Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Nostalgia, Values and Sustainability

This is going to be a difficult assignment for me to address because I don’t really understand what a value system is. It’s been mentioned in class but never talked about like some of the other things we’ve addressed. I found Cecil Balmond’s presentation and his answers to all of the questions asked insanely inspirational. I gathered quite a collection of interesting quotes that awarded me with hours of pondering after the lecture. I was getting to the point that I no longer knew what I really wanted to do and why but some of the things he said reminded me of my reasons for getting into architecture.

His comment that things aren’t being done the way the used to and that nostalgia is the architect who does everything stood out the most. It’s something I was thinking about when I listened to Frank Gehry speak last semester but I never quite wrapped me head around it. I remember talking to my girlfriend after his panel discussion and saying that he really doesn’t seem to have that much to do with his projects anymore besides throwing some crap together, sending hoards of people to figure out how to build it and stamping his name on the plans when it’s done. By his own admission, he doesn’t know a thing about how to do stuff on the computers, which is interesting since his designs are entirely reliant upon that technology. I kept arguing that it’s an embarrassment to architecture that he wasn’t doing it himself and that he doesn’t deserve the popularity he has. Now that Cecil has open my mind to the fact that it’s simply the nature of the profession today that there are no longer singular people doing great architecture, I’m able to understand my frustration and why things are the way they are today.

People outside of our little profession have no idea what goes into the design and construction of a building. They don’t know how many phases you go through or how many people’s hands and minds will touch the drawings from their initial conception until the ribbon is cut. They just see the building and see the person who owns the company that designed it. Since I’ve been able to see the process from start to finish, I’ve had a hard time grasping that it isn’t one person doing everything. Now I see that it’s the only way anything can get built nowadays. Nostalgia really is the time when one architect did everything. Imhotep is nostalgia.

So now I’m in the modern condition, with all of this knowledge and understanding that 99% of the world lacks. Do I feel powerful? Not in the least. People are so hung up on being nostalgic that they’ve lost their own ability to create anything new and instead try to relive and recreate the greatness of the past. Proof in point is this little thing called branding. Now that us designers and architects understand that it is pointless to reminisce about the olden days when one man did it all, rather then accept our collaborative futures, we brand ourselves. We try to create a commodity of our name, our work, and ourselves. It’s rather interesting actually. When you can’t be the person who does everything, why not create a fictitious identity that still is you and sell it to the masses. Then it’s that entity which does all the work. What remains are Gehries, Hadids, Mosses, Fosters, Nouvels, Andoes and so on. I write their names this way purposefully because they shouldn’t show ownership to the authors because the author is an agglomeration. Now everyone is able to get their own piece of Nostalgia, and realize they wasted their money on an industrialized collectible.

I don’t even want to get started on sustainability, but I have to. It’s part of the assignment.

Nothing sickens me more then when something that benefits the health and wellbeing of every aspect of our lives is packaged up and handed to me with an inflated pricetag. It’s not that I don’t think the movement is incredibly important. I do. I realize that without it, my future is fucked. I just don’t like how something this important has to become mainstream in order for it to be accepted by society, and that simple acceptance means it comes at a price.

In relating the topic of sustainability to my previous rantings, what I find most interesting about sustainability is that in its modern form, it’s one of the few original ideas that exist. BUT…despite this originality, there is still a great deal of nostalgia associated with it. People aren’t thinking about the future and how wonderful it’s going to once we’re no longer dependent on foreign oil like the commercials say. They aren’t happy that birds and ducks all over the world will have their feet free from plastic bags and soda can holders. They aren’t thrilled that the t-shirt they just bought was made from recycled toilet paper and for whatever reason only comes in brown. All anyone thinks about or really talks about is how easy everything used to be. “Remember when gasoline used to cost you $1 a gallon and you could smoke cigarettes in airplanes? Remember when we didn’t have to pass smog tests? Remember when I didn’t have to pay for my employee’s benefits? Remember when we used to be able to dump all of our industrial waste into that river outback? Remember when children used to be able to work in factories and could get into those tight spaces?”

It’s all bullshit because in reality, people don’t care. They want the easy way out. They don’t want their time wasted, their money wasted or their new French manicure wasted. Why else would people be nostalgic? The only reason is because they think things were so much better back then. People only care about sustainability today because we’re to the point that if they didn’t, everyone will think they’re a jackass. There aren’t many people around who would think twice about buying a 10mpg BMW over a 35mpg Saturn if they could afford it.

Sustainability is a brand and society is behind it. Nostalgia is wishing sustainability wasn’t a brand.

What is Architecture? What is a Building?

These are all questions that I hate. In fact, I hate all questions that are anything like these ones. I’ve never been one to ponder philosophical notions because I’ve always seen it as unproductive. It’s not that I don’t understand that people want to try to determine the difference between designing architecture and designing buildings so they can try to improve their own work. I get that. I just don’t think it will ever affect me or my work. I look at philosophy like I look at religion. Some people believe in it and spend their lives devoted to it and it changes them. If you don’t believe in it then how can it change you? Because I don’t like searching the depths of my psyche to obtain a deeper understanding of the possible differences between architecture and buildings, I don’t see how doing so would really have and profound benefit to me. I don’t think we need to distinguish between buildings and architecture. If we’re going to make an argument that just about anything could be design, related to design, or even be architecture (ie a snowboard), then why try to say there is a difference between a building and architecture. Why can’t it just be two words to describe the same thing?

