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SSCE: Mission Accomplished – The Final Design

July 31, 2010


The moment you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived!  Here is my final design for the High Line Eco-Transit Station project!

After weeks of work in the Parsons studios, a final presentation for guest critics on Thursday afternoon, and an open exhibit yesterday afternoon, I am finally finished with the Summer Studies in Constructed Environments program.  This project is the culmination of the work and skills we have learned in our classes over the past five weeks; and while a superhuman amount of work was required to finish everything in time, I am very happy with the results.

So, let me tell you a little bit about my design:

My concept for the design was based on the theme of transition — transportation, for example, being an act of transition.  Transportation involves not only a transition from one location to another, but, as is often the case in an urban setting such as New York City, a transition from one mode of transportation to another as well.  Bicycle commuter know this all too well — transitioning from a traffic-fighting cyclist to a groomed Manhattan professional in the space of a phone booth is part of their daily routines.  The station is designed to both embody and smooth that sense of transition for cyclists, as well as encourage positive interaction between pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, the High Line elevated park, and the surrounding neighborhood.

The exterior design physically links the spaces where these transitions occur, connecting the streets (bicycle travel arteries) with the High Line elevated park, a central pedestrian thoroughfare, in a sweeping array of arced columns that evoke movement and travel.  The exterior was also inspired by my earlier material study project, which similarly featured a sense of movement and flow in a structure.

The positioning of the arced columns on the exterior of the building was derived from a plan to make the structure dialogue with the surrounding architecture and neighborhood, with focus being placed on the neighboring High Line park.  Just south of the site is an elevated “viewing gallery,” accessible only from the High Line, that has a direct view of the site and the adjacent 10th Avenue.

I wanted my structure to both conceal and reveal certain parts of the activity in the interior to the people sitting in this gallery, in order to attract attention to it and cause people to walk over and explore the inside.  As you can see in a view from that gallery, below, the structure only reveals small slivers of the interior to those spectators.

To reintroduce the theme of transition, however, one has to be in the act of transportation — riding, driving, or walking past the structure on 10th Avenue — in order to experience the chameleon-like qualities of the building that slowly reveals itself as you pass it by.  When viewed from a directly perpendicular angle, the exterior columns disappear to reveal the interior activities and let in natural sunlight (below).

The design of the interior of the building continues the theme of transition.  The exterior columns, in some cases, transition to become horizontal floor beams supporting the second floor gallery and cafe spaces.  Also, the facades of the partition walls that describe the information booth, repair, and rental shops on the main level are derived from (and peel off from) the surfaces of the west wall.  One of the exterior columns even morphs into a locking rail for short-term bike parking on the main level.

Of course, the design would not be complete without some method of connecting the building to the High Line park, so that visitors can enter and leave the site by any means necessary.  For this I provided a grand exterior staircase that, literally, climbs the exterior of the building, providing a unique perspective on the structure as visitors climb or descend.

There were almost an innumerable amount of other considerations that went into the design as well, from program considerations (where to park 800 bicycles – on the basement level), to space restrictions, to vertical access requirements, traffic flows; the list goes on and on.  A lot of the considerations were brought about purely from discussions with my Studio professor, T/A, and classmates, who were extremely helpful in finessing the final design.  I definitely learned the value of critique and review from this experience.

In the end I was required to produce a 42″ x 80″ presentation board, along with several models of the design, to present to the critics as well.  I highly encourage you, if interested, to click on the link below to see my final presentation board.

Ryan’s SSCE Final Presentation Board (PDF)

Here are some photos of my models (one site model in 1/16″ scale, and one detail model at 1/8″ scale):

And, finally, here are some examples of my draftings (more of which can be seen on the presentation board, above) of sections for the building:

So, as you can see, there was an extraordinary amount of work involved, but it made for one comprehensive presentation!

This post will mark my last about the SSCE program, however, I plan to continue writing during the school year about lighting topics, my projects, and other adventures in lighting design in New York City, so please check back in August and September for those updates!

