Disbelief. Anger. Determination. This can’t be happening. How could they do this to us? What can we do? These were my initial reactions upon hearing the dreaded news that the May 4th Initiative would be taking over the first floor Architecture/ Interior Design computer lab.
This reaction may seem extreme to some, but we as Architecture and Interior Design students know how imperative the computer lab is to our education. AutoCAD, Revit Architecture, Revit MEP, Autodesk Maya, Virtual Environment, Photoshop CS3, Ecotect- these are just a handful of computer programs that the computer lab provides for students that allow them to complete class work. Although some students may have these programs on their own computers, many students cannot afford to equip their computers with all these expensive programs. Many students’ computers have trouble running the new version of Revit (Revit Architecture 2010). To top it off, my computer can barely open Internet Explorer. As a result, running Revit and Photoshop is clearly out of the question. While the computer lab may be just a lab to some, we as students know that it is so much more.
The Kent Stater recently ran an article conveying the facts about the whole ordeal. Laura Davis, ex-associate provost of Kent State, is spear-heading this project. After e-mailing her several times in the attempt to yield some answers (and most likely ensuring the placement of my name on a blacklist somewhere), I was assured that arrangements would me made well in advance to move our computer lab to a different location.
This was of some comfort, but this “solution” is still not addressing the fundamental problem. The College of Architecture is already distributed between three different buildings. The adjacency of the computer lab, digital commons, and the graduate studio creates one of the few scenarios where the space encourages social interactions. Aren’t we taught that communication and collaboration are essential to our careers as designers? Yet, the 4th years are isolated in Tri-Towers, 3rd years and I.D. students confined to the Gym Annex, and 1st and 2nd years sectioned off in Taylor Hall. The computer lab and digital commons area present a rare situation where students of different years can interact with one another. In addition to the social benefits, the digital commons contains the printers and scanners that are necessary to be in adjacency with the computer lab for the sake of efficiency. If the computer lab is eliminated from this conglomeration, the digital commons becomes utterly obsolete.
I realize there is no easy solution here. Mike Turk, 4th year Architecture major and the College of Architecture’s Senator for the Undergraduate Student Senate, has worked towards finding an alternate solution. He came up with the idea of utilizing the office space in Taylor Hall facing the hill rather than digging the Visitor’s Center deeper into the core of Taylor Hall and knocking out the computer lab. The May 4th Task Force was responsive to this design alternative, but the May 4th Initiative (the organization that has the power in this scenario) was not. But, since a lack of funds is stalling project’s implementation, we are given a window of opportunity. One of my initial questions is still pertinent. What can we do? We are designers, after all. Isn’t it our task to be problem-solvers? How can we stop one of the best amenities in our College from being inextricably torn away from us? And, if we can’t stop this demolition of our space, what collaborative measures are going to be taken by the College of Architecture and the May 4th Initiative to ensure that we still have access to the facilities that we need?
In the morning the glass walls gleam and reflect the pink sunrise. Seamless steel beams reach up and up, looking like the arms of eager school children squealing to answer the question first. Each rooftop holds up the sky with broad shoulders or piercing spires. These are towers of inspiration and evidence of the sheer imagination that is born in nature but only successfully recreated on the streets of a versatile city. City streets hold an immensity that is as all-consuming as the relief of cold fresh air. The infinite amount of movement is invigorating. People begin to ready themselves for the day ahead; boarding trains and buses, mounting bikes and walking along sidewalks, getting to the places they need to be. The order of this transfer of people from vehicle to building is awe-inspiring, everything running so smoothly. All the while connections are made between every one of these moving persons. Between the businessman and the Starbucks barista. Between the concierge and the hotel guest. Even between the train motorman and the CTA rider. These are the links that make my belief in the city unbreakably strong. People are meant to be close to one another. The city is proof of that. Without these ties between every person in a city, no fresh ideas are created. Ideas are the product of deep thinking culminated by groups of people, the likes of which can be easily found in cities. An urban setting is a haven for innovation. Cities are saturated with new buildings, technologies, policies, and people. The constant need for these new things is a reflection of the survival tactics that are fundamental to urban dwellers. Open-mindedness is the key to the versatility unique to the city. When people live and breathe in such close proximity to one another, each person must adapt a sense of tolerance and receptiveness to the thoughts and beliefs of those with whom they make even the slightest connection. The city draws people to interact with one another as a means to build a solid and original future. Nothing can parallel the masses of glass, steel, and concrete that encompass the city and define humanity's most successful step in creating indivisible connections.
Announcing a competition for the break! The first student to email us a description of the location pictured in the photograph below will be awarded a gracious gift from the t r a c e team. Precision counts.
