Friday, September 30, 2011

The Trunk Table

This week, in Stoel's Iarc 301 Interior Architecture class, we created a model from our design of Groovystuff teak reclaimed wood pieces.  Most of these pieces were around since the mid-1800's, wagon wheels, farm tools, and tree trunks.

A Personal Critique of my DC Presentation

Understanding the message I wanted to convey to the audience was key in organizing the presentation for my speech of: “what knowledge I gained from our DC trip, that I thought was valuable enough to share with the class.”  When I walked into the GHM I saw so much volume that cried out for drama.  The unique architecture at the GHM called for something equally dramatic.  I knew what I was looking for in DC, and I recognized it when I fond it at the Arthur M. Sacker Gallery.

Walking into the monumental space at the Arthur M. Sacker Gallery I saw a symphony created among spatial relationships.  The materials and architecture blended as one with a crescendo from Xu Bing’s “Monkey’s Grasp for the Moon” sculptured artwork.  Suspended 4 stories from the skylights above to the reflecting pool below, and centered within the geometric staircase, “Monkey’s Grasp for the Moon” draws the viewer in for a long, lasting gaze.  Soaking up the drama, the viewer takes the experience with them to reflect upon in years to come.

I knew what I wanted to discuss with my presentation, and I knew what subject I wanted to direct my focus.  I just needed to search for the right picture, which would serve the experience justice.  In taking the time to really admire the piece, I captured the images from various angles.  I found the right one, made adjustments in Photoshop for increase contrast, and cropping to the size appropriately, so the image was equally matched with the subject matter. 

In preparing to write a speech for my presentation, the words flowed freely when I looked upon the image.   I recalled the experience, the emotion I drew from the space.  I wanted to combine key points from our reading of Rengel’s “Shaping Interior Space” putting the presentation in context of our class work.  My speech was not very long, but focused.  I search for the right adjectives, which complimented the image.  

I did not visit the Speech Center, although I would have liked to, but the two-day restriction they require of your first visit prior to your presentation, just did not fit into my schedule. In balancing two studios, with two deadlines for the same day, I had to fit in this assignment where I could.  As it turned out, that timeslot was 10:30 pm the night before, with rehearsal in front of the ladies room mirror at 7:30 am until 9:00 am. 

Normally, I have no trouble speaking in front of a group of people, in whatever subject is on my mind, but in this case, I felt my performance was on up to my usual standard for several reasons.   I made the mistake of trying to memorize the speech, as I once did with the declaration of independence in 3rd grade, where I can still recite to this day, but my memorizing skills are not what they use to be.  I should have just had bullets of notes highlighting the points I wanted to make, and not been so rigid in the use of the appropriate adjectives, as I do in my writing.  Having had very little sleep the night before, when I stumbled to remember the next phrase, I paused, trying desperately not to say; “uhm.” I turned to the page, and read the rest.  I knew what I wanted to say, I should have never tried to memorized a speech, but rather look upon the image and spoke freely from the heart as to what I felt when I saw the drama in the space.   

Conceptual Communication with the GHM Design Team 9/28/2011

My conceptual contribution offered considerations in connecting the building’s exterior design to the interior space by resonating the circular design form, and adding an earth tone palette, offering a timeless endurance and revitalizing the visitor’s experience through interactive visual exposure.  This concept was developed with the introduction of a larger circular desk with an integrated pamphlet structure around the front face, and dual height utilization for the visitor and receptionist.  By restructuring the information pamphlets into the welcoming space a redesigned kiosk took on a new life form of technology and museum identity.  I further introduced a satellite museum gift shop serving dual functions of museum identity and of gaining revenue.