Cultural anthropology teaches us that each and every culture has different words for the same things. I’m not just talking about languages. Whenever something is important to a culture, or necessary to their survival, they develop more words to describe it. Take for instance the Eskimos. Snow was very important to their survival during the winter months. They developed words to describe the various types of snow that can be used in different ways that don’t exist in our vocabulary. Even if you look at us and consider how many words exist in our language for money. I can think of at least a dozen off the top of my head. Cultures where money is nonexistent or unimportant have less, or none at all. If I take this approach to my understanding of the differences between architecture and a building, I can start to see some differences. Obviously a building can be architecture but not all architecture is buildings. Architecture can be houses, skyscrapers, bridges, garages, shacks, and so on. The way I see it, have always seen it and will probably continue to see it is that Architecture is this huge category, inside which exist these smaller, descriptive words that are necessary for communication between members of a society. This is the only way I can begin to see a difference between Architecture and buildings. Things need to be cut and dry, or black and white for me. Not because I’m incapable of seeing beyond, I am, I almost majored in theoretical physics. Then again, maybe that’s a bad example since theories in physics are only proven by the most precise and definitive of equations.

To quickly touch on design, I look at it the same way I look at the differences between Architecture and buildings. Design is this broad category encompassing anything that is created by the mind to serve some sort of purpose. I know, it’s incredible vague and broad, but if you’re going to ask someone like myself to answer a question like that, it’s the only answer I can come up with. I know that you’re not even expecting answers to these question from us, just exploration, but I can’t do that. I need answers.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Values, Nostalgia, Sustainability

Our values in the United States are shaped by nostalgia, a desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life. When applied to architecture, this return to the former seems to cause a conflict between the world’s concern with sustainability in the built environment and what people want, defined by their values. However, I believe that the link between values, nostalgia, sustainability, single-ownership, and branding are ever apparent and are congruent within our value systems.
Nostalgia is not about excess, as defined by Paul Tang in class. It is a longing for the past and simpler times, when there seemed to be a clearer definition of what is right and wrong. It defines our comfort zones and often reflects a shared love of people or a place. Nostalgia is not about excess, and neither are our core values. Nostalgia is about simplicity.
Sustainability, on the other hand, is a new age idea. It brings new technologies to our built environment for the good of the future. It provides a support to keep this world a healthy living place for everyone. Sustainability is about efficiency.
The underlying commonality between nostalgia and sustainability is the return to simplicity through efficiency. Sustainability will sell in the United States because it is a return to simplicity, using the values that nostalgia has developed within us. Our values tell us that we want to return to a different time, and this nostalgia sells. Although sustainability may be using the latest technology, it will sell in the United States based on the core values within Americans defined by nostalgia.
The apparent contradictions between nostalgia and sustainability are actually similarities, one must just look past society’s definition of values, such as money and material things, and return to the values that have been defined by nostalgia. By using your own values, you will see the underlying congruency between these ideas. The nostalgia that developed your values is now defining sustainability with in the scope of your values. Therefore, sustainability will easily be sold, is the same fashion as nostalgia.
Selling nostalgia brings up the conflict between single-ownership and branding. However, both are congruent and can exist in the US. Branding sells in America, but when a name carries value, it has become a brand. Therefore, both single-ownership and branding are related and will sell in the US. If an item does not have one or the other, however, it will not sell in the US because our values defined by nostalgia have taught us to rely on this method of identification for reliance, trust, and dependency.
Just as nostalgia and values are congruent, single-ownership and branding are congruent. Our values also identify single-ownership and branding as import, serving as a link between these ideas. Sustainability serves as a similarity to nostalgia, and therefore our values, and can be sold through single-ownership and branding. Therefore, all five ideas of nostalgia, values, sustainability, single ownership, and branding are congruent.

What is Architecture?

Architecture is a creative spirit.
It can exist in one’s mind, on paper, on the computer, in clothes we wear, in buildings we use, in cities we live in.

Architecture is an environment.
It is an environment for people, animals, things, and ideas.
It shapes our daily routines, rituals, movements, and thoughts.

People relate to ideas that have aesthetic appeal, visual intent, or physical necessity.
This relation results in the creation of a culture.

Architecture brings meaning to culture.
It creates a product that encompasses the art of civilization, living, and ideas.
It demonstrates age, history, change, and the nature of man.
It can reflect the evolution, or create the evolution, of a society as circumstances of the environment change.
It has cultural, political, and economic effects that shape how we live and think as individuals, families, and communities.

Architecture addresses social concerns, but must also create a worth in and of itself to achieve significance.

