, unclogged nib. I am about to walk up to the campus store and see if they have anything in a double-ought (0.30mm for you metric types) technical pen for a reasonable amount, because mine just, well, blew up. I wonder if you get a discount for coming in covered head to toe in India ink.

Also in the misbehaving studio supplies this year are the metal 18" ruler with cork backing that has been shedding the cork backing despite repeated re-gluings, and the 36" metal straightedge that... well, who knows what happened to it, but it is no longer in my bin of rulers, nor is it anywhere in the studio, so all I can imagine is that it has made its escape after years of putting up with me using it to knock objects off high shelves. Oh, yeah, and the parallel rule for my drawing board (which, admittedly, I never use any more) snapped a connector and is no longer parallel. I'm trying to decide if the repair is worth it.

Of course, everything has to break or need maintenance right when we're 24 hours from deadline in studio.

Where Are You From?


I've been listening to some post-analyses of the Paris riots lately, and though it might seem like a stretch, what they made me think about is really appropriate for Thanksgiving.

I think of Thanksgiving as the ultimate American holiday of patriotism. More so than any of the days to commemorate wars, or the Declaration of Independence. While it's true that those are significant steps in our history as a country, Thanksgiving is special because it shows how we can grow and change as a culture.

Out to Eat


One of our little rituals, on weekends when Noel and the girls come down to SLO to see me, is to go out to breakfast together at the Breakfast Buzz. The Buzz is great because they have a patio, so the dogs can come. And now that they've both been there enough times, the dogs are very happy to turn into the parking lot.

Rosie in the car

Goldie in the car

Sunset Walk on the Beach

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It's sort of a cliche that personals ads will include a liking for sunset walks on the beach. In our household, we know how really great any kind of walk on the beach can be, at any time of day or night. Even just getting in the car to drive there is exciting.

In the car

A Trip and a Model


This weekend the Cal Poly AIAS took a field trip to San Francisco. I joined them for part of it, because I didn't see any point to going to hang out at Fisherman's Wharf but there were two firm tours and a visit to the De Young on the agenda that I was interested in.

De Young

The rebuild De Young museum is nice, but clearly needed more thought given to circulation and usability. You enter a courtyard, and when you get to the door you realize there is a ribboned-off passage to your right, so you have to leave and come back in. Then you get in the door and there are ticket counters to your right, where you stand in line again (no ribbons this time), then there are stands at the entrances to the exhibits that say, "Ticket Check Point," and a lot of people seemed not to understand that they didn't need a special ticket to enter there.

The collection is OK. Not all great but some nice pieces. The museum itself was more interesting, but only in the sense that I found it a good study in how not to make space easy to understand.

Pages of Sketches


I've been filling up my sketchbook with little tiny sketches to get my mind around my design project. The basic shape is good, but a lot of little details in the connections are weird and confusing. I was unsure until last Friday about just how wide this building was going to end up being.

So I have a lot of this:


I also threw together a quick slice model on Monday, to get a better understanding of my roof slope. It doesn't look half bad, and I've worked it out so the center hallway (what appears to be between two doors but actually is between two closets) has a tall ceiling, but not mine-shaft tall, while the rooms to the sides have a ceiling that comes down to a reasonable height.

Slice model

Yes, I am a big fan of the scissor truss. They just seem lighter and more elegant than a plain old triangular roof truss.

Long Overdue


When I was in France in 1989, and the daughter in the family I was staying with called me Arabe as if she were saying Nigger, I saw in my mind the future for that country. They could either deal with the fact that they had people who were not pure French white people living there, or they would have massive race riots.

At the time, I thought it would be within a year. In hindsight, I was a bit optimistic.

France will come out of this mess a different place. Not a better or worse place, but a different place. Because the only way to stop the rioting now that it has started is not by cracking down on the rioters, but by admitting that a) those suburban developments that Corbu came up with are pure hell, and the cultural disassociation they offer the poor, non-French people who live in them is poison, and b) if you pretend that you can maintain your culture pure and undiluted in a globalized world, you are just plain nuts.

The thing I hated the most about France, and the thing that made me avoid that country for nearly a decade, and feel sick when I used that language, was the racism. When I was in France, I was less than a whole person, not because I had committed a crime, but because I was not from the right genetic background. Only a few months later a black classmate at Stony Brook tried to tell me that I had never experienced racism. You don't have to have dark skin to have somebody tell you you are not entirely human.

I would not have wanted social change through violence. I think social change can and should come about through the concerted efforts of the society itself. But when the ones controlling the government have no interest in the needs of the many, you can chalk me down as unsurprised that the many eventually stop playing by a set of rules that are stacked against them.

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