Category: Studio (page 2 of 3)

Spatial Representation

Above is a quick mapping diagram I made for a group case study project a few weeks ago. It describes the relative size and location of our case, the University of Iowa Athletic Facilities Complex to the rest of campus and within the larger municipality. I find representation and diagramming of spatial relationships and place very interesting. By simplifying and abstracting existing space, certain qualities may be presented more clearly than if presented so literally.

Studio to St. Louis

Old North St. Louis

Fall classes began August 24, at Iowa State. I’m now in my fourth year of the architecture professional degree program in the College of Design. As expected, it was a quick transition back into managing workloads of classes, studio, and my job at CyRide.

Our studio this semester focuses on community based design and urban revitalization. The project is for a “community arts collaborative,” a hybrid of arts-related programs, education, community center, and live/work residential units for artists. The project site is in the Old North neighborhood in St. Louis, which is laden with empty lots and decaying buildings, but benefits from a strong community base. Neighborhood improvements are being spearheaded by the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, and the Urban Studio. Our project is not exactly “real” or for a real client, but we will be meeting with residents and neighborhood groups who are interested in our proposals.

Tomorrow we are traveling to St. Louis for five days to visit the site, meet with neighbors, and see what else the city has to offer. This field trip and project will be an interesting contrast to all previous ones, with a site context and city that has experienced extensive decay. The figure ground shown was helpful for context research and programming proposals we have been working on the first few weeks.

About New York

About five weeks ago, now, I went to New York City for a third year arch studio field trip. Now that it’s spring break I believe I have some time to write about it in more detail. The trip was Thursday, February 5 – Monday, Feb 9th.

We flew out of Des Moines at 6am, Thursday with a quick layover at O’Hare, arriving at LaGuardia in NYC shortly after 11am Eastern. Flying in over the city was amazing. Once on the ground we went outside on the frigid, but sunny day and waited for our shuttle buses to the Westside YMCA – our quality lodging for the trip. The ride took probably around a half an hour and was a sensory overload – so many little buildings, big buildings, different people, hundreds of side streets to peer down. I ended up dozing off briefly once we arrived in Manhattan as I got very little sleep that night before.

After the charade of checking in and assigning rooms to sixty plus arch students and profs we headed down to our project site in SoHo at the corner of Broome and Crosby streets, just east of Broadway. This project, that we are currently working on now in studio, is for a 24-unit residential development with a public / community / commercial component at ground level. The site is currently a double stacked auto park operation in an open lot about 110 by 70 feet. As individual studios we took about an hour to document the site and surroundings through observation and photos (later turned into photo stitches used to size and build four separate 1/8″ scale physical site models – one for each studio). Unfortunately it was extremely cold this first day, despite the sun, so I don’t believe the site visit was as effective as it could’ve been.

Following documentation we broke into studios and went on a walking tour of the area with our respective profs. This area was near the convergence of Little Italy and Chinatown. Along Broadway there are trendy retailers at the ground floor of older buildings with upper floors generally residential.

That evening after finally regrouping, some friends and I walked down Broadway from the Y (only about 15 blocks from Times Square) to find something for supper. We went through Rockefeller Center on our way and ended up eating at a pizza joint nearby that I had eaten at previously when Spencer and I went for a day two spring breaks ago. Big slices for cheap, can’t argue with that. After we ate we kept on toward Times Square – pretty sterile, predictable, not much to say. One thing to make note of, however, the recently opened red tkts stairs held up by structural glass. I was very tired so I ended up calling it a night by around 10, which I felt was a little unfortunate for my first night in New York, but was glad I did the next day.

Day 2, Friday, I went on an option tour / trip to New Haven, Connecticut, to see some significant buildings at Yale University. We took the Metro North commuter line from Grand Central – an enjoyable hour and a half ride, passing through upper Manhattan and New York and various stops in Connecticut. I really enjoyed New Haven, the first smaller, established city I’ve visited on the east coast (all the others have been large – DC, New York, etc.). I will go in more detail about New Haven and Yale in an addition post.

We arrived back in NYC sometime around 7pm – our train was absolutely packed due to the train ahead of us breaking down so we had to make room for all of its passengers. For dinner a group of friends and I went to the Heidelberg restaurant where we enjoyed some Wiener Schnitzel, German beer, and a charming old man in lederhosen playing the keyboard and singing along. We requested “Roll Out the Barrel” and he continued with some more good ones: “Sweet Caroline” (an ISU favorite), and appropriately “YMCA.” Good times had by all.

Saturday started out with prof-lead walking tour around Midtown Manhattan and a visit to the Folk Art Museum. We walked by Paley Park, which was closed for maintenance, and the Lever House, among other recognizable buildings. After lunch we regrouped around Greenwich Village to see some residential high rise precedents. We walked past the new Gansevoort Plaza in the Meatpacking District, which I recognized from PPS, and the High Line, a new public park / greenway being developed on a 1.5 mile long elevated railway. The High Line influenced one of my 2nd year studio projects in Hyde Park in Chicago.

That evening I met up with my friend Spencer and some people he was in town visiting at a Sushi bar near Astor Place. Later that night I met back up with a bunch of people from studio at Dive 75 on 75th Street.

Sunday, two others and I went over to Brooklyn to visit the New York Transit Museum, underground in a former subway station. It included an extensive exhibit on the subway system’s history and day to day operations of the nation’s largest transit agency. At track level were a number of retired subway cars. Definitely a fun afternoon for me. That evening after regrouping with some others we went to see STOMP – quite the show.

Monday morning I got up early so I had about an hour to walk in Central Park. Even though we were staying a block away, I had yet to go inside the park on this trip. As I walked out of the Y, I could tell the city was bustling; the work week had begun. Around the corner was a school. I passed parents dropping off their children, some in SUVs, some in taxis. I saw other children walking. I thought to myself how profoundly different those kid’s lives are from mine as a kid.