Architecture contains an apparent plan of the object, idea, or system that allows it to function.
Through the manipulation of space, volumes, materials, and light – physical means are achieved.

Architecture is a synthesis of all of former creation, current circumstances, and future conditions.

Sandy Liao - Nostalgia vs. Sustainability

How do you place value on nostalgia, sustainability, and single authorship? Are they congruent thoughts, or disjunctive thoughts?

Humans have a tendency to place value on items that are nostalgic. They collect things that remind them of cherished memories, wanting to keep the lifestyle they grew up with: music, clothing, houses. This action is driven by the notion that they are always surrounded by something secure and loving. It is the way humans decorate their “nest”. For inventors, nostalgia is important because they have value placed upon them based on how their items are valued. Single-authorship describes the fame one person can have when what they have created is widely cherished.

Yet there are some that believe in rejecting the past, thinking that it will hold them back from what the future can bring. These people promote changes- often selling the idea of a healthier, heartier lifestyle. Currently, with the idea of global warming endangering the planet’s inhabitants, sustainability has become widely supported. It caters to the idea of living an earth-conscious lifestyle, lessening pollution and encouraging giving back to nature. Its value lies in a future for the planet, whereas nostalgia has a value in the past.

While the two types of belief- nostalgia and “the new”- may seem disjunctive, they actually have a lot in common. Although they address lifestyle differently, both cater to human needs and wants. In the end, people are still living day to day using something they believe will give them happiness. As improved versions or new inventions are made, all previous items become nostalgic- just memories of the past. The cycle of new and old is constant and necessary for evolution, like yin and yang. People need to have something to look back upon in order to judge how to do things better for the future.

The current debate is that sustainability is so earth-conscious that is lacks the human element of single-authorship, but with time, sustainability will become another relic of the past- a memory of how people first began to save their planet. As newer architecture and better inventions are made, our current form of sustainability will become less valued for its purpose, and more valued for its existence as a prototype. At that point, it will become nostalgic, and people will recognize the creators for their inventions’ value.

Sandy Liao - What Is Architecture?

Before coming to USC, I understood architecture to be the designing of buildings. In a way, I understood it to be art at a larger scale. I saw architecture as easily discerned from other structures because it was never mundane. Instead, it was symbolic of whomever or whatever resided within- a self-expression.

What I didn’t understand then is that architecture is more than just an art. In fact, a building can be architecture even if it looks like a typical housing structure. The term architecture is used to convey a structure that a designer has given expression to. The symbolism can be felt in the procession or the layout of the spaces to become smooth and flowing. A good space is created when it lends ease to the users. The expression can also be shown through visual symbolism, meaning the style of the structure, both inside and out.
While the initial appearance of a Frank Gehry structure may differ from that of a Le Corbusier, the rules are similar. Firstly, it requires a vast knowledge about society. Architects need to know about their clients, and their clients can come from any number of backgrounds. The architect can create a more usable space if they understand more about how their clients’ habits. Secondly, it requires an adaptable mindset, which most architects exhibit. The architect is in charge of design, but also in a position to convince a client or builder to do things for a better outcome. Therefore, an architect must be able to alter designs to suit the location, and change minds to please everyone. Having a good head for construction, building media, and locations can also make things easier.
Now, having been in studio for almost five years, I see architecture is more than just design, or pretty pictures come to life. It is the combination of both design and human lifestyle, with the design becoming a symbol of the idea, and the lifestyle reflected in the procession through the space. Architecture requires a wide array of people types to come together to create something everyone can enjoy. It is sensual in that it is tangible, visual, and everything else sensory. Similar to the gothic cathedrals created by craftsmen long ago, architecture has the embedded human element to it other types of construction lack. It is constructed to fit a purpose, and sculpted to become a symbol of that purpose.

Sandy Liao - Who I Am

I made a list and began a self-portrait, since I didn’t know how to begin to define myself.
Middle child of three girls
Educator mother (K-12 tutoring)
Diplomat father (ambassador)
Educator grandmother (kindergarten)
Government official grandfather
Deceased farming grandparents on father’s side
Come from a large family on both ends
Mom’s end is “city”
Dad’s end is “country”
I’m a bit country (spent first years in Tai-Chuang farmland)
Grew up without video games or soda in the house
Grew up wishing I could be as smart as my older sister
Never sought popularity, just friendship
Visual expression (art) was my unique “talent”

Sing a lot
Awkward or clumsy
Believe a drawing isn’t done until the name is signed
Can stay in a museum all day
Can draw an entire day
Can examine an art piece for a second or an hour
Communicate best when face to face
Collect drawing implements
(Used to) collect rocks
Dislike 3d programs
Don’t like it when people question my art before it is done
Don’t understand “abstract” art
Don’t appreciate ancient artifacts unless the skill is easily recognized
Enjoy nature and the slow passing of time
Enjoy and employ use of colors and mixing
Enjoy Photoshop
Enjoy being around other people
Enjoy connecting with other people
Enjoy reading Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Enjoy organizing and taking notes
Learn best with encouragement
Like to hum
Like to be nice
Like to observe other people
Love to whistle
Love to use Prismacolor color pencils
Mature slowly intellectually
Nervous around shy people
Not good with technology
Paranoid in empty hallways and parking lots
Put a lot of emphasis on family
Realize that some choices must be made for myself

See myself and art hand in hand
Am worried about what kind of job I can get with my degree
Am categorized by my international status
Don’t have much of a working background
Would like to employ my architecture skills of modeling and packaging somehow
Feel stronger with my art and studio background
Feel weaker due to lack of experience
Feel I am living year to year worrying about stability
Have been feeling depressed and lackadaisical
Am set on incorporating art into my future so I can feel alive
See production design as something I might enjoy, and also be able to do with my skills set
Am very confused at the moment, but trying my best to figure out “myself”

Who am I?

