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Comments on Weeks 9&10 Readings-2015



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  1. Behind the Mansions:
    The Political, Economic, and Social Life of a New Bedford Neighborhood:

    This reading was a detailed history of the County-Six Neighborhood in New Bedford. Throughout this reading it was very interesting to get a glimpse into how the inhabitants of New Bedford lived before the Civil War. I enjoyed reading about how strong of a neighborhood this part of the city became due to the parallel beliefs between the Quakers and fugitive slaves. It was also intriguing to read about how the complexity of this relationship between these two groups of people made for social, political, and economic changes in the area.

    Behind the mansions: Researchers explore ‘microcosm of historic New Bedford’:

    As I read the more detailed reading first, I felt as if this reading was more of a summary and was meant for a public audience. This reading focused around the part of New Bedford where our project will be centered, the New Bedford Historical Society. The microcosm of historic New Bedford meant how this small section of New Bedford held so much culture and meaning during this time in history. Microcosm literally means “a little world”. This area cultivated an ethnic and racial melting pot, which is really interesting for such a small section of Massachusetts. One part of this reading that caught my attention the most was the Quakers beliefs and values of “doing something” especially when it came to providing a safe haven for slaves. I also found the fact that class mobility was very possible and happened a lot for fugitive slave families was fascinating.

  2. In “Recycling Old Fridges” I honestly do not see the point of creating such a barrier on their plant. It looks atrocious in an otherwise beautiful landscape. From far away, the plant looks similar to a farm, but then there is this gigantic aesthetically unappealing wall of rusted metal that obstructs the view. Not to mention how unsafe the structure is – you have these really heavy boxes made of metal that are sitting on top of one another. Yes, they might hold up now due to the material being newer, but what happens once nature starts oxidizing the metal? It will form a lot of rust and eventually the integrity of the structure will be compromised. This will then turn into a standing death trap that could, and probably will, fall down and injure someone. It will also be hard to keep wildlife from populating the numerous vacant “shelters” these people have just created. Instead of building a giant wall with the refrigerators, how about they fix them up again to be resold? Or maybe they could melt down the metals for scrap and re-purpose it that way.

  3. The variety of uses for what has historically been considered “waste” are very interesting. I thought the one about a truck that grinds the clay was particularly interesting because the clay could be useful, it just wasn’t considered worthwhile to refine it. It is absolutely insane to imagine that a place would bring in new building materials while sending the natural materials that they had to the trash to avoid refining it. My personal favorite project was the Maison house. It was a beautifully done space and the rubber from old tires is absolutely an underused resource. I also think it was a great project because sustainable projects do not have to be limited to community initiatives. Every person should use sustainable practices in creating their space. Although I liked most of these projects, I think they all looked a little slapdash. If we expect the everyday person to begin using “waste” materials, we will certainly have to make them more appealing. Especially in America there is a cultural belief that something not used for its original purpose is dirty. There is nothing wrong with the rubber of a tire but to popularly adopted, we would have to make it look as upcycled as it is. I didn’t particularly like the refrigerator art piece. Although the art piece showed the overwhelming waste, it was not aesthetically appealing. It looked a lot like the piles of trash we are used to seeing and can block out. To really strike the viewer, I think we must do something different. Instead of showing the scale of the waste or the ways it can be used, I think we must transform the materials so they are almost unrecognizable. As it is now, it is easy to dismiss creations made from waste because they still look a little bit like waste.

    • Dear Hannah: You raise a few very interesting points about the aesthetics of these structures. I agree for the most part. What to do to make waste look better than a shoddy structure? Perhaps discuss this further in class for some additional thoughts, ideas.

  4. I was very interested in the recycling old refrigerator project in Lithuania because I live in a town called Assonet where I go to the transfer station in town and I always see refrigerators that are no good for it’s initial purpose. There is also this very beautiful place called the Assonet Ledge where you hike to the ledge and their is a beautiful pond underneath it and you can see the tree line for miles away. Unfortunately their are two major problems with the Assonet Ledge the first one is that a few people go there to put graffiti all over the ledge which is a giant rock and the other major problem is people throw things over the ledge especially things like old refrigerators. Also there is a highway that goes through parts of the town near homes. If these structures are actually very stable I think it could be a great idea to take the refrigerators in the SouthEast Massachusetts communities and create highway sound barriers. Since I found the refrigerators in the recycling plant in Lithuania to be extremely, I believe that we need to incorporate local artists and architects to make these barriers pleasing for motorists and the neighborhoods to look at and make it more sturdy. I believe this would be cheaper and more pleasing to look at than many of the sound barriers that are in cities in the United States

  5. I read Joe Day’s The iUrbanisms of Los Angeles. He discussed how architecture is done in different cities with different approaches. Some places are only interested in building structure of the very wealthy, things like giant skyscrapers, mansions, golf courses etc. He criticizes the problems with that. He also discuss architecture that is catered to the middle class and the poor, things such as little homes, urban gardens, urban parks, small business buildings that are meant to serve the neighborhood. He is critical of some of the issues with these type of things. I had a little bit of a difficult time understanding what the author was trying to say but how I interpreted it is that cities need to be created to serve everyone regardless of income, and other social factors. He believes architects need to put these things in mind when building cities.

  6. “Making a House” in “From Waste to Architecture”
    The sustainable aspects used to make this house in a deprived area of Alabama for a single mother and daughter was very interesting. The home has passive heating a cooling and it very open and inviting. What was most interesting was the materials used to make the bricks the home was made out of. The bricks were made out of local dirt and recycled newspaper pulp. It is important that we as a society invest more in building homes sustainably rather than efficiently. This reading was a good example of how it is possible to turn everyday things into a home that does not involve harming the environment.

  7. “Somethings Will Not Grow”, an excerpt in “From Waste to Architecture”, highlighted a useful upcycling technique that we may be able to utilize when planning a design for the lot on 7th Street.
    Although in the article, the upcycling technique was used as an art installation that would “be attractive and chime in with nature”, it holds much potential to be used elsewhere in design concepts. In this case, the technique includes taking various plastic residues, such as plastic bottles and bags, and melting them with heat and pressure to make sheets that can be reused to make structures. The plastic created from this project was accompanied by aluminum frames to portray various environments.
    I do not foresee our group using this technique to make art installations, however it would be an excellent method to make seating, sign posts, and other structures that would function well in the lot. For instance, if our group decided to continue with the Farmer’s Market idea, then we could use upcycled plastic to create stands where people would be able to showcase their goods.

