The School of Architecture and Planning University at Buffalo The State University of New York 125 Hayes Hall Buffalo, NY 14214-8030 www.ap.buffalo.edu www.ap.buffalo.edu/publications Intersight is an annual publication that highlights the work of the students at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo. The intent of this journal is to record and discuss current academic and cultural activities of the school. This issue includes coursework completed throughout the academic year of 2016. This issue also includes outside competition and independent work from students that is not bound by the year of 2016. All photographs and drawings are courtesy of the Visual Resources Center, contributors, and students unless otherwise noted. Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify owners of copyright. Errors or omissions will be corrected in subsequent volumes. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher, except for copying permitted by section 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press. Every effort has been made to see that no inaccurate or misleading data, opinions, or statements appear in this journal. The data and opinions appearing in the articles herein are the responsibility of the contributor concerned. Editor: Micaela Barker Editorial Committee: Gregory Delaney, Miguel Guitart, Christopher Romano Production Assistance: Randy Fernando Editorial Assistance: Barbara Carlson, Holly Cook, Rachel Teaman Printed by Chakra Communications, Inc. Typeset in Elephant, Arial, and Helvetica ÂŠ 2017 School of Architecture and Planning University at Buffalo, The State University of New York All rights reserved 19 | First Edition Cataloging-in-Publication Data Intersight Volume 19 ISBN: 978-0-9973650-1-6
“A privileged glimpse into their intellectual preoccupations...” Photograph by Dylan Buyskes, Onion Studio, Inc.
LETTER FROM THE DEAN Robert G. Shibley, FAIA, FAICP Intersight – a reflective journal on our disciplines, produced by and for the student – goes right to the heart of our school, brings to life its personality, and captures the culture of our community. Every year, I have the pleasure of holding in my hands the intellectual output of our students, laid out with their fresh perspectives. It is always powerfully rewarding, giving new meaning to why we are here as professors, staff, mentors and fellow knowledge-seekers. Intersight 19 is a compelling addition to the rich tradition of Intersight, a publication that dates back to 1990 when Steven B. Sample and Kathryn A. Brunkow endowed an annual initiative to chronicle the pedagogy and life of the school. Now a catalog of 19 volumes, it is an inspiring representation of the school’s intellectual currents across three decades. In the following pages, editor Micaela Barker, our 2016-17 Brunkow Fellow and a 2017 graduate of our MArch and MUP programs, brings us the voice of the student through a beautifully stitched narrative of essays, interviews, drawings and images. It’s a privileged glimpse into their intellectual preoccupations, the intricacies of their design and making processes, their creative struggles – and discoveries – and the richness of their experiences outside the studio. It’s raw at times. It’s funny at others. It’s authentic and refreshing throughout. You will be heartened by the two students who extract the positive out of a failed design. Their full-size boat, an experiment with bent wood that informed their design of a building, ultimately sank in the studio’s race in the Niagara River (as did several others). “I feel more rewarded with what we came up with than I would have felt winning the race with a different boat,” says one of the students. “We all worked so well together and the end product was well worth the challenges and frustration.” You will be impressed by the creative task-sharing a group of planning, architecture and engineering students employed to sift field data and develop culturally-sensitive recommendations for a sanitation plan for a village in Kerala, India.
Photograph by Dylan Buyskes, Onion Studio, Inc.
You will feel the grit of our material culture students who found a way to make an architectural structure out of glass, and in the pair of situated technologies students who built a complex, interactive light installation. And you will have hope for more inclusive, equitable design when you read a planning essay that describes sociocultural influences on urban form in an African-American neighborhood in Buffalo, or another studentâ€™s thoughtful integration of his own extended-family living experience with his design of a multi-generational housing prototype. Read on, get to know them, and experience for yourself the creativity, curiosity and determination of an impressive class of future architects and planners. Robert G. Shibley, Professor and Dean
“Utilizing the Intersight series to celebrate and improve the school’s academic and cultural practices is a worthy pursuit. ” Photograph by Alexander J. Becker
INTERSIGHT AND ITS EVOLVING IDENTITY Micaela Barker, MArch/MUP, Fred Wallace Brunkow Fellow, 2016-2017 As a student journal of the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, Intersight embodies the current character of our intellectual explorations. This character is portrayed primarily through the collaborative work of students and faculty in studios and seminars. Intersight is published annually to capture the academic nuances of each year. As students and faculty review the work through image and text, the publication becomes a catalyst for discussion and criticism of our pedagogy and cultural practices. INTERSIGHT VOLUMES 1 - 5 (1990 - 1999) Intersight was launched in 1990 as an outlet for faculty and visiting scholars to share and publish academic writings. Volumes were published every two-to-three years and continued in this format until 1999. In its first decade, Intersight was a highly collaborative project that included a great deal of supporting editorial personnel and advisory members. Early volumes began with a multifaceted mission statement. In Intersight 1, Bruno Freschi, the Dean of the school from 1988 to 1999, writes, “This, the inaugural edition, opens a new window through which the students and faculty will view themselves, their work, their traditions, even their folly, and of course their humor.” The editor of the second volume, William J. Zannie, wrote “The founders of this journal set out to create a participatory forum for distinguished colleagues, faculty, graduates, and students to express their views and ideas in architecture and planning.” These two statements describe Intersight as a reflected image of the school that includes academic work and cultural experience. Additionally, they suggest that Intersight should generate discussion within our community. INTERSIGHT VOLUMES 6 - 14 (2001 - 2011) Counter to the faculty-driven volumes of Intersights 1 - 5, the series entered the early 2000s with a more student-centric agenda, showcasing work from the classroom. The publication still maintained a significant amount of academic writing, but featured essays from students, alongside those of faculty and visiting scholars. Over the course of a decade, student projects gradually became the dominant content as Intersight transitioned into its next phase. The development and production of the journal continued to be managed by several teams of people.
The Intersight series prior to Intersight 19 with the publication date included below each volume
In Intersight 6, Alex Bitterman sought to create “...a journal that would highlight the diverse activity, scholarship and research conducted by the school, but one that would serve [...] ‘our community’.” Later, Jodi Pfister, editor of Intersight 13 writes, “Intersight offers a venue in which students and faculty can view and evaluate the work of the year.” The idea that Intersight can be used as a tool to evaluate or thoughtfully discuss the school’s evolution is present during this series. However, the written content of these volumes became increasingly descriptive, and the inclusion of essays dissipated over time. INTERSIGHT VOLUMES 15 - 18 (2013 - 2016) At the beginning of the third series, Intersight’s presence was not only physical, but extended to the digital world of the internet. This hybrid existence expanded the reach of the publication to a global audience. This new agenda produced a more compact printed publication. The new form of the publication remained even as the digital presence of the book faded. This series continued to celebrate student projects and during this time, the publication’s production team consisted of the editor, a small group of faculty advisors, and in some years, student assistants. Alyssa Phelps, editor of Intersight 15, writes “The publication seeks to represent the current trends of academia portrayed through the pedagogy of the university...” The series closes with a statement from editor, Brian Fiscus, “Intersight 18 seeks to capture the school’s engagement with process and reflect our teaching and research methodologies at a
transformative time in our journey.” The purpose and content strategy for Intersight was consistent throughout this series. Words such as “represent” and “reflect” give the reader the sense that Intersight’s purpose was to generate an image of the school. This image was generated through the inclusion of projects from each studio course found in the two departments. Intersight, during this time, became a descriptive catalog of student work. In the pursuit of representing a broad spectrum of projects, the publication forgoes the idea of using Intersight as a platform to discuss and evaluate the pedagogy of the school.
An excerpt from Bruno Freschi's (Dean from 1988-99) letter in the inagural edition if Intersight.
RECONSIDERING THE SERIES Intersight’s fluctuating identity is likely due to several factors. First, the series has a different editor for each publication; this means that the book – its style, purpose, content, and use – is constantly adapting to each editor’s specific style and wishes. Second, each dean brings his or her own charge and support to the publication. Some charge the editors to create Intersight over a period of several years, while others push to produce the publication on a yearly basis, and in some cases, extend Intersight’s identity beyond the book as a physical artifact. In terms of support, Intersight has often been the result of a large editorial collaboration of faculty and students. Other times, it is a discrete project that largely represents the editorial work of a single student or small group. The former allows for a broader amount of content to be curated and edited, but with a reduced amount of editorial autonomy; the latter limits the scope of the project, but perhaps expresses the identity of the editor more clearly. Intersight 19 seeks to illuminate this history as its point of departure. INTERSIGHT 19 In recent years, Intersight has focused on generating a comprehensive and descriptive image of the School of Architecture and Planning primarily through a collection of our studio work. Intersight 19 builds an image of our school out of our student’s work and perspective. This type of image is intended to produce a discussion and evaluation of our pedagogy and culture. The student perspective is expressed through ten interviews, which provide an expanded look at a select group of projects. The audience of Intersight 19 is the school; its faculty, students, and administration. The publication is intended to celebrate our successes and reveal some of our pitfalls. Intersight 19 carries forward certain characteristics from previous eras. From the second and third, it fundamentally celebrates student projects, but extends beyond this content type to include student writings and interests. The inclusion of the writings category recalls the first era of the publication, but instead of publishing the work of faculty and visiting scholars, Intersight 19 turns its attention to the writing of students. INTERVIEWS The ten interviews within Intersight 19 share perspectives from individuals as well as groups of students. The content of these interviews discuss the processes that students engage with to complete their work either individually or in collaboration with others. Some interviews address topics related to the research centers and the design research groups; while others address the relationship between the architecture and planning departments, as well as thoughts about the larger professions.
THE COMPETITION The content of Intersight 19 has been collected from an open-call competition that was released in the fall of 2016. This competition requested submissions across three categories: student projects, writings, and interests. A selection of student work from each of these categories became the catalyst for the dialog in each interview. This new collection method provided the opportunity for the inclusion of different types of work that targeted the skills and talents of a variety of students across both departments – architecture and planning. The projects category is designed to include studio, thesis, seminar, competition, and other outside work that represents the influence and identity of the school. The writings category is included to attract those students who have strong intellectual interests and tend to communicate more successfully through the mediums of reports and essays. The interests category captures our student’s recreational passions just outside of their academic work. This category builds off of the notion that non-academic experiences can laterally effect our professional and academic perspectives. An open-call competition gives the student body an opportunity to submit the work that they consider to be the best. It also provides the editor with a greater ability to reflect a perspective that they believe represents the school. This open-call has the potential to equally represent each subgroup of our school, and the success of this method to include each subgroup is left in the hands of the students and the editor. The following submissions from the competition pool were selected as the winners of each category: PROJECTS: 432 Railroad Spikes and Ordeal by Dylan Burns (M.Arch. 2019) and the Small Built Works Team This community-oriented seminar group, led by Professor Brad Wales and a team of twenty-eight students, has successfully collaborated with the Old First Ward community to celebrate their history and improve their neighborhood environment through the creation and eventual installation of over twenty benches. Dylan Burns tactfully combines ergonomics, aesthetics, and skillful craftsmanship to produce two bench types that will be enjoyed by the Old First Ward community. This project is an expression of the “making” culture of our school. The architecture department has a long history of developing a tacit knowledge of material and craftsmanship in its students. Burns’ project is particularly compelling because it not only showcases an important part of our school’s identity, but it also shares our “making” culture with a local community in a way that adds value to their neighborhood. WRITINGS: “A Gift from One African-American Leader to Another” by David Riley (MUP 2018) J. Edward Nash was an African-American civil rights leader from Buffalo’s early-to-mid twentieth century. He was one of Buffalo’s early advocates for equity. Pastor of the Michigan Street Baptist Church, Nash used his religious establishment to participate in the abolitionist movement, using the church as a stop along the underground railroad. David Riley’s essay and interview suggest that in order to successfully plan or design for a community, we must understand the history of that place. While Riley’s essay speaks
directly about the cultural and social history of Michigan Street, this idea of understanding a community’s context for the sake of a responsible and equitable intervention can be found in several areas of our school’s work. The UB School of Architecture and Planning has several branches of research groups and centers that have emerged as advocates for equity in the City of Buffalo, and around the world, they include: The Center for Urban Studies, the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, the Community for Global Health Equity, and the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access. These subgroups of our school carry on the fight for just spaces, homes, neighborhoods, and cities – Riley’s work is a reflection of that effort. INTERESTS: Collage Works by Kyle McMindes (M.Arch. 2017) In his interview, Kyle McMindes tells us about his junior year of architecture school where he began experimenting with collage. Since then, he has created families of collages that are independent of his academic work. His appreciation for collage as a mode of representation has found its way into his thesis work as a graduate student. McMindes goes on to explain that he finds the process of collage-making to be intuitive and therapeutic. He believes that the material richness of this representational method provides a more honest perspective of our spatial reality. Therefore, McMindes is critical of the “hyper-realistic” style of rendering that pervades our representational culture today. MOVING FORWARD Intersight has always attempted to convey a representation of our school at a particular moment in time. This representation has previously involved meaningful discussion of our school’s pedagogy. At other points in time, it has not incorporated this discussion and solely conveyed a description of the school’s student work and cultural activities. Intersight 19 brings discussion back into the publication’s statement of purpose, and therefore invites students to share stories about their work and criticisms of the school. Intersight 19 attempts to connect the reader with the students by giving more length and depth to each project. This depth gives the reader more clarity about the intentions and content of the work. Intersight 19’s extended content provides an opportunity for the coalescing of faculty and student knowledge. The effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the school’s pedagogy is discovered by allowing students to share what they understand about our school and their own work. Through this expression of the student perspective, faculty and administrators will gage whether the concepts and skills that are presented to students during the academic year are truly being absorbed and represented in their work. Utilizing the Intersight series to celebrate and improve the school’s academic and cultural practices is a worthy pursuit.
CONTENTS 16 18 24 32 34 39 44 47 54 56 58 61 64 68 70 72 74 76 82 85 86 88 94 100 102 108 110 114 120 122 130
PROJECT | Light Walk INTERVIEW | David Heaton WRITING | Not Another Tool PROJECT | Acting Collectively for Equity INTERVIEW | Samantha Bulkilvish WRITING | Nature Leaves PROJECT | pARK INTERVIEW | Yasmein Okour, Harlee-Rae Tanner, and Michael Tuzzo PROJECT | Exhibiting Architectures PROJECT | Play-Elements and Parking Play PROJECT | Cross-Gen INTERVIEW | Nicholas Pizzonia and Max Warshaw PROJECT | Intimate Public PROJECT | Connecting Architecture and Urban Design with Real Estate PROJECT | Shelton Square Urban Design Master Plan PROJECT | Löyly Pesä PROJECT | Reincarnate INTERVIEW | Kyle McMindes and Matthew Meyers WRITING | A Gift from One African-American Leader to Another INTERVIEW | David Riley PROJECT | 432 Railroad Spikes and Ordeal INTERVIEW | Dylan Burns and Cody Wilson INTEREST AND INTERVIEW | Kyle McMindes PROJECT | Aquashell PROJECT | Designing with Forces PROJECT | Humble Spirit PROJECT | Design through Representational Exploration WRITING | The Secret World of the Cabinet Maker PROJECT | The Ultralight INTERVIEW | Ning Ding, Lukas Fetzko, Elizabeth Gilman, Rabeeha Tahir, and Jarrett Trudeau INTERVIEW | Enjoli Hall and Jared Parylo 2016 FACULTY AND STAFF
Light Walk's central corridor - Photograph by Mathias Moxter
“Users in the main passage will experience an augmented reality as they see their own data being visualized...” LIGHT WALK David Heaton and Sandra Linton Huezo Light Walk is a project that was designed for the UNESCO 2015 International Year of Light Festival. Located in the passages leading into the Carl Zeiss eG, it is an interactive light installation which aims to encourage the use of multiple passages. By placing sensors in each of the walkways of the site, the movement of the user is tracked and then revealed as a ‘data ghost’ or column of light in a 3D light matrix. The project takes the presence of a user in a secondary passage of the courtyard and displays it in the main passage. Users in the main passage experience an augmented reality as they see their own data being visualized, as well as the presence of those in other passages. This creates a trans-local experience by allowing the presence of multiple users in the courtyard to be superimposed in one space. During the evening, LED spotlights attract users towards the installation and the Sonnenhof courtyard, which is otherwise a dark space. The sensors are placed in both the main and auxiliary passages to establish when and where a user is in the space. A program determines how fast the individual is moving based on how often the equally spaced sensors are engaged.
This information is then fed to the main computer controlling the light installation, which visualizes the presence of the person. The interaction with the installation is passive or active, depending on the will of the user. Any visitor simply walking through the passages will be interacting passively, while someone who realizes that he/she is being tracked by a sensor may choose to ‘play’ with how their presence is sensed and displayed. CREDITS STUDENTS: David Heaton, M.Arch. / Master of Media Arch. and Sandra Linton Huezo, M.Arch. / Master of Media Arch. TEAM: Hasibullah Sahibzada FACULTY: Sabine Zierold, Bauhaus Universität Weimar COURSE: Urban Interface, Summer 2015
Light Walk installed in the courtyard passageway
INTER VIEW 18
“Technology is used as an interface that affects, relates to, or some how engages with, behavior in a space...” Interview with David Heaton Micaela Barker: Our graduate program is organized into five different research groups. You (David) have been part of the Situated Technologies Graduate Research Group. What do you think are some major ideas, themes, concepts, and characteristics that define this group? David Heaton: From my experience, the Situated Technologies Research Group combines technology and your perception of space. Technology is used as an interface that affects, relates to, or some how engages with, behavior in a space. It goes beyond static physical architecture – there is this other metadigital-realm. That can happen in a variety of ways; sometimes people use sensors in a space to recognize human behavior. MB: Did your interest in technology and behavior influence your decision to get a media architecture degree? DH: Yes, I think so, but media architecture is one of those things that I had no clue what it was before I went to the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. Sandra and I worked on the Bauhaus’s ten-year media architecture anniversary
so we participated in organizing the exhibition. We had to look at all the old projects coming out of the school and things that were happening in the professional world and organize that around different ideas. Even after doing this with all these media architecture projects, it still is like “well, what is that?” (laughs). However, I guess the way that I define it for myself is that with architecture you are designing a space, but with media architecture you are designing an interaction – whether that interaction is people to people, people to space, or people across space. There is always the use of some interface, and that interface is a technological thing that is a mediator between user and space or user and user. MB: Can you describe how you got involved in the UNESCO 2015 International Year of Light Festival Competition (laughs)? DH: Wow, what a mouth full, right (laughs)? The first studio that Sandra and I joined at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, was called “Urban Interface.” The studio was about making some intervention in the city for this festival.
Proposals had to be part of the “year of light” concept. We joined this studio, and it was the second semester of a yearlong project. The professors were vague about everything and so every time we asked, “do we join a project now?” “do we do a different project?” “what do you want us to do?” they were like, “well, come up with ideas.” It was very open, which is one of the big differences between the Bauhaus and our school. Everything here is a lot more prescribed. So Sandra and I were like “well, I guess we will do our own project.” One weekend we sat down and designed this idea that we had. The festival was for the entire European Union. It was curated by the Berlin Public Art Lab in conjunction with this program called Connecting Cities Network. They’re this international art collaborative that connects cities with digital art. They had this concept called “trans-local” media. We were given a site, it had to be in the middle of Yena, which is a city thirty minutes from Weimar by train. We wanted to develop a project around being able to sense people in different areas and overlay the presence of people in other parts of the city into this one specific space. This company called Carl Zeiss, decided to sponsor our installation. They said the site would be their plaza – they owned property in the city. The plaza had five different passageways that connected at one point. They called it Sonnenhof which means “sun plaza.” One weekend, Sandra and I sat down and said that we wanted to design for these five different passages and use light as our medium for this trans-local experience. We came up with the idea of these “data-ghosts.” You would walk down this path of lights and the light would sense your presence as you pass
David Heaton's final directed research review - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
through it. You would have this changing color light walking with you, and you would start to understand that your presence is in this light matrix. We ended up using Kinects in other passages to track people and overlay their data ghosts. MB: Can you describe what translocal means? DH: Yes, so that was also vague, but we understood it to mean being in two places simultaneously or transmitting yourself into another place. The example they used was this digital window technology that could see, for example, Berlin on one side and Tokyo on the other side – you could essentially wave to the other person on the other side of the window. MB: Can you also explain the term augmented reality? DH: Typically augmented reality goes
hand-in-hand with virtual reality. We thought of it as augmenting someone’s perception. It is an extended experience or altered perception – while you are physically in this place, you are digitally in another place. MB: Can you describe the development of the project after the proposal and your collaboration with Sandra? DH: We came up with this idea for a project and pumped out a bunch of drawings, renderings, and diagrams that weekend. I came up with the original concept for Light Walk and then we both decided to work together because we felt lost in the studio. We decided to just propose something and see what happens. We proposed the project; the professor and this other visiting professor really liked it. We went on this tour of
Hasibullah Sahibzada with Light Walk
David Heaton and Sandra Linton Huezo with Light Walk
the company, and they were telling us what they thought about the festival and how we could proceed. The company was immediately like “oh, we like that; you should keep working on it.” We revisited the drawings and tried to figure out what our actual dimensions were and where we could actually order our lumber and lights. We had no idea how we were going to do the technology part. We just said “it’s a Kinect that senses you.” The Kinect can track people’s movement. Using the Kinect actually gave us a leg up in the studio because other people were making everything from scratch instead of using an existing water-resistant product. There was a lot of back and forth about all these little things, and then we ordered proof of concept materials from the company and put the presentation together. I worked on the renderings, and Sandra worked on the plans and details and what-not. We presented and she (Sandra) made a stop-motion animation – we had this person simultaneously walking across the project in section and in plan. That animation was pretty important to get the sponsors to understand the project. When we presented our work, there was a language barrier – our professor would translate for people, but we largely had to let the work speak for itself. MB: Can you share about which experiences from our school here in Buffalo were influential in the success of your project? DH: I think there were two things. One is a work ethic instilled in the students of UB. Here, most people work hard, but when you visit other schools you find out that their level of work isn’t as intense. Sandra and I pumped out what we thought was a normal weekend’s worth of work; however, it was comparable to
some people’s whole semester of work. The second thing that sealed the deal for us was our understanding of how to take a model or drawing and build it full scale. That was something we learned freshman year when we built the Living Wall. Before they could even ask us how our structure came together, we showed details of the actual construction. We listed where we could order the wood from. We specified the sizes for the wood, the screws, the bolts and nuts, and so on. All of that we got from our experience at UB. MB: Did you end up writing the code for the project? DH: After our project was chosen, half of the people wanted to hop onto our project and build it, but the professor was like, “Everyone should finish their personal projects even if they are not getting built.” We were like “what do you mean?” It felt great to get picked. But even if we didn’t get picked we, would have expected that our project would be done; and we would jump on someone else’s project – that happened with the Living Wall in freshman year. Even though your project didn’t move forward, you still moved forward with someone else. For the rest of the semester, we had to calculate the project costs and build a final model. We told our professor that we knew how to put the whole thing together, but we needed help with coding. We still could build it, but we needed help – the project was about twenty-feet long and ninefeet wide and eight-feet tall. We had the director of the program put out calls for help and students could get credits for helping, as if Sandra and I were teaching a class. We got very little response because people go away for the summer. We had two or three responses from students for the programing and only one stuck out – his name was Hasibullah – we called him Hasib. He was this great guy from Afghanistan. He and I met at the school nearly everyday for the
summer. We were trying to figure out how the heck we were going to make the interactive part of this project work. He was from this program called “human computer interaction,” which was similar to computer science, but more geared towards user-interface programing. MB: That sounds perfect for you guys (laughs). DH: Yes it was great (laughs). He wrote this code that uses the Kinect to track people; and we found out that we could address every single light in this matrix individually, but it would be super heavy data-wise. There is this program that is typically used for lights, it’s called Madrix. Madrix is used for concerts and nightclubs. It’s really great for the lights to strobe or switch between green, blue, pink, and so on. You can set that up with any lighting system, almost like a “plug-n-play.” So we had the program that could talk to the lights, but we needed something that took the information from the Kinect and talked to the program that talked to the lights. MB: You needed to take the information from the technology that sensed the user and give that information to the software that tells the lights what to do.