After pondering upon who I am for a long time, I came to a conclusion that it was impossible for me to identify myself without my faith. Without Christ in the picture of my life, there is no purpose or hope; He is my identity. In that note, the goal of my life is to be a light to the world rather than the darkness of the world. As it was mentioned in the Bible, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise the father in heaven,” I think shining the light within myself, reflecting Christ in everything that I do, would be the first priority of my life. As it also says, no one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. I want to expose what I have to offer to this world.
When I first wanted to pursue architecture, I really wanted to become an architect that reflects what God already did as the great architect Himself. It was when I first visited the Grand Canyon that heightened my consciousness to recognize the greatness of God Himself and His creation. Because we are made in the image of God, I believe that the gift of a creative mind is given to all men. All they have to do is search, build, and practice that talent.
Even though I do not know at this point of my life if I want to pursue architecture, I will continue to seek to imitate and follow after God; it is still my desire to create, whether it may be creative design or creative thought. I seek to shine the light that was given from above in hoping that it will be a little help to light the darkness of this world, positively affecting the lives of the people in this world.

What is Architecture and how it applies to me?

I used to have a clear understanding of what the word “architecture” meant, however, as I went through the last 4 years of college, my perception of the word “architecture” has changed and has deepened in meaning. In the beginning I merely understood architecture as a profession or a field of study. However, I came to a realization that it is more than just a profession or a field of study.
I think architecture exists in many different areas of profession, study, and life in general. Architecture can be applied to anyone who create something of their own or from their own minds, which I think applies to everyone in this earth. Everyone makes and creates something everyday, including the tangibles and intangibles. Therefore, I think everyone can be an architect in this sense. For example, everyone is unique in their own ways in creating their own thoughts and actions from their own experiences, backgrounds, and culture. As one constructs a thought and follow through in action, this process I think can be called “architecture.” They are architects of their lives. Coming back to more of a tangible example, I think almost all the designing professions follow what is called “architecture.” I think architecture includes not only physical buildings that can be built, but also includes constructing design patterns in fashion design, constructing product design, constructing a plot or a story for a movie and so on.
In the Bible, and also by many theologians God has been described as the great architect of this earth. I think God is definitely the great architect and because God made us in reflection of his own image that we are given the ability and opportunity to somehow mimic or follow what he has done in a lot of a smaller scale.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nadia Trevino

What is Architecture?

Since I was very young, I’ve enjoyed driving in LA while looking at the variety of houses and buildings that stirred emotions within me. Color, texture, space, and design are factors that I always look for in everything I see and do. When I decided to apply to USC I chose architecture as my major assuming that I would be working early on with color, materials, and the small details that all together make a house, museum, library, etc. But during my first semester at USC as an architecture major I learned that architecture is not only about aesthetics. It actually comes with the territory of conceptual work and functionality. I admit I was disillusioned at the fact that a building or any design for that matter does just come intuitively and based purely on aesthetic value. After all, people have different tastes and styles and one cannot satisfy them all in a singular building. However, it is important to create limits and criteria that are controlled by the program, site, and type of people using the building. In my first semester I learned how to think philosophically about design, whether it is designing space, sculpture, graphics for my portfolio, furniture, etc. Before my studies in architecture, I believed design was something done on a whim or when one had a creative flow and just let themselves go without any criteria. This may be true for artists such as Jackson Pollock or dare I say Frank Gehry. However, architecture is so much more than just feeling creative and doing some nice drawings for someone to approve.

Architecture is definitely all around. My classes in architecture have forced me to be more aware of the world, the spaces around me, the roofs of every building, and the details that bring together our city’s infrastructure. Although architects’ jobs are to please the people and create spaces that will bring harmony and functionality to a city or even just a small town, at times I think design and architecture are really only important to those who actually appreciate and understand it. Most of the population doesn’t care or even notice a building, how it works, or what makes it flow and harmonize with its surroundings. As architects it is imperative for us to visit and revisit time and time again our designs up until deadline because architecture is a problem that doesn’t have an answer, only a “best solution” that one can come up with taking into account its limitations, program, and time constraints.

