May 11, 2010

Stupid squirrels... stupid Mitsubishi engineers

During the last week of school, as I found myself attached to the computer working on my research documentation book, I didn't drive my car for a couple of days. After finishing, I emerged from my cave to celebrate... and the car wouldn't start. It would turn over but the engine sounded pretty bad. I checked under the hood and found that my spark plug wires had been....uh....eaten? (see image to the right)...... stupid squirrels.

Worried that it would be very expensive to replace the wires, I tabled the problem for the time being in order to focus on finishing all of my school responsibilities. Fortunately, the CAT bus stops right in front of our apartment complex and I could easily take it into campus to finish up the rest of my assignments for other classes. In the meantime, one of my friends took me to Advanced Auto to buy some new wires (I found an off-brand for cheap..thanks for the ride AJ!). Planning to do the work myself, I quickly found that the wires weren't easily accessed without some extra that I didn't have. So, I had to put it off for a few days until I could get my dad to lend a hand....... stupid Mitsubishi engineers.

As these things sometimes do, a few days turned into a week...which turned into two. Being pre-occupied with the home renovation, I didn't really need a car because my dad and I were in his truck most of the time. After graduating last weekend, I found myself needing my car again this week (in order to get to Piedmont to work on our house). So...thankfully, dad came by this evening to help me get the manifold off so that we could install the new wires. Here are some pics of the process:

I had to grab a shot of the firing order diagram for my cell we could reference it when we replaced the old wires.

We had to remove the air intake system and detach & lift the manifold in order to get to the wires.

The new wires...

The "lifted" manifold...

Plugging everything in...stupid Mitsubishi engineers.

A pic of dad with his hand under the manifold.

The new wires in place.

The old wires...with sections missing.

Stupid squirrels...

I hope that squirrel choked on it...haha!

March 25, 2010

Air Force Village Chapel Competition Entry

Now that the results of the student competition for the Air Force Village Chapel Competition have been announced, I can finally post images from our winning entry. (See a brief description of the competition here.) Below is a quick PowerPoint Presentation showing each of the images included on our board submittal.

(some of the slides may not work properly due to SlideShare's disabling of all animations....apologies)

Additionally, Kyle and I were invited by the Greenville Chapter of the AIA to present our design at their March luncheon. I have included that entire PowerPoint below. This presentation explains our design process, concepts, and development; as well as the final design images (seen in the PPT above). This PPT, like the first, contains a very small amount of text because it was designed for a verbal, like the jurors for the competition, you will have to garner your information about the details of the design(s) through studying the images. With that said, I'd be happy to answer any questions about the design, just post them in the comments section!

(some of the slides may not work properly due to SlideShare's disabling of all animations....apologies)

And, last but not least, the full-screen resolution competition boards:

February 10, 2010

Protestant Architecture: Case Studies

This week I have contacted a few architecture firms that have completed some successful, contemporary examples of Protestant Architecture. I have requested information on their projects and firm design philosophy. When I speak with the architects of the design teams, I hope to hear what they think about the value of the 'human experience' in sacred spaces. Some of the firms and projects are listed below...but first:

For most of my architecture classmates and peers, the term "phenomenology" is a familiar one. (For the rest of you, the word may just be hard to pronounce.) The concept was pioneered by the philosopher Martin Heidegger and architectural theorist Christian Norberg-Schulz (along with many others). In architecture, it focuses on the very thing that I am interested in regarding sacred spaces: the human experience. The way that a space or environment appeals to the senses (there are more than five, for example: thermoception)...or the way that the materials used within a space affect the way the surfaces feel, smell, or even echo. Regardless of the intent, all of the decisions that go into the making of a building will affect the senses by the sheer nature of the way human beings "tick", why not make these decisions intentionally? Human beings cannot simply "turn-off" their senses when they enter a space that has wood veneers just because the design budget wouldn't allow for it. It doesn't matter how realistic the "grain" looks, it simply does not carry the same smell, warmth, feel, or sound as the real thing. If you still don't get it, just do this: remember the last time you visited someone in the hospital? Remember the smell? the hard, cold floor? the (sometimes horrifying) sounds coming from the other rooms? the long, monotonous hallways with smudges on the walls and skids on the floors? Remember the way it made you feel? Remember how trapped and uncomfortable you felt? This is the effect that "spaces" have on the human pysche. Therefore, the builders of "sacred spaces" have quite a are some examples of ones that I believe have done it well:

St. Paul's Lutheran Church
RDG Planning and Design
Des Moines, Iowa
First Presbyterian Church of Encino
Abramson Teiger Architects
Encino, California
St. Croix Lutheran High School Chapel
Kodet Architectural Group
St. Paul, Minnesota

(Keep checking back for updates on these case studies. I will post summaries of my discussions with the architects as I hear back from them.)

February 04, 2010

Architecture Research Studio

This semester, our studio is focused on research. The premise of the research studio is based on a recently abandoned architectural tradition known as "thesis". For the many generations of architects that have gone through "thesis", this word likely brings up memories that they would rather forget. As a longstanding tradition, thesis was a right of passage in which, during your second year of graduate studies, you would spend a semester doing in-depth research on a topic that you select and have approved by a committee of faculty members (your selected panel of thesis advisors). Each student's topic was different, and each committee was different. The second semester would culminate in some sort of design project in which your research had to be applied, your skills as a designer proven, and your ability to think through all of the necessary parts of the building planning process verified. For those of you unfamiliar with architecture school in general, this meant a year's worth of hard work, intensive reading and writing, and more all nighters in an 9 month window than all of undergrad combined (which is a LOT). At the end of the year, before you were allowed to graduate, you had to present your research and project to a large panel of architectural educators, professionals, potential employers, and peers in a "defense". You also were required to produce an illustrated book documenting your process and conclusions, known as a manuscript. Only then were you allowed to graduate and move on with your life (which certainly wasn't guaranteed).

Today, at most architecture schools, the archaic practice of "thesis" has been abandoned. (Side note: this event sparked an ongoing debate in the professional world between those who survived "thesis" and those who were not required to do so, as to whether or not today's emerging architects are even qualified to suck their own thumbs. I will conveniently avoid this argument by changing the subject..) So, borrowing from the "thesis" tradition, last semester was our "comprehensive" studio project and this semester will culminate in a "research" studio project.

For my research topic, I have chosen: "American Protestant Architecture: A design guide for the new millennium.". During my research, I will be focusing on the importance of design in Protestant Architecture. In this country, Protestant church buildings have largely ignored the importance of Architectural design. In today's society, the motto of "The Church is the people, not the building." has become a rallying cry to justify church gatherings in non-sacred spaces (such as pre-engineered steel buildings, high school gymnasiums, and living rooms). While I agree fundamentally with this motto, I do not think it is the role of the Church to slink into hiding, blend in with its surroundings by adopting corporate/industrial styles, or desperately cling to traditional, antiquated archetypes. We live in a society on the brink of revolution. Everything, and I do mean everything, about the way we live today has been completely changed from only 5 years ago. In order for today's Church to survive, it must adapt in more ways than one. I am not suggesting a break from Biblical fundamentals, this must never be compromised, but I am suggesting an adaptation of the way that we think about our Architecture. More to follow...

I will be blogging about this topic during the course of the semester, so if you are interested, keep checking back for updates. I will be interviewing the leaders of the major Protestant denominations over the next few weeks and I will post the transcripts of those interviews as they come in. Hopefully, there will be some lively and enlightening dialogue, and I think it will be interesting to see the differences in responses across denominations.

Here is a list of the individuals I have contacted for interview thus far:

Dr. Charles Strickland
(Baptist Minister; Whitefield Baptist Church, Anderson, SC)

Jay Hudson
(President and CEO of the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program; Louisville, KY)
Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
(Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church; NYC)
Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor
(Head of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church; Columbia, SC)
Bishop Mark S. Hanson
(Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; Chicago, IL)
Dr. Johnny Hunt
(President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Minister; First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Atlanta, GA)

Dr. Preston Warren Williams II
(Presiding Bishop of the Seventh Episcopal District of the AME Church; Columbia, SC)