A Design Matrix

The fourth week of the quarter starts tomorrow and it’s rather incredible the amount of new techniques a brain can process and learn in such a short period of time. During the last couple of weeks we have been expected to design, digitally create, physically build and draw our first project all while balancing the demands of a history, theory and digital modeling class.
During this first quarter most of the first-year grad students are enrolled in 16 units, some in more and some in less depending on prerequisites and previous course completion. The normal course load consists of Ancient and Medieval Arch. History (Lecture 3, Discussion 1), Behavioral Factors in Arch. (4), Intro to Digital Media (2), and probably the most important component, Intro to Arch. Design and Lab (3+3).
Without a doubt the studio aspect of the program has required the most time and has presented the steepest learning curve, especially for me. Hand-drawing an axonometric view of my project was frustrating and difficult, but definitely rewarding when done.


The first project assigned in studio deals with the idea of design by program. Basically we start by taking components from a room in our house (i.e. window frames, doors, walls) and manipulating each component through a matrix of rules. The objective is to create a new space/volume based on the shifting, rotating and expanding of lines and planes (our components) along the x, y and z axis and according to the rules of our program. Initially everyone was a bit lost and confused by the ambiguous design strategy of this project, but after working on this project for the last three weeks I now appreciate the undefined nature of this design process.


During our first project review our graduate director, Kip Dickson, explained that often first-year architecture students see the study of architecture as simply learning how to build houses and skyscrapers but he emphasizes that architecture goes far beyond houses and skyscrapers to explore systems of organization, functionality, and non-ordinary systems of design.

Now that we are moving past our first review we are taking elements of the first stage of this project to incorporate and set the course for the next design task. Currently we are working on using three cut sections from our first model to create new composites that will represent three new cut sections and will be use to extrude new volumetric shapes and create a whole new space (I can’t believe I just wrote that and that it actually makes some sense). I’m sure this is a bit confusing but I will posts some pictures with updates as this next stage of the project develops.

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First Weekend of Studio Work

Now that the first full week of instruction is behind us and we’ve been assigned our first studio project I have experienced my first weekend dedicated to architectural design…AKA trying to figure out the assignment and learn the modeling software.
So far Google Sketchup has been quite easy to learn and manipulate. I’ve managed to write my ‘program’ and manipulate my components based on the parameters I’ve set. I’m quite happy so far with the results but I’m growing a little concerned about the actual construction of this project. That’s normal right? Basically once we’ve finalized our program and are happy with the result the next step is obviously to build it. Basswood is in my future.
Another part of this project is to present the final design in three hand drawn views. Of course, this is the part I fear the most and I’m trying to convince myself that this will be more of a learning experience than a grueling realization of how much I suck at drawing. Let’s hope my faith in the educative process is correct.
Below are a couple of 3D renderings of my project so far. Enjoy!

And so it begins…

This is my new home

The Fall quarter is in full swing and you can sense the excitement and confusion in the air. Last week was mainly filled with introductions, project deadlines and syllabus after syllabus. After having a weekend to read through what is expected of us and going out to drop some serious cash on supplies, everyone returned today for the first full session of studio.

Our first project consists of manipulating the components of a plan and section from a room in our house based on a series of made-up rules. The hope is to create a new space/volume based on the shifting, rotating and expanding of lines and planes along the x,y and z axis. I honestly think everyone in the studio is a bit lost. I’m still trying to make sense of this assignment and how exactly to begin, but hopefully once I begin modeling the project in Google SketchUp I will have a better idea of where to go.

Reboot Complete. Begin Sequence.

So it’s here! The waiting is over and the Fall quarter is just hours away. Today I attended the orientation session welcoming all incoming M.Arch students (Go class of 2014!). We did the usual routine: distributed information, discussed classes, and went over general expectations about the program. Pretty basic stuff. But even still I was at the edge of my seat the whole two and a half hours as I kept thinking to myself, “Yes! I am here and I am a graduate student.”

There was something about being in that room that just filled me with happiness. Maybe it’s the fact that I was the first in my family to attend college and now here I am a grad student; or the fact that throughout the last two years I doubted my capacity to get to this very point. Or maybe it’s the fact that I was sitting in that room knowing that my fees are not yet paid and that I have no idea where I would get the money for the second and third quarter but  still feeling happy knowing that out of all the applicants they chose me. The overwhelming happiness and humbling experience really made me reflect and think about all the people who have helped me, about those who have believed in me and those who have pushed me to get here.

This quarter is just beginning and I’m anxious to experience every moment possible. I believe in the power of education, as cliché as that may be. But more so I believe in the value of pursuing one’s dreams. I’ve realized one has to be courageous to dream and make dreams come true. It’s easy to stay with the ‘known’ and the comfort of a routine, but to venture beyond the boundaries of our daily lives and fight for one’s dreams really takes a bit of courage.

Today I left my first ‘corporate’ job and leaving was very hard for me, but I’m happy knowing that I left to follow a dream and what I hope will  soon become my passion in life.

Generating Thought

We are just a few days away from the start of the Fall 2011 quarter. My current level of excitement: 10.

In the last couple of days I have given plenty of thought to my short and long term goals while at Cal Poly. Many ideas and questions have come up while reading many of the forums over at Archinect. If you haven’t already, you should definitely read some of the discussions going on. While the general outlook on the architectural profession is often negative, mainly because of the current economy, there are plenty of good questions raised regarding the future of architecture and the changing academic environment.

Here are some thoughts and questions I have considered:

What are some of the skills I expect to learn while in school?

What kind of work do I expect to undertake after graduation?

Is my definition of the profession fixed or am I open to revaluating what means to be an architect in the 21st century?

How important is the size of a salary? What is a fair salary?

What unique aspects of architecture do I enjoy?

Obviously most of these questions can’t be answered by just reading and attending school or architecture forums. Many answers will come, if at all, during the span of my academic development and some later on in my career. However, after reading and taking some of the advice from other people and sources in my life, along with the Archinect forums, I think I will make the most of this upcoming experience by having an open mind and willingness to transform my definition and application of architecture.

Thoughts?

Point of Origin

Within 30 days I will embark on a new professional and personal quest. After deliberating for months and switching my mind between “Yes I’m gonna do it!” and “No I can’t do it!” I have decided for the favorable “Yes I can!”

Next month I will be starting the three year Master of Architecture program at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly).

I am dying with excitement and anxiety.

I am excited to finally begin working towards my dream career but I am anxious about the job prospects of the industry. But I can’t really think about a future that is three years away, a lot can happen in three years.

My hope with this blog is to create a digital archive of my progress and development while at Cal Poly. I will supplement my thoughts with pictures and videos when necessary and possible, and maybe my future architecture Broncos will also join in the discussion and growth of this blog.

For now the countdown begins. During the next couple of weeks I will handle all administrative and preparatory steps: fees, parking arrangements, materials, schedules. I will however continue to update as the first day approaches, until then it’s just a waiting game. I really can’t wait!

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