  8. So, “iUrbanisms of Los Angeles” was thoroughly confusing, mostly due to the terminology I’m sure is used casually between architects. However, I had a -very- difficult time understanding what this article was talking about. However, I -think- I managed to gather a sense of what the blog was trying to say; that is, architecture has fit a certain mold that catered to the rich, rather than to the casual individual, and that this change could bring the idea of Urbanism to a more realistic sense and have it adapt to changes.

    If that is what the blog is saying, then I understand how that makes sense, that architecture needs to change as swiftly as the likes and dislikes of the city’s population, as well as their demographics and economic class. This would be a huge challenge to accomplish, but is important in order to keep citizens utilizing the space of the city to its full potential.

  9. The excerpts in From Waste to Architecture were very interesting in seeing ways people have taken recycled materials or materials from nature and created livable or useful structures out of them. In “Return of the Fridges” they took discarded refrigerators and created three-dimensional wall. They wanted to make a positive visual connection between the beautiful landscape and the freeway nearby. I thought this installation was a great idea because they are reusing old fridges and turning them into a piece of artwork while also still recycling the fridges they chose not to use in the project.

    In “ITT Library”, I thought it was really great that they used straw bales and earth as basic building materials because it produces structures that are cheap, long lasting, and safe. It’s really interesting how they build this large library that is actually usable out of simply materials from nature. I also appreciate that they made sure every material was local and wasn’t harmful for the environment.

    In “Studio 320”, designers built houses out of recycled containers taken from cargo ships. I think this idea was really cool especially that the owners can change the placement of the home very easily if they wanted to.

  10. For today’s reading from excerpts of “From Waste to Architecture” I read the section titled “Some things will not grow”. I chose this reading originally because we are planning to have pollinator-attracting flora in our vacant lot design, and if there was a reason to exclude that from the design this excerpt could possibly identify it. This reading turned out to instead be about recycled materials being incorporated into an outdoor art installation, which happens to also be something I was curious about. I like that the arch through which visitors enter is also made of metal and plastic. This could be an example, if I am not mistaken, of upcycling. These products have functional use in the arboretum when before the materials may have ended up in a landfill or even worse in the ocean. By drawing awareness to the point that dropping your trash outside of the appropriate receptacles creates problems, these artists have used recyclable materials to wordlessly prompt the visitors to think about the functionality and potential second life of our garbage. However, my favorite part of all of this was towards the end when they demonstrated via illustration the process of turning the original plastic into a compressed, more usable plastic. The description of “more usable” is relative because other people might say that this is lowering the grade of the plastic and therefore “downcycling” it.

  11. “Pittsburgh Glass Center” is an excellent article about sustainability with the majority of the materials used during constriction coming from the original building that was torn down and any materials that weren’t saved were ordered from plants that produce recycled goods. This article caught my interest because i have a fascination with architecture that involves large walls made of glass. I believe that the use of natural light in a space can only effect it in a positive way. Too much of our society today is made of artificial materials, which is why I am a firm believer in natural light. It also offers the incentive of lower electricity bills due to the lack of necessity of light bulbs. Overall, i believe that glass structures are more sustainable and economical than other strictures and this is why the article peaked my interest.

    In “School Club” cardboard was recycled with the help of local primary school student (which is a great way to get kids involved with sustainability and recycling) and was made into pillars for support and lined with wood for rigidity to form walls. The idea is fascinating that cardboard, mixed with slight amounts of wood can have the ability to support a structure. Although it is only built to last 20 years, this was an excellent experiment into different ways for us to proceed in the construction of building as we move toward the future.

  12. Excerpts: From Waste to Architecture
    The excerpts described a home that was built in a area in the state of Alabama. They had a sustainable mindset when building the home. Mostly everything they used was green and the way they built it was energy efficient. They even used newspapers and dirt to make the bricks out of the home. I used this when developing the plans for Lot 7. We came up with ideas for little booths to sell art and crafts from local artists. We could build these booths with recycled materials. Even the benches that we planned to have on the lot could easily be made out of recycled materials. This would be more cost efficient than just buying new benches and booths.

  13. In the the excerpts of From Waste to Architecture I found interesting how there were so many different possibilities to objects we used take for granted. The many different places that were created by local object is incredible and money saving. The though of many places where a lot of the villagers and local people do not have good houses to live in because they do not have the building materials can really be changed. There are many ideas and people with ideas out there and just all that is needed in to take the time to make these ideas come true. I thought that the library was incredible, from looking at it all it does not seem as though it was built with the materials that were listed.

    On the other hand I was also drawn by the idea of the Poop House and the Pallet Structures. There are places that do not have a lot of water and creating the Poop House which is a water storage basically can bring a good amount of supply of water back to the community. the Pallet Structures was also a nice touch a material used everyday for granted could potentially be the shelter for someone who could not afford to buy a house. I appreciate the different ideas that people come up with that are inexpensive and very useful especially to people who do not have the money to buy a house or to have some kind of security shelter to live in.

  14. In the excerpts from the book “From Waste to Architecture”, I read the section about Some Things Will Not Grow which I was surprised to be able to actually relate to. A group of people made aluminum “cubicles” within a corn garden and on the inside of the aluminum, they depicted scenes of ideal landscapes. The entrance to the garden was a curtain made of plastic sheets. This was a way to appeal to the people’s sense of responsibility to do their part to keep the environment clean.

    I could relate to this because when I was in Portugal over this past summer, there was a small garden in the center of Porto (one of the major cities in the north) and it was surrounded by a large cement wall, about 3m high. From outside the wall, all that could be seen of the garden was a few of the trees inside which stood higher than the wall. Someone painted a mural on this wall that, from the right perspective, connects with the trees that show above the wall. It was painted several years ago and it is beginning to show its age because the trees are starting to outgrow the mural. This is the first thing I thought of when I read the title “Some Things Will Not Grow.”

