Monday, November 29, 2010

Our favorite author, giving a recap of our favorite book!

Why do societies fail? With lessons from the Norse of Iron Age Greenland, deforested Easter Island and present-day Montana, Jared Diamond talks about the signs that collapse is near, and how -- if we see it in time -- we can prevent it.

GIS is cool?

400 years after Hudson found New York harbor, Eric Sanderson shares how he made a 3D map of Mannahatta's fascinating pre-city ecology of hills, rivers, wildlife -- accurate down to the block -- when Times Square was a wetland and you couldn't get delivery.

Fish... It's What's for Dinner

     Chef Dan Barber squares off with a dilemma facing many chefs today: how to keep fish on the menu. With impeccable research and deadpan humor, he chronicles his pursuit of a sustainable fish he could love, and the foodie's honeymoon he's enjoyed since discovering an outrageously delicious fish raised using a revolutionary farming method in Spain.

Our favorite topic... Retrofitting Suburbia

     Ellen Dunham-Jones fires the starting shot for the next 50 years' big sustainable design project: retrofitting suburbia. To come: Dying malls rehabilitated, dead "big box" stores re-inhabited, parking lots transformed into thriving wetlands.

Growing your Home

TED Fellow and urban designer Mitchell Joachim presents his vision for sustainable, organic architecture: eco-friendly abodes grown from plants and -- wait for it -- meat.

New ways to look at ecology

     Natalie Jeremijenko's unusual lab puts art to work, and addresses environmental woes by combining engineering know-how with public art and a team of volunteers. These real-life experiments include: Walking tadpoles, texting "fish," planting fire-hydrant gardens and more.

CoHousing Perspectives

These are a few VERY QUICK perspectives of the CoHousing project.

CoHousing Planting Elevation

This section cuts through one of the islands within the wetland/pond. I wanted the islands to be heavily vegetated to not only hold onto the soil, but also function as a diverse habitat for wildlife. I wanted to use a range of textures and colors for each of the seasons, providing interest year round.

Cohousing Sections

This section features the housing clusters. Small fenced in courtyards are part of the larger cluster courtyard. This allows the residents to have some private space that is their own right next to the larger community courtyard. The simple iron fence is open and airy to not make the courtyards feel clustered, but it gives each home a little privacy and exclusion for smaller gatherings and storage.

This section cuts through the common green and showcases how the wetland/pond interacts with the site.

CoHousing Enlarged Plan

This plan is my Enlarged portion of the site. I chose an area that featured both housing and public open space. The wetland/ pond area features islands which help to slow down water, allowing for better treatment and management. The edge of the wetland features a slate border. I wanted to use this idea because I wanted to bring a more modern twist to the area. This also brings some heirarchy to the other wetland that is elsewhere on site. I placed a more formal public plaza on the edge of the lake to house the pizza oven and provide a place for larger gatherings. That site as well as the housing courtyard features a checkered pattern of stone and grass pavers that are ten foot squares. The large scale squares bring another modern twist as well as allowing for more permeability with the grass. I placed deciduous trees amongst the housing units to provide shade in the summer, as well as sunlight into the homes in the winter.

CoHousing Master Plan

I chose this plan because I am restoring much more of the land back to woodland. This property sits at the bottom of a drainage basin and I want to use as little of the property as possible for development. The rest of the site lends itself to restoration and educational opportunities along those same lines. I have clustered housing together to allow for a heirarchy of public spaces. The Common houses and classrooms are right at the entrance for easy access., and to keep uneeded traffic off the majority of the site.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

CoHousing Conceptual Plans

This is my first conceptual plan for the Aiken Village project. I took the functional plan a step forward and placed all of the housing along the street, but the houses facing the Common Green. The parking stalls are broken up with plantings in between each set of stalls. Each stream is daylighted and wetlands are introduced to manage and treat the stormwater. The greenhouses are placed next to the community gardens, along with a classroom and a couples houses to keep watch over the area.

This is my second conceptual plan for the Aiken Village Project. The housing is clustered together to help to create a heirarchy of public and private space. Each cluster of homes create a common courtyard for its residents that in turn open up to the common green in the center of the site. The community garden is shifted to the south end of the site, next to the Common Houses and Classrooms. Almost half of the site can be restored to forest. Large wetlands serve to help manage and treat stormwater.

CoHousing Functional Plans

This is my first functional plan. With this idea, I wanted to keep the same idea with the circular drive, but try it in a new and more ecological way. I used the two separate Common Houses that as anchors for the design, focal points for the ends of the Common green. I placed the Community Gardens along the slope on the northwest corner of the site. I daylighted the pipe that runs through the site to better treat and manage the sotrmwater, as the site sits at the bottom of the watershed for the area, including much of the Cotton District. 