In listening to comments from my presentation there was a consensus with changing the visitor’s desk into a larger circular desk.  They liked the idea of incorporating the information pamphlets into a welcoming space, and freeing up the space taken by the existing kiosk into an interactive display and offering museum identity through technology.  There was divided interest in the logistics of having a satellite gift shop, but rather a teaser prelude to the 2nd floor gift shop through wave finding identifiers.  Other interest in the potential of having a mobile satellite gift shop for events was heavily considered, and warranted further detailed investigation with addressing the needs of museum personnel.  Wave finding was still a key issue as with vertical movement within the space.  Updating the museum with technology and offering interactive identifiers was high on the list of priorities.  When I mentioned the interactive kiosk experience of the passport documentation with our visit to the Library of Congress from our DC trip, there was great enthusiasm of doing something creative along that line of visitor engagement.

The meeting remained energized with continued interaction between UNCG students and GHM associates.  The process flowed extremely well, and was well organized.  The materials providing the GHM associates for additional commentaries, along with carefully timed intervals for written thought was well structured, and offered an opportunity for reinforced documentation.  At the end of the hour-long meeting, the discussions had exhausted numerous details, and set a professional standard of comfort among the GHM associates and UNCG students, providing us with a fulfilled sense of pride and camaraderie.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Forbidden Fruit

All you have to do is tell someone they can't have something, and all they do is desire it.  Such is human nature, and I am no different.  This is the beautiful ceiling in the reading room at the Library of Congress from our DC trip.  Yes we were told no pictures, but we were not told that we could not take pictures from the hall looking into the reading room, and that is what I did.  My coveted picture of the reading room. 

DC Photoshop Adjustments

I first started with a photo from the Freer Art Gallery's courtyard.  A beautiful setting.  With photoshop adjustments of: artistic rendering with color pencils, ripple effects,  brightness/contrast and cropping, I arrived at an impressionist view of the courtyard. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

An Urban Street -

Pen & Ink on Vellum by Eileen 8/2010

Continuing with my studing of Peter Caldwell's "Pen & Ink Sketching" book, I refined my interest in landscaping, and explored architecture elements with human interaction.  I worked on this drawing for 2 -3 hours a day for a month to complete this drawing.  Notice the continued style of leaves as I introduced in my previous pen & ink drawing "House in the Woods," where I bring more definition to the forefront and less as the street line recedes into space. 

I brought Drama back from DC

Adding Drama is an important goal to achieve in a museum, especially when initially drawing the visitor’s attention.

As for the three museums I saw in DC; the Hirshhorn, the Freer Gallery of Art, and the one where this picture is taken from, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, is the one, which best achieves that goal.

Complementing the monumental scale of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is Xu Bing’s Monkeys Grasp for the Moon” sculpture.   Suspended 4 stories from the skylights above down to the reflecting pool, the picture artfully depicts drama created with the accumulating features:  Of natural light brought in from various angles, in conjunction with strategically placed task lighting.  The diamond staircase mimicking the architecture in both, the windows and the archways, which serve as accents on the artwork.  The materials and color scheme of pink and gray granite masonry with touches of golden illumination, serve as a perfect backdrop, to setting the visual atmosphere, in order to best appreciate the Asian artwork at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.   
Striking as it stands, rich in legend and culture, the interlinking sculpture, spelling the word “Monkey”, again and again, in various languages from around the world. It immediately grabbed my attention, enticed me to explore further, brought unity to the exhibits, and left a lasting impression on me of the museum’s identity. 
Drama, unity and identity is what I would like to embrace is in the design of the Greensboro Historical Museum. 

