Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Update on Art Courtyard Project

Brooke and I have been hard at work refining the project.  We decided to use synthetic grass for the courtyard area because it will stand up to heavy foot traffic.  It is fade resistant and very durable as well as environmentally friendly.  We made the music wall totally of xylophones of metal, oak and bamboo and various sizes and types.  There are several kinds of seating.  Garden benches, round cement benches with built in planters, a bench/wall, “ribbon” tables for eating where each end of the table can be leaned against while sitting on the ground. The datum lines define spaces in the courtyard for collaboration, active learning,  classroom and display space as well as relaxation space.  There is plenty of open space left at the front of the courtyard for group activities, such as painting theatre scenery, student signs and other large projects.  A “banner walk” leads the students toward the rear of the Encore building to an amphitheatre and green space. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Creative Journey: Art Courtyard at NGMS

These are a few images of many from our process to design an art courtyard for Northern Guilford Middle School.  Included here are a few images that show some ideas we’ve toyed with and where we are at now in our process.


I believe the arts should be integral to learning experiences in the classroom--not merely a separate part of the curriculum.  Music, art, creative writing and performance arts all have connections to science, math, history and other topics.  In the design for the courtyard, Brooke and I are planning to create an environment that invites all students – not exclusively art students, to explore their own creative journey.  The way we plan to do this is to:

1.   provide prominent places for art students to display their work

2.  provide tools for teachers and students to have class outdoors

3.  integrate outdoor musical instruments with the architecture

4.  provide a green amphitheatre for outdoor classroom, multimedia facilities, theatre, band concerts and practice

5.  places to relax, read, reflect

6.  places to collaborate and congregate.


Integrated with all of these opportunities are areas that engage all the five senses along a student’s creative journey.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

April 8: Response To My Last Few Desk Critiques

While I have been in IAR, I have told several students that, "of all the professors that have taught me in this program, I have learned the most from Patrick because he inspires you to push yourself really hard.  He treats your ideas with respect and gives thoughtful advice."  Before I started in the program, I prepared myself mentally to keep a healthy attitude about critiques.  I knew I would experience critiques on a regular basis and made a pact with myself to learn from them rather than take a defensive posture.  However, during the two minute critique yesterday (that we waited 45 minutes for) and the critique last week, I felt that Brooke's and my work was treated with condescension and a little contempt.  It is fine with me if someone does not like a project I present.  I just don't like being treated with disrespect, especially in front of my peers.  When I detect condescension from someone that is speaking to me, I stop listening.  Therefore, I have nothing to report.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton

This book documents the role of architecture as a profession over centuries in shaping our environment and the rationale behind the decisions they have made.  I do not think any architect purposefully sets out to create an ugly structure.  Sometimes the best intentions do not pan out.  Botton discusses what is the meaning of beauty in architecture.  Who is to say what is beautiful and what is not?  People respond to architecture in different ways based on prior experience.  A person might not like a gothic building because it makes them feel small.  I believe a building to be desirable or offensive on the basis of what it talks to us about.” Architecture, page 73. It seems reasonable to support that people will possess some of the qualities of the buildings they are drawn to. Architecture, page 18.  For centuries, classical architecture went unchallenged because it made sense to the user.   There was symmetry, order and beauty.  Symmetry makes sense to human beings because we, in fact, are symmetrical in form.  Architecture styles have come into being because we, as humans, allow exterior forces, such as religion, to shape our environments.  We are sometimes drawn to architecture that makes us feel better about ourselves or want to be better people.  After WWI, Modernism emerged because we wanted to make sense of a world gone mad.  We surrounded ourselves with function and order.  Ornament became a thing of the past because it was extraneous.  Architecture and design were for the masses not only the privileged and affluent. 

The properties of a room can directly affect the emotions of the people within.  An ugly room can coagulate any loose suspicions as to the incompleteness of life, while a sun-lit one set with honey-colored limestone tiles can lend support to whatever is most hopeful within us. Architecture, ppgs. 12-13.   Botton connects sadness with the ability to truly appreciate beauty.  He believes that someone who has experienced profound sadness will react more strongly to architecture.  It is with a dialogue with pain that many beautiful things acquire their value. Architecture, page 25.  According to the author, we allow culture to define who we are and what our surroundings should look like.  How our neighborhoods and cities should look goes unquestioned because we allow culture to dictate to us.  The greatest changes in architecture came from revolutionaries that were both artistic and practical.  This book can be applied to the rapid growth in green design taking place today.  Architecture needs to respond to the practical and emergent problems that need to be addressed in order for our planet to survive.