This is my second functional plan for the Aiken Village CoHousing project. With this plan, I wanted to conserve as much of the site as possible. I decided to keep all of the housing along the east side of the property and just have a dead end road to give access to the residents.

Spend a Day in my CoHousing Community

For the second project in Studio 3 for the MLA program, before we started any design work, we were asked to write a paper on what it would be like to live the day in the life of one of the residents that would be living in our CoHousing Community. I took the approach of a journal entry for a MSU student living in my community. I think this helped me when I was trying to figure out some of the character I wanted to incorporate into my design. The paper is below:

            I start my day as any other day of the semester, waking up way too early for class. Seven in the morning and my alarm is going off, can’t wait for another long day on campus. Well, at least I was lucky enough to get one of the apartment dorms on campus this year. It is pretty nice to live so close to campus, and be able to walk to class or take the bus. It saves me a ton of money of gas each month that I can spend on… soda. I get up and make myself some breakfast. I love the fresh fruit from the gardens outside to put in my cereal, community gardens part of college living, who knew?
            I pack up the stuff I need for class and head out the door to a down pouring of rain. I run over to the bus stop to wait for the shuttle, at least I don’t have to get soaked walking to class from here.
            The rain has let up to just a soft, quiet, steady shower by the time class is over so I decide to take the rain route, as I like to call it, home from class. I walk down University Drive, into the heart of the cotton district. I turn the corner and head down the street past Tabs and shuffle past Jean CafĂ© to avoid an hour long conversation by the crazy owner. I reach the “headwaters” of the rain route to my house. I sneak through the woods and end up on Prospect Place. Walking along the one way street I follow the rainwater closer and closer home as it runs down the boulevard. I reach Collegeview Street and the water momentarily disappears under the street. I cross the street and head east, almost home. All of a sudden, the water appears again on my left. Meandering along the street, the water finally reaches my neighborhood with me right behind it.
            My house is on the far east side of the site so as that water disappears into the buffer and treatment facility, I head back to my house. The rain has stopped by now and everything is shiny clean as the sun comes back out. I head back to my apartment and drop everything off and change clothes. I head back outside to take care of some gardening in my plot. I get overzealous and pull some weeds in a neighbors plot before taking a walk around the neighborhood. I stop in the common house to see what is going on and chat with some friends. I head out the doors and hit one of the walking trails. This route takes me past the stream and pond that runs through the neighborhood. With all of the fresh rain, it gurgling sounds of moving water actually make it quite relaxing. I head back to my room and get cleaned up. I grab my homework and head back to the common house. I sit down and work on some homework before dinner. Tonight some friends and I are making dinner. We invited some neighbors to come and eat so we are cooking for a crowd.
            Dinner is cooked, eaten, and cleaned up and homework is done. Time for bed! See you in the morning to do it all over again. J

Whitfield and Scales Perspectives

These are the perspectives for the Witfield and Scales project. I tried to pick out different highlights thorugh the project that spoke about the character I tried to design.

Whitfield and Scales Planting Plan

This is my planting plan for the enlarged plan portion of the site. The concept for my plantings was connecting native plants with well known plants most people buy at the local nursery. I wanted to use native plants for the obvious reasons of conservation, tolerance to the local climate, etc... I wanted to also use common nursery plants so that the landscape would be relatedable to the public, but also so that planting with native plants would seem more tangible and possible for people viewing the plantings. I think that showing how to incorporate natives into existing planting plans will much easier for people to understand, rather than showing nothing but natives and people being intimidated by the concept and walking away from it. 

Whitfield and Scales Enlarged Plan

This is the enlarged plan for the Whitfield/Scales project. This portion of the site features the Community Center, Community Gardens and the Entrance signs at the corner of the site. The numerous planting beds all are designed to treat stormwater and help to calm traffic. The internal streets are meant mostly for residents. For this design I did not want through traffic for skipping out on the Whitfield/Scales intersection. 

Whitfield and Scales Master Plan Sections

These are three sections for the Whitfield/ Scales project.

Master Plan for the Whitfield and Scales Project

This is my master plan for the Whitfied/ Scales project. I was able to preserve the stand of trees along Whitfield St. and also proposed to clean- up and restore the plant buffer along the east side of the site. The buffer was extended all the way to Scales St. to shield water tower and power boxes just off site. Parallel parking was installed along Scales St. Vegetated swales were also installed along both streets to treat stormwater and add some traffic calming techniques to the streetscape.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One Big Leaf

A little kid riding his bike down the street finds the leaf of a lifetime!