When I began working for an interior designer, I realized that architecture is definitely carried over into every aspect of design. Architecture to me is the creative way one manipulates space, mass, forms, light, color, materials in order to create functional (and sometimes aesthetically pleasing) art. Architecture is probably one of the most prestigious forms of art because it is what creates our world and holds it together. I may be so bold as to say it is in fact that most important form of art there is. So in conclusion, architecture to me is not only design. Architecture is creation. Architecture is thinking. It is what keeps our crazy world somewhat organized and functional for everyone to enjoy (especially architects and designers who actually appreciate good design!)

"Who am I?" Presentation

For my presentation I plan on making a slideshow with images, music and video that represent who I am and what has shaped me to be the person I’ve become. For example, I get my “artsy” background from my dad’s side of the family. My dad is a very talented artist and designer and my great-grandfather was a prominent architect in Mexico. My dad was raised in Mexico and my mother was raised in Cuba. Since I come from a Latin family, we have very strong family values and a love for music and dance. In my slideshow I might add some music or video clips that showcase my Latin roots. Although my parents are from different countries, I was born in Los Angeles. I really believe growing up in Los Angeles has exposed me to a lot of cultural diversity. My world revolves around everything art related. I’m an art history minor and am obsessed with going to museums and art galleries. I’m always inspired by things that are aesthetically pleasing. I love product design, textile and wallpaper design, fashion design, exhibition design, interior design, etc. Other things I really enjoy include: traveling, ballet, opera, contemporary art, photography, singing, etc. I’ve been to over a hundred concerts, plays, performances. I’m an extremely passionate person. At times too passionate. Hopefully my presentation will encompass all my qualities, values, and passions, and touch upon the things that make me who I am.


In society today, we are constantly bombarded with the media, advertisements, and products that we hardly know what really has true value anymore. Nostalgia does sell and for good reason. In the past, things were valued more. Even values were valued more! Nowadays, since everything comes so easily and things are produced in a matter of seconds, it’s hard to value the effort most people put in their products. I don’t think nostalgia is bad at all. However, I do believe that we shouldn’t copy from the past. We live in a different society that has different needs. Yet, it is important to look back on the past, realize mistakes, take in the great achievement, and from there use it for inspiration in design. For example, the Medici, Piero, and Orsini “villa” apartments around downtown LA are, in my opinion, bad products of nostalgic ideas. People want to live in Italian villas from the 15th century when we live in the 21st century! What we should do is create apartments that blend in with the urban fabric and don’t stick out like a sore thumb.

In terms of branding, I believe it is all bogus. People buy things not because of quality but because of the well-known name that is for some reason associated with quality because it is pricier. Just because Rem Koolhaas or Morphosis designed a building, we architecture students believe it is the most amazing design and everything about it is right. I’m not saying Koolhaas and Morphosis have no talent. They have definitely created amazing buildings that allow them to have such prestigious names. But sometimes we think a project is going to be amazing even before it’s built because there is an important name attached to it. Branding is just a way of making a name for yourself and your company so that it becomes iconic in society, an easy symbol that people recognize and associate quality with. I’m sure when Prada, Missoni, etc. first started, their products were made in Italy with the utmost attention, yet now everything is made in China but the labels still read “Product of Italy.” Single authorship goes hand in hand with branding. When Rem Koolhaas designs a building with the help of Arup, he will say it is “his building”, because a Koolhaas product sells more than an Arup project. Again, Koolhaas has put his brand in his design. Everyone wants single authorship because one gets more praise that way. The only value in single authorship and branding is recognition.

Sustainability has become very trendy. Green is cool. I believe sustainable architecture is becoming more marketable not only because of innovative technology but also because of politics. Politicians like Al Gore keep reminding us of the issue of global warming and what we can do as citizens of the world to ensure its safety in the future. Although politicians have used ecological sustainability as a vehicle to propel their campaigns, I do think there is value in sustainability. Apart from its trendy situation and political ties, the fact that architects are realizing that their buildings have a lasting impact on the environment is very important for future generations. This extra concern for society’s wellbeing makes sustainable architecture marketable, notable, and valuable.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Presentation Proposal (to date):

Ultimately, I’ll share my CURRENT architecture venture, (Pictures below show service/ examples of type work) thus noting feedback from colleagues.

What shall we call it?

Exhibit design/marketing fabrication/ event-space design.

The primary goal, then, is to express this dimension of myself and make note of any considerable reponse. I’d like to gain an understanding of the class’ take on this particular spatial type and design focus, as it relates to architecture.


"this notion of nostalgia..."

ARCH 470

Feedback on ARUP lecture

Notion of Nostalgia (consumer?)

How do you place value system for sustainability, nostalgia and this notion of single authorship?

Green as a word

- efficiency or profitability

- no means excess

-Context (Rec.evil that prevents us from moving forward)

china vs. hong kong

Sustainable technology in place

- politics

Beyond nostalgia (society celebrates it today)

-Single authorship (congruent or separate)

(in Paul’s opinion) In the US, nostalgia does sell- but questions the value system- is it random?

Why does society do this? Longing, recalling, cherishing

In your opinion, how is value placed on these global phenomenons?


My Thoughts on Nostalgia

our past/tradition/familiarity/comfort

it may seem celebrated today- but only as people begin to realize the rate at which change is taking place today.

