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.

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