  15. The excerpts from “waste to architecture” are very fascinating and kind of crazy how creative some people are when ti comes to this. In Lithuania a recycle company took fridges and built a huge wall of stacked up fridges, as they refer to as resembling lego pieces. In luminous paint made an advertisement for the recycling firm which as a marketing major I really liked. They call attention to old waste and the need for recycling while making an installation quite noticeable in size to call attention and highlight the firm that did that giving them publicity. In Penumbra artist Jean Shin goes around New York and gathers abandoned umbrellas or old ones and creates a unique shadow on the ground as it is attached to the tree’s while moving in the wind. Socrates Sculpture park sounds really interesting and I believe with the 7th street lot a sculpture by a local artist or student would be a good idea.

    • Matt: I agree. Something similar to Penumbra might work for the LOT. I am sorry we missed this one in our class discussion. But perhaps something to share with your group members…?

  16. “Making a Studio” it was okay to read. While I like the idea of using materials that others wouldn’t usually think of (like shipping containers) in a way it seems..out of place? I guess I’m not a huge fan of introducing metal into nature. However, it’s nice to see a studio in the middle of the woods instead of in an over populated city. As an artist myself, many of us dream of having the classic “large studio in a nice building in the middle of a big city” showing “we made it as artists” however, we lose out of seeing nature. All the greenery, trees and life in general around you.

    • I actually realized I misread about the materials of the studio. It’s basis was a cargo container, made from plywood. My distaste in a way still stands. It LOOKS like it could be made of metal, and still sticks out too much for my taste. However, I do appreciate the fact they recycled old bleachers, and were able to make them look nice on the inside.

  17. “The iUrbanisms of Los Angeles” was interesting because I am not up to date about the ideology behind contemporary architecture. It was interesting to learn about architects considering the various ways they could help the city over their individual client. They could presume to create grand works that would benefit the city in its entirety or begin to work on smaller scale projects for underserved individuals. I think the latter idea is much stronger as the former implies that the architect knows what is best for the city. Additionally, the former would require a loss of the architect as a creator because the building’s function would have to overcome personal aesthetics. When working with the community, this is often necessary. However, I appreciate the concept of an artist as a creator and don’t think it should be discarded entirely. By working for underserved individuals, architects can fill space with beautiful design that will be used and enjoyed by the citizens of the city. Instead of building for the rich who use the city for business reasons, they will be building for individual citizens who wish to better the place they live in, not just make an aesthetic statement. It is important to remember that the architect does not exist as an authority on city life and should not serve only the richest.

  18. In Joe Day’s article “The iUrbanisms Los Angeles” he talks about the struggle many artists and architects face in the modern world when it comes to urban design. What people want to see in their cities is not what was popular in the past. I agree with what was mentioned in the article about how the audience for those who design the buildings need to be reconsidered. It is no longer about the elite wealthy, but more importantly now the community. I think that there was a slight negative tone in the article because it almost seems as if the excitement of the bustling wealthy city is being taken away. However, I think that this is a positive transition and will lead to various benefits for a majority of people.

  19. In the article “The iUrbanisms of Los Angeles”, the author Joe Day talks about what it’s like to be an artist in the modern world and the difficulties they and architects face when dealing with urban design and projects. I personally was indifferent towards the article for no reason in particular besides it just not striking my attention. It showed the perspective and things they need to keep in mind as well such as how the people of the area would like their work. Another important piece I pulled from this reading is that art should be for the people rather than just for the wealthy. Why do one grand piece for a single person when you can do something for a whole community or city to revitalize and inspire?

  20. “The iUrbanisms Los Angeles”

    In this article, Joe Day talks about how architecture back in the day was created with the idea of the audience being wealthy and enjoying extravagant things. As we move past this phase in architecture we move towards creating buildings that are more beneficial for the community and the environment. The audience is no longer strictly the wealthy citizens but now it is everyone and what can benefit the most people in the greenest way possible.

  21. The iUrbanisms of LA covers the trident of approaches to urbanism: Interdictory, Interventionist, and Informal. From my personal lens of limited knowledge in architectural and civic terminology, the three submovements appear to be organized like so:

    -Interdictory Urbanism is concerned with the corporate dehumanization of high architecture and its privatizing, exclusivist strategies – apparently, in a positive light. Their ideals are purely on utility and post-humanization of architecture – as if to transcend humanity and its decorous trappings. Megaworlds of concrete and surveillance cameras.

    -Interventionist Urbanism is far more left-leaning and deconstructivist in its intentions. Their ideas range from micro-scale DIY decorporatization projects with positive affectations (yarn bombing, dumpster pools, so on) to city-scale reframings of residential planning to better suit the economy and culture of today (rent restructuring, revival of the public commons space, et cetera). An attempt to recontextualize contemporary architecture for the postmodern mind.

    -Informal Urbanism is just that – informal. Largely, they appear to be fine artists commentating on the current landscape of their city and proposing highly individualized urban planning ideas which focus on repurposing the city into something more visually compelling – on very much an opposite end to Interdictory’s intentionally cold approach. High-concept, socially-driven projects meant to jazz up the cityscape.

    I personally believe this taxonomization of Urbanist submovements is an intelligent way to roughly subdivide groups that have the same goal but are on opposite ends of approaches to said goal. This is important because, in my eyes, urbanists as a whole are rarely on the same page, and it’s helpful for people both within and outside of the movement to organize by agenda. However, I criticize this taxonomy by stating that, once a movment is given such a taxonomy, much of the discourse thereafter is dedicated entirely to the correction of said taxonomy and the polarization of groups who do not initially fit in one predefined camp.

    As a loosely related but still relevant example, the metal music scene is host to a harrowing structure of division and subdivision (just off the top of my head, metal can come in flavors including but certainly not limited to: power, thrash, depressive, black, death, and so on). A significant amount of articles on metal music revolve entirely on these subdivisions, their genealogies, their hierarchies, whether a group is a fusion of existing subgenres or the invention of a new one, whether a group was the progenitor of a subgenre or simply spurred a slew of copycats, whether one division is a further subdivision of another or if it yields exclusive traits – the list goes on. These taxonomies have the potential to distract the true discourse of a movement with hair-splitting factionalization of its constituents.

