04/17: 501 Slide Show

Here are the last 5 of the 10 image slide show introduction I gave to my classmates back at the beginning of my first grad school studio. As long as the last three years have felt, these 10 images still seem important. Much of the work has receded in importance, but the themes and ideas have remained.

06 music center

6) Starting where I left off, this project was an investigation in landforms, of merging park and building.

07 music center

7) Another two photos of the model. I love building models and find my projects enriched by the process of making models.

08 Ceilings

8) This ceiling is in the remote village in Algeria, showing an example of the beauty of vernacular architecture.


9) I love the Kasbah of Algiers, and am very interested in old medinas in general.

10 roman ruins

10) This image of Roman ruins in Morocco always reminds me that after the designer walks away, buildings take on a life of their own.


04/16: 501 Reunion

Tonight I had the chance to reconnect with a few classmates and our first grad school studio critic. Our first assignment of grad school, back in Architecture 501, was to set up and present a 10 image slideshow as a means of introducing us to each other. I’ll show my first 5 today and the last 5 tomorrow.

01 chicago

1) The Chicago Federal Center by Mies van der Rohe. This represented the rational and rigid mindset I had when first studying architecture.

02 Plan Iso

2) This hybrid plan/section/isometric view of a meditation space illustrated my interest in drawings able to convey many different points of view.

03 spsd

3) This design/build project represented my introduction to the complete design process, from concept to drawings to construction site.

04 santa caterina

4) A sketch of Miralles/Tagliabue’s Mercat Santa Caterina in Barcelona, representing my love of the city, architect and building.

05 music center

5) The diagram and process work of my favorite project from undergraduate studies.

02/05: Colombia Transformed

This evening PennDesign had an opening for an exhibit focusing on the works of a few young Colombian (men) architects and examples of their civic works, mostly libraries, some athletic facilities, with an odd Chamber of Commerce building to keep things ideologically mixed. The exhibit, which includes photography, process drawings, video and models, is open until February 17th, is worth a peak and can be found in Upper Gallery at the School of Design (the scary looking building at 34th & Walnut in West Philly). This same exhibit was on display at the Center for Architecture in NYC back in July, and has been on tour in other parts of the country.

The preceding pictures are of the Mercedes School, a project designed by Juan Manuel Pelaez and featured in the exhibit, a school funded by a grant from the local utilities consortium and located in the Belen neighborhood of Medellin and about half a mile from my site from last semester. This building was a mystery to me, without any references by the city government website or any geo-location that I could find. This project looked almost tame as part of an exhibit on avant garde Colombian architecture, but from grainy images via Google Earth it looked exotic and a bit bizarre. Context is everything.

2/12/14 Update. The show is still up, and here are a few photos:

DSCF5383 DSCF5384DSCF5385DSCF5382

01/30: Visualizing Roman Cities

Professor Tom Morton of Swarthmore College came to the Penn Museum today to give a talk about his efforts to document and digitally reconstruct Roman settlements in North Africa. He spoke on  Timgad and Carthage, in present day Algeria and Tunisia, respectively. Both sites are UNESCO world heritage sites, and he and his students have modeled portions of both sites using SketchUp. His process uses archaeological data, historic documentation, and some creative thinking to help recreate 3D representations from ruins.

image of Rome reborn project

image of Rome reborn project

image from Wikipedia

image from Wikipedia


image from Wikipedia

image from Wikipedia

The process of digitizing and modeling of both Timgad and Carthage allowed for experimentation with how the city was intended to be seen. For Timgad, questions about the location of the Capitolium and the low number of temples in the forum (only one) were investigated by modeling the important buildings of the settlement and moving around within digital model space to see how these landmarks lined up visually. The process raised a number of interesting questions about how we think of cities today with all manner of technology at our disposal, and how the Romans visualized their plans. In Carthage the location of the main baths in particular and the orientation of many avenues suggest an importance placed on how the city was viewed from the water. Given the importance of the harbor and probable maritime traffic, this hypothesis gains credence. All credit to Professor Morton and his students, and given the over 600 Roman settlements in North Africa there is the potential for much more scholarship to come.

I think there is a huge potential in using computer modeling and photo-realistic rendering techniques in the world of both archaeology and historic preservation. I would personally like to see some images of what Philadelphia would look like today if the “gentlemen’s agreement” keeping all buildings below William Penn’s statue on top of City Hall. What would the city look like if 99% of the buildings were 4-5 stories max? Could a compelling argument for such a density be made from renderings?