Site plan of Light Walk in the Sonnenhof plaza
DH: It sounds super simple, the Kinect is supposed to read people and track them, but getting two different versions to work together was difficult, and we had to buy multiple computers. I found this screen capture software; and I literally opened up paint on the screen, drew a scaled version of the installation in plan, drew a person and moved this blob of paint in 2D across the screen. That blob showed up as a pillar of light in the 3D program and I was like “oh my god, I found out how to geri-rig it,” (laughs). We were okay with the fact that your position or data ghost would be a pillar of light around your location. A person would be a certain radius and any lights within that radius would change color. After I made this discovery, I asked Hasib, “What if you could draw live and transmit it to the lights?” So as the people walked, they were sensed, and drawn onto the screen – the live drawing was transmitted to Madrix which would instantly show it as light. We played with ways of fading the light to cover up some of the inaccuracies, so if the sensor stopped working, the light would slowly fade or if you moved too fast the lights would
Light Walk’s structural frame (above and right)
follow you but with a delay – its trail would slowly fade as you move. Hasib was instrumental in us figuring out the technical side of it. MB: What was the building process like? DH: We ordered all of the wood, bolts and other materials. In four or five days we cut everything apart; and we had this one girl, Maria Degrand, to help us for a while. Sandra and Maria put together the entire frame of Light Walk and mocked up all of the panels and everything. The lights were delayed for a long time in China. We wanted to mock up the whole thing before the festival, but we couldn’t. The lights only arrived the day before we had to go to the site to start building. We had four days before the festival to put the whole thing together. A lot of our help bailed on us at this time, so Sandra
and I were trying to put this frame up in this tunnel of a plaza alone. But random people, like the riders of Rohan, would show up and say, “hey, I can help you for like four hours.” It was just enough to give people the more tedious tasks while we were putting up the main structure. Random friends – people from the school – we had one girl Mika that came for three days straight. At this point we had built the entire installation, but the control box broke. The day before the opening of the festival they wanted to use our project as a preview exhibit. Ours was supposed to be done the night before the day the festival started. This was freak-out moment! At this point, Light Walk could only change colors, but had no interactive quality. The the program we were using, Madrix, had a company based in Dresden, Germany. The festival
was in Yenna – it was a six-hour train ride from Dresden. The company made control boxes for their software, so we called the company and they said they could ship it to us in two days. Two days was not enough, so the next morning I took a train to Dresden, and bought this two-thousand-euro control box in cash (laughs) and took a train back to Yenna. At this point, Hasib was trying to make the control box work, but the connections for the lights and the control box weren’t the same. We asked our friend Georg if we could go to this company that sells cords with the right connections, but in Germany there was no adapter for the connections we had. We bought a bunch of the male end of the connection we needed, cut the cords to leave one of the ends open, stripped the wires from the lights and join them. It was as if you took
an extension cord and soldered another one onto it – this some how worked (laughs). That night we soldered eighteen of these different DMX cables to eighteen end connections of light families, and it worked (laughs). There were so many issues and problems that we had to face at the last minute. The opening was at seven and the first time we could turn on the lights was at five thirty. We didn’t have interactive elements for the preview but then calibrated them for the actual opening. MB: What was the experience of the festival like? How did people respond to the project? DH: I will never forget the three hundred people or so that crowded around the project. They went through it, and it was like selfie-nation in there. People were enamored by it, and it was such an amazing feeling. You can plan for complete control in architecture, but people will use it differently than what you expected. We had designed an aesthetic that people really liked regardless of whether they were using it in the “right” way. It was up for four or five days and we had thousands of visitors in that time. There were kids who would run in and hug thirty strings of lights at a time.
Light Walk's grid of LED lights
“Street movements provide a good setting to practice, design, and benefit from mixed-reality environments...” 24
NOT ANOTHER TOOL Mahan Mehrvarz Introduction New technologies have played a substantial role in recent street movements, from the Green Movement in Iran and Arab Spring in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt to the Occupy Wall Street Movement in New York City (Massey & Snyder, 2015; Nabian, 2015). In these movements, streets became hyper public spaces where people used digital and physical components or environments and created a new reality. Taking a step back, it is important to realize that computer code is “extensively woven into the fabric of our everyday lives” (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011). From our smart phone’s alarm clock to the air traffic control system, big data and its infrastructure, information technology, and sensory devices are constantly shaping our world (Kitchin & Lauriault, 2014). The new generation of telecommunication devices and sentient technologies raises new possibilities for producing virtual or hyper spaces, or mixed-reality environments. These spaces are ones without any specific representation, but with sufficient reality for communication (Milgram & Kishino, 1994; Thrift, 2008). In this regard, mixedreality environment is very close to the concept of hyper/ hybrid space. Mixed-reality environments are ones in which real-world and virtual world objects are presented together within a single canvas, or medium. Within a mixed-reality environment, physical and digital objects cohabit and interact in real time (Benford & Giannachi, 2011). Street movements provide a good setting to practice, design, and benefit from mixed-reality environments. Street movements have traditionally taken place within the physical realm of cities, and often start or end with a form of civil disobedience. Considering the integration of new technologies in our daily lives, in 1994, Critical Art Ensemble stated in their Electronic
Civil Disobedience manifesto that “…streets are dead capital and nothing of value to the power elite can be found in the streets. Resisters should find something of a value to the power elite.” This manifesto was also a response to the fact that authorities started to have many virtual entities to practice their power. However, more recent movements (from 2009 to 2012) around the world showed that fully virtual civil disobedience does not meet protesters’ desires. Additionally, these recent movements did not follow the traditional civil disobedience model (like storming the bastille). Instead, the recent social movements and civil disturbances (of any form and in any geographical region) have been following a hybrid model that includes both digital and physical components, demonstrating the critical role of both digital and physical spaces in this millennium. On the other hand, following Foucault’s and Deleuze’s ideas on discipline and control, one can see that street movements – either violent or non-violent – have to deal with authorities’ attempts in controlling the crowd and terminating the movement. This opens up two other aspects of street movements: control and resistance. To control protesters in streets, authorities have developed riot-control tactics (Department of Army, 2014). These tactics include riot-control scenarios and a number of tools (traditional and technological) associated with each scenario. To resist, people have also developed ad-hoc tools that neutralize control tools. However, there is a noticeable difference between the number of technologies that authorities have access to and those available to protesters during street protests. On top of the shortage in resources that protesters have to deal with, there is a lack of advance planning and design for street protests as a spatial collective activity. It seems that designers have never considered this condition as a design problem.
Question My primary goal in this thesis was to look into the cohabitation of digital and physical space as a design opportunity. Investigating street movements/protests as a design context remained my focus throughout this investigation and the development of new technologies was explored through design. Hence, technology, the relationship between the digital and physical, and street protests become the three central topics of investigation. I seek to understand how the application of communication technologies, the Internet of things, pervasive computing, and sensory devices can create a mixed-reality urban environment, to provide the opportunity for protesters to remain in streets and act and respond to authorities more effectively within public spaces. Method Proposing tools/strategies for protesters in response to all tools and technologies that are available for authorities requires a deep understanding of the current restrictions and shortcomings. On top of all types of resources that are available to authorities but not protesters, it is also notable that the amount of design on the protester sides also requires an increase. Benefiting from a huge amount of resources, soon or late, authorities will be able to develop new tools that protesters will not immediately know how to deal with. Moreover, the invention of various cuttingedge, riot-control tools, which are already being developed and tested by military researchers, emphasizes the emergent need for design and planning for protesters. (Khalek, 2011; Ludman, 2006; Zinter & Zinter, 1999). Based on riot-control manuals, the authorities use several tactics to control the street movements. There are a number of riot-control scenarios in which the riotcontrol agents use tools to end street protests. For example, one of the riot-control scenarios is “chopping.” In this scenario, the riot-control agents attack the protesters from several points in order to chop their mass into segments, and afterwards, arrest protesters. One of the tools that the riot-control police use within this scenario is tear gas. The common practice by street protesters is to develop ad hoc or DIY tools for resistance to confront the tools of control. For example, if we think of tear gas as an example of a control tool, protesters wear masks or burn papers, recycle bins, or bushes to minimize the effects of tear gas. The projects “Backslash” and “Occupy” are examples of designing tools for resistance. Both projects look at the existing riot-control scenarios, and in some cases, traditional tools that riot-control police use, to develop prevocational or functional devices to neutralize the effect and efficiency of control tools. An example of this is the multi-functional shield that Not An Alternative proposed for protesters to both write their slogans on
and use as a means of protection against the riot-control police attacks. An alternative perspective The attempts to develop and design tools for protesters and provide them access to resources thus far have come from a rational school of thought, and often each project/case relates to a single-control scenario. I would like to propose an alternative way of looking at the issue of protestors’ inaccessibility to resources and tools. What if protesters accept the fact that they cannot overcome authorities when it comes to mainstream and traditional riot-control scenarios, regardless of the tool they use and instead think of alternative scenarios in which the power may lie in both the hands of the protestors and the authorities? A thorough analysis of both control tools and resistance tools shows that they are both products of and in response to a single riot-control scenario; some of the tools are for control, and others are to resist and neutralize those control tools. I propose an alternative way of thinking: what if we, instead of focusing on designing tools, design alternative scenarios for resistance first, and then tools that are associated with each of them, therefore, creating resistance scenarios as opposed to control scenarios that seek to change the paradigm of protest organization. The resistance scenarios neutralize the strategic goals of riot-control scenarios instead of neutralizing their control tools. Protesters within the resistance scenarios, this time, do not confront control tools; instead, they confront the scenarios behind them. Rather than trying to invent ad-hoc tools (which are often weak in terms of technology), protesters try to act within different scenarios with different tools that are not designed to neutralize ‘tear gas’, but to neutralize the scenario of ‘chopping the crowd into segments’. Method of inquiry Mixed reality – an environment in which real world and virtual world are presented together within a single medium in the context of street protests, can produce a number of scenarios for resistance in which protesters continue their collective actions with the same level of effectiveness, but using different strategies and tools. The method of inquiry is to first develop resistance scenarios in response to riot-control scenarios. Each resistance scenario will address services, technological tools, objects, or platforms. The goal is to explore new technologies, such as new media, pervasive computing, and the internet of things, within those resistance scenarios. Although the outcome may be very similar to a toolkit, these tools operate at a strategic level rather than an instrumental level.
Mahan Mehrvarz's final thesis review - Photograph by Mani Mehrvarz
â€œThe common practice of street protesters is to develop ad hoc or DIY tools for resistance to confront the tools of control...â€?
By means of design inquiry, this thesis follows approaches from critical theory and deconstructive perspectives toward creating resistance scenarios for protesters. Within the critical theory perspective, I intend to decrease the gap in access to resources between authorities and street protesters. As mentioned previously, authorities have great access to various opportunities and resources (such as financial and technical) which help them to easily overcome the masses of protesters. On the other hand, the only power that protesters have is the power of collective action. With a focus on protesters (rather than authorities), I follow a deconstructive perspective as well. In this regard, my designs are based on protesters’ needs and goals in consideration of their social context. I use scenario planning as an abductive design strategy to identify plausible scenarios of resistance. Scenario planning is a helpful technique when it comes to situations with uncertainties (Mietzner & Reger, 2005), which is typical of street riots. Also, as mentioned previously, my goal is to change the traditional way of resisting riot-control techniques by proposing an alternative way of thinking, which is highly aligned with scenario-planning methods. According to Mietzner and Reger (2005), designing scenarios “require decision makers to question their basic assumptions” (224). The possible outcome of the generated scenarios are new and innovative services, technological tools, objects, or platforms that the thesis addresses for each of the resistance scenarios. These outcomes can weave a new relation between virtual and physical components of street protests/movements. As with other methods, scenario planning has its advantages and disadvantages. The most important advantage of this method is that it allows the designer to come up with multiple alternatives. Since the future is not fully predictable, it is necessary to have various options in case events do not follow our expectations (Mietzner & Reger, 2005). Consequently, one of the main weaknesses of scenario planning is its time-consuming process. A thorough analysis of different aspects of an event and understanding all the players in that event requires gathering data and information from various databases that may not be necessarily related to each other (Mietzner & Reger, 2005). Phasing Phase I. The first phase was to investigate the riot-control scenarios practiced and developed by the authorities based on existing literature and riot-control manuals. Phase II. The second phase was to identify resistance scenarios in response to each one of the control scenarios. I have identified five riot-control scenarios based on the
Bridge prototype No. 1
literature. These scenarios are: “chopping,” “containment” (kettle), “blocking,” “snatch/squad I&II,” and “connection shout down.” In the next step, I designed resistance scenarios as plausible counter scenarios to counter resist each one of the aforementioned riot-control tactics. The outcomes range from objects, and platforms, to technological tools within each corresponding resistance scenario. Phase III. The final phase was to extract the proposed innovative services, technological tools, objects, and platforms from the developed resistance scenarios and concentrate on designing them by making prototypes, demos, trailers, or simulations of them. For example, the outcomes vary from online applications or websites to wearable technologies. The outcomes are highly dependent upon the resistance scenarios and their goals, but all deal with web programing, physical computing, and computational design. Bridge A Bridge is made out of an artifact with cultural associations and memories that the host and guest share. This artifact is given a 3D printed extension to be enabled to carry a computer inside. The new life of the artifact after this assembly turns it into a
Bridge prototype No. 2
Bridge prototype No. 3
Bridge. The Bridge remains as a decorative object that is also physically responsive to Internet traffic as an indicator for the host that the guest is browsing the Internet through the Bridge. This way, the Bridge plays a slight role to invoke and maintain the sense of solidarity.
for host and guest to start exploring; it is just a new chapter in the evolutionary path of known artifacts, now with an extended feature.
The photo frame has a built-in LED strip in the top bar which blinks whenever the microcomputer inside is sending and receiving Internet data higher than a certain amount. In other words it responds to Internet traffic by blinking. The host, by looking at the photo frame when it is blinking knows that his friend is using the bridge to remotely access previously blocked content. Though Bridges are relatively technological, they seem domesticated and familiar. The 3D-printed part of a Bridge is available online in the form of a STL file just like thousands of other ready-to-print STL files as well as the artifact itself. The appearance of a Bridge is the result of a marriage between a lovely artifact and a straightforward piece of technology that is usually presented inside a hostile enclosure. It is conveying the message that this technology is about friendship and human values. A Bridge would indicate that it is not a brand new thing
Packer Packer is a mobile app designed to sustain mass demonstrations. It comes into play when a mass demonstration goes through the process of dispersal. Packer returns agency to small groups of individuals. It encourages individuals to remain as small groups, or packs, in private or privately-owned public spaces. It sustains the potential re-formation of the previously dispersed mass demonstration, or the formation of a new one when the situation becomes appropriate again. Packer constantly visualizes real-time data about the separated packs and collages them beside each other to evoke a virtual demonstration. It illustrates a bigger image which is not otherwise clear for dispersed packs of demonstrators, one which is prevented physically but still remains as a social desire.
Pigeon During a civil war in general, there has always been a number of journalists with diverse nationalities who are killed unjustifiably. Nowadays following the emerging access to mobile and pervasive technologies within urban space, in many cases, the lack of video footages capturing an event (or a specific person during an event such as a demonstration) alleges the idea that the aforementioned person has never been there and the story of his/her death is a rumor. And this is mainly because several cameras or video footage from those present during the event did not capture that person in the environment (based on interview with Michael Sfard; an international human rights specialized lawyer). From this point of view the existence of video footage as proof or evidence seems really crucial. 30
Pigeon is a fictional scenario about the collectively executed evolution of a toy drone toward a very important tool for journalists who have to work in unstable and dangerous sites.
Tool: Paker start screen
Position This thesis explores the opportunities that recent social movements present in terms of new spatial experiences. This trinity of resistance scenarios illustrates an alternative presentâ€” one that becomes conscious of spatial processes which are yet touched by designers and planners. The resistance scenarios are intertwined with human and computer networks through and within digital and physical space: a hybrid environment which is dependent on both its digital and physical components. The thesis highlights the significance of spatial experiences which are not pre-deterministic nor designed in a certain timespace, but instead are always in the process of becoming and evolving. The thesisâ€™ ultimate goal is not to provide solutions for protesters to be successful in their practice of resistance. Instead, it seeks to propose new ways of thinking about resistance in more strategic levels, while emphasizing the importance of a mixed-design opportunity (mixed reality and social movements). CREDITS STUDENT: Mahan Mehrvarz, M.Arch. FACULTY: Mark Shepard and Jordan Geiger COURSE: Masters Thesis, Spring 2016 RESEARCH GROUP: Situated Technologies
Tool: Pigeon sending radio pulse
REFERENCES Benford, S., & Giannachi, G. (2011). Performing mixed reality. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Blast Theory. (2008). Day of the Figurines. 2015, from http://www.blasttheory. co.uk/projects/day-of-the-figurines/ Critical Art Ensemble. (1994). Electronic civil disobedience: Critical Art Ensemble. Deleuze, G. (1992). Postscript on the Societies of Control. October, 3-7. Department of Army. (2014). Civil Disturbances Army Techniques Publication. Washington, DC: Department of the Army. Doel, M. A. (1999). Poststructuralist geographies: the diabolical art of spatial science. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield. Dominguez, R. (2015). Entr’actions: FromRadical Transparencyto RadicalTranslucency. In J. Geiger (Ed.), Entr’acte (pp. 53-71). New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan. Electrohippies. (2000). Cyberlaw UK: Civil rights and protest on the internet electrohippies collective. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison: Vintage. Hartshorne, R. (1969). Perspective on the Nature of Geography. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally & Company. Khalek, R. (2011). 6 Creepy New Weapons the Police and Military Use to Subdue Unarmed People. World. 2015, fromhttp://www.alternet.org/story/151864/6_ creepy_new_weapons_the_police_and_military_use_to_subdue_unarmed_people Kitchin, R., & Dodge, M. (2005). Code and the transduction of space. Annals of the Association of American geographers, 95(1), 162-180. Kitchin, R., & Dodge, M. (2011). Transduction of space Code/space: Software and everyday life (pp. 65-80). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Kitchin, R., & Lauriault, T. P. (2014). Towards critical data studies: Charting and unpacking data assemblages and their work. Leithinger, D., Follmer, S., Olwal, A., Hogge, A., & Ishii, H. (2013). inFORM. 2015, from http://tangible.media.mit.edu/project/inform/ Lifton, J., & Paradiso, J. A. (2010). Dual reality: Merging the real and virtual. Facets of Virtual Environments, 33, 12-28. Lotan, G. (2011a). Data reveals that “occupying” twitter trending topics is harder than it looks. Social Flow. 2015, from http://giladlotan.com/2011/10/datarevealsthat-occupying-twitter-trending-topics-is-harder-than-it-looks/ Lotan, G. (2011b). Data reveals that ‘‘occupying’’twitter trending topics is harder than it looks. Social Flow. Ludman, J. (2006). Google Patent. Massey, J., & Snyder, B. (2012). the Occupying wall street: Places and spaces of political action. Places: Forum of Design for the Public Realm. Massey, J., & Snyder, B. (2015). The Hypercity That the Occupy Built. In J. Geiger (Ed.), Entr’acte (pp. 87-103). New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan. Massy, D. (2013). Space, place and gender. Malden, MA: Polity Press. Mietzner, D., & Reger, G. (2005). Advantages and disadvantages of scenario
approaches for strategic foresight. International Journal of TechnologyIntelligence and Planning, 1(2), 220-239. Milgram, P., & Kishino, F. (1994). A taxonomy of mixed reality visual displays. IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems, 77(12), 1321-1329. Nabian, N. (2015). “Hello! My Name Is Sophia,” I Am Going to Tweet Democracy, Google My College Degree, and 3-D Print My House! A Speculative Piece on the Neo-Republic of Hyper-Individuals in the Near Future. In J. Geiger (Ed.), Entr’acte (pp. 53-71). New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan. Not an Alternative. (2011). the Occupy. 2015, from http://notanalternative.org/ projects/ Oliveira, P., & Chen, X. (2015). Backslash. 2015, from http://xc-xd.com/backslash/ Parker, E. (2012a). Why Don’t We Care About Syria? , 2015, from http://www. slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2012/02/syria_uprising_twitter_and_social_media_revolution_fatigue_.html Parker, E. (2012b). Why Don’t We Care About Syria? , from http://www.slate.com/ articles/technology/future_tense/2012/02/syria_uprising_twitter_and_social_media_revolution_fatigue_.html Thrift, N. (2008). Non-representational theory: Space, politics, affect. New york, NY: Routledge. Winder, I. (2014). CityScope: Augmented Reality City Simulation. Changing Places. 2015, from http://cp.media.mit.edu/city-simulation/ Wray, S. (1999). On electronic civil disobedience. Peace Review, 11(1), 107-111. Zinter, B., & Zinter, S. (1999). Google Patent.
Ryan Dussault diagramming a residence in Ward 4
Surveyed and Interviewed households in Ward 4
Student from College of Engineering in Trivandrum interviewing residents from Ward 4
“The survey and interview questions inquired about overall health of all the members of the household, solid and liquid waste disposal practices, and drinking water supply sources...” ACTING COLLECTIVELY FOR EQUITY Samantha Bulkilvish in collaboration with course members This interdisciplinary studio took place in the Town of Maradu, India. Students brought experience from the departments of architecture, planning, public health, and environmental engineering. The focus of the project was to gather information from the residents of Maradu about current sanitation practices related to water and waste. This was done in order to help the municipality of Maradu as they proceeded in drafting their City Sanitation Plan. UB students, along with students from the College of Engineering in Trivandrum, spent three weeks in January of 2016 performing key stakeholder interviews, household surveys, and collecting geospatial data. This data was analyzed and compiled into a list of recommendations shared with the municipality of Maradu. The household survey and interview tools that the UB students utilized during the studio were created and tested before taking them into the field. The survey and interviews were conducted in Ward 4, a small neighborhood of Maradu. The survey and interview questions inquired about overall health of all the members of the household, solid and liquid waste disposal practices, and drinking water supply sources. Along with the surveyors and interviewers, a team of draftsman
diagrammed the homes to identify where sources of water may be entering the home and how waste is exiting the home. The diagrams, interviews and surveys informed the students about current waste management practices happening within the neighborhood. After returning to the United States the students sifted through the data they gathered to identify recommendations for the town. The data analysis resulted in a report outlining the group’s findings and a list of recommendations that addressed precedents for new types of infrastructure, the potential costs of new infrastructure, urgency of issues in the neighborhood, and a timeline for completion of each recommendation.
Residence in Kerala, India
CREDITS STUDENT: Samantha Bulkilvish, MUP TEAM: Micaela Barker, John Costello, Ryan Dussault, Connor Hannan, Shawn Mathew (Public Health), Kenzie McNamara, Breanna McCoy, Sucharita Paul (Public Health), Kathryn Rozwod (Environmental Engineering), Daniel Stegall, Vasikan Vijayashanthar (Environmental Engineering), and Yilmaz York (Public Health) FACULTY: Samina Raja and Korydon Smith TA(s): Alexandra Judelsohn and Smitha Gopalakrishnan COURSE: Planning and Design for Health and Equity, Spring 2016 RESEARCH CENTER: Community for Global Health Equity Waste pile in Kerala, India
INTER VIEW 34
“We had to study something that is kind of personal for everyone – how people deal with their trash and their waste...” Interview with Samantha Bulkilvish Micaela Barker: Can you describe the type of work with which you were involved in India? Samantha Bulkilvish: While in India, I was on a different path than everyone else. I was focusing on trying to get GIS data from any source possible, so I was doing a lot of research. MB: You were the only person that had extensive GIS experience, right? SB: Yes. Going into the project the municipality wanted mapping information. There was a lot of pressure to get something for them. MB: Did you mostly collect data on the city scale? SB: Yes, I had to understand where the boundaries of Maradu were. I also took GPS locations of specific intersections and points of interest to us. I tried to find as many of the reported water towers, solid-waste holding facilities, water treatment plants, and so on. We wanted to understand how everything was geographically related to one another. MB: What were some of the more challenging experiences in India? SB: Well, while it was challenging to work in another country where I don’t speak the native language, I thought it was more challenging to work with the team (laughs).
MB: That’s a really good point (laughs). SB: Even though we all spoke English, we obviously had different languages to speak because we were all in different disciplines. However, looking back, I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. I learned so much more from working with other people from other disciplines than I would have if I was just on a team of planners. I am grateful for the opportunity even though it was challenging. MB: Right, everybody had their own idea of how to go about doing a task. SB: Yeah – how do you agree when everyone has a different opinion – how do you compromise? MB: Everyone there had a really strong personality (laughs). We were constantly going to Samina Raja and Korydon Smith to make final decisions about every task – there was no team hierarchy. SB: I think maybe one of our faults from the beginning was that we should have picked a leader in each team or even for the whole group. Someone who coordinated tasks and held the final decision. More team structure in the beginning would have been helpful. MB: What were some of the most enriching parts of the trip? Both in the work experience and maybe in your cultural experience?
Samantha Bulkilvish and Radhika P. Kumar
UB students climbing into a tuk-tuk
Storm drain construction in Kerala, India
SB: We had to study something that is kind of personal for everyone – how people deal with their trash and their waste. MB: It was a study of very private information. SB: Yes it’s different when you travel for fun – you don’t really go and study people’s sanitation habits. It is an interesting way to look at a culture. As far as academically enriching, there was so much I learned on that trip. Like how to manage this giant project. MB: And you were the person that saw the final report through to the end after the studio was over. SB: I did not expect to continue to work on it for a year after that studio. I am glad I got to put the final touches on it. I think this experience has affirmed in me that I want to be involved in interdisciplinary work. I think it would be so boring to work with the people who have the same kind of mindset as you over and over again. MB: Can you describe the studio when you came back to the U.S.? None of us had made a planning report before. SB: Exactly, yes, the architects were like “We don’t write!” and the planners are like “We don’t draw!” and the engineers were like “You all don’t know anything about sewage and waste!” So, yeah, when we all got back we had all of this data and we had to synthesize and make sense of it. We couldn’t just report everything, just the critical information about the data we collected. For example, we used the town’s budget information to help make realistic recommendations for them. Then when we were all writing, the engineers were very technical about how they wrote their sections of the report – that was challenging when we had to put everyone’s sections together. I ended up spatializing some of the data we collected on different maps. It was difficult to find a starting point to sort through all of the
“stuff” we collected. I think the day that Kory (Korydon Smith) brought us into the side room and was like, “Ok, so what are our goals?” (laughs) and we were like, “Wait a second, we have goals?” (laughs). That was a wake-up call. MB: After we made that relatively final presentation, we had a whole other conversation about what the goals were and what the difference between a goal and an objective was. Gosh, I am so glad we had that conversation because it helped me so much. SB: Yes, so sifting through data, writing the narrative portion of the report, and then coming up with meaningful recommendations based on our findings. Then thinking of the cultural appropriateness of the recommendations. For example, because the town had a really limited budget, a recommendation that would cost millions of dollars wouldn’t be helpful to the town. MB: What do you think were some of the most successful parts of the studio? SB: I don’t think it would have been possible to complete this project if we did not have all of the disciplines working together. I don’t think the report would have the depth it has if only planners were working on it. MB: The engineers added a lot of knowledge about storm water, ground water, and waste that we wouldn’t have been able to understand as quickly or thoroughly. SB: Exactly. It was too bad that we didn’t have the time to utilize more of the architect’s skills in drafting to represent the recommendations. I feel that the recommendations were rushed at the end. MB: Was there anything we could have done to get to that part of the project faster? SB: I don’t know – I think we were all hesitant to start writing – maybe if people
“Even though we all spoke English, we obviously had different “I think this languages to experience speak because we has in me that wereaffirmed all in different disciplines. I want to be involved in I wouldn’t However, looking back, interdisciplinary work...” want it to be any other way.” University at Buffalo students and College of Engineering in Trivandrum students practicing for resident surveys and interviews
University at Buffalo students and College of Engineering in Trivandrum students practicing for resident surveys and interviews
were less hesitant to do something they weren’t comfortable with in general. I wish people would have just jumped in and gone for it. We had that timeline all sorted out, but we just never stuck to it. I don’t know what could have helped us stick to it more. MB: We already mentioned some of the things that you would change about the studio if you could, do you have any other thoughts about that? SB: I think it would have been helpful to have two weeks before we even went to India to start coming up with survey and interview questions. We spent so
much time on the development of that survey at the beginning of the trip, which is something we could have done more efficiently here. We also could have set up appointments with everyone we needed to talk with and then when we got there just do it. Some things you aren’t going to realize you need until you get there, but we could have had a head start if we spent a week or two here before going to India. MB: I think that could also be a way to get everyone’s mind clear about what we were collecting, and how we were going to go about executing different tasks to
serve our goals. SB: Yes, more focus and more prep time.