  22. After reading about how they were “recycling” refrigerators in Lithuania, I was slightly confused about how what they were doing could be recycling. Its so hard when artists used old waste to create the pieces with because yes they are reusing waste but those objects are being used for anything besides being art. It kills me to say this because I am all for creating art out of whatever you can find, but on the terms of it being considered recycling, I become conflicted. Considering the refrigerators aren’t actually being physically used in another form, to me this sculpture is just a tastefully arranged pile of rotting garbage. I am not saying that it cant be classified as art, because I totally believe that it can be, but on the terms of it being a recycled material, I don’t think it qualifies as such because they aren’t being used as anything but for aesthetics.

  23. When I read Joe Day’s article about architecture in Los Angeles, I wasn’t expecting to relate to the topic as much as I did. The fact that he talks about “city talk” isn’t really a thing anymore and how “a resort to civics is often dismissed as an excuse or even a crutch.” I really enjoyed how he gave his own examples and experience of living in this generation where urbanism is “out of fashion” but yet still goes to farmer’s markets on Saturday mornings, and buys organic coffee, and artisanal produce with cash and not a small piece of plastic embossed with your name and some numbers. I appreciated when he said; “Still, I am outside and in the city, seated like Roland Barthes at a café table with a clear view up and down Sunset Boulevard. I am a happy Angeleno.” I think the whole article can be related to our class and be used to open peoples eyes about urbanism today and how it compares to what it used to be.

  24. After reading the Iurbanisms of LA i believe that it is possible for architects to break out of the status quo and be different than their competitors. If new house features can be brought into the market place that positively benefit home owners they will be inclined to buy the house/building that is new.

  25. “Sustainable Architecture: Style vs. Substance” brings up a lot of good points regarding sustainability in homes. A definition of a sustainable home as one “that highlights a general attitude of environmental consciousness” is outrageous and should not even be in the argument. It also shouldn’t have to be a debate over the definition of what a sustainable structure entails. I believe that it should be a combination of both energy efficiency and the use of recycled materials, but leaning toward the energy efficiency. This is due to the fact that energy is becoming more of valuable resource as oil and coal become more rare. A push for houses built with alternative energy solutions enabling them to stay off the “grid” and provide for themselves with what nature is giving to them is integral. The only issue is that homes like the “Malibu 5” house are extraordinarily expensive to build and the average person, as much as they will themselves to be sustainable, just cannot afford such a structure. The designs also have to be a little more conservative to appeal to a larger market, instead of just the people who have a wacky sense of style (don’t get me wrong, I love a crazy idea as much as the next guy, but sometimes they just aren’t practical). A push towards a more solid definition of a sustainable structure and a ore mass appealing design would yeild the best results for sustainable architecture.

  26. “Public Art and Sustainability” discusses the way art and artists are being treated in Minnesota on a basis of sustainability. They are funding projects to make public art more sustainable in terms of providing to the environment as well as lasting throughout time. Things like oxidation (rusting) that a bronze structure could encounter wouldn’t happen inside of a climate controlled museum. I believe that sustaining art and making art sustainable in terms of helping the environment is a fantastic idea. You cant spell earth with out “art;” therefore, a way to make art better for the environment would be healthy for the planet and the art itself would be healthy for humanity.

    “When Nature Takes Over” is a terrifyingly real article about natures willingness to reclaim what is rightful its own. As a species, humans spread like a disease, knocking down everything in our paths to make room for more asphalt and steel constructions. Is this our right? We inhabit this planet to thrive just like any other animal, but if you notice, we are the only one destroying it. No other animal cuts down trees to replace it with a shopping center or a development to house more of their kind. nature has a more gentle approach to shelter. We should be one with the earth and live more in tune with nature. Attempting to eradicate the planet of all green life to make way for our ever expanding population will not last. The earth will eventually return to its natural look long after humans have fought themselves right out of existence.

  27. I read Sustainable Architecture: Style vs. Substance. After reading this, I come across with the belief that being sustainable is the most important element, substance is the second most important element and style is necessary but the least important element in architecture. Sustainability is the most important factor because the population of humans is growing, the environment is depleting so there is a significant importance on cleaning up the environment and their is also a major importance for sustaining everything for not only this current generation but future ones as well. Substance is very important because without any substance to the quality of the architectural design the design will not last and will not be able to serve its purpose. Style is important because it the structure does not look appealing it will not be used and it will put a damper on the city however it is the least important element because if you have a sustainable and substantial you still have a structure and you still have a sustainable design.

  28. “…sustainability runs the risk of lapsing out of style, a fad that can go out of fashion as easily as it came in”
    – Passage from Sustainable Architecture: Style vs. Substance

    The quote from the article “Sustainable Architecture” is one of the most applicable statements to almost any movement that promotes the bettering of life and also highlights a major issue as to why these movements take a long time to find rhythm in society and why large projects that support movements only seem to exist for a short period of time.
    Will sustainability be part of a short trend, or will it become the leaver to opening up new passages in designing architecture for the stability of mankind? Either way, I personally do not believe that sustainable design in any medium will last throughout the ages, but rather it will fall victim to a case of “history tends to repeat itself”.
    What I mean by that is, even if sustainability does survive the ‘trending’ phase, the interest in history and historic aspects of life will outgrow sustainable architecture and revert back to today’s era of style, bringing along similar problems that we have today. If you don’t believe me, look at almost any fashion trend and it seems to have derived from a previous period of time due to unique interests (I look forward to the day when everyone casually wears bonnets and bloomers during their day to day routine).
    However, what the article suggests is that sustainable initiatives in architecture (although this could always apply to other fields of design) need to be regulated enough to include serious economic benefits (such as a tax relief), as well as implementation of ‘sustainable standards’ to promote sustainable renovation projects, that will keep sustainability from dying as a trend.
    Currently, sustainable homes and buildings have more risk over reward with large scale designs which can pose issues that are simply solved with less sustainable and slightly more expensive (sometimes even cheaper) means. Examples are insulation and heating the home; sometimes relying on promised hot water and heat from the city or town is easier than designing a home to create and maintain its own. If the reward factor was increased significantly to promote these types of designs, then sustainable methods could soon become the easiest and most sensical method to architecture.