For those of you reading this who were in any way involved with the SCCE program — my classmates, professors, T/A’s, or anyone else — thank you so much for a fantastic experience.  I hope to work with you or see you again in the future.


SSCE, Day 14-15: The Clock Starts NOW

July 20, 2010


So, today, after presenting our initial proposals for our final projects (our eco-transit station designs), our Studio professor handed us the list of deliverables due by next Thursday — let me summarize them for you:

  • Final Models: 1 – Site model with final site design at 1/16″ = 1′-0″ scale, 1 – Larger scale model or detail model at at least 1/8″ = 1′-0″ scale.
  • A large rendering, photograph, or drawing of the design
  • A series of interior and exterior views describing features of the design
  • A photographic light study of the model
  • A 3D computer rendering of the design
  • A 2D site plan (drafting)
  • (2) 2D design sections (draftings)
  • (As many as required) 2D design plans (draftings)
  • A CD or DVD of all of the above work, including photos of everything

Needless to say, more than a few of us had a minor panic attack after reading the list.

I am a bit worried, myself, given the amount of time we have to work on weeknights and where I am in the process right now.  As of this morning I had established this as my general design plan:

The design, for those who have been playing along, is based on my materials study I did with the clothespins last week.  I liked the general shape and visual interest in the structure, so I decided to pursue it further instead of start from scratch.

The main concept of my design is forging a transition from the experience of cycling to that of the pedestrian by linking the street (10th Avenue, above), with a pedestrian thoroughfare, the High Line elevated park, that runs alongside it.  As this structure will be used as a bike hub and place of commuter bike parking, I want to make the transition from cycling to walking to work as seamless as possible.  I also want to incorporate traffic from the High Line into the structure, by establishing a staircase that runs along the top of the structure, physically linking the High Line to the street level (not shown in model).  My plans for the interior of the structure are to keep it a wide open, light-filled space, with the floors stacking in a vertical (or stair-stepped) fashion against the High Line, so that all areas share the same open space.  I will then continue the use of the arching supports that form the exterior to brace the multiple levels of the interior as well as guide staircases and other small details.

These concepts are, of course, very difficult to illustrate without a more detailed model and/or many more photos, renderings, and diagrams, which will be forthcoming in the next week.  I will try my best to keep you updated on my progress, however, I hope you’ll understand if I fall behind a bit given the amount of work I have to accomplish.

Nonetheless, I am excited about the direction my project is headed, I just hope that I can get it all done in time!  I can see almost exactly what I want to do in my head, it’s just getting it down on paper and in three dimensions that is the time-consuming part.  I see a lot of long nights ahead.  Wish me luck!

SSCE, Day 13: New Urban Transportation Design

July 17, 2010


In preparation for designing our eco-transit (bike) stations for our final project, we were presented with a series of YouTube videos in class about new bicycle rental and storage technologies that are being employed around the world.  Not that we are expected to engineer a new system for efficiently storing and retrieving bikes – we’re only concerned with the design of the building itself – but I thought them interesting and funny enough to share here nonetheless.  It’s amazing what kinds of inventive solutions designers can come up with for the most basic problems!

A new bicycle rental system in Paris:

An automated, underground bicycle storage and retrieval system in Japan:

A unique bicycle storage system in Switzerland:

A bicycle “lift” for those steep urban climbs:

What will they think of next!?

SSCE, Day 12: The Future of NYC – Green or Blue?

July 17, 2010


Yes, “blue” is apparently the new term for an eco-friendly (and H2O friendly) design aesthetic … “green” is so 2009.  Never heard of it?  Neither had I, until I visited the MoMA on Thursday to see the “Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront” exhibit with my “In the City” class.

The exhibit presents a series of solutions for reshaping New York City’s waterfront into a marine ecosystem of residences, commercial and recreational areas, and energy-harvesting plants, in preparation for the inevitable 10 foot rise of sea levels over the next century due to global climate change.  Seen any disaster flicks in the past 5-10 years?  2012? The Day After Tomorrow? Deep Impact? Yeah, I guess New Yorkers figured they should do something before one of those cinematic epic tidal waves comes knocking.