Adding Drama is an important goal to achieve in any museum, especially when initially drawing the visitor’s attention.
 As for the three museums I saw in DC; the Hirshhorn, the Freer Gallery of Art, and the one where this picture is taken, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, is the one which best achieved that goal.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A House in the Woods

Moore Square, Raleigh NC

                                 Rendered with color pencils
                         Pen & Ink Line Drawing on Vellum
                                         Eileen 8/2010

A sketching class trip to Moore Square in Raleigh intoducted me to perspective skeching techniques, out of the classroom ridgity of precise drawing, towards a more artisitc interpretation.  Holding up a plexi-glass with clear film up to the building, I traced in space the prespective outline with a Sharpie, took pictures of the building to help guide me into refining the drawing once I returned to the classroom.  This technique was first intoducted to me when our instructor had us go to the rest room, place a clear film on the mirror, and draw our face.  A very laughable start to a new technique, for coordinating you hand to what you eyes see. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Journey in Time at the Greensboro Historical Museum

The Identity of the Greensboro Historical Museum is captured within the vast array of exhibits depicting the rich history of North Carolina, from its inception into the modern era.  The “Voices of a City” exhibit is carefully laid out to take you on a journey while evoking passionate emotions as it chronicles ordinary lives from a time long since past. 
The exhibit is enhanced by the interactive displays speaking out to you, while it creates the atmosphere of a moment in time.  The Entrance to the “Voices of a City” descends through a long dark tunnel depicting a time machine, as it drops you into an open forum filled with faces from the past, and their words written on its walls.  The large octagonal room, mimicking the building’s structure, serves as a gathering of thoughts, and a prelude to the exhibit, capturing its very heart.  The predominate color of the room is dark gray, an appropriate backdrop for the images and the white text written across its walls.  The room transitions easily into the presentation, and then through a gradation of history.  The excitement of the exhibit heightens with a full size wagon display.  The repetition of other unique displays re-enforces the exhibits message while keeping the interest of the viewer.  There is a balance of symmetry between the displays and the descriptive accompaniments in conjunction with the entire sequence of events.  The corridors circulates throughout the building with a comfortable flow as the exhibits continues to unfold, passing through arched doorways into nodes, then transitioning into larger open arenas with a full circle of displays.  The backdrop is dark, with tracks lighting accentuating the displays and illuminating the path.  The exit to the “Voices of the City” leaves you with a parting phase: “Greensboro remains a gateway, a haven, a home.  We talk, we debate, we adapt.  Keep listening to our voices.”  Lasting memories bringing unity to the composition of the exhibit. 

Leaving the “Voices of the City” exhibit brings you though the museum’s gift shop.  A stark contrast from the dark backdrop relaxing your mind through your previous journey, The gift shop is fully illuminated waking you up with yellow walls cheerfully displaying tempting memorabilia.  Stopping for a moment to see the organizational groupings of each exhibits’ corner, the shopper can easily find their wallet, and see the prices of their desired purchase. 

The other end of the gift shop brings you into an open area of the “Pottery Display” exhibits. A loop design circulation, the centerpiece contains a showcase with a video feed telling the history of the North Carolina pottery industry.  The pottery is displayed attractively in the showcase, as stories are associated within the composition of the display. The bright illuminated showcases surround you as you orient yourself from the center of the exhibit.  A back corridor leads you into a secondary pathway of another larger loop system containing the “Period Rooms” exhibit.  This second pathway is darker by comparison, and gives you an uncomfortable feeling walking down the corridor.  The period pieces are quite lovely but they are not given the proper attention they deserve considering the atmosphere.  The mood is stagnant.  The exhibits are just there.  The circulation is unorganized, not fitting well within a double loop system shared with the pottery exhibit.  Passerby’s crisscross in and out from the pottery exhibit, going in opposite directions cause a disturbing flow.  The light from the pottery exhibit casts unintended shadows, detracting from the period rooms.  Returning back to the “Pottery Display”, I become aware the circulation of the loop system does not work well there either.  The centerpiece showcase with the video feed cuts off the circulation, and disturbs the flow of the room.  The room can be improved upon with the removal of the centerpiece, opening up the circular flow of traffic for ease of movement in all directions.  Leaving the “Pottery Display” exhibit, I exit through its main entrance into a vestibule containing a “Dolly Madison” exhibit as an introduction to the room.  The connection of the room doesn’t work well as a whole.  There in no continuity with the room between exhibits or an ease into a transition. 