  29. Julia Walker’s article about Style versus Substance was a very interesting critique of three aspects of sustainable design. Walker first criticized the concept of sustainability as trendy because she worries that once it is not popular, it will be discarded. Although this is a valid concern, I do not think it is likely. Sustainability is less an architectural style than a lifestyle and once the changes have begun, they will be ingrained in our society. This concern is more valid, however, when one considers the second aspect of Walker’s issues with sustainable design. She critiques the fact that sustainable design is often modern-looking and expensively done, focusing on aesthetics over sustainability. However, I think it’s quite a good thing to make sustainability look glamorous as this will draw more people to it. Her final concern is the most important; sustainable design isn’t doing enough. I wish that Walker offered more valid ways to increase sustainability in design. She cited Buckminster Fuller’s ideas which were revolutionary but probably very expensive to put to practice. From where we stand, a geodesic dome is as far off and expensive as the Malibu 5 house. I do not worry about the aestheticization of sustainability; I think it makes the movement more attractive and I think that it has lasting power once it is implemented. I do, however, agree with Walker that we are not yet doing enough.

  30. It was interesting to read about Buckminster Fuller’s designs that were water-saving, energy efficient and simple…way back towards the beginning of the 20th century. It is notable then, that perhaps the author’s argument of energy-efficient homes being at risk of going out of style may not be as plausible as claimed. While it is difficult to define sustainable architectural design, she does make a good attempt to do so while still explaining that a singular definition would be incomplete. Saying that it is easier to know it when one sees it, and yet hinting at the inclusion of energy & material efficiency standards, she does a good job of helping the reader to easier know that design when they see it. This is an important first step, because I do agree with her that getting a policy-defined standard for sustainable design would constitute a remarkable and progressive leap in reducing waste: energy, material, water, and stylistic waste. I say stylistic waste because if homes that are sustainable by “style” and not by “substance”, she could be right that sustainable homes will go out of style. I do not see this being feasible for a long time because awareness is increasing in regards to the need for sustainable living. However, as she said policy would be helpful protection for continuing that living style.

  31. I just want to preface this by saying that I agree with Walker’s sentiments, and that yes, an objective policy built to incentivize sustainable architecture could potentially push people into seeing the movement not as a trend but as a genuine innovation beneficial to the greater good. However – the way in which she refers back to Malibu 5 over the course of the article, as an example of “trendy sustainability” – is perhaps making too many assumptions of the owners. The fact that their home is spacious and loudly minimalist, as well as sustainable, is not necessarily a sign that they consider sustainability a passing trend – and to point at Malibu 5 as if it was a sign of sustainability as style overreaches what one can assume without knowing the owner of the home, or whether their profession would necessitate trend-conforming as a political move. If anything, this only proves that sustainable architecture is scaleable to any budget, and has transcended grassroots status. However, what would be proof of sustainability as style, would be if the same homeowner later on moved to a home not architecturally concerned with sustainability.

  32. The article “Sustainable Architecture: Style vs. Substance” appeals to me particularly because I have always been one to reject the norms of “style” in favor of functionality. The author raises a really good point, an alarm even, that this sustainability trend could run its course and fade away at any moment just as all other trends do. A lot of it has to do with presentation. We need to stop presenting this sustainability movement as something “cool” or “stylish” or “trending” and need to focus on the facts and the reality of why it is so necessary. It is an unfortunate testament to the way modern society thinks and acts more on what is socially relevant than on what is ecologically necessary.

  33. In this article Walker brings up a very good point of how people could view the “go green” movement as just a trend and could just all of a sudden drop it. She gave a few good reasons why this could happen but she forgot to mention what I think is the biggest reason and that’s cost. Sure recycling plastic bottles and using reusable bags at the grocery store are both cheap and effective but getting quality sustainable energy is quite expensive. Not everyone can afford solar panels on their homes or design their house with low-emittance argon-filled windows. Obviously there are plenty of cheaper ways that we can go about going green and becoming more sustainable but if these cheaper ways start becoming more and more expensive I can see people becoming less willing to be apart of this green movement.

  34. When I read the article “Sustainable Architecture: Style vs. Substance” I get the feel that the author, Julia Walker is trying to put emphasis on how going green in terms of architecture is becoming more of a trend. I kind of disagree with the author when she says that going green is a trend when thinking about architecture. Pretty soon I feel it will become a want and here to stay when we really need it down the road. I also don’t agree with making all structures look more like a fun house just because of the need to point out it is fancy and sustainable, even though living in the houses would probably be nice. I just see it more as, if you want things to seem like less of a fad then incorporate elements that most people are alright with.

  35. Reading “Sustainable Architecture: Style vs. Substance” was… interesting to say the least. While I can understand the authors feelings of going green being a trend, I have to disagree. People are starting to become more and more aware of how bad the world really is in terms of pollution and want to make a difference. They want to change for the better and for better long-term effects their efforts will have. The author kind of seems to have her mind set on the idea that this is all just a trend and when people get bored of it, everything will go back to how it was. But I can’t see that happening.

  36. Sustainable Architecture: Style vs. Substance
    This article made a similar to claim to the last reading we had. Sustainable design is in “style” now and continues to be seen in various parts of the word. However, the problem is that sustainable design is hard to define. If one day people decide that this type of architecture should be thrown out the window, it would be hard to vouch for why they need to keep it going without a solid definition. I think the message the author is trying to convey is that instead of sustainable design being like this generation’s interest in the latest cell phone that will eventually be replaced with something better, we need to look as sustainable design as a necessity.

  37. I agree with the writer of sustainable architecture in that public policy measures must be taken to help people design homes in efficient ways. However they shouldn’t regulate them completely. I like the idea of subsidies to help people put in solar panels, and other resources like insulation that utilizes the sun to heat the house. Once regulations are slowly adopted it will be easier for people to understand why homes must be built in a certain way and not just the government telling everyone what to do or respecting peoples opinions. Its a hard topic to handle however if a problem needs to be addressed immediately legislation can be made to address it. Its all a matter of what we perceive to be a problem and how we want to solve it as a democracy.

