Tag: Iowa State

Flash Cupcakes

Cupcakes

The College of Design atrium was overtaken by cupcakes this morning. It’s intriguing how we react to unusual and unexpected situations like this and how they can alter our normal social instincts – such as not eating random food that someone else left out in public. But with such a large quantity, they must be ok, right? Occasions like this make me love being in a design college – I don’t think you’d see this going on over at Coover or Gerdin. If you’re on campus this morning, definitely come by check it out and have a cupcake!

Flash Cupcakes from Brady Dorman on Vimeo.

University partnership key to Campustown success

LANE4 Property Group is a development company hired by the City of Ames to devise an implement a plan to redevelop Campustown into a more vibrant and attractive commercial district serving the Iowa State University community. Campustown has great potential as illustrated during a public meeting in the MU on Sept. 29, where LANE4 presented a preliminary concept of what the neighborhood could become.

Major components proposed include bringing back a small grocery or drugstore, a small hotel – which would take the place of the existing MU Hotel, office space (much of which will be leased by ISU) to increase daytime activity, a greater variety of dinning options, and a unique movie theater that could double as lecture hall space for the university. While specifics are yet to be determined, the redevelopment project would likely replace a majority of the existing buildings, which I have some reservations about. However, if certain historic and architecturally significant buildings can be restored and integrated, it is certainly worth some demolition of less critical buildings. Campustown redevelopment will occur in phases over time, but some construction could begin within a year according to LANE4.

A letter in the October 7th Iowa State Daily expressed concern over university offices and lecture facilities locating in Campustown, so I wrote a response explaining why it is critical for the university to be involved. Certain new uses and business likely could not be sustained without the partnerships that are being proposed. You can read my letter in the Iowa State Daily here.

> Iowa State Daily: Opinion – University partnership key to Campustown success
> LANE4 Property Group

Mapping Conversations

This semester our 5th Year Architecture comprehensive studio project is for a 12,000-seat velodrome (an indoor competitive cycling track) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on an open site along the Charles River that is currently used for athletic fields. During the first week we were challenged to choose a past theme from Cabinet Magazine, from which to construct a conceptual frame and thesis relating to the discipline of architecture, the City of Boston, and competitive cycling. I was quickly drawn to the Spring 2001 issue theme, “Mapping Conversations” and became even more intrigued upon reading its features.

In Frances Richard’s article Utterance is Place Enough she explores what maps are and how we create and use them to define our places and communication spatial comprehension (directions perhaps). Mapping is a method for articulating the existing of things in our physical environment – by showing them on a map, it establishes their importance or permanence. In regard to conversation, it is abstracted as an unscripted verbal exchange between two or more participants. Since it is unpredictable and not pre-established, conversation is not permanent in the way things and places are in space, rather it is a temporary discourse. Continuing, how is mapping conversation different from writing? Richard argues maps and writing are artifacts experienced once removed, whereas conversation is experienced up front and necessarily interactive.

Mark Lombardi created “narrative structure” drawings using lines and notations to index or “map” discourse between political and financial leaders to expose fraud and abuse of powers. Warren Sack looks at mapping very large-scale conversations through the contemporary medium of the internet. Historically mass conversation took place in large-scale public spaces, but the internet can reach a much greater audience with anonymity, but also allows for more direct feedback or discourse. Sack looks at social media networks, “mass media,” and other digital dialogue, using several different kinds of graphs and charts to establish themes and comprehension of these large-scale conversations.

From these articles, which I admittedly summarized pretty poorly, I took the mapping aspect and began to consider the different kinds of actual, spatial, and conceptual conversations active in Boston that would or could in some manner contribute to or have an effect on the proposed velodrome. Utilizing the colors of Boston’s subway lines, I devised five different categories or layers of “conversation” to be represented. Particular institutions and places are mapped geographically, which are significant participants in their given color-coded conversation. Then I was able to create a framework for the design of the velodrome and how it will engage and contribute to these conversations currently taking place in the city. I often use word diagrams, arrows, and notations to organize and plan out objective and key components of a design or piece of writing, so this was actually a very constructive exercise for me.

1. Influence of significant educational institutions nearby (Red)
2. Consideration for public space (Blue),
3. Impact of other athletic facilities and traditions in Boston (Green)
4. Transport and physical connectivity to different parts of Boston (Orange)
5. Contextual relationship with existing urban pattern and significant architecture (Silver)

Mapping Conversations by Brady Dorman

ISU Bridge Studio ideas for Oakhill Jackson / New Bo

Neighborhood Network News has posted video of last Saturday’s (Jan 23) “Imagine a Vital Neighborhood” urban design conference in Cedar Rapids. Architecture students from Iowa State University’s Bridge Arch 601 Graduate Studio presented design proposals and strategies for sustainable redevelopment in Oakhill Jackson and New Bohemia. I haven’t watched the videos entirely yet, but there were a range of ideas from more abstract and statistical to more specific design proposals. One intriguing idea was very ambitious, proposing a residential high rise and retail complex including a Target store – on par with mixed-use urban big box developments found in several larger US cities. A common theme was to reuse building materials (like from Farmstead) for new construction in the neighborhood.

The videos are definitely worth a watch. Special thanks to Robin Kash for posting these and other community meeting videos on Neighborhood Network News.