Send your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and phone number.
I was running and out of breath.
Looking behind me, I expected to see something. Nothing was there except for a city street; bland in its globalised urbanity, busily occupied with the outcomes of capitalism, but completely devoid of people. It was as if I had been deposited into an already unfolding event or even one that had just concluded, woken up from a coma that my body did not share. The how, the why, and the where, I did not know. Suddenly I felt the need to stop. I looked down at gum smashed on the pavement by a million hurried shoes, evidence of a city bustle that currently did not exist.
That's when I noticed it. Powerful, cold, and imposing; a presence of terrible subtlety, like the sting after a backhand slap to the face. I slowly raised my head to peer at the mass before me. There were no shadows, the sky was overcast, but had there been, its shadow would have cast me in a dark blanket long ago. The facade was unapologetically brutal in its windowless concrete surface, tiered upward like a Japanese pagoda that extended infinitely toward the horizon in both directions. It was clear it didn't belong, strong but concurrently vague. And while pondering who could have built this imposing complex I thought I saw the faintest flicker. Then the realization struck me. Was I running away from some unknown thing, or being drawn to this unusual interruption in the city fabric?
Noticing two strangely typical doors just to my left, I proceeded to enter this fortress not knowing what to expect inside but having an alien desire to find out what existed beyond. I approached without inhibitions. Passing through the exterior barrier revealed a vast room obstructed by a labyrinth of planes; surfaces that made up walls and floors as if here gravity wasn't a force worth acknowledging. It was dark, but a mysterious glow from an unseen source provided sufficient light for seeing. As I passed further into the structure's depths I could not help but think the walls were rearranging themselves based on my position, somehow guiding me through the labyrinth. Yet it couldn't have been so; there was nothing mechanical about it. Instead the space seemed much more organic, as if the planes were grown there; stretching out like ivy, adopting and adapting to their surroundings. Here I suddenly looked behind me without provocation and found a wall blocking where I had just come from, cutting me off from the city outside. What is this place? Someone, or something was watching my every move. I felt it. The eyes of unknown origin evaluating and picking apart my actions caused me to proceed slowly, cautiously.
I then found myself in what seemed as the heart of the building. It was darker still, but I found myself in a room whose ceiling was beyond sight, concrete walls straining upward until they vanished in a dark abyss. It seemed the building was alive and I was exploring its arteries, infiltrating it not like a virus, but like a medicinal treatment. Somehow it needed me. As I thought this I felt something in turn infiltrate me, overtaking me, putting visions and strange knowledge in my head. The building was coming alive and presenting itself as a being, a creature both living and breathing. I began to panic and attempted to fight it off. As I snapped around in a rage, in the distance I saw a silhouette in the likeness of a man. Too far to properly perceive, but too close for comfort.
Any direction that I could to get out of this place. To be back in the city and away from this thing that was drawing me in. I was a lab rat in a large experiment and I needed to get out. Before the walls seemed in a perpetual state of flux, almost transparent. Now they were cold and fixed and as solid as the concrete facade outside. Dashing through the labyrinth, I noticed an increasing amount of light. The way out must be close. I felt the building coming off me, with each passing plane I gained more and more control and was closer and closer to freedom. Finally, beautiful daylight. I kept running across the empty street, on to the littered sidewalk beyond. Returned to the vacant city I took a deep breath and felt a sense of relief.
I turned around to look again at the terrifying fortress, but nothing was there except the city, as one would expect.
Welcome back for another year. I appreciate the opportunity the t r a c e team has extended to me in order to communicate both recent and anticipated improvements for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Each is with a commitment to improving the learning environment for our student body.
1) As we venture on moving the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) to Playhouse Square, we expect to strengthen all aspects of the CUDC’s missions: service, research, and education. The CUDC houses our graduate urban design program, half of our graduate architecture program, and our urban research and outreach activities. When complete, the facility will have one large seminar space seating up to 36 students, one classroom, a library, two exhibit spaces, open office space for up to 12 faculty and staff, student studios, and a work room. We are currently negotiating for model shop space. These improvements greatly enhance our ability to focus on strengthening ties to city officials and is an exciting endeavor to both our graduate programs and our commitment to the city of Cleveland.
2) The university has implemented a new budget model, Responsibility Centered Management. Each college is now responsible for generating and managing its own resources. I support this budget approach because it aligns responsibility with authority. Although we are only five months into this model, I believe students will experience the benefit of budget decisions made on their behalf.
