Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Situationist Situation

So, I'm sitting here trying to digest the complex and often contradictory philosophies of the Situationist International so I can construct some sort of coherent paper on the Situationist Cities. Guy Debord and his gang are kind of blowing my mind. I decide to take a break to clear my head. I check my Twitter feed in hopes of reading some interesting news of a little lighter nature. Well, what do I run into but this, posted about 10 minutes ago by the NY Times. A story about an underground (literally) art show in which no art will be sold and almost nobody invited to view it. Read about it.
I guess I should get back to work. No rest for my mind.

Yikes...Its Halloween

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another Contemporary Clothes Pin...

This is really a response to Courtney's post about the contemporary clothes pin art in Berlin. We saw this one in Philadelphia this summer. Apparently it was installed in 1976 by artist Claes Oldenburg. It was interesting to see, but more interesting were the dudes in red and white speaking their mind.

True Dangers of Genetically Modified Cows!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I really love this art installation in Germany. What is it about? An artist in Germany was mad about the government allocating more funds for senior citizens than children. The installation is a rather absurd-looking playground for seniors. Check out the sign...a seesaw with a wheelchair weighing down a child's seat. Clearly an installation that might anger some. Isn't that what art should do? If not piss you off, it should at least make you think. I'm sure many people have looked at this one with a quizzical eye. This installation actually influenced some of the elements in my design project for the Whitfield/Scales site.

A little more information on this project and a lot of other interesting things can be found on Public Workshop Blog.

Project 1 Presentations

So, we wrapped up the presentations for Project 1 today. All in all, everybody did well. Though no design was without fault, most of us learned a lot in the process. Seeing everything that everybody else produced and getting feedback about my own project gave me a lot to think about for future designs. I'm almost ready to start a new project. Almost.

Here are a few photos from the presentations:

Jeremiah scrutinizing Derek's
massing model

Courtney scrutinizing Charles'
detail model

Friday, October 22, 2010

Does Anybody Care About Public Art?

A week or so ago, I ran across this link to an article about a controversy over the value of public art in San Diego. Its an interesting debate. Seems the mayor has halted funding for art projects. Some think that there are more important things for governments to spend money on. Many others feel that it is essential to building community. I like the quote by Dave Rolland, CityBeat editor: "It's something you come upon unexpectedly. It catches you off guard & changes the trajectory of your thinking, however briefly. And, therefore, I'm for it."

Contextual Quonset Huts

The quonset hut, originally designed as flexible spaces for use by the military, has become one of those ubiquitous type structures that you see all over the place. After WWII, the military sold surplus quonset huts to the public for $1000 each. They started popping up all over the country. Some were used as homes. Most were used as storage buildings or repair shops. A lot of them have fallen into disrepair, but many still exist. They are odd looking and non-descript at the same time. Seeing one doesn't evoke a place so much as an era.

Quonsets have been on my mind quite a bit lately because of the one located on the Whitfield/Scales project site. I did a double take when I saw the photo from this blog post. I thought they were quonsets. But no. These structures in north Wales are made of old fishing boats Definitely just as utilitarian as the quonset, but it really responds to its context. Check it out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Process (Or...the stupidest post yet)

Okay, so I've made about 50,000 sketches for our community design project. Too many disparate ideas, but I'm finding it hard to not include them all anyway. All I've got left to do is sort through this pile of trash paper (over 50 yds worth), find the best stuff, and push aside the rest. Oh, and then there are the required drawings. I guess I should do those. Hmm. And the models. Gotta go.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

But I'm Sure It's a Fine-Looking Building

Crazy things happen in Vegas. We all know this. As if walking out of a building modeled after an ancient Egyptian pyramid and across the street to a replica of NYC's skyline wasn't surreal (or sickening) enough, now you can get yourself scalded. Just head on over to the Vdara Hotel and hang out in the pool area. Grab a drink at the bar and wait for the south-facing parabolic-shaped building to concentrate the rays of the sun onto your skull.