Neighborhood Network News: Urban Design Conference Videos
> 1 – Intro, Overview and Opening Discussion
> 2 – Student Presentations
> 3 – Discussion of Student Presentations

Rain in Rome

Trajan's Market story board sketch

The past couple of days have been pretty rainy in Rome, making plans to sketch outside for class difficult. Monday we walked in the rain to the Pantheon, about a 5-10 minute walk from studio to sketch for about half hour before the profs decided to return. Today my studio went to Trajan’s Market to draw (inside) quick “story board sketches” with a series of vignettes showing movement through the space. I rather enjoyed this exercise, but would be more valuable outside to illustrate movement through a particular urban space. Tomorrow we meet at Termini Station in the afternoon to draw people in motion.

This afternoon we had the last of three lectures from historian Jan Gadeyne about the development and redevelopment of Rome. It is interesting to realize that Rome today is not what it has always been – most places have been built over older structures or modified from them. Only recently (past century or so) has preservation become so strict, arguably turning the city in to a museum. My friend Jamin is working on a guest post that will go into more detail. In the meantime, check out Jan’s appearance on the History Channel documentary ROME Engineering an Empire.

Imagine a Vital Neighborhood Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids-based, non-profit organization S.E.E.D. (Sustainable Ecological Economic Development) will be hosting a Sustainability Symposium “Imagine a Vital Neighborhood” this Saturday with architecture grad students from Iowa State University. Students will present design proposals to stimulate ideas for building a pedestrian friendly, sustainable neighborhood in the Oakhill Jackson and New Bo areas near downtown Cedar Rapids.

S.E.E.D. founder and Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association President Michael Richards has been collaborating with the College of Design’s “Bridge Studio” for two years. The first year students developed prototype designs for post-flood affordable housing that received the grand prize for the 2009 NCARB Prize for Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy. Professors Clare Cardinal-Pett, Peter Goche, and Nadia Anderson, who was my studio instructor this past fall, will be leading the event.

Anyone interested in the revitalization of these neighborhoods and making a more livable, sustainable Cedar Rapids is encouraged to attend. The forum will be held from 10am – 5pm, this Saturday, Jan. 23, at the Community Conference Hall in the Horizons Building, 819 5th St. SE. More information about the event can be found on BJ Smith’s Puncture Proof blog.

> Bridge Studio
> S.E.E.D.
> Puncture Proof: Forum promotes pedstrian-friendly neighborhoods

Spring in Rome

I arrived in Rome earlier today (Thursday) for a semester study abroad with about 55 other students from my class. We are staying in apartments in the middle of the city and the College of Design has studio space just across the river at Piazza delle Cinque Scole. The semester goes till the end of April, after which I plan to travel about 10 days and return home from London on May 11.

My flight schedule began in Cedar Rapids and went through Detroit and Amsterdam on the way to Rome. All my layovers were quite short, but Detroit and Amsterdam both have very nice airport facilities. I landed at Rome’s Fiumicinio Airport a little past noon today. The view coming in for the landing was like a painting, seeing rolling meadows spotted with old cottages along the sea line. The airport, at least the part I experienced, was quite unimpressive. My plane did not pull up to a gate, rather we exited far way on the tarmac and took a bus to baggage claim.

I met a couple of my classmates and we took a taxi into the city to our apartment to check in. The ride was a great first look around the city. Most of our apartments, including mine, are in a former convent, now housing study abroad student apartments as well as those for the general public. In the middle is a great courtyard. Every corner there seems to be another nook or passageway to discover. We found a stairwell up a roof top terrace, complete with kitchen and a terrific view of the surrounding city.

I look forward to spending the next four months in Rome, learning and exploring through studio and classes, as well as getting to understand the city. It is an incredible change from the normal urban arrangement in America and the term “old” takes on a whole new meaning. Almost everywhere is remnants of past centuries. The interaction between these ancient structures and and new infrastructures for a modern polis is fascinating.

I hope to post much more as I get to know the city better and report on my work in studio and other explorations. I started a new “Rome” category that will contain all these relevant posts to come. Ciao.

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.

Day 2 FORUM Update

Today was the second day of FORUM 2008 in Denver. Each night features a keynote speaker and election and business matters. As the VP of our Iowa State chapter, and the only ISU member attending the conference, I am participating in the Council of Presidents, which met this morning and will meet again Thursday to elect the next leaders of the organization. Today was the college and career fair expo with reps from a number of architecture grad schools around the country, a few, mostly, local firms, as well as a few professional organizations and businesses. I had the opportunity to speak to a few firms and visit some offices in Denver with the FORUM “Firm Crawl” today. I also stopped by two other neat firms on my own.

I’ve been commuting into the downtown for the conference each day from Castle Rock, south of the metro, where I’ve been staying with my brother’s family. I’m taking the RTD light rail from the County Line park-n-ride near my brother’s workplace up to downtown. Initially I found the numerous lines confusing since the majorities of each line are shared along the I-25 corridor (each different line has a slightly different terminus), but it is certainly easy enough to figure out.

From County Line, second to last stop on the E,F, and G lines, takes about 35 minutes to get downtown, and so far has not been too crowded. The ride is pretty comfortable, though the seats aren’t very easy to sit on for that long. My only major complaint, though understandable, is the high transit fare. $4 one way from County Line to downtown (spanning four fare zones) – soon to increase to $4.50 in January. So I am spending quite a bit of cash on transit this week.

I took the #32 bus from downtown to a firm office about 30 blocks away – on a 40 foot Orion V. The bus was pretty clean and comfortable, with padded seats. One way fare on local buses is $1.75; $2 beginning in January.

All in all it’s been good so far and the contacts I’ve made should be helpful in landing an internship this summer – especially with the economic downturn where unfortunately many architects are facing layoffs. Check back for more updates.

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