Topography Over Time

Our last project for architecture was getting to know a particular site in depth so that we can later design a building for it.  My particular assignment was to research the history of the site, a small plot on Portage Bay in Seattle.  I decided that a cool way to go about it would be to create an infographic that showed the changes in topography over time.  I’m not sure if this is something that’s done regularly, but it seemed concise and informative.

I went with a simple, colorful graphic that actually has a fair bit of information in it.  I didn’t want to make it busier by adding dates, and since they aren’t as relevant as the changes that have happened, I didn’t think it was necessary.  There’s a section and a plan view that both show the transition from native to western dominance of the area, the cut of the first and second log channels, the digging of the ship canal, the deforestation that occurred, and the construction of both the University and I-5 bridges.  Obviously this didn’t all happen right at a specific point, but it reflects the important topographical changes that occurred around the site in question.  Hopefully it gets across what I want it to!


Boat Street

We’ve got a new project for architecture.  The first part of it was becoming intimately familiar with the site, so as to better fit a building into it later.  The site is a waterfront lot on Boat Street next to Portage Bay.  There are existing buildings on the site, a few covered boat docks that make it seem very maritime.  There’s a parking lot on the street level, and it then descends down a flight of stairs through shrubbery to the water level.

I drew sketches of the some of the buildings, took photos, and wrote a few haikus to capture the feeling in words.  Here they are.

Calm water lapping

Sun beats on corrugated tin

With wooden supports.

Water ripples in

Reflecting off stabled boats

Roofs are shimmering.

Concrete, plants, water

Floors without buildings, buildings without floors

A downhill approach.

*   *   *

The next step is to design a building for a fictional small boat co-op to inhabit the site.  It’s one of those funny assignments where the first assignment is to design the clients, and then we make a building to fit them.  Sort of like reverse engineering.

Becoming a Person

When things are easy it’s sometimes hard to fully develop.  There are certain things that everyone needs to go through in this life if they can be said to have really lived.  I don’t pretend to know all of them, but I’ve got a shortlist of three that have wrought serious change on my character over the last few months.

In order to become a person you need to fail.  Not just make a mistake, but actually fuck something up so badly that you can’t fix it and it affects other people as well as you.  That’s real failure.  For me that was the ultimate team, feeling what I defined as success slipping away, getting my ambition crushed, and then finally letting down my teammates by neglecting to get us rostered for the series.  If that doesn’t sound like a big deal, it’s only because it lacks the context of what ultimate has been to me, going to Northwest, growing up with the best players in the world.

In order to become a person you need to have your heart broken.  I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced quite that much, but having someone break up with you is painful and unique, and offers an understanding of the end of the world that must be heartbreak.  I always thought the toughest part would be the implicit criticism, the feeling that you just weren’t good enough.  But it isn’t.  The toughest part is trying to wrap your mind around the fact that someone you care about so much and miss so badly doesn’t want anything to do with you anymore.  I hear it gets better with time.

In order to become a person you need to face an act of god.  This one is put pretty generally, but I didn’t know how else to say it.  Physical things happen to you or to people you love that are uncontrollable.  You can prepare against a lot, but sometimes it isn’t enough.  For some this is a hurricane, or an earthquake, or a car accident.  For my mom it was getting breast cancer.  Here again I can’t claim to have faced god myself but I have watched and will continue to watch and support as she undergoes surgery and chemotherapy.

What these things primarily seem to have in common is an uncontrollable nature.  When you are young you think the world is yours to act on, but I guess part of growing up is learning that the world acts profoundly on you as well.  Sometimes you have to become broken in order to become whole.

What’s Going On(?)

Wow.  I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but I absolutely did not think it had been a full month.  Things have been happening very quickly.  A lot of them.

But after looking back over what I’ve been putting on here the last few months, I’m disappointed in myself.  This was supposed to be a place for me to share thoughts with meaning, original ideas and interpretations that were worth preserving and, just maybe, reaching a wider audience.  But instead it’s degenerated into a reblog, a timid facsimile of, and the very thing that I claimed not to be when arguing against Jaron Lanier back when my posts had content.

So now that my life has hopefully calmed down a bit and I’ve gained more perspective than I ever saw coming, I think it’s time to take it back to the gameplan and actually make use of the ideas I have.  They just might be of value to you, and I know they will be to a future me.  As fun as flaming shopping carts are, my apologies.


Price Check Aisle One

How much for this fire?

Inspired by Iceland

Iceland has come out with a neat little tourism video that, I must admit, is about the most enticing bit of national advertisement I’ve seen.  It’s fun, beautiful, dynamic and diverse.  I think Iceland has been trying to boost their tourism industry lately, because it seems to be coming up all over the place, and not just because of the volcano.  I have to say, it’s getting to me.  I very much want to travel to Iceland, maybe even live there for a while.

It seems like the kind of place I frequently feel drawn to: remote, wild, rural, simple…but at the same time, it does have a modern, active, culturally vibrant part to it that would keep the realistic loneliness and boredom from slowly squeezing the life out of me.  We’ll see…