  38. As we all look for ways to be better the environment, the artists participating in Sustainable Art are turning to junk stores, second-hand shops, trash bins and surplus venues to satisfy their urge to create and save our beautiful planet. The suburbs have always been a fertile space for imagining both the best and the worst of modern social life. On the one hand, the suburbs are portrayed as a middle-class domestic utopia and on the other as a dystopic world of homogeneity and conformity. Both of these stereotypes belie a more realistic understanding of contemporary suburbia and its dynamic transformations, and how these representations and realities shape our society, influence our culture, and impact our lives. Challenging preconceived ideas and expectations about suburbia (either pro or con), Worlds Away hopes to impart a better understanding of how those ideas were formed and how they are challenged by contemporary realities.

  39. “Sustainable Architecture: Style versus Substance” was a very interesting read. I do agree with the author that sustainability is often viewed as a “fad” and the ‘thing” to do. This is absolutely not going to be a long-lasting solution to conservative efforts if people just view sustainability as a fad because in time, people will get sick of the notion and move on. This in turn will leave the world back at square 1. I agree that in order to make sustainability a long-lasting effort, you have to have a global effort and the policy-makers have to be very supportive of sustainable efforts.

  40. One of my first thoughts upon opening the article “Public Art and Sustainability” was that the Frederick R. Weisman Museum in Minnesota reminds me a bit of the Stata Center, with its abnormal shapes and discontinuity in its colors. I very much enjoy the fact that the author’s area in Minnesota treasures much of their public art, and that the art generates conversation about environmental issues. There is probably a culture and an epicenter for such things in this area, though the annual Connecting for Change conference is the only example I have seen of such an intersection. It is definitely something to look into, and I imagine that Aha Night! probably offers such conversation around art sometimes. I have never before heard the concept of art being the leader in sustainable practices as it recognizes the need for materials to be recyclable, as well as biodegradable for future breaking down by nature. The short article “When Nature Takes Over” is a great example of the aforementioned intersection of art and environmental issues. Since we are learning about sustainable architecture: wouldn’t it make more sense to build a house made of materials that can one day feed the vegetation (hopefully no Kudzu up here/north), if a lot or home is to be abandoned? It made me wonder if there is a way that we could use biodegradable materials in the interior of homes, so that if nature does take a space over then perhaps the plant matter could grow through the house and recycle the house back to nature more easily.

  41. (James Sevasin) I read Public Art and Sustainability and When Nature Takes Over. I was very impressed with Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota commitment for creating sustainability art throughout both Minnesota cities. I am also very impressed with the commitment both cities have for creating a green environment and wish more cities would take this approach.
    In When Nature Takes Over, I was not impressed with William Christenberry’s photos of the building with False Brick Siding” because I am extremely disappointed that this building was once a useful building for the Warsaw, Alabama community but they did not maintain the building and allowed it to be covered in greens thus making the building useless and a waste of valuable space. I wish the building could have been used to create a sustainable and useful purpose for this community. If the community had no use for this building, I would have liked to see this building get knocked down to create more green space for this community and would have liked to see the materials for this former building for something else more useful.

  42. (James Sevasin) I read Take Only Pictures and Leave Only Footprints”. I was disappointed by the concept of urban explorers. Urban exploration is just like the concept of “ruin porn”, it is people exploring and being aesthetically pleased with old and abandoned structures that used to be productive and useful buildings before the post modern industrial period. I wish that these people who belong to official urban exploration groups would instead devote their energy into how these buildings could become productive buildings for the city again or find cheap and inexpensive ways to use these materials for another useful and practical purpose. At the very least I would like to see these abandoned buildings instead create beautiful pieces of sustainable art which would significantly elevate the city’s aesthetic value.

  43. “Public Art and Sustainability” brought up a lot of interesting points to maintaining public art and how that art relates to issues surrounding the environment. The author, Corinna Kirsch, comments on her interest in the fact that there was a lot of money available to create and maintain public art. She goes forth to mention that public art sparks questions relating to the environment when thinking about how weather will affect the art. One thing that I thought was brilliant (and something UMass Dartmouth should implement into its system) is that the University of Minnesota has a full-time curator for public artworks, who is in charge of taking care of these pieces as if they were “a historical object in a museum collection.” I found that interesting because if public art raises concerns about the environment, like Kirsch suggests, then having public art in educational spaces can keep the conversation about art and environment dynamic within the student body. One other thing I found interesting was that Philadelphia requires 1% of municipal building costs to go towards public art maintenance, keeping it up-to-date and lively for the community who, in turn, respect and appreciate the works.

    “When Nature Takes Over” was a very cool article showing an example of a photographer, William Christenberry, who captured images of a single house over several years that was left in the hands of nature, and exemplified how nature can overtake buildings if given enough time. I consider this an important article to think about – considering how much people assume nature will just solve its own problems – because it poses a question as to whether nature can actually overtake mankind’s footprints on the Earth. For instance, the photographs by Christenberry show that nature can grow around a house, but when looking at the photographs you are still aware that the house exists. The house is still standing and has not been “taken”, so to speak, back to the Earth. So even though this article makes nature “taking over” look appealing, it does not answer any of the questions as to whether it is appropriate to let nature overgrow mankind’s creations, or whether people need to begin designing buildings that will literally allow nature to take over buildings when they are out of use and decompose their structures into energy for other wildlife.

  44. “Public Art and Sustainability” by author Corinna Kirsch was nice to read. It was good to read about how people are trying to change society in a way in terms of wanting to preserve and maintain works of art in public spaces. Many places keep public art for a short time, then when it gets too damaged, old, or uninteresting, they take it down and put something else in its place. But to read about how Minnesota has required 1% of municipal building costs to go towards maintaining works of art is refreshing.

    “When Nature Takes Over” by Catherine Wagley was another refreshing article. It’s all about how a photographer-William Christianberry captures nature claiming a house over the course of several years. While at all times you are aware there is a house there, it’s beautiful to see nature’s ability to “adapt” to these buildings and make them part of nature.

