Tag: Studio

ARCH 403 Mid-Review

Arch 403 Mid Review 1 from Brady Dorman on Vimeo.

Ever wonder what an architecture school studio review is like? The video is of my studio group’s critique at today’s mid-review for 5th year comprehensive studio. As I’ve described in previous posts, we are designing a [hypothetical] velodrome in Boston. In the video one of my partners Jamin introduces our design at this point and then I elaborate on site design and our method to contextualize with the adjacent neighborhood and the city as a whole.

Our critics were three faculty members in the College of Design: Nadia Anderson, Ann Sobiech-Munson, and Dean Emeritus Mark Engelbrecht. I believe our review went quite well and provided valuable feedback for moving forward from this point. It is clear our next step will be to integrate a thoughtful structural system into our aesthetic gesture, which will better clarify building and technical specifications of the design.

Select comments from the critics:

“I think there’s something that’s really working about what you’ve presented here. It’s maybe not necessarily this as an aesthetic so much as some of your sensitivities to the human scale and the way that this form kind of responds to the things around it.”
         – Assistant Professor Ann Sobiech-Munson

“I think there’s a language that’s developed out of this that I really appreciate, the relationship between the building itself and the site around it…”
         – Assistant Professor Nadia Anderson

“I think it, for me, expresses this idea of speed and discipline very beautifully..so I’d be very interested to moving on, you can imagine the idea…”
         – Dean Emeritus Mark Engelbrecht

Visit our studio project blog to follow our design process.


We are traveling to Boston tomorrow through Monday for studio, to visit our project site for the velodrome and experience the great architecture and urbanism the city has to offer. I have never been to Boston before so am really looking forward to it. Our studio progress is going well. I set up a collaborative blog at isuvelodrome.wordpress.com for my project team to document our process and self-critique as a way to keep progressing and clarify the expression of our design. I’ll post more about the trip upon our return.

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

First Day of Class at Palazzo Cenci

Monday, Jan. 11 – Today was the start of semester classes in Rome. We meet at Palazzo Cenci, a fairly significant 16th century building at Piazza delle Cinque Scole (five schools), where ISU College of Design has space on an upper floor. It is just across the river from Trastevere where my apartment is, in the former Rome Jewish ghetto. (See walking route to studio here.) We began at 9:30 with a brief orientation.

On the walk there I stopped with my friend Jenna at a coffee bar on Isola Tibenna (Tiber Island). The coffee bars in Rome are tiny bars where people come in and drink and eat quickly standing up at the bar and then go on their way. The coffee comes in very small cups. At this particular bar, you pay first at the cashier and take your receipt to the bar. I was unsure how what to say, so I requested the same thing as Jenna ordered before me – espresso e cornetto (crossaint) – for €1.80. At the bar the barista asked if I wanted cioccolato (chocolate) or creme (cream). I asked for creme. Now I know the next time to order cappuccino e uno cornetto.

Following orientation we broke for lunch. I walked up to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II (the busier street with the cellphone store) and had a panini and Coke for €3.70. It was fun to be able to try out the few new words I pick up each day. I went to pay and told the cashier I had a “panino e Coca-Cola.” (Amazing, right?)

Back to studio we had a drawing lecture from a faculty member from Ames, then broke into our studios. My studio met in a back room with access to the terrace. We spent the remainder of the day experimenting with different grades of charcoal and other drawing mediums. At the end of the day our instructor Chris took us on a short walk around a few nearby blocks pointing out some noteworthy places and amenities.

On the way home I stopped back at Panella (the first supermarket I went to on day 2) just off Viale di Trastevere (street), to pick up a bottle of bianco vino for the evening and some more pasta sauce for good measure. Once I got back to our apartment I passed the old woman who seems to be sitting at a corner near a vending machine all day everyday. I greeted her “Buona sera” (good evening) and she responded with a smile. Around the corner an old man greeted me and we had a brief conversation. He spoke little English but asked my age and if I was a university student. “” and “Buona sera.”

For dinner another friend made salad and manicotti with the remaining lasagna ingredients from last night. Tomorrow is supposed to be at least partially sunny so I hope to take some photos of the neighborhood and studio. For class we have a language course and another drawing session.

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.


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