“Current photovoltaic panels are one of the many ‘less bad’ approaches...” NATURE LEAVES Gianfranco Pietrantoni The lost leaf I am small. I begin my journey as a budding sprout surrounded by the cool morning dew. I sprout from the necessity to fuel and grow the entire community. As I grow, I draw fuel from the others; chlorophyll begins to fill my veins, and I grow ever larger not knowing my shape or my exact purpose. As weeks go by, I continue to use the nutrients provided by others. The cool spring nights and warm sunny days continue to pass and, at last, I am a leaf. I am relevant. As the summer days grow warmer, I cast my shade on the host and absorb vital sunlight. I have mastered the process of photosynthesis. As I bask in the warmth of the sun, I convert light to starches and sugars, providing for the host. As I become exhausted, I begin to breathe heavier, taking in large amounts of unwanted byproduct and sequestering it within me. I am necessary. The days grow shorter and the nights grow cooler. I begin to break down the chlorophyll that has given me life and stored it within the host. All my chlorophyll has now been depleted to allow the host to survive. Onlookers pass; quick flashes of light appear as words such as “colorful” and “beautiful” are used to describe me. A strong gust of wind blows, and I fall to the base of the host. As the weeks go on, I begin to degrade; all of the nutrients left in me return to the host. I am renewable. I preserve, I conserve, and I am knowledgeable. I have used the energies around me for millions of years. By learning from me, I can help to give insight. I have grown strong and mastered collective light capture, converting it to usable energy. I am the voice of the earth.
The promising panel I have learned from the leaf’s process and have perfected the strategies that work. I am the future. All energy harvesting will be through me, and I will be able to solve the energy crisis. I can solve all of the earth’s problems. I am built in a factory made efficiently to carry out my only job: to convert the sunlight’s energy into a usable form. I begin my journey as mined silicon before moving my way around the world. I am assembled for specific purposes. I am as efficient as I possibly can be, and there is no question in my mind as to why I was built. I will replace the coal mines with silicon mines; I will eliminate nuclear waste and replace it with sulfur hexafluoride. I will be sustainable. What can I possibly learn from this old leaf? The leaf, the panel, and the human Leaf: I have used energy for millions of years and have become invaluable to society; you should learn from me. Panel: I have limited the number of greenhouse gasses; I have become more efficient than any other. How could I learn from you? I am built in a factory. Do we have anything in common? Transportation, agriculture, and heating and cooling have made energy consumption an essential ingredient to life. The engines, power plants, and nuclear reactors that we depend on emit nitrogen, water, carbon dioxide, and other harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Our society is dependent on fossil fuelbased machinery, allowing personal comfort to dictate how the planet is affected. By torching decaying fuels found within the earth, massive quantities of carbon are released into the
atmosphere. The fossil fuels that are necessary for survival started their lives as leaves, organic materials and soils that had exhausted their use, fallen to the earth, and decayed. The carbon dioxide liberated by the burning of these precious materials was never intended to be released. How can society change something that is necessary to live? By looking through nature’s eye, valuable insight can be gathered on the most effective processes of creating, using, and recycling expendable natural resources.
Typically, society has chosen the “less of two evils” as an approach toward environmental issues. Reducing, limiting, avoiding, minimizing, sustaining, and halting have all been common terms to describe how to overcome our need for combustion (McDonough & Braungart, 2002). These adjectives have one thing in common: they create a feeling of well-being without addressing the root causes. Although it’s true that photovoltaic panels reduce pollutants and greenhouse gasses by 90% in comparison to using fossil fuels, they still create a surprising amount of hazardous, toxic, and harmful waste during the manufacturing process (Decker, 2008). Phrases like “reducing hazardous material,” “limiting toxic elements,” and “minimizing harmful waste,” show the fundamental flaws in society’s outlook. The solar panel, or technological leaf of society, has been targeted and praised because of its ability to harvest energized light through a mechanical process (Benyus, 1997). However, a solar array producing 1800 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year is capable of releasing 3.5 tons of carbon dioxide back into the environment (Berners-Lee, 2010). Though they release far less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, current photovoltaic panels are still one of society’s many “lesser of two evils.” By studying nature’s strategies for a better understanding of manufacturing, energy utilization, and the recycling process, we can begin to adapt traits learned from the leaf to photovoltaic panels. McDonough argues that “[T]he best way to reduce any environmental impact is not to recycle more, but to produce and dispose less.” (McDonough & Braungart, 2002) This does not mean that recycling does not help to lessen the environmental impact on the earth, but that by upcycling more materials, we can produce less. Upcycling takes the material life of an object into account. For example, as a leaf dies and is recycled into the earth, it creates a more nitrogen-rich soil, thus creating a better environment for surrounding plantings. It does not directly create better leaves but creates a useful product for other species (McDonough & Braungart, 2002). Simply put, upcycling improves the quality of materials for reuse in other
products – even if they are unrelated – after the product has “died.” The first step to understanding how photovoltaics can be improved is to understand how they have failed, and what the major weaknesses are. The leaf’s natural life cycle can be broken down into three broad elements: the creation of the leaf and the energy expended to produce it; the functionality of the leaf and how it maximizes its ability to capture and convert energy; and how the leaf is reprocessed after it has exhausted its use. Photovoltaic panels can also be studied in this manner: the creation of the panel and the energy expended to produce it; the functionality of the panel and how it maximizes its use; and how the panel is reprocessed after it has exhausted its use. It is possible that these two traits are transferable by adopting the natural recycling process of leaves to reduce the number of photovoltaic panels created worldwide, and that create a truly sustainable innovation. Birth Leaf: I am created naturally. I do not rely on manufactured chemicals. You should try to do the same. Panel: I really don’t know too much about what I’m made of. Maybe you can help me? When researching the technical mechanics of leaf formation, it is important to understand the functions of a leaf. Braybrook writes that plants adopted a division of labor whereby some organs produce energy and others consume it. The leaf is essentially a solar panel to feed the energy needs of the other cells (Braybrook & Kuhlemeier, 2010). The biological formation of a leaf is one of the most complex processes in nature. Breaking the process into three main categories will help to simplify how it relates to the creation of a photovoltaic panel. The first step in leaf formation is the initiation step, cells within the main trunk of the tree begin to divide rapidly and grow to create small protrusions from the trunk (Dengler & Tsukaya, 2001). The second step in leaf formation is primary morphogenesis, which is the process in which the primordial leaf axis [stem] grows outwardly and begins to subdivide, creating a stem and vein system (Dengler & Tsukaya, 2001). The third step is expansion, during which 95% of the cells found in a leaf are created. The leaf continues to grow in area and volume, and the two skin layers of the leaf are formed (Dengler & Tsukaya, 2001).To simplify the process even further, we can start comparing the leaves process to a manufacturing process. Small, seemingly insignificant parts are created or mined from the trunk. They then form together to make larger more integrated parts. The stem and veins become assembled together to form a functional piece that fulfills other’s needs.
Today, the vast majority of solar panels are composed of silicon. Yet, little to no attention is given to the manufacturing process of the panels on a factory scale. Photovoltaics heavily rely on the production of silicon. In the past, manufacturers were able to rely on recycled silicon created from rejected computer chips that did not meet the computer industry standards (Mulvaney, 2014). This process is not used today because of the need for purer and more refined silicon for the photovoltaic panels. Silicon begins as quartz mined from the earth and heated at high temperatures until it is turned into a metallurgical-grade silicon (Kirk, Othmer, Kroschwitz, & Howe-Grant, 1991). Carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide gasses are released within the factories, which over time prove to be harmful to the workers handling the raw materials. The metallurgical-grade silicon must then be converted into a more stable, purer form of silicon. The refinement process creates three to four tons of toxic silicon tetrachloride for every ton of refined silicon (Mulvaney, 2013). The majority of factories dispose of the toxic byproducts because the equipment to reuse the chemical waste is not economical. When the waste interacts with water or soil, it begins to degrade and release hydrochloric acid (Mulvaney, 2013). The hydrochloric acid acidifies the soil and releases harmful fumes that cause changes to the ecosystem and atmosphere through acid rain. The silicon is then again melted down and formed into blocks or ingots of pure silicon crystals, which will be cut into wafers and assembled into panels (Mulvaney, 2013). The original mined product has lost up to 80% of its material. As it is cut into thin silicon wafers, 50% of the material is lost to dust into the air, while the water used to clean and rinse the wafers is also polluted (Mulvaney, 2013). Some of the other chemicals used to create photovoltaic panels include sulfur hexafluoride (1 ton = 25,000 tons of Co2), sodium hydroxide (1 ton = 1.12 tons of Co2), hydrochloric acid (1 ton = 1.2 tons of Co2), and nitric acid (1 ton = 2.17 tons of Co2). These chemicals are not only hazardous to the environment but also hazardous to human life. Yet they are consistently overlooked because they have reduced, limited, and minimized their effects. When looking at the production of leaves, two notable takeaways can be directly applied to the manufacturing of photovoltaic panels. First, the leaf acts as an asexual element, using nutrients gathered and stored by other leaves to create a collective network of energy-harvesting organs. This same technique can be applied to photovoltaic factories. The environmental burden of photovoltaic panels can be halved if 100 percent of the energy in the factories were delivered by photovoltaic energy. (Decker, 2008) Second, the leaf is also
able to use its natural surroundings effectively by creating vast arrays of solar-collecting organs. So how can we apply this same concept of using what is already around to create silicon? Although more than 90 percent of the photovoltaic panels made today start with polysilicon, a viable option would be using perovskite in conjunction with a thin-film solar cell (Mulvaney, 2014). One of the more recent developments in solar technology is the utilization of perovskite crystals in place of silicon. Perovskite is known for matching the efficiency of silicon products while being significantly cheaper to produce. Perovskite could cost 10 to 20 cents per watt, compared to silicon (75 cents per watt) or fossil fuels (50 cents per watt) (Yirka, 2013). The problem with perovskite is that its purification process employs three toxic chemicals. (“New solvent system removes barrier to large perovskite solar panels,” 2016). The chemicals used in the perovskite lend the same issues as silicon purification with the dealing (or not dealing) with toxic chemical wastes after the purification is completed. However, scientists at Oxford University have developed a solvent system with reduced toxicity that can be used in the manufacturing process of perovskite (“New solvent system removes barrier to large perovskite solar panels,” 2016). This clean solvent quickly crystallizes perovskite films at room temperature and could be used to help coat large solar panels with the material (“New solvent system removes barrier to large perovskite solar panels,” 2016). The perovskite would be deposited on layers of semi-conductive material or placed directly on a substrate of glass, metal, or plastic instead of slicing wafers from a silicon ingot. This produces less waste and avoids the complicated melting, drawing, and slicing used to make traditional cells (Mulvaney, 2014). These innovations mimic the traits of the leaf, although there are some issues of materiality. By using more natural material and eliminating the need for toxic elements, the panel can now begin to adopt the efficiencies found within a leaf to create energy. Life Leaf: Are you really efficient? Panel: Of course I am…24% of the time. The photovoltaic panel attempts to efficiently mimic how the leaf synthesizes the sun’s energy. Unfortunately, photovoltaic panels on the market today range anywhere from 20% to 24% at maximum efficiency (Copley, 2016). The driving factor for such inefficiency among photovoltaic panel is the cost the physical upper limits of efficiency. The maximum range for any siliconbased photovoltaic panel is between 35% and 55% efficient (Brynes, 2013). The second issue involves the materiality of
the panels. As the photovoltaic panels age and wear from use, they must be replaced due to weathering and inclement weather (Brynes, 2013). So how can a leaf help to increase our efficiency output within a limited time? The first step is to look at why leaves are shaped differently. As cells with the leaf begin to mature, environmental factors such as sunlight, nutrition level, and temperature play a role in the form, size, and orientation of the leaf (Dale, 1992). So why would photovoltaic panels be similar in size shape and orientation if environmental factors such as sunlight, and temperature are ever-changing from region to region?
Researchers at MIT have developed the first three-dimensional photovoltaic panel capable of producing 20 times more energy than the traditional flat panel (“New 3D solar panel design doubles solar energy,” 2012). Both leaves and photovoltaic panels have a limited lifespan during which they can harvest energy. The method of adopting a new three-dimensional shape to maximize sunlight is directly found in nature and starts to compensate for panels with such a low efficiency. The same grouping principles used within trees can also be applied to lowefficiency panels. Creating large arrays of low-efficiency panels to output a greater amount of energy takes principles directly from grouped leaves. It is important to note some fundamental differences when comparing the processes of a leaf and a photovoltaic panel. Living plants can replace spare parts when they wear out; solar panels cannot. By taking environmental factors such as cloudiness and rainfall into the production and customization of photovoltaic panels, we can begin to mimic how the leaf functions. More recent advances have led to solar cells that can harness energy not only from the sun but also from the rain. Panels are coated along the bottom side of the solar cell with a thin layer of graphene, which interacts with the positively charged ions found in raindrops (Tang, Wang, Yang, & He, 2016). By studying the function of the leaf, we see how society attempts to emulate nature even within technological advances; although these advances are more efficient and more conscious, they still negatively affect the atmosphere. The key to the life cycle assessment of solar panels does not lie only within efficiency and production, but most importantly in how the panels can live after death. This is the most important biomimetic factor to learn from the leaf. The goal is to start to identify some of the vital nutrients found within the panels. Death Panel: Are you abled to be repurposed and recycled? Leaf: I’m naturally recycled and returned to the earth to serve a new purpose.
Panel: I want to learn how. As a leaf dies, it is returned to the earth, and the nutrients within it enrich the soil to feed the surrounding plantings. How can this same ecology be applied to the death of a photovoltaic panel? Human-made objects take hundreds of years to degrade and return to the earth, so is there any hope for photovoltaic panels? The life expectancy for a photovoltaic panel is between 10 to 20 years, and although researchers have not found a way to convert the compound back into its organic form (nor should they), they have begun to innovate new uses for the worn out panels. Researchers in China have found that by breaking down used photovoltaic panels, the panels can be utilized as a source material for producing geopolymer (Hao, 2012). Geopolymers can be employed in a variety of building materials such as block aggregates and mortars to increase the compressive strength of the material (Hao, 2012). Currently, this is one of the best afterlife uses of photovoltaic panels, which leads us to the question: Is that the best we can do? Unlike the biological cycle of the leaf, the technical nutrients within photovoltaics are part of the technical cycle. The technical cycles consist of inorganic materials that are not easily broken down (McDonough & Braungart, 2002). After the product’s useful life is over, the nutrients are retrieved and returned to their cycles. This is different from recycling, where materials degrade in the process (McDonough & Braungart, 2002). By designing for disassembly and the afterlife of a product and reusing its technical nutrients, the upcycling continues creating a new life after death. Continuing to better understand the process of the technical nutrients of the panels will help to better design products that are easily upcycled and reused. Did nature leave? Panel: My most recent technologies are starting to come close to mimicking some of what you can do. Leaf: It’s all about the upcycle. As a society driven by technology, innovation, and implementation, we have failed at our most basic chore. Attempting to mimic traits found in nature has driven our technology forward, whether we are conscious of it or not, but along the way, we have consistently negatively affected the environment. The leaf will continue to teach us how photovoltaic panels’ process of manufacturing, efficiency, and afterlife can become “less bad,” but it will not instill the environmental responsibilities. What the leaf’s biological cycle shows is something that will not be easily attainable in a world filled with technical nutrients. The idea is to understand that
living in a society lends itself to necessary technical nutrients. Rather than trying to change every process and recreate life, embrace the technical nutrients, understand what the lifecycles of these technical nutrients are, and find ways to reuse them. By disregarding biological nutrients and cycles, the question remains: did nature leave us? The answer to this question lies in the mind of the reader, but as a society that has studied the biological cycles of nature and mimicked them through technical cycles, one can say nature has not left, but we have begun to leave nature. This societal shift and principals of biomimicry have taken us farther from creating nature and closer to mimicking the principles. As Janine M. Benyus has said, “[B] y exploring life’s know-how, we are reaching back to some very old roots, satisfying an ‘urge to affiliate with life’ that is embossed in our genes” (Benyus, 1997). Society has the ability not to be a cancerous cell that plagues the earth, but rather follow the lessons taught by nature, even by something as small as a leaf. CREDITS STUDENT: Gianfranco J Pietrantoni, M.Arch. FACULTY: Martha Bohm COURSE: Questioning Sustainability, Fall 2016 RESEARCH GROUP: Ecological Practices REFERENCES Benyus, J. M. (1997). Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature (Vol. 1). New York: Morrow. Berners-Lee, M. (2010). How bad are bananas? : the carbon footprint of everything / Mike Berners-Lee. Braybrook, S. A., & Kuhlemeier, C. (2010). How a Plant Builds Leaves. The Plant Cell, 22(4), 1006-1018. doi: 10.1105/tpc.110.073924. Brynes, S. (2013). Why Are Solar Panels so Inefficient Retrieved November 27, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2013/11/04/why-are-solar-panels-soinefficient/#75799a197a9d. Copley, M. (2016). SunPower sets new solar panel efficiency record at 24. Dale, J. E. (1992). How Do Leaves Grow? BioScience, 42(6), 423-432. Decker, K. D. (2008). The Ugly Side of Solar Panels. Low-Tech Magazine. Dengler, N. G., & Tsukaya, H. (2001). Leaf Morphogenesis in Dicotyledons: Current Issues. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 162(3), 459-464. doi: 10.1086/320145. Hao, H. (2012). Recycling of Solar Panel Waste Glass as a Partial Replacement of Meta-kaolinite in the Production of Geopolymers. The Open Civil Engineering Journal, 6(1), 239-248. doi: 10.2174/1874149501206010239 Kirk, R. E., Othmer, D. F., Kroschwitz, J. I., & Howe-Grant, M. (1991). Encyclopedia of chemical technology (Vol. 4th). New York: Wiley. McDonough, W., & Braungart, M. (2002). Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we
make things (Vol. 1st). New York: North Point Press. Mulvaney, D. (2013). Hazardous Material Used in Silicon Pv Production. Process: Environmental Management. 2016, from http://solarindustrymag.com/online/ issues/SI1309/FEAT_05_Hazardous_Materials_Used_In_Silicon_PV_Cell_ Production_A_Primer.html Mulvaney, D. (2014). Solar Energy isnt Always as Green as You Think. Retrieved November 26, 2016, from http://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/solar/solar-energyisnt-always-as-green-as-you-think New 3D solar panel design doubles solar energy. (2012). New solvent system removes barrier to large perovskite solar panels. (2016). Energy Monitor Worldwide (Amman, Jordan) Tang, Q., Wang, X., Yang, P., & He, B. (2016). A Solar Cell That Is Triggered by Sun and Rain. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 55(17), 5243-5246. doi: 10.1002/anie.201602114 Yirka, B. (2013). New research suggests perovskite as cheaper replacement for silicon-based solar panels. Retrieved 12/13, 2016
“We must fundamentally reconsider zoning with respect to our changing environment...” 44
pARK Nathan St. John and Peter Urban Land use in critically vulnerable areas is becoming increasingly important as we look toward designing for a more resilient future. We must fundamentally reconsider zoning with respect to our changing environment. The Red Hook district of Brooklyn, N.Y., is a particularly vulnerable area in several ways. There are environmental vulnerabilities, such as sea-level rise, hurricanes, and storm surges. Additionally, inadequate access to public transportation, coupled with a low abundance of community food assets that can withstand flood events, add to the socio-economic vulnerabilities facing the community. There are several actions that can help to mitigate these shortcomings. First, underutilized manufacturing land that exists outside of current FEMA flood regulations must be reconsidered as a community asset. The best way to increase the flood resilience of a building is to locate it outside of current flood regulations. Since most of Red Hook lies within these boundaries, areas that are the exception become increasingly valuable to communal resilience. Second, economic growth of a community can
make it more fiscally resilient. If we look at the Fairway Market as an example, the location draws people through the rest of the commercial district before they arrive at Fairway. This results in higher exposure to consumer traffic, possibly boosting the local economy. However, the location of the market leaves the business badly exposed to inclement weather and flooding. There is the possibility that if it is destroyed by storm surge, it will not be rebuilt again. Thirdly, adding a communal example of resilient building techniques may help to boost the vitality of resilience as a community discussion. The proposed plan for a new community asset will support economic growth and increase the quality of life for residents, as well as provide a safe place for community residents to occupy during storm events. The project’s program would consist of both permanent and rentable office spaces, as well as a hotel. Siting the project near the intersection of Van Dyke and Conover Streets will locate the building outside of current flood regulation as well as increase its effect as an economic attractor, drawing people through the rest of the town on their
way to work or shop. The site is located between two green spaces along the waterfront: Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier 44 Waterfront Garden. These spaces will be connected through a landscape feature that will be a viable market space for merchants, along with a venue space for the community. The site and project plans include a hotel to serve as a shelter for the residents most in need as well as a revenue source for Red Hook. Residents will be able to occupy these spaces without many changes. Taking these steps will begin the path to higher resilience in the Red Hook District. CREDITS STUDENTS: Nathan St. John, M.Arch. and Peter Urban, M.Arch. FACULTY: Martha Bohm COURSE: Building Resilience, Spring 2016 RESEARCH GROUP: Ecological Practices
Flood mapping of the Redhook District in Brooklyn, N.Y., with highlighted project site in red
View of the Redhook District in Brooklyn, N.Y., from the water
Analytical design sketch
Final project massing
Extruding the mass on site
Connecting the two parks
Establishing building setbacks
Creating public gathering space
Generating front courtyard
Framing views of the city and the waterfront
“There are a lot of research centers here at the school but students don’t know about the kind of research they do...” Interview with Yasmein Okour, Harlee-Rae Tanner, and Michael Tuzzo Micaela Barker: All three of you are working on a research project with Professor Nicholas Rajkovich. Did you have an interest in research before this experience? Michael Tuzzo: I think for me, looking back on it, I didn’t really know what research was. Often in architecture school, especially in undergrad, we think of research as just a really intense Google search (laughs) – it’s obviously a lot more than that. I didn’t have any opinion on research because I was so new to it. I’m glad I took the opportunity because it opened up this other world to me. I haven’t decided yet if I like it or not (laughs). Without that opportunity, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I have done with my thesis project – to do an authentic job of looking into a topic and digesting it. The experience taught me what research really was. Yasmein Okour: I have been part of research teams before, but with Nicholas Rajkovich it was different. Previously, it was more like “here, you do this, this and this.” With Nick, it was more like “let’s discuss this project together and see what are the best ways to develop the project.” Nick would ask for our opinion and together we would come up with the best solution. That kind of research
collaboration was a new experience. We discovered how a group of people with different backgrounds can come and sit together and share ideas and share the research. Harlee Rae Tanner: Yes, I have to agree with them. I hadn’t thought about research, not really, if I am being honest. Definitely not in the way that it actually is if that makes any sense. Anything I had done before was just looking up things for papers. I definitely was a little nervous going in because I didn’t know what to expect, but it has definitely exceeded my expectations. Doing this project while in grad school has been helpful because there have been so many times where the knowledge has crossed over into my coursework – that part of this has been awesome. MB: What have some of your roles been during the research process, and how do you collaborate with each other? MT: With the NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) project, I started off working on the vulnerability assessment, working with data collection and GIS. It then became part of the integrated assessment which Yasmein is working on. Then I moved towards working on
Yasmein Okour presenting at the symposium “From Sandy to Snowvember: Climate Change and Buildings in New York State” - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
the resilience strategies document which discusses different ways to address resilience in the building sector and how to implement strategies for resilience in both new build and retrofit construction. Everyone has had a hand in that project. I also worked on data collection, aggregation, and interpretation of the economic analysis of the project. So we looked at how much resilience strategies cost to implement and, in some cases, how much it would cost to not implement them. MB: Just to clarify – you mentioned a piece that you are working on and a piece that Yasmein is working on, how do those two pieces relate? You’ve mentioned the strategies document and the integrated assessment. MT: The research project has different reports within it and the integrated assessment is kind of the overarching piece that brings all of those individual
reports together. So the resilience strategies document is one report, the economic analysis is one report, the energy modeling is one report, and even in a way the dissemination of the information, which may be part of the integrated assessment, is another leg of the project. The integrated assessment also has the vulnerability analysis. YO: The integrated assessment includes the literature review and the interviews and surveys that we conducted. MT: I would describe it as the supporting information. The reason for doing the project. The reason for the resilience strategies document, the energy modeling, the economic report. It is setting the stage for the work that we are doing and then at the end of it, articulating what the overall findings are and the purpose of the overall report. YO: What’s nice is that you don’t have to read the whole thing if you are only
interested in strategies. If someone is interested in the whole picture then they have a lot of helpful information. MT: Part of the collaboration between all the work is being consistent about how we are talking about different things. That is something we are starting to get into more of right now to make sure we are saying the same thing and using the same language. HT: I have worked on a lot of different supportive things, but one of the main things I did was the interviews. They took place mostly last spring, and a little into the summer. There were a lot of different professionals in New York State that we reached out to. We did roughly one hour interviews and ended up having fortytwo participants. Then the other main role that I was a part of was coordinating the symposium. Part of the end of our Ecological Practices studio was actually making work to display at the symposium.