Brooke and I have been reading through Jax Harmon's thesis.  She designed an inner city playground converted from an abandoned lot.  She discussed how, for today's children, play and playgrounds actually inhibit imagination and creativity.  Adults frequently forget what it was like to be a child.  Children learn and grow through play so it is important to allow them plenty of time for unstructured play.  Middle school children still need opportunities to experiment and explore.  Since they are tomorrow's innovators, it is important that they maintain the natural curiosity of children. 

How this relates to the North Guilford Middle School Art Courtyard and Guilford County:  Guilford County has a history in the railroad, textile mills, an edgy music scene and the arts.  The art courtyard should invite exploration of textures, sounds and experimentation with materials and media. 

The photos included here is the play circuit at Children's Hall, Environmental Design Institute, Miyagi Prefecture in Japan (1980).  It is the inspiration for the main gesture we want to include in the courtyard.  In the courtyard, the gesture will begin in the courtyard, become seating, sound buffers, musical instruments, a walkway.  It will continue out of the courtyard and culminate in an amphitheatre on the other side of the encore hall.

Ideas for Courtyard

Inspiration Page

Creative Journey

Brooke and I came up with the concept of creative journey through discussion about how art engages the five senses.  We talked about how we can provide opportunities for the students to engage the five senses by creating a series of vignettes around the art courtyard.  We also want the courtyard to provide opportunities for the students to interact with their teachers, other students and the community.   

Monday, March 9, 2009

NGMS Art Classroom and Courtyard

Notes from Interview with Ms. Anna Rumsey, Art Teacher

Northern Guilford Middle School


Ms. Rumsey says there are about 1,031 students at NGMS.  She teaches 12 art classes with all level of students.  There are some autistic students in her classes.


What she likes about the school:

·      High expectations for students achievement

·      Availability of supplies

·      Good relationship/communication with principle


Overall, Ms. Rumsey is satisfied with her classroom.  The lighting and temperature are adequate.  Sometimes it is cold when you sit near the air vents


Changes: If she could change some aspects of the room, they are:


·      Storage: could use wider shelves to hold large reams of paper.

·      Nowhere to store student work for her 12 classes.  Suggests shallow drawers that can be pulled out and used as bins

·      Need a sink specifically for handcapped students

·      Remove sink that is in island

·      Would like cabinets or counter surrounding white board where she can readily access examples

·      Needs a way to darken room when necessary

·      More windows

·      TV should be relocated; there is a glare and it is too far away

·      Need soap dispensers


Class transition:  There is a “bottleneck” effect when the 6th graders go to Encore classes.  The 6th grade has 300 students that pass through Encore hall and access lockers.  It is too crowded and there are only 5 minutes between classes.


She liked the idea of a graffiti wall and/or a personal art wall.  The students that take band cannot take art as well.  She knows of several students that wanted to take art and band.


She liked the idea of the courtyard becoming an extension of the classroom.  She would have class outside if there was somewhere for the students to sit.  She said, “the students will not sit on the ground because they do not want to get their clothes dirty.”  Some of the other teachers sometimes have class in the courtyards, such as the science classes and band practice.  The band occasionally has a concert in one of the courtyards.


She said that she needs something to tack up artwork for art shows.  When the band has concerts, she displays student work.  She said that people would not come to an art show at the school unless another activity, such as a band concert, is taking place.


She like the idea of having a place to show student work outdoors and have it protected from the elements and vandalism.  She said that other students destroy student work that is displayed in the halls.


She did not think having stools instead of chairs was a good idea because the students do not always pay attention to what they are doing.  Although she did like the idea of storage carts for art supplies with wheels that can act as seating outdoors.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back to Your Roots Charrette Drawings: 2 Artifacts

These are the two artifacts that inspired my drawings in the charrette.  I selected the photo as inspiration because it is a photo of my Mother and me at the Summer Palace in Beijing in April 2008.  My Mother is my role model and mentor.  She is one of the few people in my personal life that truly understands why I went back to school and listens when I talk about my projects.  She was also very supportive and understanding when I decided to undertake a major change in my life by returning to college at age 39-ish.  Also, since I began my student career in IAR in 2005, I have had the unexpected privilege of traveling to Australia, New Zealand, China and the UK.  The travel was an exceedingly valuable experience that has broadened my view of the world.  