Take advancing technology (as a whole), for instance. However great it is, one may find disadvantages that also come along with it. Some relative variants, that differ from person to person, regarding such adaptation and speak of nostalgia include:


-expense aspect

-threatening to that sense of the past

-overwhelming pace rate-find it hard to keep up

-new somewhat denies history- or the original practice/craft/how or way something was once done before

Such notions as these are derived from society. Where each person has an individual sense of one’s own self- meaning, one’s own values. Which is a personal collection that is nostalgic in nature, for every single one of us.

Values- who we are (a part of us)

Simply stated, every past experience, feeling and thought, for each of us personally, make up the very person we are today, or at any given moment; and have affect on who we ultimately become.

The analysis of a subject’s state reveals it's past,

Speaks of its nature, references any values and should relay a sense of identity of/for that which in question. (the subject in question)


It’s the same with architecture-

That which is built usually begins with that which is precedented. The past has an undeniable influence on the present, thus the future.

History repeats itself. As do our thoughts, better known as memories. And the most precious ones, well, that’s what we refer to as nostalgia.

So nostalgic conditions can bring relativity for all. And that scale on which all relate, in turn, results in this “global phenomena”. Reflection, sentimental or not, is healthy; because to remember something stands for change. And anything living is changing. So this notion of recollection actually enforces growth.

A favorite quote of mine, that Volcom Clothing happens to use a lot, is:
'the only constant is change'

anyhow, in my own regards to the past, i find its okay to glance---don’t stare.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Who Am I?...

To let my peers in Arch 470 know who I am, I will be sharing one of my passions with them, Film. I have always been in love with movies and the whole process of making them. I, by no means will ever work in the film industry but I just like making them. Since I was in middle school and got my first video camera for Christmas, I was hooked on filming everything. I have over 150 full tapes of random footage since then and still continue to film things. Most of the time, my buddies and I would film our adventures, pranks, or even just dumb conversations. But I started exploring editing equipment in the beginning of high school. That was when my intentions with my camera became more “disciplined.” We started filming original movies where scripts were written and my actors (friends) rehearsed prior to filming. That was the start of my love for making movies and sharing them with everybody. As the years past and my reputation at school for making movies grew, more people wanted to be in them and more people even asked me to help direct their films for classes and festivals.

Today I think all of the movies I have ever made are actually really bad, but watching all the countless hours of unedited footage reminds me why I loved making movies so much: I am addicted to creating something out of nothing. I have realized that the final products were not my favorite part, but the tedious process that it took to make each one. I loved working with different people which allowed me to expand my perspective on so many things in the process. And as I left high school, I started realizing that it wasn’t movies I loved making, but actually simply creating.

I plan to share my story with my peers in class in form of a presentation by gathering several clips from my actual films as well as candid moments, and creating a PowerPoint presentation which will let everyone know how I have grown as a person over the years. By doing so, several of my interests will be exposed and even some of the fads I went through in the process. Everyone has a different story to tell and a different way to share it. It just turned out that by taking my camera everywhere I went, I ultimately made my life a movie.


When someone searches architecture in a dictionary or a website online, the general definition will say something similar to “the profession of designing buildings, open areas, communities, and other artificial constructions and environments, usually with some regard to aesthetic effect.” This is the first definition for the word “architecture” on Six different definitions follow the initial one and five of them have the word building in it. It was my natural instinct to go online to to search the word when my class was asked to answer the question, “What is architecture?” I have completed seven semesters filled with exposure to what we all call architecture but in reality, what is architecture? Architecture has, ultimately in our society, become something not fully related to buildings, but something more…

Anybody can instantly find an already adapted answer to the word architecture by simply logging onto the internet and typing the word but so much more lies behind that word. Architecture has become such a malleable idea where several meanings have been adapted. While there may have been a time when buildings were the primary intention of idea, is it not the only architecture anymore. There are times where a computer engineer will use the word to imply his design of a particular program. Ultimately, and as strange as it sounds, the computer engineer is correct in his use of the word because, with my personal perspective of the word, architecture is the “designing of…”

The three dots that follow my perspective of architecture are very relevant: they express an opinion that resembles an option. This option is what man would like to think of architecture. My take on the idea strongly believes that architecture is the designing of anything. I believe that architecture is not a concrete idea but one that can change from profession to profession and even interest to interest. As the great Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Architecture is that great living creative spirit which from generation to generation, from age to age, proceeds, persists, creates, according to the nature of man, and his circumstances as they change.”

What is Architecture?

The profession of Architecture dates back to the beginning of civilization; ancient Egyptian architects design temples, palaces and pyramids for cultural, social and religious impact. Architecture is the meaningful transformation of the natural environment to enable human habitation; it reacts to the human experience and attempts to better the human condition.

The creation of architecture, involves critical analysis of land, light, structure and materials; as well as proportion, form and aesthetics. This is the analytical part of design. Analysis is informed by, and informs the concept. Meaning, and the intent of the architect join the analysis in order to find a solution to the architectural problem at hand. This is design.