I travel to the 3rd floor exhibits where I am greeted with two circular showcases on either side of the landing, each depicting the entranceway to their exhibit.  I take the right path, welcoming me to the Gate City; I enter into the exhibit where I am quickly transported back in time to the Clegg Hotel, circa 1890.  The Clegg Hotel creates an authentic setting with a life size figure of the proprietor, Mr. Will F. Clegg, standing proudly behind the bar welcoming his patrons to his hotel, as he highlights some of its new features.  Looking around the room I spot a comfortable group seating arrangement, where I am invited to relax as I take in the full ambience of the setting.  A table next to me has an old phone, with signage where I can listen to the train schedules.  I look around the room, viewing the exhibit in its entirety.  Above me is a chandelier appropriate for the period adding to the experience, while I investigate further details of the room providing additional layers, while retaining the viewer’s interest. The blending of the furnishing seems appropriate for its time, adding small touches, like doilies on the table, and surveys on the wall showing me the routes of the old southern railway system. Additional displays are presented as documentation of the past, including a letter signed by the proprietor, W. F. Clegg’s requesting permission from the mayor to operate two pool rooms.  Upon further investigation I spot as small pathway leading to another experience.  An interesting side node containing several old switchboards, with signage inviting me to plug in a few extensions, an amusing distraction as I interact within the display to listen into a few phone conversations.  Entering back into the lobby, another pathway exits the hotel leaving me onto a town square with park benches under a shady tree.  My interest is heightened as I looked at the intricate details of structure, which created a complete experience adding another layer to the exhibit.  Each building on its own adds to the appeal, while it re-enforces the authenticity.  Investing the movie theater, the drug store, the schoolhouse, blends together perfect harmony in the composition of the exhibit.  Different side path continues to add more layers while the view can move around comfortably with other visitors.  The circulation around the town square in a loop system, but with the added space allows the patron to move easily throughout the exhibit.  This exhibit captures the very heart of the small town experience of Greensboro just prior to its larger growth.  Leaving the exhibit with a clear picture of history and a enjoyable experience throughout.

Continue on across the 3rd floor landing banners are directing my path to enter into the "Down Home" exhibit.  The very heart of the exhibit is rich in cultural experience of the jewish immigrant as they joined the community within North Carolina.  The story tells a tell of an assimilation from traditional roots combining with a southern culture, while retaining their identity.  The exhibit shows many different experiences of tradition as you follow you journey through the exhibit organizing a hierarchy if the elements within the exhibit.  Intricate details of furnishings and supported within an overall theme of family taking center stage of a jewish immigrants lifestyle.  "We are immigrants, and we are southerns too, is clearly noted within displays.  The exhibit is one large room segregated into different settings to complete the story.  The circulation of the exhibit has a wide spacious comfort allowing each patron to move freely in all direction without interference with another patron.  The displays and angled towards the entrance so the viewer can see the many aspects of the exhibit in its entirety.  As the exhibits guides you through the transition of the jewish immigrate life experience, it continues to build on the previous display, taking you toward a modern lifestyle of a second generation decedents.  The theme is capture within a familiar family setting of the home kitchen, with the decor symbolizing a 1950's time period.  Opening up the refrigerator, and oven gives the viewer an interactive experience of that generations meals which adds the southern culture, borrowing from the past with recipes handing down from grandmother, to mother, then to the current generation.  Circling around the room the exhibit ends with a combination of the past jewish culture with the southern lifestyle, leading up the the current time period.  The chronological order of the exhibit clears establishes the experience of a jewish immigrant to North Carolina.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Group Preference - GHM

I think all the projects each are very interesting, and have unique qualities and challenges, but as all do, I have a favorite.  I love the GHM project, and would really love to be a part of it's conceptual design process.  I love the rich history associated with the GHM, and the multiplicity of the structure itself.  It presents a great many challenges, and I believe finding solutions to these problems will energize me.  