The reason I chose Designing the 21st Century by Charlotte and Gary Fiell as an inspiration is my interest in product design.  Over the last few years, I have taken Evolution of Furniture and Contemporary Trends in Product Design in addition to Patrick's History of Architecture and Design courses.  The knowledge I have gained will continue to be a resource to draw on has I explore my ideas.

Back to Your Roots Charrette Drawings: Final 32 to Final 16

Back to Your Roots Charrette: Final Four Images + Model

I imagined a circulation space where there were opportunities for students or faculty to gather in small or large groups in a stimulating environment.  The large leaf-like structure acts as a canopy (and light source) to create a feeling of being protected.  The structure that resembles a jungle-gym is a pavilion where people can meet or a place for impromptu conversations.  The wall with the organically shaped voids lets in light and creates interesting shadows.  I was trying to create a magical space that will stimulate the imagination and recapture the wonder that young children have when they see and explore things for the first time.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Reflections on Poetry of Space: Chapters 2 and 3

A passage in Chapter Two, (page 63, paragraph 2, when Bauchelard quotes from Farewell to the Cottage, p.205), that stood out to me is, "The minute they entered the cottage, it opened its heart and soul:  'At dawn, your freshly white-washed being opened its arms to us: the children felt that they had entered into the heart of a dove, and we loved the ladder--your stairway--right away.'"  This passage says to me that the cottage is a living being, a heaven on earth, that wraps its welcoming arms around you offering pure, unconditional love and optimism.  The children feel instantly safe.  The phrase "...entered the heart of a dove..." indicates a reverberation of peacefulness.  There is so much symbolism and imagery in this passage.  It immediately evoked feelings and images from my grandparents home.  They lived in a very simple cottage, but it was filled with with warmth, love and connections to the past because it was the house my mother and uncles grew up in.  

I found this poem on PoemHunter.com, and it really seemed to speak to me about what Bachelard writes about in Chapters Two and Three.  

Your House

 Tell me what use is a house without
A nook to store something like love
Or barren of tiny shelves on which to
Place a few emotions for safe-keeping
Without the window sills to catch the splash
Of rains on your innermost feelings

Tell me, what use is a house that has
A marked absence of parapets that are
Good reflection posts to peer at your soul
There’s not even a single attic to go and hide
When monsters from the past come hunting
No, it’s an absolutely empty, emotionless house

But then, 
They say a house reflects the owner’s personality. 

Dia Chatterjee

In Chapter Three, about drawers, chests and wardrobes, a passage in the last paragraph on page 84 stood out to me.  The casket contains the things that are unforgettable, unforgettable for us, but also unforgettable  for those whom we are going to give our treasures.  This passage brings to mind a painful memory.  The week after my grandmother's funeral (my grandfather died four years prior), my grandmother's home was robbed while my mother had traveled to her home in Maine.  My sisters went to check on the house and found that the house had been robbed.  The thieves took a great many collectibles, such as McCoy pottery, jewelry, and quilts.  It was also apparent that they were planning to come back for more.  My grandparents were not wealthy, as you can see from the photo of their home, but they had accumulated a lot of collectibles over the years.  Some of the things the robbers took had been handed down through generations -- not necessarily of great value but of sentimental value.  The way I view this very painful memory is that my grandparents' house, after my grandmother's death, was essentially a "chest" containing an inventory of my grandparents' lives -- not the summary of their lives.  By stealing from this chest, the thieves violated the sanctuary and security of the home and scarred the images of my grandparents home that I carried in my memories.  I knew that I would never go into that house again and see my grandparents, which was painful enough.  Now some of the objects that would have evoked imagery of the past are gone to me and my descendants forever.  I can only imagine how the robbery affected my mother.  I still visit my grandparents' home and it will always be a container of special memories even though some of the material treasures are gone from the chest.  I still feel the comforting spirits of my grandparents when I visit there.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Favorite Teachers

My favorite elementary school teacher at Gilbert Elementary in Florence, Alabama, was Miss Browning, my sixth grade teacher.  She was a very proper,  middle aged lady that wore her hair in a beehive hairdo.  I remember that she always wore her sweater across her shoulders with the first button fastened and she had light colored horned rimmed glasses that hung from a chain around her neck.  Her manners and posture were flawless.  I though she was so poised and wonderful.  My friends would make fun of me because I tried to sit like her at the lunch table with my back straight as an arrow.  When I drank my milk from the little milk carton, I kept my pinky stiff and straight just like Miss  Browning.  I don't remember a specific incident that I can share about her because it was so long ago.  Mostly, I recall that she was a quiet natured, sweet lady that really seemed to care about her students.  Not long ago, someone complemented me on my posture and I thought about sweet Miss Browning.