However, the design of architecture is not the same as that of a can opener. Instead of using architecture as one would use any object, architecture is to be interacted with, experienced. That does not mean that architecture must be a building, or even something physical. A work of architecture that is not built is still architecture, so is one that is not meant to be built.

Ideas, art, buildings, and objects that are designed as studies, statements or criticisms of the built environment can all be architecture. Man has the ability to transform his own environment, and to do so in a way that changes peoples lives. Thoughtful design can change the function of a street, a block or an entire community. Thought about these changes can have a similar effect. Architecture is about solving problems in the built environment to enrich the lives of its users.

Finding Value in Sustainability

Sustainable building methods are the future—environmental and financial efficiency as well as improved total building performance are its main selling points. When asked whether sustainable methods are profitable, Cecil Balmond argued that sustainability has not caught on as the best method of design and construction because of political inertia and a fear of the new. Nostalgia he says, is the necessary evil that impedes the growth of sustainable design.

First there must be a definition of terms. In America, the terms “green” design and sustainable design have been used interchangeably, causing confusion in what the movements are trying to achieve. “Green” design, is an “eco-friendly” approach; where materials, building systems, and site planning are chosen for their minimal environmental impact. This type of design is known to be expensive, financial returns take years to decades (PV arrays, composting toilets), while comfort (nostagia) is sacrificed immediately. Sustainable design, is a new way of thinking about design all together. It is about optimizing systems to function as efficiently as possible, while limiting environmental impact through efficient building performance. In sustainable design, the design/construction team is an integrated group of designers, consultants and contractors who work together in order to check efficiency, quality and timeliness of delivery from the beginning of the project.

“Green” design is at times off-putting—I put little value in reducing “global warming,” because a change from 80 to 81 degrees in summer makes little difference to me. Carbon footprints are even more off putting, since the only scientific consensus on carbon emissions is that carbon-dioxide feeds plants. This may isolate me in my field, however, I do value sustainable design and believe that it is the future of building professions world wide, because I can set aside the purely environmental aspects and embrace its efficiency. Where nostalgia sells to an individual home buyer, efficiency sells to corporate and public sectors.

The average home buyer will never have a house custom built by an architect, they have little to no choice in the methods used to build their homes or the systems within. In this case, nostalgia wins because the average home buyer is looking for a home they like aesthetically, if a Tudor house is what they want, who can tell them that their taste is out dated? Instead, there should be a focus on applying sustainable building methods to corporate and public projects. The American federal government, as well as local governments have already shown a willingness to forgo nostalgia, and accept new forms and aesthetics for efficiency; like the Cal-Trans District 7 building and the San Jose City Hall.

In the building professions, nostalgia also plays a role. The architect wants to design a building from top to bottom, then hand the project off to a contractor, who wants detailed drawings form which he leads his team to build the project. The engineer is left to the side, to figure out how the building will stand up. In a sustainable project, these three fields are integrated, working cooperatively from the beginning to design an efficient project and an efficient means of production. Single authorship is lost.

The way buildings have been created for centuries is changing, and design and building professionals must face the challenge and begin to work cooperatively. Sustainable projects are profitable throughout the world, and corporations and governments as well as educational institutions have shown that they are willing to pay a premium for increased efficiency; as more building firms develop integrated and sustainable design methods it will become the norm and begin to spread to smaller scale projects.

Who Are You? Presentation Synopsis

The best way to find out who I am, is to take a peek inside. With this idea in mind, I approached the project by thinking of what the best way to get inside of myself would be. My project is a Powerpoint presentation, in which I use a series of CT scan images of the brain to illustrate and explain myself to the class.

CT scan images, downloaded from the internet, are shown on the screen with highlighted portions that correspond to:

• my interests and hobbies,
• formative events and aspects of my life and childhood,
• and what I plan to do in the future.

The CT images are shown on a computer screen with some text or an image describing the highlighted portions of the brain. I will discuss each in detail.

In the background, there will be an image of myself moving through the CT machine according to the change in brain images.

Who Are You?

This is my trailer for "Who are you?" presentation.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Arch 470 - Luis Garcia

About Me
The purpose of my presentation will be to underline my personal values as well as short-term and long-term goals that have shaped my choices of study, but also my perception of the word “profession.”
Through my years at USC my short-term goals have drastically changed, but mainly because in my original “plan” I hadn’t looked much past graduation. After re-evaluating myself I came to realize that the switch into the four year program would be the first step to a profession that would both interest me and be satisfying. Although my short-term goals are subject to change, my long-term goals have maintained consistent. The presentation will also address this idea that I am open to changes and that my reason for transferring to the BS in AS served the purpose of allowing for these options.

I will begin by introducing myself at a young age asking myself the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” After running through a couple options, I will then talk about why I chose to study architecture and what I thought I would be doing ten, fifteen years down the line. Of course, I will have to then talk about my reason for switching into the four year BS in AS program rather than following through with the BARCH. This will also tie back into my personal values.