When art and science meet

This is a cool project and presentation that takes an artistic approach to cataloging some of the oldest living beings in the world. The project starts with looking at species no younger than 2,000 years old. Rachel Sussman traveled the world photograph everything from trees to coral to lichen species growing on rocks.

Pigs running the world?

Who knew my dad's pig farm was contributing so much to the world? No need for thanks... we accpet all forms of payment however :)

Plastic Pollution

While steps are being taken to reduce the amount of waste... what is really going on with all of the trash we produce? especially the plastics that can not be recyled to be reused again? Dianna Cohen and the team from the Plastic Pollution Coalition are working towards adding the 4th "R" to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and it is Refuse... whenever possible, refuse to use or consume those plastics that can not be recycled to be reused again.

Green School

The Green School in Bali is a new model for respecting the environment in an academic setting. A wholistic approach to education and preservation of the environment. Is it possible here? manybe not an exact replication but I think it's principles are spot on for a new way of thinking, building, and educating the future.

Defending Suburbia?

James Kunstler says something that i never thought of before... "If we build enough of these places where no one wants to be in... who wants to defend them (against foreign terrorists)". WOW... how true is that? if we develop this country into nothing but crap? why defend it against invaders?

The story of stuff

What about all of the stuff we have and use on a daily basis? what is going on with all of it?
Meet Eco Joe... a hilarious take on saving the environment!

Monday, November 15, 2010

For all of the soon to be Honeymooners...

Poseidon Resort in Fiji... an underwater experience
The 5,000 acres underwater resort is a whole new way to experience the clear water of Fiji. The first of its kind, visitors will soon be able to spend the night 40 feet below the fiji waters, with every luxury of any dry land resort. The best of both worlds, visitors can stay below the water or enjoy all fiji has to offer with sandy beaches and sunshine topside. Unique adventures include private submarines, luxury guided submarine tours into the depths, sea floor walking, and the list goes on and on. Every ammenity you have come to expect at resorts is housed within the complex, in addition to all of the under sea features.
Poseidon Resort - check it out!

Planter/ Lighting Detail

This is a detail of a planter I designed for the Whitfield and Scales project. I wanted to design something at a large scale so it had some presence in the landscape. I had developed the sidewalks to be 8-10' wide to accomodate the 4' cube planters on the sidewalks. The base cleff lighting feature ties into the concept of the overall design. The five steel bars that wrap around the cubes represent the scale bars in sheet music. To add an element of interaction to the planters, theremin technology will be used to add an audible element as people walk past the planters. Each planter will play different musical chords, so that no specific song or genre will influence the experience.
This following link is a video of a large scale theremin, not exactly what I had in mind but you will get the idea.
Laser Teremin

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wind Study

A wind study was suggested for this project. I looked at the dominant wind directions for the Equinox and Solstice. For this region, the majority of the years, wind travels mostly from the south. The cooler months there begins to be some competing winds coming from the north, bringing in fall and winter. I really want to use wind to reinforce the idea of sound and music for the site so I  want to try to use mostly deciduous trees and grasses so you hear the rustle as the breeze blows.

Preliminary Plan 2

This is my second preliminary plan. I brought more of the radial design with this plan. I considered using different grasses and plantings to showcases the radial in open spaces. This design still preserved the large trees along whitfield st., which were the best on site. The buildings start to better respond to the radial design.

Preliminary Plan 1

This is my first Preliminary Plan. I started with my radial design, starting from the northwest corner of the site. I saw that spot as the beginning point for the entire site. I tried to keep a central open green and wrap all of the construction on the boundaries of the site. I didnt like the fact that there was no screening of the water tower and other utilities. This plan, however did the best job at preserving the trees on the site. 

Functional Plans

These are my three funstional plans for the project. I worked through these three ideas and ended up hating all three of them. I felt that they were extremely generic and held no special qualities for my design. I ended up scraping all of them and using a radial design in the end.

Concept Statement

I arrived at harmony for my concept after simply observing the studio environment. I looked around one afternon and noticed the large number of students, including myslef, who had headphones in their ears while they were working. It hit me how much music unconciously influences our decisions, both for students in the studio and probably even more so in the 'real world'. I contemplated how exactly I wanted to use music as inspiration. I decided I did not want to use a specific song or even genre of music. I wasnted it to remain generic in that respect for the specific reason of music means something different to each person. Everyone has specific tastes and I didnt want influence any person by that, so I didnt use songs as inspiration, but music.

Site Analysis

This is the site analysis for the project.