The exhibit reimagines the city’s waterfronts in several ways, one of which takes the traditional notion of a city block and literally turns it on its head.  This team of designers imagines buildings suspended from a common overhead grid system, where building owners decide how far down they want their buildings to be built (i.e. how close to the water).  The flat space created by the common roof areas serves as an evacuation area in the event of a flood.  This team, in fact, would require all new buildings on the waterfront to have a rooftop evacuation area (notice the switchback-topped building in the photo).

Other designers imagine the city’s waterfront as a flexible, submersible system of parks, farms, ports, and energy-harvesting plants, that is built to accommodate the natural tide changes in the harbor.  What was most notable about this team’s presentation was their model, which combined a physical white model with live projections to demonstrate the potential change in tide levels over the course of a day, and how those changes would affect their planned waterfront design.

I personally enjoyed the added element of an outdoor amphitheater and floating stage in this team’s proposal.  I could only begin to imagine the logistical nightmares that a venue like this would have to solve in order to function safely!  It would, apparently, have the best stage backdrop ever, though, with an uninterrupted view through the proscenium to the Statue of Liberty!

Other teams’ proposals included turning downtown Manhattan streets into “blue” avenues that, when reconstructed with porous and absorptive materials, could act as a natural sponge and filtration system for any excess water that makes it into the city; or, installing huge oyster nets in the harbor to benefit from the natural water-filtration capabilities of the mollusks.  At any rate, there were certainly a lot of interesting, well-though-out designs that would be worth investigating further.  I highly encourage anyone interested in urban design in the NYC area to go visit the exhibit.

After visiting that exhibit we were given the rest of the morning to explore the MoMA at our own leisure.  Unfortunately that only left an hour or so before our afternoon class, but I managed to find another interesting exhibit on 20th- and 21st-century product design before we left.  Take a look at this chandelier!

And this table! (Which, coincidentally, reminded me of some 3D modeling exercises we had recently done in class.)

I really wish I had had more time to spend wandering through the museum; there was so much I didn’t get to see.  Luckily, my New School ID gets me in for free, so I can easily return later!

Continuing the theme of spending time outside of the Parsons buildings, our Studio class, that afternoon, went to visit the site where our final design project, a new bicycle transit station, would be located.  We were tasked with surveying details of the site and the surrounding areas in order to form a clear idea of how our individual designs will function and fit into the space and surrounding neighborhood.  Long story short, our site is currently the home of a mid-sized car park.

While currently a fantastic location for parking your car during the workday, the site has to be transformed into a facility that can store up to 800 commuter bikes, and include other amenities such as locker rooms, a juice bar, and information kiosk, and a bike rental shop.  Yes, the space is just as small as it looks in this photo.

Having never conducted a site survey before, I wandered around the site with my camera and sketch book, noting things like access paths, traffic patterns, colors of the surrounding buildings, and other details I thought would be pertinent to understanding what I had to work with in my design.  What I became most interested in was the site’s adjacency to the High Line elevated park, and it’s proximity to the park’s built-in viewing gallery that overlooks Tenth Ave as well as our site.

A clever feature of the park, designed by prominent New York firm Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, it is the ultimate people-watching location.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately, for me) 10th Avenue doesn’t offer much to look at other than our car park and the enormous yellow billboard that advertises it.  I think it would be interesting to offer a dialogue between this gallery and my transit station by revealing some of the inner workings of it (through translucent walls or the like) on the side that faces south towards the gallery.  This just seems too good of an opportunity to pass-up, in my opinion.

Other opportunities I became interested in were the colors of the surrounding neighborhood, and the site’s relative proximity to the West Side Highway bike path.  It’s really fun to think about the logistics and design of an urban site like this, because it will have such a dramatic impact on the culture and environment surrounding it.  I believe my theatrical training has prepared me well for a project like this too, because, in a way, this feels kind of like designing a set for a show (especially with the proximity of the High Line viewing gallery).  I’m really excited, and I will, of course, post updates about my design as it progresses.  I have to complete a full site model and mock-up in the next few days, so more pictures will be coming soon!