The presentation can take many formats. However, a PowerPoint is probably more suitable so that images can accompany the dialogue.

Architectural Medium
Although there are many practitioners and students of architecture, few have a well-grounded grasp on the nature of architecture. Depending on the specific niche which one has filled, or will fill, various divisions of architecture are created and the definitions then become segmented. It may be seen as the creation of aesthetically pleasing and functional spaces, or perhaps the creation of an object, or merely a minimum square-footage necessary for the inhabitance of a person or thing. So we ask ourselves, “What is architecture?” In an attempt to arrive at this definition, it is important to consider the similarities shared by all of these different notions.
To begin, the practice of architecture always involves a client. This “client” may or may not be a person, because the breadth of architecture is seemingly infinite. Whoever or whatever this client may be, there is always a need or needs which have to be fulfilled. These desirables often exist as a jumble of ideas consisting of vague conceptions of spaces or needs. Architecture then becomes a medium through which the client(s)’ need(s) are processed to produce a final solution. However, there may not be, and should not be a single solution, though the arrival at one may constitute architecture.
For instance, the commissioners of early Gothic cathedrals desired “heavenly” spaces with magnificently high ceilings and visually powerful lighting, as well as the typical components of a church such as the nave and transept. The architect then utilized the most sophisticated technologies and construction techniques to create the desired spaces which led to the enormous buttresses, narrow stained-glass windows, and other characteristics of Gothic cathedrals that we see today. The same applies to any other building typology. These needs begin to shape themselves through the medium of architecture.
However, what if this need is not a building, but perhaps a product, a sculpture, or an article of clothing? The same theory applies. There exists a need, and through the practice of architecture, these needs (and desires) are processed and worked through to create one of many solutions that may exist to satisfy these necessities.
In regards to the roles of the project manager or the developer, the relevance of this theory still stands. The means by which these needs are met may be different, though the fundamentals remain intact. For the project manager, the client is no longer the owner, as it is for the architect, but rather the architect and any others who depend on the project manager to oversee the construction process and completion of the project. Rather than directly designing the spaces, the project manager instead designs a schedule and overall master plan with which the project may be carried out in greatest efficiency and quality. As for the developer, the clients are the people who will interact with or inhabit the spaces which will be built. The theory of needs “using” architecture as a medium is manifested in the notion that the developer will satisfy these needs or wants through the creation of a design team and a build team. It may not be the space or object which is being shaped, but rather the idea and system by which the architecture will be created.
So then we ask ourselves again, “What is architecture? And does one need to be an architect in order to have a hand in its creation?”

Valuation of Architecture:

Architecture in itself has the ability to create a value other than just the materials and plot of land used to create the building. New trends in architecture allow for an added value that may not have existed before. Such trends include the emerging field of sustainable design, the notion of single authorship, and the fixation on the nostalgic characteristics that a building’s design may contribute.

There are two very separate proponents to the movement into sustainable design. On one hand, the inherent value is the reduction of the environmental footprint that a building produces. The use of materials and construction practices with less embodied energy as well as a reduction in the energy that a building must use to operate over its lifespan contribute to the notion of a sustainable value.
However, on the other hand, there are the proponents of sustainable design who see the primary value in it as its marketability. There are of course the direct money-saving systems within sustainable design that make it very desirable, but there is also the immediate association between the client and eco-friendliness. Ford Motors had been known as the leading manufacturer of large SUVs and trucks, but with its recent additions of hybrids and economic vehicles, they have found a way to tap into a new buyer group. It happens at the level of architecture as well. If a company is looking to attract this new wave of eco-friendly costumers, the first thing one would want is to have an eco-friendly building to house the offices or whatever it may be that represents that client. Sustainable design then becomes a brand, just as Nike or anything else. There may be those truly interested in the environmental impact of a building, but then there are those interested in how much “green” their new green building will generate as a brand.

Using nostalgia to add value to architecture also presents itself on many levels. Although not as clear-cut as the two camps of sustainable design, nostalgia as value in architecture does exist. The photo of Koenig’s Case Study #22 by Julius Shulman is a photo which has in a way allowed for this idea of nostalgia to re-emerge. With this photo still as popular today, if not more, as it was in 1960, whole markets of design catering to the clients who want what they see in this photo have surfaced. Many fashion trends today are based off of the eras of the sixties, seventies, and the eighties. Even if you look at the cap of the new plastic Coca-Cola bottles, you’ll find that they have the appearance of the old glass bottle caps of the earlier decades.

Single Authorship: The Gehry building of Los Angeles and the Gehry building of Barcelona are the most common buildings that come to mind when discussing the value of single authorship and the branding of architecture. The same stands with the Rem buildings all over the world or the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings of an earlier era. These architects have made names for themselves and have now produced a brand that is able to sell the product, probably most of the time without the client ever actually seeing the building design. For these reasons, it is important to keep the authorship laws in architecture strict, because it is the ideas and knowledge of architects that contain value. Some may disagree with the success of architects like Gehry, but the truth is that he has been able to utilize and manipulate the ideas of single authorship to be at the point that he is at now.