So I ended up setting up the symposium and making sure everything was on track with the different walls and displays. MT: Nick’s wife was having a baby at the time so Harlee was everything for that event – she became Nick for that symposium. MB: So you have already mentioned some challenges about the symposium. What were some other challenges that you all faced doing this type of work? YO: If we ever had questions, Nick was good about setting aside time to talk with us – even if it was an hour or two hours. I didn’t feel like there were many challenges with the project because he was very good at helping us understand what we needed to do. MT: Nick outlines the work we are supposed to be doing in a way that strikes a good balance between holding your hand through the process and allowing you to discover and figure it out for yourself. He is clear about what the expectations are. So for all of us, I think, being guided in that way has taught us, but allowed us to learn on our own through the process. HT: Yes, that is a good way to describe it. He lets us learn and is a really great boss as well (laughs). So yeah, I wouldn’t use the word challenges; I have had my own personal challenges finding ways to balance both school and this project, but at the same time there have been ways for the work to relate easily to school – that has made it easier. Nick is on top of everything, and is also great at knowing our schedules. He would remember things that we had coming up and would always ask us what our week looks like. It helps keep things going smoothly. He always seems to be one step ahead. YO: He also seems to be assigning things based on our strengths and weaknesses. For example, he made me do some of the interviews and he knew
that I was going to need to do that for my dissertation. He didn’t have to do that. He wasn’t the chair of my dissertation committee at that time, and now he is (laughs). MB: I personally thought the symposium went really well and it was well attended. Some of the speakers were super interesting. I am just curious, what were some of the conversations that you all found most interesting or valuable from the symposium (“From Sandy to Snowvember: Climate Change and Buildings in New York State”)? HT: I enjoyed Rachel Minnery. I really appreciated that she was talking to everyone. There were times when some speakers were talking mostly to professionals or professors, but I thought that Rachel also targeted the students. She opened up my eyes to different job possibilities and she identified different initiatives that the students in the room could get involved with. YO: I agree, I liked Rachel. She represented what an engineer, architect, or any other professional could do to help when it comes to responding to a disaster. So that makes me think of my own country and how they don’t think about whether they can do more. I like how she included her student life in her story. It made me feel like architects don’t have to just sit and draw; they can be part of something more. MB: For those who don’t know, can you just quickly tell us where you are from? YO: I am from the lovely country of Jordan (laughs). I also liked Terry Schwarz. She was the most fun. When you think of responding to climate change you usually think about this really big scale, and using fancy strategies (laughs) – she made it clear that you can do something as simple as looking at vacant lots. We don’t have to overcomplicate
things. MT: I think for me, my favorite part of the symposium was that it wasn’t just architects talking to architects, it wasn’t just planners talking to planners, or engineers talking to engineers. Rachel talked about the interconnected approach towards these issues. I think the symposium, by design, tried to mimic that same sentiment. It had all these different professions talking about this same issue. I think that helped emphasize the point that resilience is not something that architects and planners can do alone. I started to form connections between different fields – opportunities for collaboration and communication. MB: That’s funny because you (Michael) mentioned to me previously that embedded in the research is the idea that climate change issues require the expertise of multiple fields. Can you elaborate on that idea? MT: With this project, coordination with different professionals is happening even in our process. We have students that have different backgrounds, we have architecture faculty approaching it, planners at UBRI (UB Regional Institute), engineers doing energy modeling. The advisory committee has a variety of different professionals. The way that the information is coming together and being reviewed really reflects multiple perspectives and priorities about resilience and climate change. On our advisory committee we have a contractor, architect, a healthy schools advocate, and several others. MB: What were some of the things about this research that you thought were particularly important for architects and planners to know? HT: It is important to recognize that it wasn’t just architects and engineers being interviewed. It was educators, policy makers, contractors, etc. Hopefully people will realize through this research
Michael Tuzzo presenting at the symposium “From Sandy to Snowvember: Climate Change and Buildings in New York State” - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
that other people in other professions are thinking about these things. There were so many different responses from people in some questions, but also many people from different professions had very similar responses for other questions. It was very eye-opening. MT: In the research we tried to disseminate some of that information in the same way that we received it. The resilience strategy document does not have a particular audience. Those who are involved in the building sector in some kind of way, whether you are a business owner, policy maker, planner, architect, or engineer, you can use this document to get the information that you need to implement whatever tactic you choose. So we are trying to make this information as accessible as possible, because it is going to take an effort from everyone to make buildings that are able to withstand climate change.
MB: Do you know how you are going to make this information accessible to people? I ask because academic research often feels and seems stored away only for the use of the academic world. MT: We will be putting the resilience strategy document online. MB: You mentioned at the beginning of this that you didn’t know very much about research before jumping into this project. Do you have any criticisms of the process that you all have gone through or the symposium experience? Do you feel like research is something that should be more largely included in our academic experience as students? From my perspective this opportunity that you all have had as architecture students is an anomaly. Especially in the architecture department, most students don’t experience the more
traditional research process. Do you have any thoughts about this? Maybe how students could be more involved in work like this? YO: I took courses and learned about the research process for my Ph.D. program. The content of the courses often describe the process as very linear, when in reality it is not. It is not until you have done some of the research process and you look back at the readings and start to make sense of things. I don’t know what classes are available in the architecture department, but with planning, the classes are good, though there are some things that are missing. There is too much of an emphasis on reading, reading, reading – it would be more beneficial to talk with professors who are doing work in the school, and maybe have them present their research and how they developed it. That might be more helpful for students to understand
what a research project is, instead of only reading about it. It is much more complicated than that. Nick somehow made it easy. MB: So you think students should have more exposure to the experience of a research project? More immersive? YO: Yes, and there are a lot of research centers here at the school but students don’t know about the kind of research they do. I don’t even really know what’s going on. I think also it might be that both sides aren’t doing enough to share with each other. Students don’t understand how they can use research or why it’s important. They may think that because they want to go to an office and just draw that research is not something they need. But I think it greatly enriches your experience here. Maybe the researchers in the school could be making that mental connection for the students, for them to learn research by showing them what they do. MT: Having this exposure to the research project has helped me understand things like the necessity of your methodology, your reasoning, and the importance of the literature review. The thing that I have been struggling with is differentiating the scale of the two projects. The one for NYSERDA is very big and it has been my only exposure to research – so with my thesis, I have also (laughs) been trying to work at that scale (laughs). I don’t think you can call that a criticism it’s more an observation from my personal experience. It is still difficult for me to scale my project back and cut off certain avenues of thinking while I am trying to do my thesis. YO: But it’s awesome that you are aware that there are other avenues to express. Samina Raja likes to say that a good thesis is a finished thesis (laughs). MB: She also likes to say that perfection is the enemy of good.
MT: I’m learning that the painful way. The semester is slowly slipping away. MB: Do you guys have any comments about how our graduate research groups go through the research process when compared to how the NYSERDA project has progressed? HT: Yes, I think they are very different. Even though there is more research that goes behind the projects you do in studio at the grad level compared to undergrad, at the end of the day those projects were studio projects. The stuff we are doing for Nick – there is more realness to it, which is exciting. I like that I can work on things that I want in studio, but also step back and work on a project that is really happening. I do think that research like this could be promoted more – -they are two completely different things. MB: Did you find that your experience in the GRGs added to the NYSERDA project or did you find it to be the other way around? HT: The other way around, but that is hard to answer because I had Martha and Nick in EP (Ecological Practices). So for me everything was related. At the end of the day the NYSERDA research was more of an influence on my student work. MT: To me, it depends on how willing the student is to expose themselves to exploring in research – resisting the thought of “oh, I am not going to be doing research in the professional world, so why should I be doing it now.” You gotta let that go a little bit – maybe a lot a bit, when you are part of a graduate research group. It is designed to allow you to explore. Undergraduate studios have specific requirements and learning outcomes – you’re going to have a precedent study and site analysis and it’s more regimented. The graduate research groups, and the intellectual domains are a lot more open ended. That is something that I personally struggle with. I would argue that it has only been this
Nicholas Rajkovich - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
semester that I have been able to kind of let go a little bit and allow things to take their course and not try to have too much control of the process. I think as a student if you want to take full advantage of the research program that we have here, you have to forget what you might know about the professional world and allow yourself the opportunity to explore. YO: My question to you (Michael) is, are studios then assessed based on the quality of their research? From what I know of master’s programs in general, sometimes it is about the final posters and renderings that people present and not actually about a research question that the student is asking. MT: I think architecture school does run into that trap. That might be a larger critique on the field as a whole. Where we have this obsession with “star-chitects” and the advertising of architecture. I see what you’re saying, we are being
evaluated on those things, but I believe that architecture school gives you the freedom to pursue your interests. YO: Unfortunately, architecture school places more emphasis on design outcomes than on the research made to reach that outcome. At the end of the day, no one remembers that there was research involved if someone in the room is making a really cool design. MT: Yes. YO: You often see the people who get good grades are the same ones that are more talented in design instead of the ones who have good research skills and a good question with an outcome; it is not as visually pleasing. As a student you can’t help but focus on the visually pleasing aspects of a design instead of focusing on the research, because that’s also how you are going to be able to get a job. It is easy to see why students wouldn’t think that research experience will get them a job. That is why I ask about how faculty assess projects. In my PhD, we don’t have studios, so our focus is only on research and not design. Maybe the architecture studios are a place where students can choose to either do design or research? I don’t understand why in this research school we don’t force people to do a thesis. MB: You raised an interesting question about evaluation criteria, and you (Yasmein) asked if we answer a research question in our graduate research groups or not. If there is a question, it is usually quite broad. The students are allowed to explore a more specific avenue of that topic, but there isn’t often a lot of definition. The question is not always part of their presentations. There isn’t always a literature review that is written for the work. I think that what our school calls “design research” could benefit from some of the ways that traditional research progresses. However, I do think that there is room for a hybrid between what studio
is and what traditional research is. MT: Yes, there is debate on what architectural research is; what role design plays in research. I think at this school, one of the criteria that is accepted is that “good” research and intent is reflected in a “good” design. If it’s “good” then it should be obvious and attractive. That’s what the criteria is; can a student take the information and translate it into a design project. The project should embody the research question. But, yeah, it is hard to draw that line between effectiveness in aesthetic quality versus effectiveness in actual performance and the idea that it is conveying. YO: And to do it in that time period. You spend a certain amount of weeks on research and then the rest on design. HT: That’s why I say that they are different. The GRG’s are very different from this project that we are working on. I think there are some GRG’s that spend a good amount of time on research, but I think that once the design process starts they often just revert back to that old studio mentality of now it has to look pretty. It does feel ultimately about what your final design becomes. Which is why I am excited to have had this experience that is just about the research, because although the GRG’s are targeted to allow for more research, I still think that it is ultimately about that final project, and putting it in your portfolio. Sometimes it is about the professor. Martha, set our studio up such that we did research. It did still get down to that design project and what it looked like. There are definitely some areas in the GRG’s where they could benefit from a little more reflection on the research aspect of the project. MB: It is important to note how long the NYSERDA project is taking for you all to do a good job and address the scale that you are working with. If there was a design component to what you are working on – hypothetically
– it would come after the several years of work that you have done. It’s interesting to me how rushed the research part of our GRG studios are. I think some of our studio projects end up being kind of superficial because we don’t spend a lot of time teaching students how to research or focus in on a question that is specific. Do you guys have any thoughts about that? MT: I would agree, because then in the thesis process – from my own experience – you are taught to completely reverse that. “Ok, now you are going to spend an entire semester on just research,” and you don’t know how to do it. Yasmein, you talked about research methods classes in planning – in architecture we have one, but I would argue that it is not as effective. As limited as you say they are in planning, I think that they are even more so in the architecture department, and that is because so much of the technical part of architecture is learning programs or softwares, and not what their research implications are. It is more like “here is a program and now you have a skill” – it feeds into the idea of making something superficial that’s pretty. I know that thesis students, myself included, have trouble doing all that research and then trying to turn it into a well-thought-out and well articulated design because it is just something that, up until this point, we have never had to do. We have been able to go through that two-week “research process” and then say “ok, I’m done, and now I am going to design.” The thesis projects in the last several years have been doing research, research, research, but then in the last weeks trying to come up with the design. We’ll see how our group fares, but right now, I don’t feel like I am faring much better, personally. In the past, students have really struggled in doing that and, because they struggled, avoided that process. That’s an issue. We have
never had to go the full arc of extensive research to well-thought-out design. But I don’t know how you fix that. MT: You mentioned how long we have been working on our research project; over two years we have been working on it. I don’t think you can expect a student to spend two years on their thesis, because you are still discovering what you like and what you want. Unfortunately, I am criticising without providing a solution (laughs). I don’t know how you do it. HT: I know it is hard, and if I had one criticism, and I say criticism lightly, I have found myself craving more of the research part. I don’t want to say less design, but after four years of undergrad, you get enough of that and you want to dive into things more, instead of doing another “where does your bathroom go” project. Not that you don’t learn from every single project that you do. I also don’t know what the right answer is. In a school of architecture and planning you can’t just reverse it and only focus on research and design in a week. YO: It makes me think about the other courses being offered like Professor Henry Taylor’s class. That was a good experience in research for those students who really wanted to learn. MB: Are you talking about race, class, and gender? YO: Yes, so it might be that you don’t just look at the studios, but you look at other courses in the curriculum. I thought that Henry Taylor’s course was good for someone who had never tried research. Each group of ten or so students had a research question and we actually developed our own research agenda. He gave full control to the students to develop the question. That was challenging because everyone was new, but the outcome was an actual research project, not an exam. MT: I think that is a really good point.
To be honest, I didn’t think of that project in that way. We were given the freedom to tackle a research question on our own. That was pretty valuable. I think in the architecture department, the GRG that might do that best, just based on conversations with other students in the program, is Material Culture. Their studios are more set up where they are addressing a question. For example, our resilience studios, the question was “how do you make a resilient building in Buffalo.” You could kind of fall into the undergraduate studio trap a little bit with that question. But the material culture GRG is a lot more open ended. So Dennis Maher’s cabinet studio – they open themselves up to not knowing what the final project is going to be. I think that Material Culture – without ever taking it, just talking to people in it (laughs) – I think they do that pretty well, in hindsight. MB: I would agree with you that they are open-ended. But, I would say from my experience in Material Culture, if you asked a student what kind of research question they were addressing, nobody would immediately be able to answer that question. They would have to think about it for a little while. Asking a research question is not something we culturally do in studio. So maybe they were answering a question that they didn’t know they were answering. It is more like “here is a topic – we are going to experiment with this material – go for it.” We know eventually we have to get to some physical-spatial result, but there isn’t a lot of definition to the process or clear methodologies laid out. I would say the looseness in exploration is there. I am not sure if they need to have a well defined research question, but if they are going to call our graduate studios “research studios” you kind of wonder what question they are answering. I would say that about all the studios, I wouldn’t just say that about Material Culture.
MT: It would be an interesting exercise to make an abstract for your studio projects. You know, write the topic, evidence, and significance. Just state it, because it forces that reflection. I think that is what differentiates fooling around from research. It’s reflecting on it – being able to look back and figure out why you did something. Yes, that’s interesting to think about. CREDITS STUDENTS: Yasmein Okour, PhD in Urban and Regional Planning, Harlee-Rae Tanner, M.Arch., Michael Tuzzo, M.Arch. / MUP FACULTY: Nicholas Rajkovich SYMPOSIUM: “From Sandy to Snowvember: Climate Change and Buildings in New York State.” SYMPOSIUM TEAM: Nicholas Rajkovich, Martha Bohm, Harlee-Rae Tanner, Krista Macy, Michael Tuzzo, Yasmein Okour RESEARCH GROUP: Ecological Practices
“Models are arranged by the ordering system of the artifact itself, rather than the conceptual underpinnings that the model reflects...” 54
EXHIBITING ARCHITECTURES Brian Fiscus, Fred Wallace Brunkow Fellow, 2015-2016 Exhibiting Architectures critiques the studio environment in which we work and displays models as artifacts produced within it. With over 400 models collected, representative of both undergraduate and graduate architecture students at the University at Buffalo, 200 models were ultimately selected for exhibition. Exhibiting Architectures draws visitors into a radical environment which decontextualizes the models as byproducts of our material culture by placing them in an undulating white landscape. Using the geometry of the white “X,” models are arranged by the ordering system of the artifact itself, rather than the conceptual underpinnings that the model reflects. The interweaving of artifacts and revealed relationships of methods of production, material constructs, object scale and size, and programmatic intent, question the future of representative models in architectural academia. There is also an internal reflection on the techniques of craft and construction, which is an ongoing line of inquiry within the school. The exhibition welcomes visitors to celebrate the immense body and diversity of student work.
Final exhibition assembly of Exhibiting Architectures
CREDITS STUDENT: Brian Fiscus, M.Arch. FACULTY: Julia Jamrozik, Miguel Guitart, and Despina Stratigakos COURSE: Independent Special Project, Spring 2016
Student models from exhibition
Opening of the "Exhibiting Architectures" event
Design diagram series for exhibition
“Including passive play, creative play, and dynamic play...” 56
“SPACE” - Photograph by Mahan Mehrvarz
PLAY-ELEMENTS Shaun Baranyi in collaboration with course members The “Play-Elements” project was competed in the Spring of 2016 and included three interactive “play-elements” for adults and children to enjoy.
The three projects were defined by their fundamental building logic and appropriately named “SPACE”, “SURFACE”, and “MODULE.” Each project communicated a different type of “play,” including passive play, creative play, and dynamic play. Each design was intended to operate independently from the other two, yet similar styles and color indicated belonging as set. The exhibition was set up on campus to give students and faculty a break from the classroom. “SPACE” focused on the idea of passive play. SPACE created an intimate domain for people to enter into. Two plastic hoops connected by cross-directional colored yarn created a Moiré effect that completely surrounded the observer’s perspective, thus transforming the mundane world into a more fun and colorful place. Students and professors entered the space either by themselves, or in groups of two to three people, and were entertained by the spectacle within.
“SURFACE” - Photograph by Mahan Mehrvarz
“Surface” focused on the idea of dynamic
play. SURFACE was a soft plastic mesh enclosure, roughly fifteen feet by 8 feet, filled with inflated rubber balls of various sizes and colors. People could safely jump onto the mesh and bounce into a sea of large rubber balls. “MODULE” focused on the idea of creative play. The design consisted of dozens of two-foot, six-inch squares with a standard connection type (tooth and hole) that could be connected and combined together into larger, more complex forms. CREDITS STUDENT: Shaun Baranyi, B.S.Arch. TEAM: Brain Fiscus, Noor Alwan, Zackary Nolan, John Jiang FACULTY: Julia Jamrozik COURSE: Play-Elements, Spring 2016
Delivered and unloaded
PARKING PLAY Olivia Arcara Play is a basic need for the development of human growth. It provides for the skills that we use to live and survive – from intellect, to creativity, to exploration, and even to basic skills for social and physical growth. Similarly, the house is the fundamental form of shelter, one of the basic needs for survival. In Parking Play, the basic program and form of the house are combined to create a mobile play infrastructure. Parking Play takes the form of a prototypical mono-pitched-roof house within the dimensional constraints of a standard shipping container. These constraints allow the project to easily travel from site to site on a flat-bed truck. A series of slices divide the linear structure into nine blocks. The interior of the forms are then embedded with play elements and amenities necessary to support a play space. These include a slide, hammock, climbing net, stage, sandbox, free library, seating area, a healthy food vending machine and a composting toilet. Each unit also contains loose components ranging from games and seats, to planters and faux grass. While some programs are designed for children, others are geared towards
adults, making the space multigenerational. When contained, Parking Play – an assembly of wood stick framing with a blue rubber painted exterior – is 11.9 meters long, 2.4 meters wide and 2.5 meters tall. When unpacked, the size is flexible depending on the configuration to suit various site sizes and shapes, with vibrant interiors in a variety of colors. The site for Parking Play is the conventional parking lot. These basic surface lots are abundant, underused and easily transformed into a viable play space for the community. Upon arrival to the site, the truck container is unloaded, divided, and unpacked. The grassy mats and planters help define the extent of the intervention while the fillings flow out onto the site, transforming it into a play landscape. After a temporary stay, Parking Play packs back up, is loaded onto a truck and travels to a new location. Parking Play uses the basics in form, program and location to address the needs for human growth, development and survival.
CREDITS STUDENT: Olivia Arcara, M.Arch. TEAM: Tim Ruhl, and Eric Multer FACULTY: Julia Jamrozik COURSE: Independent Study, Spring 2016
Street view rendering of Cross-Gen development
“A new typology of urban housing that offers a sociable alternative to the solitary nature of current housing paradigms...” CROSS-GEN Nicholas Pizzonia and Max Warshaw
Cross-Gen proposes a new typology of urban housing that offers a sociable alternative to the solitary nature of current housing paradigms. This proposal addresses two issues: the growing numbers of people who live alone in cities, and the difficulty of finding suitable housing for large extended families in urban centers. Cross-Gen houses both singles and multi-generational families, allowing each a measure of autonomy as well as social exchange. There are two types of residential units: 20 efficiency units for 1-2 people, and 20 large two-story units for 8-10 people, which are organized with a social floor for generous living, kitchen and dining spaces, and a private floor for bedrooms. These unit types, when paired, may function jointly or separately, allowing for independence and interaction. The small units offer flexibility to accommodate changing family needs over time – grandparents, teen-age children, young adults living at home, childminders, caregivers, or tenants. All units are accessed by just two skip-stop corridors, which minimize physical links between towers. Each small unit on the circulation floors is connected to a large unit either above or below through internal stairs.