SSCE, Day 10-11: The Calm Before the Storm

July 14, 2010


Ah yes, we have come to the fated “calm before the storm.”  I use the word “calm” loosely, because the kind of calm we experience here at Parsons simply means that we get to leave the studio before 9PM. (What will I do with all of my free time!?)

The storm brewing on the horizon is our final project, issued to us yesterday by our Studio professor, which I’m actually pretty excited about.  Our task is to design an alternative transit station (a.k.a. a bike storage facility) for a site in Chelsea which can park up to 800 bikes, and which includes an information kiosk, locker rooms, a bike rental shop, and a rooftop park and cafe/juice bar!  Wait: it gets even better. We not only have to design the facility from the ground up, but represent it in 2-D draftings, and 3-D digital and physical models as well.  It’s going to be a long two and a half weeks!

Even though it’s going to be a lot of work the result will be worth it.  We will have a fully designed and completed architectural project, which will be a perfect start to my architectural portfolio.  I’ll post updates on it as it progresses — I just started building the foam and digital site models today so that I can start working directly in three dimensions.  I’m excited to see what shape my design takes in the next two weeks.

In other exciting news, a group from our “In the City” class took a tour of a working lighting design firm today!  We visited Tillotson Design Associates in Tribeca, a mid-size lighting design consultancy started in 2004.

TDA is responsible for numerous nation-wide and international projects, but some of their more recent New York projects include the Vera Wang flagship store (above), Diane Von Furstenburg New York, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the School of American Ballet.  Their firm is comprised of about 15 designers including three principals, and their backgrounds vary from architecture to interior design, to a little bit of theatre too.

At first glance upon entering the office I immediately recognized a few sheets of theatrical gel sitting on the desk, which instantly put me at ease, and after exploring the office a bit more I actually found a great number of theatrical fixture catalogs and other assorted equipment that I recognized.  I was a bit surprised, but at the same time I wasn’t, given the prominent convergence of theatrical and architectural lighting over the past few years. At any rate, I immediately felt comfortable in the space, which was relieving.

We met with one of the newer members of the team, Erin, who was a recent grad of the Parsons MFA Lighting program!  After speaking with her more I was further relieved to find out that the firm actually employs a handful of Parsons MFA Lighting graduates, all of whom were hired right out of school!

Erin graciously answered all of our questions for us, which ranged from questions about her role at the firm, to the firm’s projects and organization, to jobs, internships, and life as a lighting designer.  A lot of her answers, not surprisingly, aligned exactly with what I had experienced or learned about architectural firms in the past. (Having interned at a lighting systems office in Las Vegas at PRG a few summers ago, I sort of knew what to expect.)  It was interesting to hear about working in New York, though, which she really promoted as a good place to break into the industry.

After all was said and done I was mostly just relieved to know that my Parsons degree will get me a job in my field, and that if I have any questions that I can contact Erin, who has “been there, done that” a few years before me.

I’m really excited, now, for the next two years; especially for the possibilities of what could happen after graduation!  Bring it on, Parsons!

SSCE, Week 3, Day 10: A Critical Situation

July 12, 2010


If you’ve never had the good fortune to be a part of two three-hour sessions of design presentations and critiques … well, then you aren’t me.  It was Marathon Monday today as we presented completed projects for our Representation and Studio classes, both of which were critiqued by our professors, peers, and even a few invited guests!

So, the morning started off with presentations of our finished AutoCAD plates in our Representation class.  The act of presenting and critiquing draftings is just about as exciting as it sounds, so I will spare you all of the thrilling details; however, I finally figured out that I can upload my files to the blog, so if you click on the link below you can take a look at my finished drafting for yourself!