  45. In “When Nature Takes Over”, I thought it was such a neat article documenting the various stages of how a very permanent building gets reclaimed by nature. We always hear about how nature is such a powerful force and that it will always prevail, but we never get to actually get to see such a great example of it because it happens so gradually. I think the photos definitely show and support the fact that nature is such a powerful force that it will eventually overcome any obstacle put in its way. I think the photos are a very powerful reminder to us humans that we may think we are at the top of the food chain, and that nothing is more powerful than us, but Nature is constantly there, waiting in the wings to reclaim her lands.

    “Public Art and Sustainability” brings forth an idea I never really thought about – the care of public art. I never had a second thought about how certain pieces of art were maintained. I really liked how Philly required some percentage of municipal building costs to go towards public art maintenance.

  46. I found both articles really interesting. The “Public Art and Sustainability” article talked about how public art collections are just as important as any other collection you might find in a museum. They should be maintained every year just like other artwork. Since they are in public areas they have to be kept up with more. In “When Nature Takes Over” it mentions how nature will eventually take over anything that’s been created. William Christenberry took pictures of a building starting in 1974 and continued to go back to take another picture every few years. By 1994 the house wasn’t visible anymore. It was really interesting to see how nature took over throughout the years and makes you realize how fast it can happen if it’s not kept up with.

  47. When Nature Takes Over:
    The fact that the photography taking the pictures of the home in this article was going in a completely different direction than anticipated by the title, “Building with False Brick Siding, Warsaw, Alabama (1982)”. The house in the photo seems un-lived in and fairly simple. As the years go by and more photos are taken of the house, nature takes over. The vines creep up the siding of the home and com engulf it. No matter how much man tries to take over the landscape with their “false bricks”, nature is more powerful and will take over.
    Public Art and Sustainability:
    What I took away from this article is that we need to consider public art, education, and sustainability as equally important in order to make them a norm/necessity in our society. Public art needs to be considerate to sustainability. And, for sustainability to be something that we consider first it must become a core part of our public curriculum.

  48. “Public Art and Sustainability”
    This article compared public art with the environment. In only limited areas, public art maintenance is funded. By donating even a little amount like 1% we can create awareness for the importance of maintaining public art. (Example with Philadelphia). More cities need to adapt to these changes that Philadelphia and Minneapolis are doing to create a greener environment.

    “When Nature Takes Over”
    I feel like Christenberry’s photos of the brick building showed its irrelevance to the community. The building does not have any use for the environment or the people around it. This space seemed the complete opposite of green to me.

  49. “When Nature Takes Over” was an interesting article to check since it is more than just an environmentalist explaining why we need to preserve nature. Photographers William Christenberry,uses these pictures in Catherine Wagley’s article to show that nature is something that is always growing when it has room to do so. I also get the thought of nature being able to still conquer over things despite what we have done to it. Looking at “Public art and sustainability” I think that these two articles can tie together. Reason being that they are both about enforcing the beauty of nature. Corinna Kirsch’s article just happens to focus more on using architecture to do so.

  50. “Public Art and Sustainability” yielded an interesting perspective on public art that previously hadn’t occurred to me. I mean, it only makes sense that these pieces would have to be maintained, but it was just something that I took for granted almost as if it happened on its own. For certain public art pieces, it is easy to leave them on display only for short periods of time, avoiding the issue of maintenance entirely. However, there are some displays of public art that are more permanent that require a budget for regular maintenance such as bronze statues which, as Kirsch points out, oxidize over time. This raises interesting concerns on the limit that should be spent on maintaining public art, as there will certainly be vastly differing opinions on this matter.

    “When Nature Takes Over” was an even more interesting article to me however, because of its focus on William Christenberry’s “Building with False Brick Siding, Warsaw, Alabama.” It has a certain level of ruin-porn appeal to it. I also consider myself a person with more appreciation for nature than humanity, as cynical as that may sound, so there is certainly an appeal to me in that it is a display of nature’s ultimate dominion over man and his creations. Aside from that it does do well to further the point Kirsch was trying to make on the need for a budget for public art maintenance.

  51. Christianberry’s timelapse photo series is a beautiful and poignant look into posthuman Earth, without the fire and brimstone typical of art dealing with the matter. It simply and serenely describes the nature of life, and Earth’s ability to move on from humanity. I can very well imagine, in a Don Hertzfeldt style, this slideshow animated as a looping flipbook with a majestic orchestra saying the words that academia cannot.

    Corinna Kirsch’s article was, in my eyes, meandering and hard to follow. It mentions public art, it mentions sustainability, and it mentions that there *is* a connection between the two, but only after several reads did I understand that the connection was one of curation and conservation (but isn’t this already a concern of public art anyways?). I suppose, for our sake, it’s important to remember that our project should be self-sustaining and able to survive beyond our own time, so it’s a matter of material choice and stability, and being environment-neutral or beneficial. So sure, there is a connection, but it isn’t really explicitly mentioned, and as a reader I honestly wouldn’t have picked up on this unless duly prompted as I have been.

  52. Public Art and Sustainability brings up some great points about why we need to fund public art and how it impacts our society. Without public art city life would be so much more boring and uninteresting! The 1% building tax is a great way for people to contribute, provide jobs for maintenance and keep public art existing. Minnesota seems like a great place to be for the arts and sustainability. If more cities took from their policies i think other governments could learn a lot from them.

  53. “When Nature Takes Over” and “Public Art and Sustainability” provide interesting contexts for one another. Wagley presented Christenberry as the best artist in an exhibit due to his positive outlook. Instead of looking to a post-apocalyptic world where nature is taking over, Christenberry presented a small example of nature overtaking the built in our everyday lives. “Public Art and Sustainability” then considered the dangers to public art pieces in being outdoors and the cost to maintain them. The interesting combination of these articles makes one consider the fact that art was created out of the ruin of a human construction. The building was not created for this purpose, but the synthesis of the built and the environment created something beautiful. Instead of protecting public art from nature, we should consider art that works and grows with nature. The environment should not have to reclaim what humans build, they should instead flourish together. Human creation has been a constant battle against the elements but in this modern era of technology, they should be able to coexist.