Cross-Gen’s public green space
The circulation corridors project out at the east and west ends of the project to provide shared spaces for residents to meet informally. Likewise, the proximity of the towers provides opportunities for terraces where residents can converse with neighbors. CREDITS STUDENTS: Nicholas Pizzonia, B.S.Arch. and Max Warshaw, B.S.Arch. FACULTY: Annette LeCuyer (Coordinator) TEACHING TEAM: Brad Wales, Erkin Özay, Coryn Kempster COURSE: Senior Design Studio, Fall 2016
Sectional perspective of Cross-Gen
Generational transition diagram
(Above) Cross-Gen living unit floor plans
“This was easily the most work I have ever done... because the format was a competition...” Interview with Nicholas Pizzonia and Max Warshaw MB: Your team received third place in the 2016 Senior Design Studio Competition. Can you describe how the competition has impacted your studio experience? NP: Knowing that there was going to be a competition at the end of the semester provided more motivation to work toward that end. Out of all of my semesters in college, this was easily the most work I have ever done. I would say a large part of that was because the format was a competition. It creates a competitive atmosphere that we wanted to excel in. MW: We went in and did as much work as we could; trying to make each drawing up to the level that we would need for the competition. MB: You were trying to produce final quality drawings from the beginning? NP: Yes, and we were always on each other’s back from the start. It was the first semester that we had to work in partners. MB: Now, if you talk to students, they pick their partners sometimes a year or two years in advance for the competition. Did you both do that? MW: I was thinking about it sophomore year because I was living with seniors. By the end of junior year, Nick and I were talking and we decided we wanted to work together. We had worked together
on other projects because we were together in the same studio and we were partners for precedent study exercises. MB: Did you intentionally work together ahead of time because of the competition? NP: I think we knew we would work well together. MW: Yes, all the juniors are pairing up and they’re calling it a “test run.” MB: It’s like dating for the senior competition (laughs). What were some positive and negative experiences working in partnership? MW: A good thing was that we were both respectful of our own needs during the semester. NP: I can’t really think of anything negative. I think having a partner gives you a reason to get out of bed, go to studio, and do something for that day. I felt that if I didn’t do work for studio, I not only impacted myself but also my partner. MB: There is accountability involved with partnership. NP: Exactly. MW: Not in our case, but we have seen student teams who don’t really click or something happens during the semester and they just know they’re not going to do well. They’re not going to be at the top, so they give up. They just kind of glide on
Family of Max Warshaw
through or they complain about the other person the entire semester. NP: I would say a negative portion of the competition is that if a team knows that they aren’t going to be in that top eight halfway through the semester, (maybe they see other projects and get discouraged) they sort of just stay right in the middle and don’t push their project further. Whereas in another semester they would just keep developing and developing and something would turn up. MB: What were some of the elements of your project that were most successful and least successful? MW: I think our public grocery store program was least successful. We thought about a Fairway Market grocery store in the city and wanted to make use of the whole site. We have an escalator that runs into the ground and then you’re inside the grocery store. It did its job, but there wasn’t anything spectacular about it. There being no grocery stores downtown was the only reason it was successful. NP: We put it in because we needed another program. Another criticism we received was that our facade wasn’t developed enough. During our final review we couldn’t give a super
Family of Nicholas Pizzonia
convincing reason why we had it – it was an aesthetic element of the project. MW: Yes, that facade in general took a lot of planning. Every time we had to produce it we went off of the geometries of the building and the geometries of the building which changed throughout the semester – it was a work in progress. MB: What were some positive things that the critics said about the project? NP: I think they were pretty convinced by our concept – the multi-generational aspect of it, the forms of the buildings, how each form related to each other and how we designed it defensively for the surrounding context and future development. MB: Can you describe the personal stories behind the program selection of the project? MW: I live in Queens, N.Y., in a really dense urban area; and the only extra room we have in our house is in the attic. My grandmother, when she does visit, can manage staying in the attic for now, but for living it’s not what she wants. I knew that whatever this project was, I wanted to make it inclusive to all family members, focusing mostly on the elderly in an urban environment. We were trying to create a new typology for multi-
generational housing. NP: In 2003, my dad built a house and moved my grandmother right in. Since I was young she lived right across the street. We then moved my great grandmother up to live with my grandmother, and she lived with us back and forth. Constantly being around four generations influenced my approach to our concept. MB: Are you both implying that currently central urban environments do not focus on large families or keeping the family together? MW: When doing precedent research, there was one project that we looked at that really encompassed multigenerational housing. They had portions of their structure that could be bought and sold much like condos in NYC. MB: I don’t have any experience living in NYC, but you typically associate living in an urban environment with people who are sharing an apartment with 2 or 3 people. NP: Also, in city environments there is more renting. We, however, made our project a “if you are living in this place, you’re buying the unit” and you do that as a family. MB: You guys have referenced NYC
Final competition review - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
but this is a Buffalo-based project. Do you think this project is for Buffalo now or some kind of projected version of Buffalo in the future? NP: Maybe a little bit of both. When I first moved to Buffalo, the theatre district downtown was blocked off and all of canalside was dirt and parking space. Now, it’s completely different, and that’s only four years. I think there is a push to move back down to the central city. If a family wanted to live in that sort of environment, our typology would provide them the space and neighborhood setting that they would need. MB: So it could be used to attract a different kind of person to the city. MW: That’s what the professors asked us to do – imagine what Buffalo would be in the future and design the project to act as a catalyst for that kind of change. NP: We are not trying to pull just one demographic back to the central city. We want to bring the whole family and a variety of people. We don’t just want to bring twenty-somethings who want a night life. If you bring a little bit of everything, it diversifies the downtown Buffalo area. MB: It’s interesting that you are trying to achieve generational diversity. I think it’s
just as important as racial diversity. Did this project impact the way you think about architectural design? NP: We wanted to make our project practical and buildable. We didn’t want it to be so far-fetched that a developer couldn’t build it. MB: Our school seems more like the working class designer school. We do often focus on designing for real people and real scenarios. NP: Because it is a SUNY school and a research school, I think that gears everyone up to output that sort of realworld work. At other schools, if you look at their stuff on instagram – you often find yourself saying “what am I looking at?”; they can be so abstract. But here, there is that real-world emphasis or mentality. I think it is a good thing.
Sectional model of Cross-Gen
Street view rendering of Intimate Public development
“Students are dispersed across the city, but very few currently live downtown...” INTIMATE PUBLIC Jingjiang Zheng and Jongmin Park The total colleges and universities in Buffalo boast 63,700 students. These students are dispersed across the city, but few live downtown due to a lack of affordable housing that appeals to them. This proposal provides housing for 350 students, which in turn, activates the city center due to the 24-hour buzz of student life. “Intimate Public” is organized around a series of spatial thresholds between private and public so that students can enjoy their own living and study spaces while simultaneously benefitting from shared spaces. In plan, the most private spaces form the perimeter of the building while open, shared spaces are in the center. In section, two stories at ground level are accessible by the public, while the library on the 7th floor and the rooftop garden are accessible only to student residents. Student rooms are clustered into social groupings at a variety of scales, each offering a range of unique amenities. • Study balconies: (1-3 students) • Cluster lounges: (1-7 students) • Shared kitchens, dining, and lounges: (3-20 students)
• Library and roofscape: (20-50 students) • Ground-level restaurants, book store and market: (50-200 students + the public) The bedrooms also offer a range of privacy levels, from the most private as single units, to the most social – sevenbedroom units. Each cluster of bedrooms shares 1-2 bathrooms and an inner lounge, which may be closed for use only by the surrounding occupants or opened to the shared spaces at the heart of the plan. In addition to traditional student bedrooms, family apartments are located on each floor at the east and west ends of the building. To encourage informal encounters among residents, circulation paths differ on each floor; open stairs in the central atrium connect multiple floors. The material character of the interior and exterior of the building are distinct. Site-cast concrete bearing walls are clad externally with white Corian to contrast with the surrounding existing buildings. Inside the building, wood-clad walls, floors and ceilings, together with panels of intense saturated color, make a warm and lively atmosphere that encourages social interaction.
Final competition review - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
CREDITS STUDENTS: Jingjiang Zheng, B.S.Arch, and Jongmin Park, B.S.Arch. FACULTY: Annette LeCuyer (Coordinator) TEACHING TEAM: Brad Wales, Erkin Özay, Coryn Kempster COURSE: Senior Design Studio, Fall 2016
Interior rendering of Intimate Public with view of the central stair
Sectional perspective of Intimate Public
Ground floor plan of Intimate Public
“A bold vision for recapturing the energy of the former marketplace by creating a vibrant, ecological place for live, work, and play...” 68
CONNECTING ARCHITECTURE AND URBAN DESIGN WITH REAL ESTATE Nahshon Jagroop and Alan Chan Connection is the underlying concept behind this proposal for the Washington Market site in downtown Buffalo. But more significantly, it is the spirit behind the studio as a collaborative venture between students majoring in architecture, urban planning, and real estate development. Teams were charged with creating proposals for two underutilized surface parking lots in Buffalo. The project encompassed facets of design and development such as: 1) site (conditions and zoning, i.e., working with the Buffalo Green Code) ; 2) market analysis (supply and demand for determination of highest and best use); 3) architecture (creation of a contemporary design sensitive to its impact on the surrounding area); 4) connectivity (how the site relates to the movement of people through an area); 5) construction (materials and best practices for a more sustainable and universal design); and 6) financial analysis (projection of financial modeling, phasing, and investor returns). The project involved numerous iterations as students collaborated on the careful balance between design, logistical, and financial objectives. Teamwork was a
Washington Market proposed site plan
critical component in delivering a final proposal that was both inspired and financially credible.
office towers stepped back in height to complement the electric tower next door.
Connection proposes a transit-oriented development with 1.35 million square feet of new program – a bold vision for recapturing the energy of the former marketplace by creating a vibrant, ecological place for live, work, and play. Groundfloor retail wraps into a central raised plaza, linking two residential buildings, and brownstone apartments on St. Michaels place. In addition, the southern parcel features two high-rise
STUDENTS: Nahshon Jagroop, M.Arch. / MUP and Alan Chan, M.Arch. / MUP TEAM: Daniel Crowther, Dawn Aprile, Tony Garofalo, Zhida Song, Yushi Zhao, Madison Vitale, John Pastore, Constance Strother FACULTY: Hiroaki Hata and Mark Foerster COURSE: Architecture-Urban Design Studio/Real Estate Development Capstone Workshop, Fall 2016
Street view rendering of development project
Aerial view rendering of development project
“Restoring the space as an integral part of downtown Buffalo’s urban fabric...” 70
SHELTON SQUARE URBAN DESIGN MASTER PLAN Haithem M. Daza in collaboration with course members Shelton Square was once known as the Times Square of Buffalo, a bustling downtown intersection bounded by landmarks such as St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral and Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building. As the nexus of four major arteries – Main, Erie, Church and Niagara Streets – it long served as a hub of pedestrian, transit, and commercial activity. However, as urban renewal took hold in the 1960s, Shelton Square diminished to a shadow of its former self. The desired vision for Shelton Square is to restore the space as an integral part of downtown Buffalo’s urban fabric, providing a foundation for public gathering and events. The design proposal seeks to strengthen the bonds of its surrounding neighborhoods and governing districts by reconnecting obstructed streets and developing new connections with medical and educational anchors; the University at Buffalo and Erie County Community College. The priorities of the vision are: establishing pedestrian corridors and nodes, encouraging entrepreneurship, and revitalizing the public interest in accommodating the growth of student and faculty populations.
The strength of the concept is in acknowledging and designing for longterm facilities and users: providing space that responds to the expansion and transformation of Downtown into a successful academic, medical and community-based district. One of the primary building programs is establishing the square as a championed innovation core. Engaging industrial leaders and inviting experienced entrepreneurs to promote a place for people to develop ideas, projects, and skills, cements Shelton Square as the focal point of the aforementioned social, cultural, and economic growth anticipated in the city’s future.
Conceptual development diagrams
CREDITS STUDENT: Haithem M. Daza, M.Arch. TEAM: Cansu Dnmez, Han DU, John Lynch FACULTY: Hiroaki Hata COURSE: Special Project, Spring 2016
Final studio review
Rendered perspective of Shelton Square, Buffalo, NY.
Site plan of Shelton Square, Buffalo, NY.
Exploded axonometric drawing of temporary winter pavilion
“The major considerations throughout the project were the interpretations of the meaning of ‘temporary’...” LÖYLY PESÄ
Lukas Fetzko The goal of this project was to design a temporary winter pavilion which would occupy Seneca Bluffs in Buffalo, New York. The major considerations throughout the project were the interpretations of the meaning of “temporary” as well as the importance of program in the design. Translated from Finnish, Löyly Pesä means “steam nest,” and the clustering of saunas creates a cloud, or nest, of steam which obscures the project from a distance. Research shows that saunas are extremely versatile structures, allowing people to cook, relax, and/or socialize. In addition, there is a specific cycle of use associated with saunas which involves inhabiting the sauna for a given period of time and then going outside into the cold before returning again to the heat. This sequence became the foundation for design. The project consists of a complex of saunas lifted above-grade. The users
enter the complex at the changing sauna, where they change into robes and slippers. This sauna is the coolest in temperature. Next, one proceeds outside to the dining sauna, the largest of the saunas, to enjoy a chef-prepared meal on a dual sauna-stove/grill. The dining sauna increases slightly in temperature. From there one is free to travel to the other saunas. These include a hot spring, a socializing sauna, and a relaxation sauna, the hottest and most intimate. In addition, portability was considered in the dismantling of the sauna structures and decking, leaving the stoves as monolithic remnants which would be unusable during the warmer months.
Users will have a chef-prepared meal in the Dining Sauna
CREDITS STUDENT: Lukas Fetzko, B.S.Arch. FACULTY: Ang Li (Peter Reyner Banham Fellow 2015-16) TEACHING TEAM: Sean Burkholder (Coordinator), Gregory Delaney, Virginia Melnyk, Bryce Sanders, Julia Jamrozik COURSE: Sophomore Design Studio, Spring 2016
Kyle McMindes with plaster mold
Matthew Meyers with plaster mold
â€œPressure from the molten glass causes severe damage to the mold, ultimately leading to its destruction...â€? REINCARNATE Kyle McMindes and Matthew Meyers Reincarnate integrates the one-sided relationship that exists between glass and its formwork (specifically in regard to wooden or earthen molds). In order for glass to be shaped into a desired condition it has to be blown, slumped, or poured into or onto a form. The resulting heat and pressure from the molten glass causes severe damage to the mold or formwork, ultimately leading to its destruction. Looking for ways in which to fully engage this destructive condition, our investigations became focused around the lifespan and performance of specific materials and forms. Ultimately our research and experiments led us to focus on an earthen charcoal kiln as the base of our project. The process begins by stacking logs into a mound. The mound is then covered by earth and then by a single layer of a plaster-based coating. The wood that initially acted as the form of the mound is then ignited, causing it to burn slowly and with low oxygen so that it becomes charcoal. While the interior burns slowly, a layer of glass frit and adhesive is added on top of the plaster shell, and then finally a second, thicker layer of plaster
mix is added. Once the interior has been reduced to charcoal, the flume is opened and the charcoal is lit to the temperature appropriate for melting glass. This heat causes the glass to slightly liquefy and fuse together, while simultaneously firing the plaster and the interior floor. Following the firing, the remaining ash is cleared out and the plaster shell slowly crumbles and falls from the newly formed glass dome, to then be absorbed back into the earth. The final remaining piece of the entire process is the glass dome itself, which stands as an occupiable testament to the material processes. CREDITS STUDENTS: Kyle McMindes, M.Arch. and Matthew Meyers, M.Arch. FACULTY: Georg Rafailidis COURSE: Glass Studio, Spring 2016 RESEARCH GROUP: Material Culture
Concept collage by Kyle McMindes
INTER VIEW 76
“People only understand glass in its final form; they forget the violent beginning it actually has...” Interview with Kyle McMindes and Matthew Meyers Micaela Barker: What drew both of you to the Material Culture Research Group? Kyle McMindes: For me it was the ability to make things. A lot of other studios don’t get to make at the same scale that material culture gets to. I think they are one of the more critical and experimental studios. Matthew Meyers: My history or career is more material-based. For the past ten years I have been a maker – as a contractor, as an artist – that’s how I relate to the world. MB: Can you describe what the prompt of the studio was? KM: The prompt of the studio was really, “make a space out of glass.” There was no program assigned. MM: You think it was about space? It was, “make structure.” KM: Yes, but when you make structure you typically make space. Space is the result of structure. But there was no program assigned. We went through the kind of typical studio mode of operations, where you start off experimenting and playing, you do precedent research, and start operating on the material. But the challenge was to make structure from glass. MB: Do you think these material
experimentations are for a particular “who” (manufacturers or other architects who may want to glean ideas from them)? Or do you get a sense that this research is more generally about generating knowledge? MM: I don’t think a “who,” necessarily, but I think it is more of adding to a larger body of research. But the exploration benefits architects in the sense that it is a spatial study, and for manufacturers and engineers, a big part of this project was the process. Ideally the work would inspirationally transcend the world of academia as far as what you can do with glass. I think the project pushes the limits of people’s preconceived notions of what you can do with that material. MB: So the studio is about rethinking glass and pushing beyond the bounds of everyone’s current understanding of the material. MM: But I don’t think we pushed it so far that it is beyond the bounds of reality. KM: Actually, our project is perfectly doable, if we had the time to go to the scale that we wanted. Theoretically it would work out and you could have a large dome that you could hang out in (laughs). MM: We were always thinking about the
practical aspect of it and scaling up. MB: The whole studio was grouped into partners. Can you talk about how you went about selecting a partner and what the collaboration was like? KM: So we had worked together in the concrete studio before, so on top of just enjoying working with him, I knew he wasn’t a joker – someone who wasn’t gonna pull their weight (laughs). MM: We have a lot of fun working together, so it is usually a light-hearted atmosphere, but we both get down to business when we have to. We just know how we work (laughs). MB: Apparently your project went through a lot of different explorations before you both settled on a final direction for the project. Can you describe the different channels or directions you experimented with? KM: I think we were always interested in the necessary death of something to make glass. MM: Our first explorations were unitbased: focusing on the relationship of the product and its mold and process. Somehow we shifted from that to something which has a similar relationship to its mold and process, but larger and monolithic. KM: We started to hit a dead end with the individual units. At first, we were interested in molds that we could cast the glass inside of and then after the mold had been used four or five times it could act as a joining element between the units. However, everything we were producing was linear and didn’t really have the option to be more dynamic without forcing that agenda on it. MM: With glass, we were realizing that if you work with a system of joints and smaller units it is harder to scale the project up. When you scale up, glass as a material can’t really stand the kind of stresses you put on it with that kind of system. When you get to a larger scale, a
Glass dome emerging from formwork
The glass dome construction process conveyed through a model image series
monolithic system works better. MB: My favorite part of your narrative was the sentence, “The resulting heat and pressure from the molten glass causes severe damage to the mold, ultimately leading to its destruction.” Can you elaborate more on that idea and why it might be important for makers to consider that idea in their work? MM: I wonder about that statement (laughs). The only word I question is destruction. The mold degrades to a certain point – you want the mold to stay at a point where you can still achieve a unit that is usable because of the tolerances. KM: Maybe destruction is a bit dramatized (laughs). There is a general understanding that glass is usually a clean and pure item. I think people only understand glass in its final form; they forget the violent beginning it actually has. The creation of glass is an extremely volatile process. That idea is something that resonated with us on a theoretical level. It led to the type of research we were doing. I thought that the way people talk about and use glass, versus the way that glass is produced, was an incredible contradiction. MM: Some of the qualities of the process are more apparent in the final product we ended up with. You see changes in texture, bubbles, thinness and thickness. There is evidence of the volatile process. MB: Right, glass as we understand it typically can be so passive because it is transparent. It doesn’t call attention to itself. MM: It is quiet and still kind of harsh, right (laughs)? It’s straight and has a glossy surface. When that reacts with light it can be really harsh (laughs). But if you think about the dome, it’s not invisible at all. Some areas are transparent and some are translucent, there is sagging and weightiness; it’s kind of soft.
MM: It’s gentle, not harsh, imposing, or intimidating. MB: Can you discuss the process that you used? I understand that it begins with wood and it has different layers on top of it. What causes the glass to form? MM: The wood is mounded up – you pile it into a dome and there are certain ways to stack it and it’s very primitive – that totally drives the form of the entire project. KM: You cover that mound of wood with a bit of earth, and then the next phase was to cover the mound in the thinner layer of plaster. MM: But even before you pile the wood you have to create a channel for the oxygen and the exhaust for the burning process. So you excavate the ground, then you mound the wood. You cover the wood with a plaster and sand mix and then the layer of glass frit (glass pieces). The layer of glass frit is then covered with another layer of plaster and sand. KM: Once the glass frit was on, we began the burning of the interior. Left on its own the charcoal forms through the burning of the wood as a low-oxygen fire. That’s why these air channels are really key, because you only want minimal amounts of oxygen to get in. Wood on its own can’t achieve the temperature to slump or melt glass. MM: The dirt and the plaster create an envelope that restricts the air, so then you’re controlling the air to the burning wood through this channel underground. It is a very low smoldering. KM: While the wood burns off it is heating that initial thin layer of plaster and hardening it, so that once the wood is gone, that space is vacant and hardened to a point where it can be selfsupportive. On top of the final glass frit, we put a thicker layer of that same mix of plaster and sand that becomes a kiln that stores all the heat once the wood
starts to decompose. All of those layers heat to a point where it starts to melt the glass, but then after that heating process it becomes super flakey and chalky. It returns to talc and sand and falls right off of the glass. That stuff just dissolves back into the earth. It’s fairly harmless to the environment. MM: You’ve seen the series of images: we show the process in the middle of a clearing or forest, which is nice because you can clear the space in the forest and use the wood, and instead of having to pull from other places, you can burn all of it to create the charcoal. You are using the resources on site. MB: I didn’t know you had such a sustainable agenda (laughs). KM: (laughs) We just got lucky. MM: (laughs) Yes, and we just took that to the next step with the chimney. We decided to do trench-forming on site. It is literally just carving out of the ground, pouring the concrete, and then standing it up. MB: What were some of the challenges you experienced during this studio process? KM: Our biggest frustration was probably the point between the unit-based experiments with the wood formwork and the ultimate decision to go in the monolithic direction. I think you (Matt) were pushing more in the monolithic direction. I thought we were giving up too soon. I mean ultimately you were right (laughs). MM: That was a difficult point and I remember that we felt like we were abandoning all the work we had done in the beginning. KM: Yes, we were on top of it the whole time (laughs). And it wasn’t totally foreign because we had been working a bit with plaster and making those drop molds in the sand box. MM: Yes, we just used wood and plaster in a different way. All of our research
Final project floor plan
Final project section
used wood as a formwork, and plaster as a formwork. MB: So if I put my traditional research methods hat on for a moment, what were some of the findings of this studio as a research endeavor? KM: I guess for our studio all of our findings were material-based. I think you become quite astonished by what you can do through a single medium. In material research, good projects are the ones where people let go and let the material do what it wants (or experiment in a strange way). They are not trying to set up really rigid rules for themselves, but perhaps just let this or that happen – that’s where the best work tends to come from. MM: Yes, it’s forgetting about all of your preconceptions related to the material. KM: You (Matt), more so than me, have a wealth of knowledge about how different materials want to behave. MM: Yes, but it’s a traditional knowledge, not a questioning or challenging of the material. KM: I see some people who possess that knowledge who are really unwilling to question those conventions – they just try to design for “how people really do it.” They end up with boring results. If there is any place for you to break out of the real world conventions it should be here in studio. MM: We were totally encouraged to experiment. KM: Yes, Taras Kes’ and Andrew Kim’s project – one of the best projects in the studio – I really loved their sand dome of lava rocks. That was an incredible project. MM: I think there were some projects that had a trajectory that they stuck to and they weren’t willing to stray from it and I think that was to their detriment. KM: I agree. On week one they set up an agenda for themselves and what they came up with at week one was going
to be the same thing they had at week fifteen. Why spend those fifteen weeks if you already know? What are you researching if you already know what’s going to happen at week fifteen? MB: In the thesis process that is what they ask you to do; they ask you to explore. KM: The best projects are the ones where you don’t expect everything and there is some surprise. So now I am constantly self-questioning my projects. I like to leave myself open to allow it to evolve and transform from what I originally intended. MM: It’s kind of funny – I didn’t think about it until now – there have been a few projects, actual construction projects, that I have been on or asked to assist with and a lot of the best ideas and solutions came out of very candid, crazy conversations, after hours. We would just say, “Well, what if we did this?” and some of us were like, “Well, yeah, why not?” (laughs). I think that’s important. I think every project needs to dedicate the time to have that kind of conversation. Whether it is a week and you say, “For this week I am going to be exploring,” or it is just taking time with the people you are collaborating with to brainstorm, step back, and let things evolve. KM: Don’t just be sarcastic about it and actually have the work ethic to pursue it in a serious way. MB: Can you guys talk about your relationship with Corning Glass? Did they help your project in any way? I am curious because your project is large and monolithic and they generally fabricate smaller glass products. MM: The Corning explorations became secondary for us. It was a great experience, don’t get me wrong, but their process wasn’t practical for our larger dome. However, it did help with the earlier unit-based research.
KM: We learned a lot about the craft of making glass in general and what their glass-making and glass-blowing processes are. We took away lessons about how to work with glass. That is not to say that it wasn’t helpful for other people in the studio because there were people working at the appropriate scale for them to fabricate glass products for them. MB: What were some of the conversations you both had related to making the project full-scale? MM: We did have aspirations of making a giant dome somewhere on campus, but there wasn’t enough time in the semester. KM: We probably could have done it if we threw all other obligations out the window (laughs). MM: Even if it was at Griffis Sculpture Park, the glass is literally scrap glass, or broken glass; you wouldn’t have to worry about the transportation of large sheets. It’s just bags of material. MB: How would you both describe Material Culture in a few sentences or words? What is it fundamentally about? KM: It focuses so clearly on something that is tangible, like a piece of wood, but then you get to work with and question this extremely physical object in a way that transcends its physical nature. I think that comes through the studio – through the act of making – learning how to become a craftsman and work with materials and space. Also it comes through the intellectual domains. A lot of the readings you do where architects and theorists write about even just a piece of wood is really inspirational. It really makes you think about the way you curate your physical environment to bring people into ways of thinking and inhabiting space that are beyond the piece of wood that you started with to construct that space. It’s minimal and existential.
MM: Yes, it’s an intersection between our tangible research of materials and the theory. The studio and the intellectual domain are really a good pairing because you have the tangible in studio but you’re also tied to the theories behind your work through the seminars. KM: We have all been moved emotionally in one way or another by physical things, and Material Cultures makes you more aware of that and helps you to produce things that are both pragmatic and also spiritual. MB: So Material Culture tries to address the existential or spiritual experience of material. KM: But does it through the act of making – very simple, pure, and honest explorations.
“The gift reflects an important relationship between Mary Talbert and J. Edward Nash, both of whom were key figures in African-American history in Buffalo and on the national stage...” 82
A GIFT FROM ONE AFRICAN-AMERICAN LEADER TO ANOTHER David Riley A gift from one African-American leader to another The family of Mary and William Talbert gave a gift to the Reverend J. Edward Nash, pastor of Buffalo’s Michigan Street Baptist Church, in 1905: a copy of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha. The ornatelydecorated volume and a brief handwritten note from the Talbert family are now part of the Nash House Museum’s collection in Buffalo, New York. The gift is a noteworthy artifact in the context of the Michigan Street Corridor and the field of planning in two primary ways: First, the gift reflects an important relationship between Mary Talbert and J. Edward Nash, both of whom were key figures in African-American history in Buffalo and on the national stage. The artifact reflects a critical partnership in the fight for civil rights and offers a brief window into a neighborhood that was a hotbed for African-American leadership at a time when black Americans were struggling to gain a voice in the civic affairs and planning of their communities. Second, the poem that Talbert chose as a gift encapsulates how even sympathetic whites viewed Native Americans in the mid-1800s when it was published. As urban development was spreading west and ever deeper into Native American lands, Longfellow wrote a poem based loosely on Ojibwe tales, ending with the Native American protagonist encouraging his people to embrace the Christian culture of white European missionaries (Poetry Foundation, n.d.). The nature of the poem begs the question of what Talbert intended in giving such a tale to Nash, and whether she had considered the irony of the leaders of one oppressed minority group sharing a white poet’s tales of another such group.