RFischer – High Line Park AutoCAD Drafting (PDF)

The afternoon, meanwhile, was consumed with presenting our much larger and more comprehensive Studio projects, consisting of a materials study with accompanying construction drawings and a lighting analysis.  This is a photo of my setup, with my lighting analysis on top, construction drawings in the middle, and the physical models below:

And here is a closer look at my finished models (clothespins), with accompanying original materials experiments.

As you can see, the idea behind this presentation was to have a complete, documented project, similar to what I assume will be required for actual critiques as a Parsons grad student.  It looks like a lot of work … because it is!  Presentation days, despite the amount of work they require, are always fun though because you get to see the result of everyone else’s hard work as well.

For the presentations, Eva, our Studio professor, invited some outside guests (mostly practicing architects or professors) to provide some fresh insight into our projects.  The guests were really interested in my first, more organic, “hatch shell” model, which used the clothespin springs to hold together the pieces of wood in a random, but organized and carefully planned, structure (see above, upper left).  They thought it was a good study of the capabilities of the clothespin, and they offered some interesting suggestions on how to improve it in the future, such as focusing more on springs themselves, and creating a much larger, more comprehensive study of all of the possible uses of a clothespin.

That’s one thing I’ve learned about Parsons critiques; they inevitably lead to the conclusion: next time think about it a different way, and do it bigger!

The guests also asked, again and again, about why I made certain design choices that I did.  Luckily, I managed to come up with an answer for all of them, but it really made me realize how even the smallest of decisions can be scrutinized in a design, so I better be prepared to answer for them.  The questioning was much more intense than I am used to in the theatre world, where most people trust you with the small decisions in favor of discussion of the bigger picture.  Lesson learned, though.  This should be good preparation for the fall, too!

Here, again, are copies of my files for you to view, including my lighting study and my construction drawings:

RFischer – Clothespin Structure Draftings (PDF)

RFischer – Clothespin Structure Lighting Study (PDF)

So, after a long day of presentations and critiques the studio was completely emptied out by 8:00PM!  A rarity if ever there was one!  Usually there are people there working furiously until the building closes.  Hopefully everyone went home to get some much needed rest to prepare for the final push when we receive our final Studio projects tomorrow!

SSCE, Day 9: Return to the Light Lab

July 11, 2010


It seems my theatrical training was perfect preparation for this field — now I not only know how to light a stage, but the Earth as well!  All it takes is a clip light and a building model with a little paper cut-out person.

I wanted to quickly post the results of my light lab study with both of the models I have spent the week building.  The idea was to simulate different times of day in order to see how the light would affect our models.  As they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words, so these few should suffice for a lengthy journal entry this time.  Enjoy!

SSCE, Day 8: Photo Fun in Life and Miniatures

July 8, 2010


I start today’s post off with this photo because of all of the photos I took today, this one most resembles my brain and/or my schedule.

I’m kidding, it’s not really that bad – this was just one of the many interesting photos I took today while on a self-guided walking tour of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District.  Since one of our “In the City” engagements couldn’t take all 55 of us at once, those other than the 10 selected were given the morning off to complete the assigned walking tour.  I was more than happy to oblige!  I love when I get the chance to stroll around town and take photos of things that interest me.  Whether architecture, lighting, or some combination of the two, I am always fascinated by design choices in the environment around me.  I learned today, too, that nothing compares to the architectural playground that is New York City.  As I was walking the streets, searching for the buildings I was supposed to be visiting, I discovered many, many other points of interest along the way.  Almost every time I turned around there was something new and exciting to look at.  It may be that I am looking at the city with a fresh eye compared to other cities I have lived in for several years, but I’m also sure that the pure volume of buildings in Manhattan has something to do with it.  Anyway, I trekked all up and down the lower west side this morning, visiting hotels, offices, and restaurants, my camera at my side, and I had a blast.

I had an especially fun, albeit short, conversation with a bellhop at the Maritime Hotel, who caught me taking photos of every nook and cranny of the lobby and foyer.