Check out the post over on BLDGBLOG called Las Vegas Death Ray.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More On Goats

A few days ago, I made a post about goats being used as sustainable lawnmowers. The whole thing reminded me of this photo I took a few years ago at Otha Turner's Picnic and Goat Roast. Somebody had modified an old lawnmower into a grill with wheels. The grill says "Pork Loins," but they were using it to roast goat. I find it to be rather fitting.

Obligatory "Fail" Post

Similar in theme to my last post. A reminder that not all bike lanes are perfect and that you still have to pay attention to your surroundings while using one.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Do Bike Lanes Make Biking More Dangerous?

Some bicyclists seem to think that bike lanes make biking even more dangerous than when biking in vehicular traffic. Check out this video:

I don't know. I kind of think that these guys are failing to recognize a few basic things about anything "new." One is the learning curve associated with those who design, install, use, and generally interact with a bike lane. The designers may have screwed up in a few places. Surely with a little more experience, they'll screw up less in the future. Second, the lanes are going to attract bikers that wouldn't ride otherwise. That's just part of it. Is it not better to have more people out of cars and on bikes? Third, the pedestrians that see the bike lane as an extension of sidewalk will eventually learn to respect the lane and its purpose. Hit a pedestrian if you have to. Get a horn and use it. There will be a period of adjustment. Recognize this.

I think that perhaps these bicyclists that are against the bike lanes have always seen themselves as a small, elite group of badasses. With more people riding, their status is being threatened. But they can hold onto their status if they ride with the taxis. Whatever.

On the other hand, I don't want to completely dismiss these guys' complaints. There is obvious room for improvement on a lot of fronts.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Everybody Hollerin' Goat

Seems everywhere I look these days, everybody's singing the praises of the goat. Goat milk. Goat cheese. Even goat meat. Mmm.

And lately, I've been hearing about the goat's potential to help eradicate exotic invasive weeds. Goats will eat anything. You know this. We've all seen country "yards" with nothing but a few rusted-out, abandoned cars and a few goats, with barely a sprig of vegetation growing anywhere.

I think there was an article (or at least a blurb) in a recent Landscape Architecture magazine that talked about goats being used to maintain portions of an urban park in Los Angeles. And listen to this story on NPR. I've been following Free Association Design's blog posts for the last few weeks entitled "Staring at Goats" about the animals being used to clean up a vacant lot in where else but Portland.

There are tons of other stories out there on goats being used this way. Just holler "goat." Or, better yet, Google it.

I'd love to see goats on the Drill Field.

Autoroute Douze, France

I'm not really sure what the French call suburban sprawl. I'm sure it sounds pretty sophisticated, though. According to Google Translator, it is l'étalement urbain. That doesn't sound so bad.

The thing is, I didn't really expect to see signs of sprawl when driving through France. Stupid American. They've got it all. Strip malls, office parks, cul de sacs (French, no?), and McDonalds.

Here are some pictures that could've been taken on Highway 12 in Starkville (except for the obvious language thing). I can't believe I actually got a gas station in one of the pics. It must've been the only one within 300 miles.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

When a Sign is Not a Sign.

Speaking of inventory...

When an employee of a bike shop in Altlandsberg, Germany asked the owner of the shop what to do with a bunch of bikes that had been brought in as trade-ins, the owner told the employee to hang them on the wall. So he did. The outside wall. The count of hanging bikes is now at about 120.

The shop's sales have increased 40% since the bikes have gone on the wall. This is during a period when German retail bike sales are down over 20%.

Kinda makes you want to rethink standard operating procedure, huh?

A More Interesting Way to Produce Inventory Maps?

This guy must've looked like a complete nut. If he'd done this on our campus, surely he'd have had security called on him more than twice.

But check it out. He produced a really cool map of the University of Warwick by walking 238 miles over a period of 17 days on the campus in a systematic way while holding a handheld GPS device.

And he didn't forget to label his drawing. Pretty amazing.