A crucible for the early civil rights movement The timing of the gift is noteworthy. The Talbert family gave the edition of The Song of Hiawatha to Nash on May 1, 1905 (according to the note on display at the Nash House Museum). This was little more than two months before the first meeting of the Niagara Movement, a forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which took place on July 11, 1905, at Talbert’s Michigan Avenue home (Scott, n.d.). Soon thereafter the group issued a manifesto calling for equal rights for African Americans (Wormser, n.d.). The Niagara Movement went on to establish 30 branches across the U.S., but it ultimately disbanded with the formation of the NAACP (Wormser, n.d.). Even before the 1905 meeting, Mary Talbert was already a leader in the African-American community. She was a cofounder of Buffalo’s Phyllis Wheatley Club, a prominent black women’s organization, and organized a protest against the depiction of black people in the 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo (Michigan Street Commission, 2013). Notably, the protest took place at the Michigan Street Baptist Church. Along with W.E.B. Du Bois, Talbert pushed for the inclusion of an exhibit at the exposition dedicated to the achievements of African Americans since Emancipation. She also lobbied for the appointment of a black member to the fair’s organizing board (Michigan Street Commission, 2013). World’s fairs like this one helped to shape the City Beautiful movement (Schaffer, 1993), as well as the public’s understanding of Western progress, and people like Talbert were sounding an alarm for the AfricanAmerican voices left out of these visions for the future. Given Talbert’s previous activism, by 1905 she was likely
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha, 1905
well-acquainted with Nash, who was the prominent pastor of the predominantly black Baptist church from 1892 to 1953 (Fordham, n.d.). Nash was perhaps the most widely-known and respected African American in the city during the first half of the 20th century, playing an important role in an influential religious alliance and enjoying access to the city’s white elected leaders (according to Fordham). Any serious effort in Buffalo to improve equity and quality of life for African Americans likely involved Nash. He and Talbert apparently formed a long-lasting relationship, as they both were instrumental in forming the Buffalo branch of the NAACP in 1915 (Scott, n.d.), a decade after Talbert gave the pastor a copy of Longfellow’s poem.
strong roots in the abolitionist movement, after serving as a stop on the Underground Railroad (Michigan Street Coalition, 2013). The neighborhood was densely populated by both African Americans and European immigrants, and it was a “thriving and vibrant center of cultural and economic activity” (SUNY Buffalo planning studio, 2011). It was an ideal place for Talbert, Nash and others driven to fight for equity to find like-minded peers and develop their ideas and strategies for activism. The gift from Talbert to Nash is not only a reminder of an important relationship in the early civil rights movement, but an artifact of a neighborhood that African Americans were working collectively from to plan the future of their own communities.
The work that Talbert and Nash did together is a story about the form and culture of the community in which they lived. Their efforts were likely not only the result of common ideals and goals, but also their physical proximity in a neighborhood steeped in themes of social justice. Talbert’s home at 521 Michigan Ave. was steps away from the Michigan Street Baptist Church at 511 Michigan Ave. and Nash’s home at 36 Potter St., now known as Nash Street (Scott, n.d.).
A problematic story from an abolitionist poet Longfellow largely assembled The Song of Hiawatha from Ojibwa traditions compiled by amateur ethnographer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. In the process, he confused the name of the real-life Hiawatha, a Mohawk founder of the Iroquois Federation, with a subject of Objibwe lore (Trachtenberg, 2004). Published in 1855, the popular poem also drew extensively on images of the American west, and it both “exalts the Indian and assumes the obliteration of indigenous ways of life” (Poetry Foundation, n.d.). Alan Trachtenberg, who writes extensively on the poem in
By 1905 the church, was already well-known for having had
Shades of Hiawatha, describes Longfellow’s hero: Hiawatha emerged from Longfellow’s imagination as the generic ‘white man’s Indian,’ the hidden name of every staged Indian who comes to us with melancholic eyes and sorrow in his speech, teaching ancient wisdom while lamenting the inevitable loss of ancient ways and native land, promising always to leave and always to return (p. 84).
In light of Longfellow’s depiction of his protagonist, it is interesting to ponder how Mary Talbert viewed the poem when she gave her copy to Nash. Was she aware that the story was at the very least deeply inaccurate, if not outright offensive, and told through the same type of cultural lens that offered up erroneous depictions of African Americans in popular culture? What did she make of the poem’s final lines, in which Hiawatha urges his brothers to “listen to the truth” of white missionaries? Did the poem appeal to Talbert from a religious perspective? Was she interested in the fate of Native Americans, who by the turn of the twentieth century had largely been forced off their native lands and were the target of acculturation policies (“Indian removal,” n.d.)? Did Talbert see parallels between the Native American experience and that of African Americans? There is little evidence, if any, to offer firm answers to these questions. The material on display at the Nash House Museum offers only one suggestion as to the significance of Talbert’s choice of poem, noting that Longfellow was an ardent supporter of abolition. In fact, the poet used proceeds from the sale of poems like The Song of Hiawatha to buy freedom for slaves (Lepore, 2010). Longfellow also was a close friend of Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts senator who gave a fierce antislavery speech to the Senate in 1856, and was soon thereafter beaten by Rep. Preston Brooks of South Carolina (Lepore, 2010). Given her interest in civil rights, it is possible that Talbert gave the poem to Nash with a nod to Longfellow’s abolitionist views, but it is impossible to know for certain. Nonetheless, Talbert’s choice of poem is a fascinating one, offering a glimpse of two local African-American leaders who were deeply invested in the early civil rights movement, gazing back at a period of urban development during which another minority group was being subjugated and marginalized. CREDITS STUDENT: David A. Riley, MUP FACULTY: Elizabeth A. Walsh COURSE: Evolution of Urban Form, Fall 2016
Michigan Street Baptist Church on Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, N.Y.
REFERENCES Poetry Foundation. (n.d.). Biography of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Retrieved from: https:// www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/henry-wadsworth-longfellow Scott, M.O. (n.d.). History of the Buffalo, NY Branch NAACP, founded January 15, 1915. Retrieved from: http://buffalonaacp.org/history/ Wormser, R. (n.d.). The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow: Niagara Movement (1905-10). Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_events_ niagara.html Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission, Inc. (2013). Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Management Plan. Retrieved from: http://www. michiganstreetbuffalo.org/msaahc-commission-inc Schaffer, K. (1993). Fabric of City Life: The Social Agenda in Burnham’s Draft of the Plan of Chicago. Introduction to Burnham, D., & Bennett, E.H., Plan of Chicago. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Fordham, M. (n.d.). The Nash House. Retrieved from: http://www.nashhousemuseum.org/history.html SUNY Buffalo Department of Urban and Regional Planning Spring Planning Studio. (2011). Celebrating Buffalo’s Cultural Diversity: A Vision for the Michigan Street Corridor. Retrieved from: http://www.michiganstreetbuffalo.org/msaahc-commission-inc Trachtenberg, A. (2004). Shades of Hiawatha: Staging Indians, Making Americans, 1880-1930. New York: Hill and Wang. Retrieved from: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~cavitch/pdf-library/Trachtenberg_Hiawatha.pdf Indian Removal. (n.d.). Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/ wgbh/aia/part4/4p2959.html Lepore, J. (2010, December 18). Paul Revere’s Ride Against Slavery. New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/opinion/19Lepore.html
“History and storytelling are at the heart of what planners do...” Interview with David Riley Micaela Barker: What kind of planner or audience do you see the history of this artifact being most useful to? David Riley: I wrote this piece for a planning course called Evolution of Urban Form, where we studied the development of urban places and planning as a profession. The essay is probably most useful in that context – as an academic exercise that helps students to better understand how social and cultural forces shape physical places, and vice versa. That said, the piece might also be of interest to citizen planners who are working to redevelop the Michigan Street corridor, or to professional planners who are interested in using historic analysis in their practice. MB: Do you think planners could learn to practice differently based on your experience studying this neighborhood and artifact? DR: This exercise impressed upon me how thinking historically – even through the lens of a single object – can help a planner put a community and its residents in proper context. I came away with a richer sense of Michigan Avenue’s history of fighting for racial justice and new insights on views of
Native Americans during a critical time in our country’s urbanization (a theme we also studied in the class). Artifact analysis might be a worthwhile exercise for planners who are working on explicitly historical projects; more generally, though, I think planners do better work when armed with a strong knowledge of local history. MB: Did this study and essay reflect your own perspective on how planners should practice or how you would like to practice in the future? DR: Yes. History and storytelling are at the heart of what planners do. I’m paraphrasing here, but planning professor Martin Krieger once wrote that our work is crafting narratives about what has happened in a community and what will or should happen in the future. I think it is important to understand and be able to articulate a community’s history if we hope to guide it forward.
432 Railroad Spikes occupied by a classmate
432 Railroad Spikes under construction
“Railroads have had a profound effect on the history of the Old First Ward...” 432 RAILROAD SPIKES AND ORDEAL Dylan Burns The Small Built Works project generates an opportunity for students to participate in a hands-on, community-driven design process. Both of the projects presented here are benches designed and built for installation in the Old First Ward, created in partnership with the Old First Ward Community Association. The first bench, entitled 432 Railroad Spikes, is made out of just that. Railroads have had a profound effect on the history of the Old First Ward and continue to have a dramatic effect on the physical composition of the neighborhood. This design is meant to use the spikes to bridge the gap between past and future. Their presence harkens back to the heavy industrial days of the ward’s past, while the form they create seeks to pave the way for a more contemporary and artistic future. The curvature of the spikes is also meant to address multiple ergonomic preferences by creating different seating heights and angles of reclination. The second project, Ordeal, is a pair of benches. Both are made of crew oars. The oars honor the history of the Old First Ward as the neighborhood with the first rowing club in the city, Mutual Rowing
Club. Though the club is no longer in existence, the First Ward is the site of a new rowing club and a host of maritime activity along a re-energized Buffalo River. The benches both are composed of eight oars, which is the number used in a full-length, sweep-rigged rowing shell. The first bench uses macon style blades, while the second bench uses hatchet style blades, the predominant newer style. The blades are painted in the colors and patterns of all the local rowing clubs, including Mutual Rowing Club. CREDITS STUDENT: Dylan Burns, M.Arch. / MUP TEAM: Nick Bottiglieri, Stephon-Rae Jackson, Cassandra Kern, Qiong Wu, Max Collins, Matt Kreidler, Evan Schweigel, Lemma Al-Ghanem, Shaun Baranyi, Garrett Brown, Rong Chen, Evan Glickman, John Jiang, Lauren Kennedy, Emma McAneny, Ross Moretzsky, Nate Sikora, Kevin Turner, Cody Wilson, Hua Xiu Chen, Tyler Gates, Julia Hunt, Drew Marshall, TJ Mulligan, Alan Palermo, Nick Pizzonia, Traven Tong, Max Warshaw FACULTY: Brad Wales ASSISTANT: Wade Georgi COURSE: Small Built Works, Spring 2016 - Fall 2016 BUSINESS SPONSORS: Rick Smith/Rigidized Metals, Tom Saia/Iroquois Concrete, Sam Savarino/ Savarino Construction, The Barrel Factory, Tim & amp, Emily Lowrey, and Chris Kameck.
One of two Ordeal benches
INTER VIEW 88
“Over 20 new artistic benches, inspired by characteristics of the Old First Ward...” Interview with Cody Wilson and Dylan Burns Micaela Barker: Can you describe the process of designing and building the benches? What kind of inspiration did you draw from? Dylan Burns: We started first by getting a general understanding of the Old First Ward history. The river, the grain silos, things like that – got an idea of what the neighborhood was about. This gave us ideas for materials that would relate to that history. One of the biggest things for me was the railroad because it has had a huge effect on the community and physically has a very strong presence still. Once we had an idea of what theme or what object we wanted to look at, we then looked at the feasibility of making a bench out of that material. For me, using the railroad spikes, although a little tricky, was actually really useful. They were so versatile – I could use them as a unit, and they were thick and heavy. The bench, now that it is done, isn’t going anywhere (laughs). I still think that if a car crashed into it, the car would lose (laughs). After we decided if it was feasible to use the material we wanted, we then looked at whether that material could serve as a bench ergonomically and if it could be beautiful in some way. I made a mockup of the bench to see if it would be comfortable or if it could actually stay
together. When you’re doing something like welding it’s difficult to change it once you have made it a certain way. And then after you are sure that you have the form that you want, we went through and tacked everything in place. For some people who bolted their materials, it was easier for them to try things out and shift things around a bit and then it could be disassembled. But for mine, the spike bench, that was its shape. MB: It sounds like these were individual projects but I get the impression that the project was also highly collaborative. Can you talk about the dynamics between studio members throughout the process? Cody Wilson: It was constant group meeting – the studio – we did work individually, but we also worked in groups. When it came to construction documents, that was mainly one-on-one, but before that it was all collaborative. It was all of us talking about design, for what what was supposed to be an hour class, but ended up being three hour classes debating about the design. DB: It was nice to have the whole year to make the bench. I was able to take a step back and make sure I wasn’t working too quickly, which can be really dangerous because I was working with really hot
Bench featured was designed by Nick Bottiglieri and is entitled Track Bench - Photograph by Brad Wales
Bench featured was designed by Kevin Turner and is entitled Fence Bench - Photograph by Brad Wales
stuff – fire and such. Working together we played off of everyone’s strengths. Some people would know how to do certain things to work on their benches and then would teach other people who needed to do the same thing. If a particular person needed help we would work on one bench, do everything they needed until it was ready, then we could move to a different bench. CW: Yes, we finished like twelve benches in two weeks – we were in the shop for the last two weeks of school. That’s when Wade Georgi helped us immensely. He donated a ton of time to us. He works for Brad so he comes in with Brad and helps us out. He taught us all how to weld, and Matt Kreidler taught me how to plasma cut. MB: I imagine that you both went to the gallery exhibit of the benches and then also to the city hall presentation of the benches. What was the experience of those events like? What were some of the reactions that you guys got from the community about the project? CW: To clarify, we had a presentation at the Old First Ward Community Center, which was a design presentation. We met with Michael Fronczak; he is on the common council at the city. He is also the councilman for the Old First Ward. Then we met with the Arts Commission of the city. They are the ones who approve everything. Then the gallery showing was at Brad’s studio last semester to end that semester’s class. We are having another gallery showing at 500 Seneca, put on by Savarino in the middle of the semester. The hope is that will be our final donation drive, and those donations will go to the Old First Ward for upkeep and insurance so that no one is held accountable for any accidents that happen related to the benches. We need a small bit of money to set aside for when these benches get installed.
MB: Did you end up getting any responses from people in the community? DB: I was surprised how receptive everyone was to at least the idea of making the benches. There were various opinions on some of them, mostly positive. It was really eye-opening to be with the people and see that they were really excited to have something unique like this for their community. MB: Right, and what about when you went to City Hall, did you receive any criticisms from the community or from the city? CW: Michael Fronczak was really open to it. The Arts Commission was clapping by the end of it. I think they were happy with the project. They were worried about it at first but after we presented the designs they were much less apprehensive about what we were doing. I think that they were worried about some kind of hostile takeover of the benches (laughs). There were many levels of government that we had to go through, but in the end it comes down to the community. At the first meeting no one was upset by the project. Usually there is one person in the crowd who is bored and on their phone the entire time, but not in this meeting. MB: So the responses have been largely positive. Did you guys have to respond to any code restrictions or regulations from the city? CW: In our first meeting with the Buffalo Public Works Department, it was, “Well, you guys can’t do this without concrete pads for the benches because of ADA compliance, and maintenance,” and Brad was like, “Oh, okay, we can do that.” They added an extra huge step to the project, but it ended up increasing the quality of the benches. They gave us permits and ended up helping us out more than a normal project. Usually you just meet with a person behind a desk and he/she gives
you the paperwork you need, but these city engineers were helping us along the way to meet their requirements. The city also had some ergonomic requirements related to the benches’ height and such. MB: We touched on this a little bit, but what were some challenges or major successes that the group experienced during the project? DB: I think procuring materials was pretty difficult. There were a lot of people who were willing to give us stuff, but actually getting everything and then getting it in a useable state took a long time. For the two Ordeal benches (laughs), I started with the idea of the Old First Ward having the first rowing club in the city. I wanted to use oars to pay a tribute to that so I was banking on people donating the oars because oars are insanely expensive. I reached out to everyone that I could think of, and it took a long time to get responses and then I had to buy some, too, but in the end it all worked out. CW: Yes, the rule was that if you wanted to design with something abnormal you would have to find it and for cheap. But for other benches we used cedar and ipe and that’s because those two woods were used by the city for either picnic tables or for flooring. We procured it from the same supplier that they used so that the benches could be maintained by the city if need be. Other than that, the procurement of the material on the large scale was easier because we went to Alp Steel Corp. because Brad has worked with them for years now. We just walked in and they were like, “Oh, yeah, we’ll get you a big donation of this and get that cut up and ready to go.” They donated something like eight sheets of plate steel. DB: Yes, it depended on whether people wanted to use raw materials or found materials. The balance between the two is what makes the project so diverse. Some got to play out their blank sheet ideas of what they wanted to make and
others used found objects. CW: Speaking to the last two semesters of work, there was no wood involved and all the benches were made with what we had in hand. So we haven’t spent any extra money since Spring 2016 on these benches. We still ended up building six more because we had extra plate steel. Brad has been using the drop steel from the plasma cutter (left over steel) to actually make new benches out of them. Which is an interesting construction method. DB: Addressing the other side of the question, one of the easiest parts of the project was working with Du-All Finishing. They were a dream to work with; all we had to do was get our benches to them and they were like, “See you in a week and a half,” and then they would be done. They love to work on very small projects for people. It doesn’t cost them much to do, especially if whatever finish you need is already in a color they’re running. They gave us really reasonable rates, and a quick turnaround. It was really nice. CW: Rigidized Metals fabricated Cassandra Kerns’ bench, “Benched over Backwards.” Rick Smith has been helping Brad out with these kinds of projects forever – it’s because it’s his community. MB: Are there any other companies that you were working with besides Du-All and Rigidized Metals? CW: Alp Steel, as I previously mentioned. Len-Co Lumber and Advantage Lumber in the Old First Ward area provided us with the wood. DB: There was also corporate and family-owned business sponsorships, too. The Spike Bench was sponsored by Vinny Alejandro who is a local artist who does murals in Buffalo. The two ore benches were sponsored by Savarino. People who are directly involved with the community, and people who care about the project invested in it. CW: Savarino is going above and
Bench featured was designed by Rong Chen and is entitled Crossroads - Photograph by Brad Wales
Bench featured was designed by Garrett Brown and is entitled Pallet Landscape
beyond right now: he is giving us 500 Seneca St. for the show in April, he is doing the construction of the pads, he has donated more than enough money. He is going to let one of our more intricate benches be installed in a new construction project he is doing in the Old First Ward. There is also Iroquois Bar Corp; they’re donating nearly all of the concrete for us as well. They’re the company on our permit, so they’re our construction manager. MB: Did the students have to invest money in the benches or was it all sponsored? CW: No, this project would be impossible without public donations. DB: The student investment was all of the time. CW: Yes, it was a seven credit course for three credits (laughs). DB: I think I estimated that I spent something like 200 hours per bench, but that’s just an estimate. If we got paid for it, the project would be totally unfeasible. CW: Yes, our donation was our time, and everyone was really excited to work on it more. DB: For most of us this was the first real and finished project that we had. Freshman year some of us might have worked on a full-scale thing, but it was still temporary with a lot of guesses and estimates made during construction. But this is the first thing that we designed and made ourselves. That was a huge incentive to finish it and have it done well, because our name is on it and it’s your project that is out in the community. MB: Right, it’s not just fully constructed, but also permanently placed. DB: That is another reason to design it well, too. For example, I purposely didn’t use any wood in mine because I didn’t want anyone to have to deal with maintaining it. Maybe twenty or thirty years from now someone might need to paint them again, but that’s about it. I
wanted it to be placed and enjoyed. CW: Yes, the city originally had issues with our benches because of pyrotechnic scenarios. They had picnic tables in the park that people were using as camp stoves. So they don’t have picnic tables installed there anymore (laughs). We are hoping that the community will care more for the benches that were designed specifically for them. DB: There is also the theory that if you trust people with something nice in their community that they’ll actually take care of it. If you give them any old bench, and it gets broken, nobody cares, but if you show them that you invested time and energy into something nice for their community, people are more likely to take care of it. CW: The Old First Ward is actually starting a fund for upkeep for the whole community and the benches will become part of that project. DB: One of the difficult things that I forgot to mention was balancing function and longevity. I used a lot of metal in my project which will last a long time, but it is also cold in the winter and may not be as comfortable as wood. There were all these conflicting things like how do you deal with cost, maintenance, and functionality. It was difficult to know which do you give more preference to. CW: Size was also a big design issue. Some of the benches are huge – some are ten feet long. Dylan’s is like sixteen feet long (laughs). We had to move the benches several times to powder coat them, store them and then move them into the ground in the Old First Ward. Wade helped us out with all of the moving. DB: What’s cool, though, is that if people squeeze, we could probably fit half of the neighborhood on our benches (laughs). CW: Yes, I think so; we have twenty four of them (laughs). MB: Have you been able to directly
collaborate with any residents from the community? CW: The founder of Undergrounds Cafe, Sara Heidinger, was one of the people that worked with us. Sara is also running the community center now and has her own business. Then there is also Emily Lowrey who has done a lot of media stuff to promote the project. DB: Emily is a good testament to what’s going on in the Old First Ward right now. She’s not even from Buffalo. She’s a fully accepted transplant into the Old First Ward and loves living and working there. CW: It helps that she is an amazing person (laughs). MB: If you had to improve the process that you went through to design and build the benches, what would you suggest? DB: I think we could have shortened parts of the project. Of course you want to do research and figure out what is going on in the community to make a good design, but we could have shortened those parts to focus on refining the design before building it. I think we could have spent more time on the construction so people could have their final piece and not have to worry about whether they are coming back the following semester. That way people can have their finished product and take their portfolio photos at a reasonable time. CW: I also think more university support. MB: So support from the school could have come more in the form of…? DB: It would be great to use the university network system to publicize the project and fundraise for us. All of it was mostly us working with Emily to get local support and using our own connections to get fundraising. It would have helped a lot to have support from the university in that regard and reached out to alumni or other people. I feel like in the grand scheme of things, the amount that we needed was not a lot, but having a little bit of a bump would have been extremely helpful.
CW: With university involvement in the project, a little bit more aid could have really helped us out. The design-build aspect isn’t explored often in this school and Brad’s like the only class that actually designs something that is permanent and embedded in the community. MB: It is interesting that you think that the design-build aspect of our school isn’t something that we do very often. It’s interesting because that is a huge part of our identity as a school and it’s something we brag about a lot. Perhaps you are saying that because there were several years of no design-build project in the freshman year. CW: Yes, I don’t see it. Maybe other people do. Undergraduates don’t do this. Some graduate projects go full-scale, but to be an undergraduate student and to design something that is permanent is a huge deal. DB: Yes, I think the undergraduate program should be changed that before comprehensive studio people should do a design-build. It doesn’t have to be something crazy, it has to be accomplishable, but then people can see the effect of the construction process on design. I think a lot of us fall into the trap of designing something with the idea that we don’t have to figure out how it’s actually coming together. MB: I just had an interview with some of the juniors who were involved with building a boat for their studio project. The boat for them was a structural precedent for their final projects. They said that it was so useful for them to have an intimate knowledge of how that boat came together because later when they were designing a building their construction details weren’t mysterious. They understood the boat’s structural system backwards and forwards. They said that when they were freshmen they didn’t do a design-build and they felt that the boat project was their design-build
Photograph by Jim Bush: Bench featured was designed by Cassandra Kern and is entitled Bent out of Shape
coming later down the road. People are hungry for design-build projects because they didn’t get them when they used to in the freshman year. DB: Yes, if you run the whole course and don’t do a design build, that is six years of making drawings and specifying things that are never actually made. You need to actually make something, you can’t just put things on paper in our profession and never actually see how they come together one-to-one. CW: There is nothing more rewarding than seeing something actually built. DB: For me, doing the design-build work is what reassured me that I am where I want to be. I don’t want to just draw stuff for the rest of my career. I want the gratification of knowing how it comes together and actually learning it. Our program should reflect that. CW: It was thanks to this project that I started working in the shop and joined
the material culture studio. It helped me realize that I would rather be working with my hands alongside the computer work or design work.