He accused me of espionage, I laughed, and before my brain caught up with my mouth … out it came: “I’m an architecture student.”  Those are words I never thought I would hear myself say!  After I thought about it a bit, though, I was really okay with it.  After what seems like what’s been a month (really only a week!) at Parsons, I’m actually having fun investigating design outside the four walls of a theatre (even though I miss it terribly).  I guess it was just a quick and easy answer (for some reason it seemed easier than “lighting design student”), but it’s true too.

Introspective moment aside, the rest of my day involved a lot of photography too — of my own work.  When I returned to Studio class in the afternoon, we presented our completed materiality projects, which were essentially sculptures using everyday objects that had to enclose some kind of negative space.  Here are my two, using clothes pins:

The idea of enclosing a negative space was then to consider the objects as architectural items, to be photographed at scale with lighting conditions, etc.  These are just working photos, but they give you an idea of what we’re shooting for:

By presenting these, I actually mean that we went through our first official “desk crits,” presenting to our professor and T/A at our desk to discuss our works in progress.  It was official too — there was a sign-up sheet and everything!  It was my first of what I’m sure will be many desk crits over the next few years.  The verdict on my first one: success.   Eva and Magnus gave me great feedback and offered a few areas where I could strengthen my first sculpture (both structurally and ideologically) to make it feel more like a complete structure.  They also suggested that I make a third sculpture that fell somewhere in between the first, organic, and second, structured, ones, which I began right then in class.

As I mentioned, part of the project will involve taking photos of the sculptures in specific lighting environments.  The true goal is to photograph them in realistic daylight simulations using the school’s light lab, which we visited for the first time today!  We were taught how to use a sun-positioning diagram, as well as how to realistically simulate sunlight in our photos.  We also learned tricks on how to incorporate LEDs quickly and easily into our projects, which is something I will definitely consider, when appropriate, in the future.

I’ll post the completed project photos, which we should be taking tomorrow during class, next time!

SSCE, Day 7: Advanced Topics in Architecture … Finally!

July 8, 2010


Praise the summer school gods! Finally we’re starting to get somewhere in this program!

Today was an enormous turn around, from my point of view, from the past week of classes.  It was not only an incredibly enlightening and thought-provoking day, but we finally had the opportunity to pass out the coveted “Best Speaker in the SSCE Program” award — to a visiting architect!  I’ll start with that story.

The highlight of the day was absolutely the “In the City” class in which we listened to a presentation from David Lewis of LTL Architects.  David’s presentation was about materiality in architectural projects — an obvious gesture to our current studio projects dealing with the use of materials and repetition — and it was incredible.  David discussed ways in which his firm designed the interior of a coffee shop using the materials of a coffee cup (cardboard, Styrofoam, paper) as inspiration, how they visually drew passers-by into a bakery using plywood, felt, and creative lighting, and how they designed the interior of a seafood restaurant around a wooden skewer (which turned into 110,000 more suspended from the ceiling)! (See photo.)

His firm’s use of materials and sensitivities to all aspects of a client’s project was fascinating. The presentation read, to me, much like design presentations from a theatrical production meeting, or as a design portfolio being presented to a panel.  He presented the inspiration for the project, the process and stages the plans went through, the steps in the final production (and sometimes fabrication) of the project, and the finished result.  You could follow every step of his logic from beginning to end, and by the end of the presentation it was crystal-clear how his firm designs and functions.  It was simply brilliant.

Not to name names, but a lot of the professors (and some of the T/A’s) this summer have been making presentations and lectures in what I refer to as “expanding speech,” an overly-articulated, highly technical language that uses as many lengthy words as possible, which, ironically, results in very little actually being said.  A number of them are also guilty of … pausing … in the middle of … thoughts and sentences when they speak.  Not David!  He didn’t waste a word or hesitate for an instant, and he had a great sense of humor too!  Thus he wins the “Best Speaker” award. 10 out of 10 SSCE students agree!