I didn’t have a lot of time to go deep in to the park but walked over to the Mall and made it to the Bethesda Fountain. I stopped and sketched a moment along the Mall. A lot of people were out with their dogs. Soon enough it was time to head back and go to the airport. I got some breakfast at the terminal while we had about an hour to wait for departure. Our layover in Chicago was much longer this time, nearly three hours, so I walked through most of terminals – no small feat. We arrived back in Des Moines around 7pm, and carpooled back to Ames.

New York was a great trip. I got to do and see a lot, but missed a lot too. Certainly a city that warrants multiple return visits, but I have no desire to reside there. See all my photos on Flickr.

NYC Trip Photos

We returned to Ames on Monday from five days in NYC for studio. I will write more in detail about the trip, probably sometime in the coming weeks. Pretty busy right now with getting a class site model built for the studio project, other classes, and of course the great internship hunt with Career Days coming up. Anyway, highlights from the trip include a visit to New Haven / Yale, NYC Transit Museum, and brief stops in various parts of Manhattan. Five days certainly is not enough to do or so even half of what’s on your list. Photos are up on Flickr, to be captioned, tagged eventually.

> Flickr: NYC Field Trip


I’m flying out of Des Moines in the morning for the spring studio field trip to New York City.  We will visit our project site first tomorrow – for a mixed use residential high rise in SoHo.  The rest of the time we have prof-lead tours to chose from and quite a bit of free time.  Friday I plan to go on a tour to New Haven to see numerous buildings at Yale.  Personally I’m excited more just to see the city – I’ve never really been to smaller east coast cities, just the large ones, such as New York.  I’m also looking forward to the NYC Transit Museum in Brooklyn, which I plan to visit on my own time with anyone else I can convince to go.

It should be a good trip.  We’re there through Monday; coming back to Iowa mid afternoon.  I won’t be bringing my laptop, so I probably won’t have any posts about the trip until I get back.  I’ll have my ipod touch so you can check the Twitter feed for more timely and frequent updates.

Early Morning in the Armory

In studio early again today. Interim review today for the first mini project, a loft apartment design within a 16 ft high, 20 ft x 16 ft space – challenging, but constraints make decision making easy. This quick project is building up to the larger residential high rise design project that will take up the rest of the semester, following our site visit to New York City, coming up in less than two weeks now. Been a little slow posting here, compared to the beginning of the month. School and work obviously takes priority. Finishing a portfolio is on my to-do list this week for the great summer internship search as the Feb / March crunch time for that is quickly approaching. If you’re up already, enjoy the morning and have a great day.

Happy Halloween from the Armory


Carving pumpkins today in studio.   (photo from Stephanie Johnson)

Update from Minneapolis

Day 2 of the field trip. Yesterday morning we stopped in Owatonna to see Louis Sullivan’s bank building, but more enjoyable was the local farmers market going on across the street at the city’s Central Park square. People selling produce, baked goods, and various crafts lined the sidewalks on the outside of the park with the interior green space left open to sit and watch. Their downtown appeared quite active and actually quite sizable for a city of its size. My previous impression of Owatonna – based on the quick drive through on I-35 – has been completely reversed. Downtown and the established neighborhoods are pleasant and the residents are friendly.

Once we got to the Cities we visited Minnehaha Park and Saarinen’s Christ Church. Minnehaha Park was beautify with a wonderful waterfall and paths. Apart of a larger riverside park stretching south from downtown, the park also had a restaurant and was quite active. Also conveniently next to the 55th Street light rail station. Christ Church was interesting to see, but every detail was not as significant as the tour guide seemed to believe.

For dinner we walked up University Ave to Dinkytown, UM’s larger and better version of Iowa State’s Campustown. We walked into campus a bit and checked out the UM College of Design building – also designed by Eero Saarinen, with an addition by Steven Holl. Afterwards a friend and I took Route 16 to downtown Minneapolis and explored for a few hours. Some streets were pretty lifeless while other areas were full of activity. Nicollet Mall near Target as well as further north in the Warehouse District appeared to be the hotspots for downtown nightlife.

This morning we checked out the Walker Art Museum. Another friend and I went across the street to the Basilica of Saint Mary for mass. Neither of us are Catholic but it was amazing to see the massive basilica (first one in the United States) and mass was interesting. The recessional hymn was awesome inside the vast space.

This afternoon, heading to downtown St. Paul and stopping in the Highland Park neighborhood on the way. We also plan to check out the architecture of Summit Ave homes near downtown. Check back later for images and more posts.

Fall field trip to MSP

Leaving tomorrow morning for Minneapolis – St. Paul, for the fall ’08, third year architecture studio field trip. Tomorrow we’ll be stopping in Owatonna to see Louis Sullivan’s Farmers Merchants Bank building, and visiting the Saarinen-designed Christ Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, as well as Minenehaha Park. On the side I plan to check out some neighborhoods like Highland Park in St. Paul, Dinkytown by the UM, and Minneapolis’ Uptown. It should be a fun weekend to explore the Cities more intensely beyond just Mall of America or driving through on the way to Fargo. Look for some posts about the trip in the coming days…

Chicago Field Trip

This past weekend I went to Chicago with my fellow classmates for this semester’s Arch 202 field trip (Saturday – Tuesday). Our next studio project is a transportation node facility / improvement proposal for the Hyde Park neighborhood near the 57th Street Metra station. Along with exploring the site neighborhood, the trip also included a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, an architecture firm visit, a presentation from a local cartographer, as well as a quick visit to the Figge Museum and the John Deere Headquarters in the Quad Cities on the way back to Ames. I will go into more detail in subsequent posts.

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