Carbo Load - Independent work
“It starts out with me flipping through books until I find an interesting character...” Interview with Kyle McMindes Micaela Barker: When did you start collaging? Kyle McMindes: I did one in my junior year. I had Ludovico Centis as a professor and I made an axonometric collage for my market proposal. It was the fall semester, and Ludovico was the 2013-14 Peter Reyner Banham Fellow. I really enjoyed the collage I made and so I continued to use it as my medium for many things. MB: Was Ludovico a major influence in the style? KM: No, I think it just came to be. I can’t think of anyone that I studied or looked at. I have worked with Dennis Maher for many years – he has influenced the way I go about doing or looking at different things. I told him one summer that if he needed assistance with anything to let me know. I remember the first time we met up we went to some junk yard and he had me saw in half a stair well to bring back to his house to use as access to his bedroom. I just kept doing odd jobs with him for the past four or five years. MB: Will you and Dennis continue to work together? KM: I am sure we will touch base from time to time. MB: Can you describe the process of making one of your collages? What
kind of relationships between parts do you try to make? KM: Well it starts out with me flipping through books until I find an interesting character. I will use animal books – flipping through until I see some weird creature. I’ll cut out their silhouette and then I’ll simply start taking it and lay it on to other images in books that have scenery and stuff. Then you start to project or insinuate what you think the creature wants to be doing or maybe is doing and you just build a scene around that based on the components that you have. It starts off as a compositional thing but then slowly becomes a scenario. I’ll be like, “Oh, wow, this blue and this rock really goes well with this chunk of laundry machine (laughs),” and then all of a sudden they all are on the page and it looks like this creature is doing a load of laundry outside of a house – boom it’s done! MB: It sounds like the process is really spontaneous. Is there any meaning or perspective of the world that you have embedded in your collages or is it mostly this intuitive process? KM: More therapeutic than anything. Any perceived messages are not intended. It’s not like I am going to do a piece where I
Wrestle-mania - Independent work
Odd Ball - Independent work
Mirage - Independent work
teach people about loving each other. It’s more a post-rationalization – I look back on it and then I start to pull this or that out of it but it never has any intention at the beginning. MB: Some of the collages you made for your thesis project have narratives associated with them. Is there another step after the narrative? KM: Those collages represent scenarios from my house. I’ll be doing something like checking my cupboard, and then I’ll imagine this crazy thing that happens. I’ll open the cabinet and then realize that it is a secret cabinet where good treats are hidden and then I’ll use collage as the medium to bring those ideas to life. The story gives you a sense of what is happening in the collage and you can imagine your own kitchen cabinet and project your own things onto it. The stories are for everyone because everyone does these stupid activities, but they are also very personal because they are my activities – my kitchen that I am checking. If it was someone else’s kitchen, it might be a different story despite the fact that the activity is similar. I am not sure where the stories are going to go, they are just hanging in limbo right now – I like them as a pairing. MB: Did the original collages have narratives? KM: No they don’t have any narrative, they just are (laughs). MB: So why did the narratives come about in the thesis collages? KM: I felt as though it was the best way to describe the events happening in the collage. I think without the explanation, you would think, “Oh this is a weird kitchen cabinet that’s handing someone a bowl of asparagus dip.” In the first part of the story, I go through a few paragraphs describing a typical event that people experience in their house and then it always at the end comes to this absurd resolution. I think the build up of the
mundane event in the beginning makes it super relatable to a lot of people, then I like having the clever twist at the end. They would probably think to themselves, “What if that did happen? That would be way cooler than what actually happens,” (laughs). MB: Do your collages have relationships with each other? Does order matter? KM: No, some have similar styles. The thesis collages have themes that are similar, but there is no order and they don’t bleed into each other. MB: I had a question about the size of your collages. I am noticing now that the thesis collages are much bigger. Is that because they are conveying a time series? KM: Yes, usually these do read linearly. They start on the right and the event works its way to the left. Yeah, there is an aspect of time. MB: I think there is a huge difference between the originals and the most recent thesis collages. The original ones convey a single snapshot or frozen moment. KM: Yes, the original collages you can’t “walk” through. MB: It seems like they had to grow in scale and complexity. Would you ever present the collages alone, or always in a series? KM: I think they look better as a series. It would be odd to just bring one of these somewhere. It wouldn’t communicate the innumerable amount of events that happen in your home. I don’t think the animal ones can stand alone. As a collection I think they are more powerful. I use a lot of everyday materials and I think people are more likely to judge them negatively and brush the collages off as amature. I think as a collective then the focus is more on the events themselves and not the materials of each one and each one’s specific qualities.
11:52 AM - Thesis collage
9:17 AM - Thesis collage
MB: What responses do you get from people when they view your work? Is there any particular response you are trying to evoke? KM: Most of the time people are like “Whoa, cool!” (laughs). I am not really trying to evoke anything other than that response. That kind of response is my favorite. Maybe with the thesis ones I want to start a stronger dialogue, but in regard to the previous ones I think “Whoa, cool,” is enough for me. KM: This one is starting to talk about some of my perspective about architecture. There are so many people who want to invent a new material or they want to save the planet or cut down on building costs with this new technique or vision. Some are obsessed with facade, but facade is not always for the people who inhabit the building. Why not do some studies on, “Jill and the coffee she makes in the morning.” That could impact someone drastically, whereas putting a beautiful face on a cubicle-filled building – great – someone drives by and it’s nice, but for the people who work in that building, it’s not a good experience. I guess the question is, “Who are you designing for?” There is also this assumption that architects are supposed to be tastemakers or have a genuine understanding about “the art of living.” They have “good taste” and stuff like that, but I don’t know if enough people study that or attempt to study their own habits and apply them to their architectural discourse. MB: You have been here for almost six years, and you have learned about different types of representation: drafting, diagramming, modeling at large scales and small scales. Do you have any criticisms about how architects represent space and our spatial experience? Your collage style is highly subjective, colorful, and it has a lot of material variety.
Kyle’s final directed research review - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
KM: I remember that when I was a younger student, I didn’t have the money to make an entirely solid model out of acrylic or chestnut or some expensive hardwood. It bothered me to see students, who had poor craft skills, go out and buy a rare and expensive material and they would waste money and not know how to use the material. They would take hardwoods and scuff them up. There were even moments where I saw disappointing work, but the student would get praised for using an expensive material. I have always had a chip on my shoulder, along with no money, to make
cardboard exciting (laughs). I know it’s not an ideal material but you should be training your hand and your eye to make lame things into incredible things. You just need to put in a little elbow grease. I may be generalizing a bit. MB: Will you be collaging after architecture school is over? KM: I think so. I have always had a desire to learn how to paint or sketch, but I am usually never satisfied with how I paint or sketch – I am better at collaging. I can wield an exacto blade pretty well (laughs). I am really appreciative to Beth Tauke and Dennis Maher, my thesis
committee, for encouraging me to collage for my thesis. I am proud that I have been able to convince people that this method is meaningful and worthy of exploring. MB: One of my favorite parts of the collages you make is that they are playful and you mentioned therapy. I think that usually architects tend to represent things in a very professional and serious way. Do you think this method is something that other people could use as part of their process of design or the representation of a design proposal? KM: I do, I think a lot of people have
9:02 AM - Thesis collage
1:00 PM - Thesis collage
2:41 PM - Thesis collage
8:53 PM - Thesis collage
Kyle, in conversation with Dennis Maher, at his final directed research review - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
used it in the past. It’s tough to explain to people; it’s not highly logical, it’s intuitive. You have to have an attitude where your materials are not so precious. In painting you often know what you are going to paint, and drafting is very calculated stuff, but when I collage, I have to cover over or alter pieces as I go. That can be difficult because you never know when to end. You have to decide when it looks like a finished piece. And then you move on. But you don’t know what’s going to happen at the beginning. That method is difficult for a lot of people – breaking the purity of the drawing or image is difficult.
KM: I recently came across a website; it’s called KooZA/rch. It’s a platform for alternative architectural rendering techniques. There is a lot of collageesque rendering techniques that I like to pull from when I am doing digital representations. I think there is a nostalgia, and tactility that comes with these types of renderings that you don’t get from the hyper-realistic renderings. Those are overly focused on being sleek and polished. MB: Some of them are kind of fantasylike, misty, and shiny. KM: Yes, overly misty and shiny. It’s just
not the way life is. There is going to be a chip or defect on that foundation. There is going to be a hobo in your lobby. Time is going to take effect on your architecture. I think these are more honest to that idea. This style is becoming more popular, and we are slowly moving away from the hyper-realistic renderings. CREDITS STUDENT: Kyle McMindes, M.Arch. THESIS COMMITTEE: Dennis Maher and Beth Tauke
Exterior rendered elevation of AquaShell
Interior rendering of AquaShellâ€™s pool space
“The elegance of a swimmer’s technique and form can be recognized in the building’s section...” AQUASHELL John Wightman From an extensive study of gridshell designs, AquaShell relies on the combination of two structural systems that create a space for an Olympic pool. Similar to the curtain wall at Hayden Planetarium (James Polshek, 2000), the gridshell system relies on the form displayed in the glazing system. The curtain wall forms concave shapes over public circulation to invite spectators in the main competition space while maintaining a transparency to the surrounding building context. It is imperative the transparency of the glazing system allow the gridshell to create a feeling of open and light space. From its definition, AquaShell uses a four-lathed, wooden gridshell system that molds itself to the structure of the glazing system. The elegance of a swimmer’s technique and form can be recognized in the building’s section which helps accent the natural and physical components of competitive swimming. By relying on the transparency of the glazing system, the gridshell appears to float over its spectators. To protect the space from outside conditions, a clamping and rail system was developed for each intersection
point on the shell. From this system, inflated ETFE panels are installed at every opening, creating a quilted, bubbled fenestration attached to the two systems. The ETFE protects the inside conditions, while creating a ‘rippling pattern’ on a rather complex form. To further emphasize the feeling of lightness and openness, the ETFE panels are clear, which allow outside light to flood the space. This also gives the exterior a specific aesthetic while approaching it from the neighboring context. In order for the facility to adjust to its new surroundings, Masten Park (its proposed site in Buffalo, New York) will continue to consume a majority of its site boundaries. To emphasize the building’s material palette, Crimson Maple trees are placed throughout the park, inviting the public to the facility while revealing the building’s context once on site. The design of a man-made system longs for a cohesive relationship to another natural system. Through the bending and shaping of wood, metal and glazing, the form finds a home amongst the maples. The Fabric Structures Association (FSA), a division of the Industrial Fabrics
Association International (IFAI), awarded AquaShell 2nd place in the 2016 Fabric Structures Design Challenge. CREDITS STUDENT: John Wightman, M.Arch. / MFA in Media Studies FACULTY: Nicholas Bruscia COURSE: Independent Study, Fall 2015
Side view of “Designing with Forces”
â€œTensile member is deformed under the force...â€? DESIGNING WITH FORCES Iryna Goroshko
The natural ability of the sand to organize itself under gravitational forces into spherical shapes helps one visually understand the flow of forces in the granular system. For this experiment in tensile structure, I was trying to use the process of sand drainage to influence the form of a tensile membrane. The selfformation process of sand is influencing the tension in the membrane above, and creates a beautiful correlation between the two. The released weight of the sand through the funnels below applies tension to the membrane. Choreography of the form (understanding process and the mutual dependencies of both shapes) is achieved through repeated experimentation. The tensile member is deformed under the force applied at the release points by the weight of the sand. The amount of force equals the amount of stress applied onto the fabric surface. Further exploration of self-found shapes creates an intriguing output that could further lead to a design approach. Taking this into account, it is possible to envision a pavilion which combines two substances like soil and fabric in order to create structure.
Final review with visiting critic, Professor Brady Peters from the University of Toronto - Photograph by Alex J. Becker
The semester concluded with a collective final review where students presented their work to faculty and visiting critics. Work from several other students have been included to represent the Situated Technologies studio more holistically.
CREDITS STUDENT: Iryna Goroshko, M.Arch. FACULTY: Nicholas Bruscia COURSE: Form Finding and Designing with Forces, Fall 2016 RESEARCH GROUP: Situated Technologies
“The natural ability of the sand to organize itself under gravitational forces into spherical shapes helps one visually understand the flow of forces...”
“The natural ability of the sand to organize itself under gravitational forces into spherical shapes, helps one visually understand the flow of forces in the granular system.”
Top view of “Designing with Forces” by Iryna Goroshko
Model by Jiaqi Yu - Photograph by Alex J. Becker
Model by Zhicheng Zhang
Situated Technologies Final Review Fall 2016 - Photograph by Alex J. Becker
Model by Germania Garzon
Models by Germania Garzon - Photograph by Alex J. Becker
Interior view of Humble Spirit
Exterior view of Humble Spirit
“The resulting construction was an exploration into temporary and reactionary architecture...” HUMBLE SPIRIT Lemma Al-Ghanem and Ashwini Karve
Phragmities Australis is a common invasive plant found on the side of the road across the East Coast. It is a long, beautiful, fur-like plant at the end of a tall reed that, because of the ecological problems it poses, is commonly discarded. The prompt for the seminar was to look closely at a material of our choosing and discover its hidden properties and potential. Through weeks of research, we performed many tests in which we changed the makeup of the plant itself by crushing it or mixing it with different solutions. In the end, however, we found that the best answer was allowing the plant to retain the natural properties to which we were attracted in the first place. We started with a process of tying the plant to itself, end to tip, which resulted in a long rope. We then placed the reeds upright on rigid foam to generate the structure. The rope of phragmities was then woven through the reeds and some of the lengths were occasionally tied to the reed itself. The result was a large circular structure which allowed the panicles of the plant to flow freely in the wind. The structure allowed us to imagine the form taking other shapes
CREDITS STUDENT: Lemma Al-Ghanem, M.Arch. and Ashwini Karve, M.Arch. FACULTY: Stephanie Davidson COURSE: Elemental Materials, Fall 2016 RESEARCH GROUP: Material Culture
The photograph of the Phragmites australis is from the following website: http://www.metropolismag.com/Point-ofView/July-2015/The-High-and-Mighty-Phragmites/
– and scales – depending on the reed distribution. Since we chose to work with a natural material, we were faced with thinking about the decomposition of it over time. The resulting construction was an exploration into temporary and reactionary architecture. When working with a material as humble as Phragmities, its eventual decay becomes an integral part in understanding its inhabitation. Over time, the panicles fly away and the reeds and plant stems fall and decompose into the earth.
Above: This model represents the student’s final house project. The final project rests on the plywood site drawing Below: This plywood drawing was later used as a site for the design project. It was created using both digital and analog methods (i.e., carving, etching, drawing, and applying physical layers)
Above: This drawing is a section of the student’s final house project. The drawing utilizes a mixture of drafting and rendering techniques to achieve its affect
Above: This drawing is a section perspective of the student’s house project. The drawing utilizes a mixture of drafting and rendering techniques to achieve its affect
Below: This drawing is a plan of the student’s house project. The drawing utilizes a mixture of drafting and rendering techniques to achieve its affect
Below: This drawing is an elevation obligue of the student’s final house project. A mixture of drafting and rendering techniques was used to achieve its affect
“This project was a study of the relationship between figure and field through axonometric drawing...” DESIGN THROUGH REPRESENTATIONAL EXPLORATION Nicholas Wheeler Design through Representational Exploration began with photographing the façade of a local church, and cropping two 12”x 12” photos to focus on a fieldlike composition, and exchanging one of the two photographs with a studio-mate. The pair of photos was then used as a set of information from which to create a space through isometric drawing. The line work from that isometric drawing was reproduced in AutoCAD and laser cut onto a 20”x 30” piece of ¾” plywood. Next the plywood was split in two, and one half was exchanged with another studio-mate. The new pair was then mended through the addition and subtraction of material in order to create a complete wood relief drawing. A 6” isometric cubic section of the original axonometric drawing was then cropped and modeled with wood at a 2:1 scale. The wood relief drawing was then used as a site, and the edges of the axonometric cube were conceptually folded up to create a cut plane and threshold plane. The wood model was then placed on the site, cut, repositioned, and remodeled to enhance the special qualities of that model.
At this point a client was introduced, and with her came program. The model was to become a home for a librarian with an alter ego of a David Bowie impersonator. Finally, the resultant design was represented through a set of drawings. This project was a study of the relationship between figure and field through axonometric drawing. While constantly moving back and forth between figure and field foci, the axonometric drawing was used to create, recombine, transform, and represent space. The semester concluded with a collective final review where students from each studio toured faculty and critics around a series of spaces. At each station the students each took turns presenting concepts and strategies of the studio. Each space was full of student projects from each representational exploration. CREDITS STUDENT: Nicholas Wheeler, B.S.Arch. FACULTY: Dennis Maher (Coordinator), Karen Tashjian, Matthew Hume TA(s): Micaela Barker, John Costello, Kyle McMindes, Kenzie McNamara, Brandon Stone, Anahita Aliasgarian COURSE: Freshman Design Studio, Spring 2016
Cropped version of hand-drafted axonometric rendering
Freshman final review - Photographs by Kassandra Hazlehurst
Freshman final review - Photographs by Kassandra Hazlehurst
“It is not an object. It is a complex organism, consisting of experiences, collaborations and dialogue...” 114
THE SECRET WORLD OF THE CABINET MAKER Ashwini Karve in collaboration with course members Within each of the cabinet’s components, the Cabinet Maker hid a letter addressed to his wife. These notes served as a record of each fragment’s construction, as well as the emotions that he had felt for his wife at that moment in time. The Woman discovered the fragments, along with the letters, shortly after her husband passed away. She took these fragments and attempted to recreate her memory of him, using his memories of her, to finish what he started. A hundred and thirty-two years later, a group of apprentice cabinet makers stumble upon this memory of a memory. The fragments were the Cabinet Maker’s memories of his wife. The Cabinet we found was her memory of him. Our interaction and experiences are our memories lived through theirs. CREDITS STUDENT: Ashwini Karve, M.Arch. TEAM: Shuiping Xiong, Kenzie McNamara, Mark Brooks, Ryan Grace, Adam McCullough, Blake Kane, Lemma Al-Ghanem, Natalie Lis, Kamillah Ramos, Alyssa Bennett, Ali Elhaddad, Quincy Koczka, Crystal Schmoger FACULTY: Dennis Maher COURSE: Cabinets, Cabinets, Cabinets!, Fall 2016 RESEARCH GROUP: Material Culture
Mixed-media cabinet collage
To my love, Now that you have passed on, I sort through your belongings, searching for comfort in my darkest hour. Today, I found myself in your workshop, staring at the fragments of your life’s work. The incomplete cabinet. For the first time, I ventured to explore the contents of each impeccably crafted
As I approach, a door emboldens me to pass through—enticing me with its fractures. The door meets a stair which is too small to
ascend. To my left is a perplexing form which,
Therein, I found the letters you had left for me...Each with its own
advance, tilt my body forward, and lower myself
expression of love. Each extolling the beauty of our ever-evolving
somehow, seems familiar. Is it a chair? I inside…
I cannot help but imagine how you would have made these pieces whole…How you would have resolved the differences among so many incongruous parts… To console myself at this time, I have decided to respectfully complete the cabinet. Its construction is the last kind act that you can give to me, and I to you. Your care and your dedication are surrounding me in pieces. I will build it for us.
Innumerable boxes, knobs and posts surround me. Pieces, incomplete: a landscape of furniture ruins. What has happened here? I move around what once may have been a desk. I run my hand along a wooden arm and swivel a hinge.
To my love, Today the cabinet is nudging me. Its wood is scratching at my skin. It is whispering to me. Have I done something wrong to you? So much destruction and reconfiguration... One must tread carefully when confronting the livingness of objects. When the dust and the hands of making have receded, will the cabinet be settled? In its solitude, will it find rest? Or will it always be nudging me, trying to tell me more?
Turning the corner, I encounter an
Why has this cabinet occupied me? To build is to protect. Protect
assemblage of patterns and screens. The
from the elements, protect from others, protect from the world
stained wood turns to lace in my hand.
memory of vines entices; the reality of
beyond ourselves. A defined space is a form of protection from ambiguity. Protection is also a form of presentation. We preserve ourselves and objects in a bid to later offer them to the world. We are protected until the moment of our reveal.
To my love, For those who see this cabinet as an object, I am sorry. It is not an object. It is a complex organism, consisting of experiences, collaborations and dialogue. I wish we could invite the whole world inside. Then it would become clear that this cabinet is a village. Each connection, joint and detail is part of a community. Its best evidence is your own experience within it. You
My hands shake from having touched your marks. My vision is hazy, I perceive a small stage. Upon the stage, you and I
will never have known our language but you would have opened
are acting out our scene. Our movements
filigree, dancing and acting in the
follow the patterns of wood grain and cabinet’s innermost theater.
To my love, I keep thinking about foundations. I have spent an eternity in the bottom of the cabinet, where all the connections touch the ground. I have built a pedestal, a bench, a structural support, and a platform. I have pushed and pulled and raised. I have been struck by the resistance of the top to engage the bottom…As if the base has no value. And yet, when the cabinet is made, it shall be the base that will be relied upon when all else
The curtain is drawn back. Beyond the threshold, open drawers stack one upon the next. Accruing as steps, they extend to the highest reaches of the cabinet.
fails… We are adding doors and windows and framing and stairs and walls, and with each enclosure we open another view. Suddenly, sitting on the edge, looking up, is a possibility. Every opening is our surprise. Every hiding is our opportunity. The stair continues to unfold before me. I
To my love, Cabinet is room, cabinet is cave, cabinet is safety for our secrets. As we grow together, we are exposed to our greatest insecurities
can see the canopy getting closer now. The crowning moment becomes heavy and large. I cannot bear the weight. I turn my gaze upon the fragments below.
and to the idiosyncratic natures of one another and ourselves. The most treasured aspects of our common existence are forever bound here. Cabinet is closed, hidden, obscured. Let us observe one another and learn. What are we each hiding?
Mixed-media cabinet collage
To my love, Peeling away the layers of inlay, I found brush strokes within the glue, the traces of past hands. When did this take place? Of what ingredients was the binder made? As I scraped and sanded and exposed the surface, I could see why it had been covered. Large knots were visible, the
A niche glows faintly. Inside, grainy images construct an archive of the cabinet’s own memory.
wood was something to hide. I proceeded to intervene. Three layers of blackness. I applied the shellac and closed the lid. Hopefully another will have the experience of a reveal. 118
To my love, These drawers have become my residence. I find it comforting inside, but I should build outward so that new memories can be made… Every day there are more walls surrounding me and more screws pinning me in place. A scaffold protrudes into my headspace and I must now duck when I work. It has become noisy here in my drawers. I want to keep
A wall collapses into a book and I step across the spine.
making smaller compartments, places to house our precious gifts and images. Places to store away our peace.
To my love, At the moment we joined each other, these fragments began to
The binding of the pages is fraying. The letters are escaping. I want to show you what you would not see without me. Frames. We have framed the space inside ourselves. I
make sense. Who are we, and what is our cabinet, without
thought I was alone in the workshop today.
my name being called in the distance. I
When the piece of a desk found its niche below the edge of a drawer and began to converse with the slice of a chair, I saw
Then the light entered just right. I heard approached what appeared to be a door. A door like no other I have encountered. The door met a stair which was too small to ascend…
clearly. My hands, bruised from negotiating the fragments, no longer endeavored to find. Newly discovered relationships filled their own voids. The voids will be given names and will be filled with more objects and with our memories—our moving eyes and hands.
Final cabinet construction at final review - Photograph by Alexander J. Becker
“The enhanced strength of wood through bending allowed individual members to remain thin and light...” 120
THE ULTRALIGHT Elizabeth Gilman The Ultralight is a proposal for a Maritime Center for Buffalo, NY. The themes advanced upon in this design were derived from its predeceasing boat project. This proposal was driven by three main ideas: utilizing and expressing the natural beauty and strength of bent wood, creating a rich and organic aesthetic, and developing an interdependency between frames. A sandwiching system, developed through Japanese precedent, and the enhanced strength of wood through bending allowed individual members to remain thin and light. This system was used to create a module that curved in both plan and section, which repeated to create two rows of bays. Manipulating these curves manipulated the spaces within, allowing them to grow or shrink in accordance to the programmatic requirements. A big step in this process was incorporating the compressed wood provided by the company, The Extreme Wood Bending Company. The material they provide is extremely flexible while retaining its structural capacity. A relationship grew not only between the bay and its inter-spatial counterpart, but between their respective cladding systems. Due to the density of the
The semester uniquely began with each studio constructing a boat that would act as the precedent for each student’s Maritime Center proposal. Each of the studio teams raced the boats after their construction was complete. Each student used the structural logic of the boat to influence their development of a design proposal. CREDITS
The beginning construction of the studio boat
primary structure, the secondary, lateral structure was able to be thinned. This developed into the idea of lightness/ floating versus something very grounded. A translucent, light material would cover this secondary structural system to provide ambient lighting, overall creating an airy, light atmosphere while countering the wooden cladding of the primary structure. Ultimately, all of these qualities created large, flexible spaces; a rich atmosphere; a natural aesthetic suitable for a healthy and comfortable working environment.