Another of the better speakers in the program, a T/A, Jeff, I also met for the first time today in my first breakout section of “In the City.”  Jeff happens to be a current dual-degree M. Arch/MFA Lighting Design student at Parsons, so it was great to meet and chat with him.  He assured me he would fill me in on all the juicy details of being a grad student there.  What I really appreciate about Jeff, however, is that he is really smart.  He made an eye-opening presentation at the beginning of class about language as it relates to theories of architecture, which brought my mind to a whole new level of blown away.  He also made sure to plan several days ahead for an informed in-class discussion by sending us readings that would relate to our assigned walking tours of the city — a forethought which definitely proved fruitful when it came time to discuss our reactions to the architecture we saw.  For example, I presented my lighting sketches as they related to a discussion of decoration and billboards found in two of the readings, which generated some interesting discussion on signage and architecture.  Of course, I discussed the theatricality of the lighting on some of the buildings as well — I had to; just look at the hotel I saw!

Progress was also made in our drafting class today when we finally made the jump to AutoCAD.  Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly understand and appreciate the values of hand drafting and I highly recommend a thorough class in it before even attempting CAD, but two and a half years is enough for me!  It was nice to get back into the program after having been away from it for a while.  I was worried that I wouldn’t remember any of the commands or keystrokes, but I quickly found it was like riding a bike: you never forget it once you learn.  I also realized how thankful I was to have taken Keith Cornelius’ AutoCAD class.  Due to time constraints Aaron had to teach the beginners in our class how to draft using the different buttons at the top of the screen (gasp!).  I was much more efficient because I not only knew all of the commands and keystrokes I needed to use, but I knew the exact right place to use them.  I actually ended up finishing my homework during class time, which was a first for the summer!

Overall the day just felt more productive, intellectually and physically, than an other day so far.  My brain was going a thousand miles a minute, all day, which doesn’t happen very often.  I’m also extra excited because at the end of the day we signed up to take a tour of a local design firm of our choice — I’m going to visit a downtown lighting design firm next week!  I can’t wait!

SSCE, Week 2, Day 6: Welcome to the DANGER ZONE

July 7, 2010


Okay, so it’s the start of week two here at Parsons and things were a little, for lack of better word, goofy today.  It seems that everyone, myself included, seems to be finally settling into the studio space and rhythm of classes, which means that everyone is a bit more relaxed and open to joking around.  For instance, this was the scene on my desk after drafting class this morning:

Now, it may appear that I had some free time to construct this epic battle — I won’t lie, I did — but, everything you see here also had a purpose in our next studio project.  That’s beside the point though.  The point is that we are all beginning to feel more comfortable around each other, and we are developing somewhat of a camaraderie within our group.

It really started to show through today in our studio class.  As we were discussing our experiments with our small, random collections of items, we were all commenting on each other’s work and suggesting how we could take it to the next level.  There was a lot more of a comfortable discussion — a group brainstorming session, almost — than I think we had last week.  The conversation has also started taking interesting new turns into philosophy and architectural theory, and how they relate to our projects, out of genuine interest from people in the group, which has been really informative and fun! (I, in fact, started generating a reading list today from our discussions).

Our drafting class was also a bit more productive, in terms of discussion, than last week too.  Since today marked the due date of our first hand-drafted project, we pinned them all up on a wall to discuss and compare them, and I think now that everyone has had at least some experience with drafting that we can discuss them in finer detail.  I think we are also becoming more comfortable with Aaron, our professor, and Magnus, our T/A, which has contributed to a more relaxed and productive atmosphere.

Overall, it was a pretty good day.  To top it all off, at the end of the day, one of my section-mates, Jacinda, found a way to unite our entire section while re-purposing left-over supplies from the studio project:

We marked off our territory, warning any unsuspecting passers-by of the “dangerous minds and ideas” in the area.  Magnus didn’t appreciate the decorations as much as we did — he now has to limbo under the tape every time he walks through!

Please enjoy our new theme song.  And please be aware of jet engine wash as you walk by — you’ve entered THE DANGER ZONE.