Site Inventory

This is my portrait of conditions for the site. There is very little going on with the site so there was really not many observations to be made. Circulation was a main concern, so that any roads designed for the site would not be used as a cut- through during heavy traffic.

Program for Development

The program for development was provided for the class. After my observations of the surrounding communites, I noticed there were really only two types of housing, the rich and the poor, for the region. For this site, I tried to design homes for the midlle income home owners and renters.

Site Photos

These are site photographs for the Whitfield and Scales site. The southeast corner of the site is overshadowed by a water tower. There are only two buildings on site, both of which are abandoned. The site is around two and a half acres and has very little topography change. There are a few large trees that are great ammenities and should be preserved as much as possible.

Lindberg St. Precedent

This precedent site is the next street to the east of the property.
Lindberg Street is located just east of the project site. This development is the adjecnt property and will interact with the new devlopment. The large central swale boulevards the street. The houses that frame the street all seem to be in a state of decline, with peeling paint and sagging rooflines and porches. The street has no sidewalks and yards tend to be littered with garbage.

The Lakes Precedent

This precedent is located just west of the site and considered when designing the whitfield and scales site.
The Lakes development is located on Whitfield Street in Starkville, MS. The landscape architect led design features single family detached housing and one duplex around a central lake. The overly wide streets loose the sense of scale and the completely surrounded lake allows very limted access to those not living directly on the lake. The neighborhood was designed for the car as the garage sits at the front of the house and many times hides the front door. The greenspace at he front of the site does not accompany many uses does not get utilized.

McKee St. Precedent

The McKee development is located along McKee Street in Starkville, MS. The narrow two sotry homes were clustered together along the perimeter of the site, framing the central parking area. The large expanse of gravel parking in the center of the site ruins any chance of creating a gathering or community space for the residents. The site was clear cut so there is no large canopy to provide shade. While the community mailboxes have a covered area, it is in poor condition, located right next to the street and is not inviting to stay and interact with others.

Cooper Lane Precedent

This is another precedent I looked at for the project. This site is located just down the street from the site.
Cooper Lane is a development located on Whitfield Street in Starkville, MS. The design was lead by an architect and features large expanses of green space, with little private space. The development won awards for its effors to protect trees throught the development process, however the root zones were not protected and tree are showing signs of decline. The stark white buildings with few windows does not provide a welcoming environment and makes the site feel cold and closed off to visitors

Cambden Place Precedent

This is one of my precedents for the Whitfield and Scales project. This is a new planned unit development for the city.
Cambden Place is a 12 unit Development located off of Louisville Street in Starkville, MS. The loop road design connects all units in one street and provides a community mailbox. The compact design and small units works will with the New Urbanism concepts. The community mailbox is a major flaw in the design for community intereaction as it is small, sits out in the sun and has no place to get out of the street to interact with other neighbors.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Putting for a new green

Through the eco-minded residents on Martha's Vineyard and a brave team that lead the design of the golf course, The Vineyard Golf Club on Martha's Vineyard has open for a ninth season. The lot, once sited for a 148- unit development got the approval for a golf course under the restriction of not being able to use any synthetic active ingredients in maintenance. Jeff Carlson and his team took the design one step further and pushed the site to a completely organic golf course.

The site is now the leader is eco-designed golf clubs. While Carlson realizes this idea will not be plausible on a wide scale, certain concepts can be adopted and applied everywhere. Half of the battle is discovering or re-inventing techniques to deal with natural problems such as grub worms and fungal diseases. The other half of the battle is public perception of the new type of green. Demonstrating how the game can be played just as successfully when other plant species are present on the fairways and greens is the major hurdle the organization had to overcome once the site was completed.

Whether major golf enthusiasts thought the course was successful or not, President Obama is returning for his third round of golf later this year. The stiff membership and renewal fees are a testament to the dedication and popularity of the natural approach to the elite sport.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Low Impact Street Art
There can only be so many Marilyn Monroe moments over city subway grates. There is a large population that will even refuse to walk over the grates. I know I think twice before walking across the large expanses of grates from time to time. Joshua Allen Harris found a way to bring these grates to life. Utilzing the air rushing up out of the subway system from passing trains, his sculptures come to life and animate otherwise ordinary city streets. What started out as something cool to do in his free time, has become more popular and has developed a following. This type of street art utilizing resources already present on the city street, calling upon the subway system to animate the sculptures. The materials, trash and grocery bags are used to mimic the neighboring garbage and blend into the streetscape. The art then comes to life for a few short seconds as the underground city rushes past below ground.

Retrofiting these temporary displays is cheap as much of the materials can be picked up off of the street if the artist so chooses. Installation is completely versatile, all that is needed is a source of air to inflate the pieces.