STUDENT: Elizabeth Gilman, B.S.Arch. BOAT TEAM: Elizabeth Gilman, Craig Brozowski, Rabeeha Tahir, Lukas Fetzko, Ning Ding, Hongtao Zheng, Yindi Gong, Raymond Hanley, Jarrett Trudeau, Jerrely Gomez, Emily Minkowitz, Ryan Olsen. FACULTY: Christopher Romano TEACHING TEAM: Kenneth MacKay (Coordinator), Bryce Sanders, Julia Jamrozik, Stephanie Cramer, Harry Warren. COURSE: Junior Design Studio, Fall 2016
Interior rendering of The Ultralight
Wooden model of The Ultralight
Studio team at the day of the boat launch and race - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
Each studio boat exhibited for Atelier week
“I thought, because a boat isn’t a building it is a really interesting thing to start with... ” Interview with Elizabeth Gilman, Lukas Fetzko, Jarrett Trudeau, Rabeeha Tahir, and Ning Ding Micaela Barker: What were some of the reactions that you had after learning about the boat building assignment? Lukas Fetzko: I was really excited and thought that it was such an unusual thing to do in an architecture studio. We had heard about the culture and idea of making in the school, but as freshman we didn’t do the full scale build or any build (laughs). I thought, because a boat isn’t a building, it is a really interesting thing to start with; and I was wondering where it could possibly go from there. Elizabeth Gilman: I remember thinking, “how do we make an original boat?” I think it is funny that our studio turned out to have the most nontraditional method of construction. Jarrett Trudeau: Right, because boats have already been figured out. We were trying to come up with something different and new that hasn’t been done before. MB: Right, engineers can make a boat float much better than an architect can (laughs). EG: Yes, architects are looking to make a different kind of boat (laughs). One that’s more interestingly formal and spatial. MB: Can you describe the process that you went through to come up with
the final design for the boat? JT: Each one of us came up with a couple of different ideas and then we ended up picking three of them from the whole studio. We tried to perfect those three ideas further. We ended up deciding on Ning Ding’s because hers was most interesting. EG: Yes, it presented a bigger challenge than the other options. LF: We were all smitten with Ning’s model – we all kept coming back to it. It was too good to pass up, and Chris was supportive of our decision. He said using this design could be difficult, but it also could be extremely rewarding. EG: Yes, this one required more research and design. MB: So you split up into groups. How many times did you have to build the boat to figure out the form of it? LF: Most of the models were at a smaller scale. Most of the full scale stuff we did was testing out materials. I was in the material group with a couple of people, and we looked at different woods and different kinds of ways of cladding. All of those were done at full-scale. Planning the curves was at a smaller scale, so across the board we were working back and forth. We communicated extremely well with each other. We were all in our
Early construction of studio boat
Weaving the boat together
groups, but we all had to work together. EG: The cladding was the biggest issue from start to finish, and I don’t think we figured it out until the final frame where we just had to try something. We just came up with an idea and went for it. I think we tried it a different way; so even at full scale, it was trial and error. We tried using a Rhino surface, exploding it and cutting it out, but that didn’t work. It was too specific; and the frame we made wasn’t perfect, so we ended up making templates on the spot. That’s why so many people were working on it at a time. One person was measuring out the template, while someone went and cut it; and other people were drilling, and as people were drilling, other people were tying it and so it was a big chain. MB: The boat seems woven. Is that actually the case or is something else going on? JT: We had the frame first, and each panel was custom cut. Rabeeha Tahir: While we were doing cladding studies, we were working on a small scale to begin with and gluing pieces onto the frame. The first thing we did at full scale was nail down the cladding to the frame, but that didn’t work because the frame was organic. EG: We decided to go back to one of our precedents – Native Americans building a canoe. It was the most flexible. All of the cladding is actually tied on. LF: We didn’t use any hardware on the project. The framing is laminated with steam-bent wood to make the three primary frames that we lashed together with rope. We had these two ends that overlapped with a keel in the middle, so we attached it at each end and then physically pulled the two together; and people were freaking out that it was going to break (laughs). The keel was physically bending in tension, and we tied off each end. RT: One of my favorite moments was when we had six or seven people holding
the frame together from different sides. EG: I think Lukas and Craig were in it; pushing on it. You could hear it creaking. LF: All of the cladding pieces overlap slightly, and there is rope going in between each piece. We had this idea that all the components needed to be connected, all of them tied together to the frame. EG: As we were tying the cladding on you could hear the frame tightening up as well. Everytime we tightened it, you would hear a creak as we pulled it together. LF: It was a reactive process. We had a plan and then it didn’t work, so we almost needed to let the boat make the decisions for us (laughs). MB: Right, how much time did you have again? LF: It was about three weeks. EG: Actually, we wrote out an estimated time that we each put into the boat and it was over 400 hours collectively. It might have been more because we had six people working on it at a time for the entire day, everyday, for three weeks. We would be here late because we didn’t always have to work in the shop; but when we didn’t need the shop, we would still work on it until one in the morning sometimes. LF: The whole process was organic in terms of communication. People intuitively knew that “oh, I need to help this person with this.” We sort of had to do it one piece at a time; so when we built the frame, everyone worked on the frame. When we did the cladding, everyone worked on every part of the construction together. MB: Do you think the design had anything to do with people’s investment in the boat? EG: I think everyone was excited and wanted to make this work and then also, other studios were kind of like, “oh, that’s not going to work,” and we were like, “we’re going to make it work.” MB: Right, tell me about the
Applying the waterproof lining to the boat’s interior
competition experience? EG: Yes, we hoped that we would win the race, but we knew from the beginning that we wouldn’t (laughs). LF: If we could have made it more waterproof, I am confident we would have done well in the race. JT: It didn’t tip at all. EG: Yes, it didn’t tip, it just sank (laughs). LF: It technically didn’t sink because it just filled with water but didn’t sink below the surface. It was a great boat before all of the water came in (laughs). MB: What were some of the successes and challenges you faced as you built the boat or as you were heading into the racing event? EG: I felt that everything was a challenge which made the reward of finishing better. I feel more rewarded with what we came up with than I would have felt winning the race with a different boat. We all worked so well together, and the end product was well worth the challenges and frustration. LF: Yes, I think the actual event was less stressful. We knew going in that we were going to have issues. I think there were other teams that had more functional “boats.” EG: Watching other boats tip, not that it gave me joy, but it just made me feel a little better.
Student skippers (left to right): Craig Brozowski, Natalie Harack, Gavin Reeb, Allie Volungus, Max Dembling, and Jack Wakeley is still at the starting line - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
Craig Brozowski finishing the boat race despite much adversity - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
LF: I wish we had another day to make it fully watertight. There were these specific corners where it didn’t overlap well (the burlap). That is literally the only place where the water was coming in. MB: Did the professors get involved in “boating” that day? JT: Christopher Romano went in our boat that day, and I think he was the first one to go in. Kenneth MacKay went in as well. EG: I know Stephanie Cramer wanted to, but she had to teach media later. RT: I think Chris was pretty eager to get involved. EG: He never made us feel bad for failing. At one of our preliminary reviews, everyone had to present in the shop. For the most part we had a frame, and I remember feeling like we weren’t at the place that we should be. Chris was like, “no, this is awesome,” and then he bought us coffee and donuts (laughs). Ning Ding: I still remember the three days before we tried the boat on the river. We came back to studio and were so sad because we didn’t know how to do the cladding. Chris talked about having confidence, and then we started to feel like we could work out all the issues. MB: So you had to take this boat project and design a building. Did you find that drawing inspiration from the boat was difficult or did it feel natural? EG: When we were moving into developing structural systems for our building, I remember having to turn and look back on the structural concepts of the boat. Our boat had such strong ideas, it was easy to pull those ideas from the boat and turn it into a project. RT: There was so much to take away from the boat, everyone took something different. JT: You would think that the thirteen of us with the same precedent would have similar projects, but we didn’t because we had so much to work with. LF: That happened studiowide actually.
Chris kept saying, “Look back at the boat.” He understood that the boat was our way of finding answers to the questions we had about the whole project. The clarity, not necessarily the simplicity, because it wasn’t simple. But the structural and conceptual clarity of the boat allowed us to move forward. We physically put the boat together, so we knew the structure very well. MB: That sounds like a beneficial way to teach students about structure. I think it’s great that you physically built something that you were then forced to design with because you understood how it worked. You didn’t have to go searching for how your structural elements related, it was already there in the boat. I think that is what a lot of students often struggle with, how their structural elements join together. Do you have any ideas about how this studio could improve going forward? How would you critique the project as a whole? EG: I think the studio was successful. The one part that was most confusing to me was when we first transitioned from boat to building – we had to do three structural wall sections. You hear wall section and immediately think of something very technical. I thought of stereotypical two-by-four construction. LF: Yes, I would say the transition from boat to building was the most difficult for us to make because initially we had a million different ideas of where we could take it. That was definitely a struggle for everyone. LF: I like the idea of using some kind of artifact and translating it into architecture. I, of course, think it has to be something that is very tectonic and spatial. The boat was a rich and visible representation of structure and space. It showed us that seemingly mundane things could be perceived as architectural. MB: The interlock project from freshman year is similar. It is more simple, but you have a specific group of structural
relationships out of which you build a larger system. It is an interesting strategy where you make an artifact and then scale up, instead of tackling the larger scale all at once. EG: I also think it is a good way for everyone in the studio to get involved in one project. With the boat it felt like everyone did an agreeable share of work because the boat would not have been completed otherwise. Everyone learns and benefits from it. LF: There is this idea of isolation that sometimes gets associated with design – one architect and he or she is in control of the entire process. Forcing people to collaborate, compromise, and discuss was really successful, I thought. You begin to think more collectively about things. MB: I also think having the same precedent helps you to understand its conceptual nature more clearly because you can talk to others about it and watch people build off of those same concepts differently. It allows for the opportunity to be helpful to each other. LF: Yes, there was empathy in terms of understanding what kind of issues people were dealing with.
Studio boat during construction process - Photograph by Maryanne Schultz
“The semester uniquely began with each studio constructing a boat that would act as the precedent for each student’s Maritime Center proposal...”
INTER VIEW 130
“We wanted to send a message to students that you shouldn’t just constantly complain to your peers...” Graduate Planning Student Association Survey Enjoli Hall, President of the GPSA and Jared Parylo, Secretary of the GPSA Micaela Barker: Why did you feel it was necessary to develop and distribute a survey to the MUP students? Enjoli Hall: Based on our own experiences in the program and conversations with students from other years, we felt like students had the same concerns over and over again. Particularly this past fall with the new cohort of MUP students. Almost immediately into the semester, we again started hearing the same concerns. So we started thinking about how we can convey these concerns in a more formal way. We wanted to do it in a more official way and document what students were saying, align those comments with the expected outcomes of the program, and measure it up against that intended outcome. Jared Parylo: Yep, and there are course evaluations but nobody sees those or does anything with that information, at least it feels that way. EH: That’s a good point because even some of the concerns weren’t unique to a particular course, and an evaluation might not capture the fact that the same course, regardless of the professor teaching it, is not doing well year after year.
JP: There isn’t any accountability tied to the evaluations but with a survey that has tangible results we hope, especially to a planning program, that would mean something. MB: Yeah, we never see evaluation data. JP: I talked to the people who are responsible for administering the course evaluations, and I couldn’t get any of the aggregated data. I think that’s a problem. It would be interesting to know who has access to it and where it goes and what it gets used for. It feels locked away, but people should know. It would be a great way to track our progress and pitfalls. EH: We wanted to send a message to students that you shouldn’t just constantly complain to your peers – think about how to communicate concerns in a more formalized way. I found that in some conversations I was having with faculty that they don’t have a sense of what goes on in other courses. They were surprised to learn things that I thought were common knowledge about particular core courses. I was sharing issues that are well known by students – almost to the point of a joke – with a faculty member that has been here for at least ten
years and they had no idea. MB: Who was primarily involved in the development of the survey and what was the process of development? JP: Eamon Riley and I wrote it, but we all came up with some categories which were Skills, Concepts, and General. We broke it down into subcategories relating to those larger categories. It’s pretty straightforward. We wanted to keep it simple so we could get a high response rate. We talked as a group about what we had been hearing from students and then thought together about what we would be interested in learning – the technical knowledge of certain programs, research skills, real estate development concepts, zoning concepts, and so on. EH: We hosted a sort of town hall meeting to provide students with an opportunity to share their concerns, but the meeting was not well attended. Since we couldn’t get other students to come, we just kept meeting as an officer team about these things. So we not only pulled the information from students but also job postings that we were receiving from the department. We started noticing things like “oh, all of these job postings have a request for skills in GIS or other design programs” and also thinking about the Planning Accreditation Board and their categories of skills for entry level planners. Also, the AICP has broad categories of knowledge that you have to demonstrate competency in. So that’s also how we created the categories for the survey. MB: Did you consult with any professors or other people who weren’t students in order to finalize the questions or is that something you did on your own? EH: We didn’t do that for time’s sake. I think we really wanted to make sure we
got it out pretty quickly. We didn’t feel like the people we wanted to reach out to would be able to invest the time. JP: I think this was the most convenient way to reach out, because when you invite people to meetings, no one comes. This was distributed through email – it was the most inclusive and accessible thing we could do. We got thirty-nine responses. EH: I think there are something like seventy MUP students. MB: Thirty-nine is pretty good. EH: Yes, and in terms of a response rate, a disproportionate amount of responses were from the first year MUP students. I was surprised. I expected older students in the program to have a stronger will to share their opinions. MB: I did notice in my own dealings with the first year MUP students that a lot of them were verbalizing a lot of frustration. It makes sense to me that they all turned out for the survey. It’s interesting that even under the new curriculum, there is still a lot of frustration. EH: I do get the impression that, when comparing the cohort that is going to graduate in May with the new cohort, I think that the second year cohort has more students that were part of the environmental design major or architecture. The new cohort seems to have more students that are coming from other majors or outside of UB. JP: Yes, I get that impression too, but those things aren’t consistently tracked. EH: The reason I bring that up is that, in conversations we have had with students who did environmental design, they feel like the frustrations are nothing new and they anticipated them coming into the program. They have already had these professors; and in some cases, they have had to take the exact same classes a second
time. Whereas the new cohort was more unfamiliar with the program, which is why they were maybe expressing stronger opinions. MB: What were some findings that were expected in the data and what were some that were surprising for you? EH: My biggest finding was related to what might be considered a flaw in how we designed the survey. Even though there is language at the beginning of the survey that says that students should respond based on their experience in the MUP program, I think maybe that language should have been more consistently repeated. The problem with this is that some people may have certain knowledge in a particular area already, before coming into the planning program. I was surprised at some of the data because many of the comments we get from students about not knowing Adobe programs or not learning about issues of inequity was not as starkly reflected in the survey as I would have expected. JP: The Adobe programs question was one of the places where students were responding consistently, “strongly disagree.” We expected that but we expected it to be a bit more. I only had one class that required me to use a design program in the MUP program. MB: The people that have used the programs are the people who are in the urban design and architecture programs. EH: I was surprised there wasn’t a strong disparity when it came to the question of inequity. There was also a strong disparity when it came to the real estate question about the curriculum. MB: Yes, the answers for the questions related to affecting the economy and understanding the process of real estate both were mostly
“strongly disagree.” EH: We expected that too. JP: I think that for the question about public participation, people felt that they felt mildly comfortable with the process because they have observed it but that is different from being able to set it up, organize it, and make sure it’s successful. That was what we were asking, but it was hard to convey that in the survey. MB: The average response for each question was in the “neither agree nor disagree” category, which sort of means that everyone feels ambivalent. EH: I think that could be related to both how the questions are worded and the students not knowing about what is expected of an entry level planner. MB: I found the data on whether or not students feel connected to opportunities to utilize their planning degree kind of surprising. The majority of students were in the “neutral” to “strongly disagree” area of response. EH: I think that also speaks to a challenge that we have informally discussed that a lot of the planning faculty are trained as researchers and may not have much experience practicing. JP: Unless professors already have some experience practicing in the public or private sector, I think it’s challenging to expect them to set you up with skills that are appropriate for the professional environment. MB: Have you presented the data to the planning faculty yet? EH: We did present the survey itself to the department chair, Professor Sternberg. We didn’t present the results yet, but did run them by him. He had to give us permission to even be able to present it at the faculty meeting. JP: I hope someone realizes that it shouldn’t fall on the GPSA to be doing this or tracking student responses. We
didn’t have to do this, and there is no guarantee that it will be done next year. It’s not difficult to do, but I hope they realize that this is an important thing and that it could become useful to track the results from semester to semester, or year to year. EH: We recognize that with the recent reforms to the curriculum that they are taking some steps to address some of these issues. For example, it’s required now for students to take GIS under the new curriculum and students are also taking two studios now instead of one. We realize they are addressing some of these concerns that students have conveyed to them. We also want faculty to know that if there are changes to be made, we know it is not just the faculty’s responsibility. The students are also responsible for making change. Students, when presented with opportunities to take a tutorial on a design program, often don’t do it. So some people say there are no opportunities, but I don’t see those same people going after the opportunities that are presented to them. Some students’ attitudes towards their own course work is not that serious from my perspective. So I don’t know how to have that conversation with students or what type of initiative would be good to help that. MB: You mentioned previously that GPSA has gone to faculty meetings before. Is that something you are still doing? Is it always the same people each time? EH: One of our board member’s title is “Faculty-Student Liaison” and that is Eamon Riley. The department has extended an invitation for both he and I to go. I think it is important for students to be there, and the department has been really good about communicating with us. MB: Do you feel like your presence
at the meeting is productive? Do you participate in the conversations? EH: I think the topics discussed at the meetings are really important for students to hear. They talk about enrollment issues, financial issues, proposed changes to the curriculum, and so on. I am personally reluctant to talk at those meetings. I am not sure if I am supposed to say anything, but Eamon doesn’t feel reluctant. I think that is my own personal feeling of not being comfortable. I think it is definitely beneficial for students. MB: There is only one student organization in the planning department, right? EH: To my knowledge, yes. We have talked about this, too, how there are different types of cultures in the architecture and planning departments. It seems like the students in the architecture department feel more comfortable talking with professors informally and sharing concerns. The planning department seems more rigid. There is a tone of super professionalism and formalism that pervades everything, and I think that makes it even more important for us to have a student organization. MB: Do you think that’s partially why the student knowledge and opinion of certain classes and professors stayed in the student realm for so long? You’re right, there is a looser, first-name-basis attitude in the architecture department. I have to remind myself sometimes when I am sending an email to make sure I address planning professors more formally instead of just writing their first name like I would with an architecture professor. EH: Yeah, some of them get really mad if you don’t address them. JP: It may go back to the discussion about research and how people consider themselves esteemed
researchers and demand a certain kind of respect. Where I think architecture professors, even though they are highly regarded, they don’t always demand a title. I don’t know of any architecture professors that need to be called professor, doctor, something – even if they are professor, doctor, something. EH: I think the issue is twofold. Students are already nervous about approaching faculty; but then when you do approach them, they get really defensive. JP: That has been recognized by more than just students – I have heard that from faculty, too. I think that barrier doesn’t allow for progress and change. I think that is something that needs to be acknowledged. It can’t just be a student initiative or just an administration or faculty initiative. It has to be everyone trying to come together to make some kind of change. It has to be consistent year to year. We had that problem with GPSA where there were no records of anyone doing anything, so we had to start from scratch year after year. If you can slip into someone else’s progress and take what their doing and use it, like the survey, you will be better off. EH: It’s really, really hard to get students to be involved or even come to GPSA meetings. JP: Which goes back to the job application opportunities, we have so many things that have been emailed out. Recently, Professor Sternberg sent out an email saying that no one has applied for a particular opportunity. MB: In order to improve the relationship between faculty and students there may need to be a shift on both ends. Can you think of anything, besides faculty meetings, that would help student-faculty interactions? EH: I think orientation is really a
missed opportunity, and we briefly talked with Sternberg about working more closely with faculty to redesign an orientation program. Some students say that the research centers are really inaccessible. No one knows what goes on in them or how students can get involved. During orientation, each of the research centers could make a brief presentation on what it is they do and how students can get involved. That could increase the feeling of accessibility. MB: That’s a really good point. EH: I just have this overall feeling about the planning department, that it isn’t very collaborative or interactive. With the studios, we could create final reviews that are open to everybody so each studio could present work to the rest of the school. It could be an acknowledgement and celebration of the work that was done. Students aren’t required to present their final MUP projects, but there could be a forum where each student presents and maybe there is an award at graduation given for the best project. JP: I think we are indirectly talking about the separation between architecture and planning. We are in the same building and the same “school” but we don’t talk to each other. It’s bizarre and limiting. I have talked to people from dual-degree programs at other schools, and it happens at other places, not just here. I think it is just that people are set in their ways and unwilling to collaborate. I think it’s good that there are faculty members who work in both departments and professions. You would think that the culture would increasingly improve, but I don’t see that yet. We also have seen resistance and defensiveness when we try to talk about that fact. There is an aura of defensiveness and close-mindedness, and it is against
everything the university stands for. MB: Planning is intended to be a collaborative profession where people are supposed to feel comfortable to voice their opinion and work together to create a vision. EH: One of the recommendations during Clarkson Week was about how we can change what we do in the school to respond to the presidential election. People were talking really informally and sharing personal anecdotes. Faculty at the meeting expressed that they wanted more meetings of that nature. Dr. Raja suggested a monthly brown-bag lunch where there could be an assigned topic for each meeting or even a reading and faculty could talk about it. It would be open to students as well. I still don’t know exactly what that looks like and I wasn’t totally sold, but I think it would be a great opportunity for faculty and students to talk with each other. MB: The lecture event with john powell was attended by both departments. It was more planning than architecture, obviously, but I thought that was really encouraging. EH: We have had some ArchGSA officers come to our GPSA meetings, and I had the opportunity to attend some of their meetings related to the Beaux Arts Ball planning for Atelier week. I have had the opportunity to interact with architecture students more, and it’s interesting how much information exchange that happens. There is so much that planning students don’t know about the school. There are way more student organizations in architecture and more cultural events. JP: Yeah, don’t we have a studio culture policy (laughs)? EH: I didn’t realize that the Gary Day Award is a student-given award to a professor that they find to be very
effective and well loved. Planning students could start doing that. I thought that would be an interesting way for students to communicate the qualities they appreciate in a faculty member. It is a more positive and celebratory way to convey our thoughts. MB: I am glad you brought up Atelier week – earlier you were talking about celebrating student work. That is exactly what it is designed to do. I don’t know if it has always been only architecture. What I have heard is that it is not exclusively or intentionally only architecture. EH: Some of the posters that were made for the Hayes Hall Reopening ceremony are on the walls and people really like that – some of them are from planning studios. Requiring each studio to produce a poster that could be on display in the school would be really helpful. JP: That relates to technical design programs and making things presentable to the public. EH: We are talking about what we could do for that week. But even with these ideas that we are generating, we have this issue that people don’t want to do the work to actually implement them. We don’t have a lot of support from students – there is a gap between talking and doing. MB: Just to comment on what planners produce. Even in the context of the Competition that we released for Intersight, the amount of submissions from planning versus architecture was greatly imbalanced. Planning was represented by such a small amount. I was hoping that by posting the competition everywhere, emailing the list-serve, using social media and creating the different categories that we would reach people that we couldn’t reach before. We did get some
interesting submissions that would not have been included otherwise, but I wish the planning students submitted more content. The opportunity wasn’t taken advantage of. EH: We aren’t even given assignments that could go in. We don’t really produce things until our final project; but because that is typically in the spring semester, students aren’t always here to submit those projects. JP: I think they are making moves to have more studios, and thus more presentation style material. Not a lot of people are going to take the initiative to make that kind of material on their own. MB: Maybe it will just take time to get the student journal exposed again so that people know in advance that their work could be published if they take the time to do it well.
School of Architecture and Planning ROBERT SHIBLEY, Professor and Dean OMAR KHAN, Associate Professor and Chair – Department of Architecture ERNEST STERNBERG, Professor Chair – Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Craig Alexander, James Allen, So-Ra Baek, Shannon Bassett, Paul Battaglia, Alex Bitterman, Eve Blau (2016 Clarkson Chair in Architecture), Martha Bohm, Nicholas Bruscia, Sean Burkholder, Carl Calabrese, Brian Carter, Alyssa Catlin, Steven Chodoriwsky (2016-17 Peter Reyner Banham Fellow), Stephanie Cramer, Matthew Dates, Stephanie Davidson, Gregory Delaney, Alan Dewart, Stephen Fitzmaurice, Mark Foerster, Kathryn Friedman, Laura Garófalo-Khan, Jordan Geiger, Miguel Guitart, Zoé Hamstead, Hiroaki Hata, Daniel B. Hess, Christopher Hogan, Bradshaw Hovey, Matthew Hume, Joyce Hwang, Julia Jamrozik, Kellena Kane, Bumjoon Kang, Coryn Kempster, Ashima Krishna, Jeffrey Kujawa, Annette LeCuyer, Ang Li (2015-16 Peter Reyner Banham Fellow), V. Jeffrey LiPuma, Kenneth MacKay, Dennis Maher, Jordana Maisel, Adil Mansure, Virginia Melnyck, R.J. Multari, William Murray, Erkin Özay, G. William Page, Jiyoung Park, Alfred Price, Laura Quebral, Georg Rafailidis, Samina Raja, Nicholas Rajkovich, Christopher Romano, Bryce Sanders, Laura Schmitz, Mark Shepard, Michael Silver, Robert Silverman, Nicholas Sinatra, Korydon Smith, Jin Young Song, David Stebbins, Hadas Steiner, Edward Steinfeld, Despina Stratigakos, Karen Tashjian, M. Beth Tauke, Henry Louis Taylor,Jr., Kerry Traynor, Daniel Vrana, Brad Wales, Elizabeth Walsh, Harry Warren, Sue Weidemann, Li Yin
Marion Brush, Corinne Cardy, Barbara Carlson, Holly Cook, Patricia Donhauser, Debra Eggebrecht, Norma Everett, Frida Ferrer, Kathryn Friedman, Jason Hatfield, Matthew Hervan, Robert Hill, Jeffrey Kujawa, Subbiah Mantharam, Bruce Majkowski, Doug McCallum, R.J. Multari, Jessica Naish, Rose Orcutt, Shannon Phillips, Donna Rogalski, Lindsay Romano, Peter Russell, Maryanne Schultz, Samantha Stricklin, Rachel Teaman, Heather Warner
Published on Aug 2, 2018
In recent years, Intersight has focused on generating a comprehensive and descriptive image of the School of Architecture and Planning prima...
Published on Aug 2, 2018
In recent years, Intersight has focused on generating a comprehensive and descriptive image of the School of Architecture and Planning prima...