My favorite junior high school teacher at Appleby Junior High in Florence, Alabama, was Mr. Johnson, our band director.  I played the alto saxophone.  Mr. Johnson was probably in his mid to late 20's.  He was so energetic and enthusiastic.  All of the band students worshiped him so much that we ate, slept and breathed "band".  Mr. Johnson was always entering us in a parade, band competition or some other fun event.  The most exciting thing I remember is that one year he brought us to the Blue-Gray bowl game in Birmingham.  There were eighteen band students.  We marched in the half time show.  Our eighteen students formed the "hyphen" in "Blue-Gray" when the college bands spelled out Blue-Gray on the field.   That is such a funny and special memory to me.  Mr. Johnson did so much for us even though he had a wife and young family.  I don't know how he found the time to arrange so many special opportunities for us.  How many people can say that they were once part of the "hyphen" in Blue-Gray?

In high school, my favorite teacher was a young woman named Gloria Brown, my 10th grade English teacher at Baker High School in Baker, Louisiana.  I happened to have her class with my twin sister, Julie.  Mrs. Brown was so sweet to all of her students and always in a pleasant mood.  She recommended me to take part in the East Baton Rouge Parish spelling competition.  I came in fourth (so close yet so far)!  It was a fun experience and made me feel very special to be the student she recommended that year.

Quote from Poetics of Space

"Through the brilliance of an image, the distant past resounds with echoes, and it is hard to know at what depth these echoes will reverberate and die away.  In experiencing  the REVERBERATION of a poetic image, we find the real measure of its being. "  Page 2, Introduction, Poetics of Space

Reverberate means to be reflected many times, as sound waves from the walls of a confined space.  I think the author is talking about how objects can evoke an image from the past.  From our first contact with a childhood home, certain objects can imprint themselves in our memory.  An object, due to shape, color, texture, or sound can evoke a memory and feelings, making it relevant to the present and affect how we feel about the space.  

Friday, February 13, 2009

Reflections on Poetics of Space

I read the two prefaces, introduction, and chapter one.  It took me several attempts to get through the introduction while I became accustomed to Gaston Bachelard’s writing style.  I am trying to wrap my brain around what a poetic moment is really.  Also, I am wondering why it takes 40 pages to attempt to define a poetic moment (the moment has long passed, buddy!  Just joking...).  I understand that a poetic moment has no past or future and does not evoke a response that is associated with the past experiences of the responder.  It is a fleeting moment in time when an image captures an unexpected emotional response.  Maybe I am completely off base here, but that is what I perceived from the reading.

Anyway, I enjoyed Chapter One because the author touched a chord inside me when he talked about how a home can shape the way we define safety, security, etc. and how objects can evoke images from the past.  I definitely get what he says about daydreaming.  As a child, I was a very accomplished daydreamer, as my teacher's can probably attest.  

By the way, Chapter One is now stained with my tears.  While reading Chapter One, I began to daydream about all the homes I have lived in through my life, which are about 13.  This process evoked some bittersweet emotions from me, especially thinking about my Grandparents’ home, because they are no longer living.  When I daydream about their home, I think about the sun porch with Florida windows that leads to the kitchen.  The kitchen door and doorknob represent the anticipation of walking into the kitchen and being hugged---- by my Grandmother and by the warmth and aroma from the oven.  The door has a frosted glass window and those large, old brass metal doorknobs that have a wonderful patina.  When the door opens, the vibration of the window makes a rattling sound that I associate with the arrival of someone special, such as my Grandfather from the farm, my Grandmother from the garden, or the arrival of a favorite Aunt.  The bedroom that I slept in as a child visiting there is a simple yet magical place.  The image I have of waking up in the morning with the sun shining through the white curtains and hearing the birds singing and cows moo-ing in the pasture is so symbolic of love, innocence and the carefree time of a childhood summer.  I remember, as a child, waking up from that heavy sleep when it takes a moment to remember where you are, and as soon as I saw the curtains on the closet in that bedroom, I thought, “yeah, I am at Grandmother’s house!”