I believe I can offer a great many skills which would help lead to its success.  I love classic architecture.  I follow the work of architect's, as in the case of Phillip Johnson, who are able to seamlessly assimilate classical features into modern structures.  Understanding this design philosophy is an important key to the project's success.  I am very good at research.  I follow precedence, and like to borrow ideas from the masters which I believe would be applicable to our design.  Organization is going to be another key factor attributing to the project's success.  As I am new to the area, I have already visited the GHM on 3 past occasions, and plan to visit again tomorrow to finalize my illustrated essay.  The museum is filled with many different exhibits, which I believe need careful understanding and detailing to digest, organize, and bring together all the factors which will bring the identity of the museum into clearer focus.  I have excellent CAD skills which I believe would be an asset to any team.  I love to sketch and put thoughts down on paper, but I do have a problem posting drawings which I do not believe reflect my best work, or ready for public viewing.  I have lots of sketches, which I convey ideas and concepts that I would like to develop further.  I believe this forum is going to present a challenge for me to find a middle ground which will work well for my team.

A Narrative of the Industries of the Blind

A short walk from UNCG led us to a main thoroughfare with a modern brick building, clean with sleek lines, and sitting on a new paved parking lot.  Looking up at the building’s fa├žade in large bold white letters reads: Industries of the Blind, INC.  A covered porch supported the entranceway to the building; decorated with a small garden in front, visitors descended down into the porch side entrances, from either stairs on one side, or a ramp with the other.  Inside the porch, between the stairs and the ramp, lay the visitor’s entrance doorway to the “Industries of the Blind.”

Immediately inside the doorways you arrive into a waiting area with several features.  On the far end of the room, mounted into the left wall, lays a sliding glass window reception, where you may announce your business.  While you’re waiting to be announced, a small, but comfortable, casual group seating arrangement, covered in deep velvet blue fabric, with matching ottoman, sits directly across from the reception window.  Joining the seating arrangement is an end table between the chairs, accompanied by a lamp and telephone.   As I turn around to take in the room, a gumball machine catches my eye, sitting right at the corner of the doorway.  Next to the gumball machine, and on the same side as the reception window is a doorway leading to a store, displaying its wares for the facility. Added touches to the room were; a decorative planter, welcome sign, assorted pictures, and a magazine rack.  The walls were painted off white with white trim.  The flooring was a non-distinctive industrial light brown carpet. 

Through controlled doors we entered into a pale muted yellow concrete stairwell, with a water flowing garden just to the right.  An interesting way to dress up a rather mundane stairwell, but seemingly out of place.  Focused artificial lighting was provided from 3 large globes, strategically placed for optimum results.  To the right of the garden is an elevator with bland color brown doors.  At the top of the stairs we arrive at another waiting area with its own sliding glass widow reception and casual group seating, a stripped sofa in a blue, gold, and magenta fabric, with two end tables and a lamp.  Across from the seating area are the elevator doors, with an oak cabinet to the left, and several plants circling around the room.  The flooring is an upgraded indoor/outdoor checkered 1-foot square layout with a subtle strip brown pattern, and matching trim.  Running off from this reception area in a right angle pattern are two corridors with 2-foot square acoustical tile containing florescent lights and central air vents.  Directly off the left corridor was a large conference room.  The conference room contained many amenities, and decorative touches.  An eye soothing beige and white wide stripped wall covering, finished with a wooden baseboard, cove crown molding and a chair rail dividing the wall with a flat wooden panel below the railing to the baseboard.  Added warmth is brought into the room with some oil canvas portraits.  Additional furnishings mounted on the walls include a wooden white board cabinet, large wooden display showcase cabinet containing prized products, and hand wash sprayers.  Additional features contained an overhead screen and projector, and a computer on a rollaway desk.  The conference chairs were extremely comfortable in a deep maroon leather fabric meeting up with 3 long wooden pattern tables joined together into one very long conference table.  Additional side chairs were accompanied along the walls for added seating capacity.  The acoustical ceiling tiles were an upgraded design made to appear as a 1-foot square coffered ceiling containing, central air vents, 1x2 florescent lights in the center of the room, and recessed lighting around the perimeter.  The flooring from the waiting area continued into the conference room with an added touch of a contrasting brown border around the room. 