  54. The article about Urban Explorers gave me a lot of mixed feelings. On one hand, I love the idea of reclaiming abandoned spaces, making the private public, and generally enjoying a landscape. However, the actual testimonies of urban explorers made me think of orientalism. Their fetishization of ruins completely ignores the community that surrounds the ruins and were produced by it. They seek to record individual perceptions and uphold a weird standard of values. Their rules seemed to me to be justification for their actions, like if they recorded the information then their trespassing was okay. I think that they should either completely disregard rules or fully abide by them. There’s no point pretending that they have a code of honor when they’re doing something illegal. Additionally, by reacting negatively to grafitti artists, they are exposing a bias to the people who typically inhabit the area. In cities, many people will tag the landscape. The urban explorers were only in support of their own form of exploration and rejected that which was unfamiliar to them. Honestly, urban exploration seems like a really interesting and fun way to reclaim private space but the glorification of the practice and the exclusion of the actual community makes me think that its just a bunch of entitled kids fetishizing and decontextualizing a space they have no connection to.

  55. “Take Only Pictures and Leave Only Footprints” was an interesting read about urban exploration. First off, it described urban exploration as finding pleasure in urban architecture in ways it was not originally intended for. I found that concept to be a bit romantic, in that it seems like an easy way to say ‘this unsound structure is one in its own and therefore it is beautiful’ and leave it at that. Urban exploration is about locating these structures, and possibly using them for something, but at the end there is not an overall change. The chapter used the rave scene as an example. Raves used to take place in abandoned buildings, due to their punk-rebellion attitude, which but abandoned warehouses, stores, or old mills into use, but at the end of the night the building was still as unstable as it was before. I can understand why this concept is appealing to some who thrive in urban exploration of the world; it is interesting to see what once was and what never will be again. However, this does not solve the problem of abandonment and how these buildings are affecting the everyday lives of certain populations and civilizations. With that said, should urban exploration be eliminated from lifetime experiences? No. Like the chapter mentioned, if anything, this exploration is marking down where the abandonment lies and the problems surface. It also collects a general data census on what buildings are most popular, or rather, are most appealing to a general collection of people. Those that are not, ideally, could be addressed with change. Those that are, however, could remain destination points for urban travelers and bring forth the conversation as to why these buildings are important in their desolate state and how that building would of influence the revitalization of others.

  56. “Take Only Pictures and Leave only Footprints” was quite interesting because I never had realized that there was such a tourism market for “dark tourism”. Dark tourism is the preservation and marketing of areas and sites where death and despair has taken place. For instance taking people on tours of Nazi concentration camps or tours of old battle grounds. I never had really thought that there would be a market for people to go on such tours but it seems to be quite the growing trend. People also do not limit this dark tourism to just sites of death but also to abandoned buildings and industrial ruins. This makes sense because earlier in the year we learned that tourist groups had been made to tour the abandoned buildings and areas in Detroit. While I was reading this I also thought of another great example of dark tourism that the author never touches upon and that would be the Chrenobyl site. This in my mind is one of the best examples of dark tourism because an entire city had to pack up and leave what ever they couldn’t carry and could never return.

  57. “Take Only Pictures and Leave Only Footprints” was a very interesting read. There was a point brought up that explorers, although they love to revel in the beauty of everything historic, they are only there for the aesthetics. It never occurred to me that this could be the case, but now that he mentioned it, I am starting to see that that point is absolutely true. The majority of travelers to a particular historic site, are not there for the history lesson-they are there to see the ruins of what once was. This is a little bit sad in my opinion because viewing a place without learning about its history is almost like going to a concert and viewing it through the lens of a video camera – you are only getting part of the picture/story.

  58. 11/02/15
    Julia Walker’s opinion on sustainable architecture was quite interesting. The fact that it can be considered a “fad” is exactly what is going to cause it to become less popular over the years. As Walker states, “the trendiness of green living is exactly what imperils it; as a trend, sustainability runs the risk of lapsing out of style, a fad that can go out of fashion as easily as it came in.” She also talks about the fact the some people use sustainable architecture just because it is the popular idea thing to be doing right now and not exactly for the right reasons of environmentalism. Like to your house can be very sustainable without looking like a spaceship from the outside but all of these people who have this money who can afford to build fancy sustainable buildings feel the need to make it blatantly obvious, with its minimalist forms, with its unornamented surfaces, with its geometric, modernist composition, to let the world know that they are using sustainable features. I’ve never thought about it that way but I guess now I realize that a lot of places do in fact do that to flaunt the fact that they are building something in style and that it is something that everyone should want.

    They way Corinna Kirsch talks about how art and sustainability are, in today’s world, undeniably related, is very truthful and in a way obvious. If an artist produces a piece of public work that is going to have to withstand the elements of nature, then it is understandable that sustainability and the effects of weathering have on that piece of art work should be taken into consideration. I really identified with the quote that she took from Jack Becker regarding the interactive history between art and the environment, “The eco-movement in public art began in the 1970s but it wasn’t referred to as “sustainability” and it wasn’t widespread. In the past five years, that has changed. Artists have been at the forefront, and now commissioning agencies are starting to incorporate those criteria more often. LED lighting, for example, is in the majority now. Recycling materials and reducing waste is high on the list of criteria. With a few exceptions, foundations have not been using this term in their criteria for funding; however, they are becoming more responsive to this practice, as is the general public.” The fact that its not always being called sustainable artwork but it has still been around just under a different name really made me realize how controversial the actual term “sustainable” can be to not only in the eyes of the art world but in every other aspect as well.

    I found Catherine Wagley’s article on how nature will always be around long after the human race has died out and how it doesn’t necessarily have to be shown through elaborate portrayals of possible apocalyptic scenarios. She uses the example of William Christenberry’s photo series, Building with False Brick Siding. What Christenberry did was take a picture of an old, uninhibited house once every nine years or so to show how nature interacted with the man-made establishment. Twenty years after taking his first picture of this house, it had been completely overgrown by the surrounding landscape. The siding of the house was covered in vines and ivy, and the trees and shrubs grew so densely around the building that by the last picture there was nothing to see besides the greenery, making the title of the piece almost confusing and irrelevant. But knowing the series and what Christenberry was trying to accomplish, it proves his point very clearly.

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