If I can stop daydreaming, I might be able to finish the book.

Thesis Proposal: Urban Studio Design Build

What am I going to do????  I know I want to design and build a product.  After visiting ShopBots with Rich's manufacturing methodologies class, I have been thinking about experimenting with the ShopBot.  I want to design a mult-functional product that can be easily reproduced using CNC technology by cutting slices of the design in plywood and gluing them together.  I don't know yet if this idea falls within the possibilities for Urban Studio since I have not discussed it with Robert yet.

Notes on design for 21st century schools

These are a few notes I jotted down from Design Patterns for 21st Century Schools by Prakesh Nair:
- must integrate earth, air, light, temperature, sound, space and symbolism into meaningfully whole patterns that move far beyond "best practices."
- capture the "quality without a name"  (could the author be talking about creating poetic moments?)

Process Work: Windows and Tack Up Space

These sketches represent a few ideas I toyed with for the tackboard space.  I was trying to figure out a way to have the center panels maneuver forward and to each side to 
expose a white board.  Our group decided we already had enough whiteboard space.  

Instead, I used Fabricork and created fold down wood shelves that would be deep, wide and sturdy enough to hold a model.

Process Work: My Lectern

This process work took place prior to the previous posting of the Sketchup drawing of my lectern.

The circled drawing represents an idea that Melanie and I had to have the electrical cables go through the trunk of the lectern and have 3 outlets on the side of the lectern.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Constructivism Concept

Our group's strategy for Gatewood Room 204 was based on the concept of Constructivism, meaning that each of the components of the space have a dual function that will facilitate active learning in the space by offering flexibility and a multitude of options.   

1. The electronic window panes on the South and West walls, made of photochromatic glass, (each pane) can be turned on (translucent) or off (tinted) according to the need of the users.  The windows can be used as a projector screen or a dry erase marker board.  In addition, the glass will add an additional layer of thermal resistance. 

 2. On the North and East walls are 6 Fabricork boards with wood shelves beneath.  The shelves can be kept in the closed position when not in use.  There are two 1'-8" deep shelves per 2'x3'8" Fabricork board.  The shelves will facilitate student's displays of their work because they will be above to show scale models adjacent to their work.

3. A mobile lectern, the control center for the window, A/V, lights and temperature of the room, has a touch screen and remote.  The remote serves the same function as the lectern so the user has the option to work from the lectern or not use the lectern.

4.  The SeatTable offers flexibility in the configuration of the desks, depending on the learning activity.  It also offers the option to free up space in the room by storing the SeatTables in the storage area adjacent to the room..

Constructivism: The Lectern

Our group chose to use the lectern designed by Doug because the design was in harmony with our concept.

Constructivism: SeatTable

Analysis of Statistics Group Project

Precedent Study

Friday, January 30, 2009

Beta - Charrette Two - Lecturn Design

 After doing some Internet research, I began to think all lecterns with storage look too much alike.  Since  there are so many square and box shapes in the project classroom, I believe creating a lectern with a curved contour will be a welcome contrast.  The organic shape will soften the space and be easier on the eye, wherever this mobile unit is situated.  When the lectern is not in use, it will have casters to move it aside.  In this instance the soft contours will be easier to maneuver around without bumping into sharp edges.  

For security purposes, the cabinet and drawer lock.  Inside the cabinet, are designated spaces for up to 2 cpu(s) (I borrowed this idea from Doug Leckie).  I felt it was important to include plenty of drawer space for those unwieldly items, such as cords, remotes, extra bulbs, and other miscellaneous items and supplies storage.    Also, the speaker may need a place to store their personal items during the presentation.  The spaces projecting out on each side of main cabinet provide places for the presenter to set a small glass of water and a laser pointer or remote.  On the top surface of the lecturn, I've included a light so the presenter can read notes (hard copies) in the dark during a presentation.  There is a digital console and screen for manipulating a digital projector as well as a built in manual overhead projector.  The wide drawer directly beneath the top is a docking station for a laptop or for laptop storage.  This area needs more refinement.  This is as far as I have gotten!  Please provide feedback.