We were warmly greeted by David Lopresti, president of the “Industries of the Blind,” giving us his undivided attention for our project.  He then proceeded to enthusiastically tell us about his business and the success they have at the “Industries of the Blind.”  He gave a great deal of credit to his workers, who have found second changes in life, earning a good living in a facility giving extra attention to accommodate their handicap.  Afterwards, he proudly took us on a tour of his facility highlighting many fine workers, their functions, and their contribution to the products they were creating.  Immediately you notice the cleanliness of the facility, the well-organized unit of industrious workers synced together in harmony.  As Mr. Lopresti introduced us to his workers, he shakes their hands, tells us their names, and begins to tell their own unique story of how they came to the “Industries for the Blind.”  Each unit makes a special piece of essential equipment for our service men.  When asked his workers what they do, they passionately proclaim, “We save lives!”     

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Narrative of Greensboro Historical Museum

I arrived at the Greensboro Historical museum with a new set of eyes for my first visit to the City of Greensboro.  On my journey to GHM I passed through the Center City Park, enjoying the cool ambience from the whispering fountains.  In the middle of contemporary high rise architecture, I stepped back in time with my first glance at the museum.  A multi-facted brick structure, the GHM is rich in history of its own right; from its inception as the First Presbyterian Church in 1832, it was set up as a Confederate hospital to receive wounded from the Battle of Bentonville, 1865.  Later in 1875, the first public grade school in North Carolina was built on this site.  All the property and associated buildings were donated to the City of Greensboro in 1937, by the Richardson family for civic purpose.  Looking upon the irregularity of the footprint with its multiple additions and wings, the GHM carries with it all the remembrances of its past.

The latest addition, the main lobby entrance, and the subject of this narrative, was added in 1990.  As grand as it maybe one word describes its presence -- dated!  A small vestibule entrance with the basic of necessities, the entrance to the 2-story lobby captures the tradition of a plantation setting.  One immediately notices the grand circular staircase taking its guests to mezzanine and 2nd floor.  My attention is drawn just before the stairs, to the mauve Oriental rug with a lone, traditional, closed front wooden desk.  Just beyond, and hidden behind the stairs is a very interesting, antique automobile exhibit.  Just across from the exhibit sits a coat rack and a dingy color brown elevator.

On the opposite side of the room is a domestic display of a sewing exhibit; but its luster is detracted by the window sill above, sitting plastic bins collecting water drips.  Behind this exhibit sits an empty circular desk, growing out of the wall, clearly an afterthought, and not a good one.  Just beyond this grouping is an alcove of a reception area for the auditorium.  Once again, a lone wooden desk, this time, open framed, with a small display case sitting behind it.  Just to the right is a seating group, which works well in context, just too few for its intent.  A collection of mis-matched furnishings in a traditional style, of course.

An analogous color scheme in green, pleasant to the eyes, but bland to the emotion.  Streams of bright light penetrate into the lobby through 2-story windows topped in a classical arch with casements to match, and crown molding throughout.  The wall treatments are showing their age with splits and tears.  The carpet is matted, and seen better days with much fewer spills.  The main flooring in the lobby portrays a classical pattern in ceramic tile, still holding its beauty, but can be hazardous when wet.  The pendant lighting droops down with tired yawns.

As I turn around, taking in the full view of the room, I see its dramatic potential with updated design and continuity brought into clear focus with proper lighting and appeal, awarding the Greensboro Historical Museum the honors it richly deserves.