3) Conducting a year-long study of student advising approaches, the university has concluded advising should be decentralized to each college. As a result, our advising staff has been reorganized and located in 202C Taylor Hall. Our advisors are Sandra Buckey, Benjamin Stenson, and Trinidy Jeter. I trust each of you will be proactive in using this office for your benefit.
4) The Morbito Library expansion is complete and I have observed increased student use of this facility. The additional shelf space, seating, computer access, and staff work area are welcome additions.
5) Professors Adil Sharag-Eldin and Pamela Evans have implemented a research facility in the Gym Annex. As we increase our building research initiatives, I anticipate a growing need for faculty/student research labs.
6) This summer the studios and library in Taylor Hall were abated of asbestos. This is the first step in upgrading Taylor’s studios. As funds become available, we intend to install new energy efficient lighting, remove and replace the flooring, and complete painting the studios.
The future of the college looks bright. Over the past 15 years our college undergraduate and graduate programs have grown in size and complexity. The college has more than 800 students located in Taylor Hall, The Gym Annex, Tri-Towers, Cleveland, and Florence, Italy. In a way, we are victims of our own success. It is my contention that one of the largest educational difficulties we face is the lack of contiguous student space. Significant learning often occurs through informal student encounters, discussions, and crits with one another. With each year separated from the rest, these impromptu encounters are greatly diminished. In other words, my biggest goal as Dean is to put together a strategy for a new college building.
For this to be successful, we will need the absolute commitment of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and administration to earn this very expensive honor through our actions. We must be viewed as deserving both within and outside the university. We need to take care of and improve the facilities we currently have. We need to win design competitions, increase our funded research output, and keep the extremely high record of success on the Architecture Registration Exams. We must also continue our history of recruiting the best academically prepared students in the university for each of our programs. If we are successful, we will all benefit.
My best to each of you for a very fruitful remainder of the semester.
Jim Dalton, FAIA
Dean, College of Architecture and Environmental Design
Call for Student Participation in College Committees - The following CAED committees need student participants. Please contact Sarah Crombie (email@example.com) in the Dean's office if you would like to participate. Note: the college has several committees with student participants, however, students for the committees are nominated by the faculty.
Graduate Committee (two graduate students)
College Curriculum Committee (one interior design and one architecture student)
International Studies Committee (two students who have participated in the program)
Library Committee (two CAED students)
Lecture Committee (two to four CAED students)
Student Recruitment Committee (up to six CAED students)
Request for photographs for new college poster - The AIAS is currently creating a new poster for the bulletin space opposite the elevator on the 2nd floor of Taylor Hall. The poster aims to mix current photographs with images from the past and should have representation from all the different years and majors (projects, studio, and other college related activities). Please send your pictures to Taylor Alston (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ARCS Design Competition - The results are in for the Representation of Design I T-shirt design competition, judged by CAED faculty and ARCS peers:
Tie for 4th place - Rachael Gruic and Libby Haas
Tie for 3rd place - Brittany Lowe and Matthew Hickin
2nd Place - Ronald Garsteck
1st Place - Roberto Quiroz
Roberto's design will be on T-shirts for students in the ARCS program and will be seen worn around campus soon! Congratulations to all!
Catch the post here.
Danny currently lives in New York studying architecture at The Cooper Union.
From an architecture standpoint, I believe that this semester abroad is absolutely crucial. Not only is there a wealth of architecture in Florence and other areas of Italy, living in Italy for a semester gives you the opportunity to see other surrounding countries fairly easily and cheaply. Just over Spring Break, I was able to travel to Prague, Czech Republic; Vienna, Austria; and Munich, Germany and see architecture by Coop Himmelb(l)au, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Adolf Loos, Frank Gehry, Joseph Olbrich, Otto Wagner, and more.
From an academic standpoint, the professors teaching for the Kent State Florence program are excellent. Studio alone has been a great experience this semester. Not only is my project this semester my favorite thus far, I also don’t feel like I’ve been spending my entire semester stuck in studio. This semester has been laid-back to allow for traveling, but we’ve also been getting a great deal accomplished in our studies. As far as other classes, they have not only been extremely educational, but they have been fascinating. Nothing else compares to standing inside a work of architecture or in front of a painting while you are learning about it. Along with the classes being rewarding and fascinating, the professor-student relationship in Florence is like nothing I have ever experienced. Perhaps it goes along with the fact that professors in general are more laid-back, but it seems that they treat students on a more individual basis rather than like just another number. This could be one of the many cultural discrepancies between the United States and Italy, but my professors this semester have treated everyone more like colleagues than students. I have no quarrel with how these things are done in Kent, but it was a nice change to experience an overall more relaxed atmosphere.
This semester has affected me personally as well. I grew up in Kent, so living in Florence was my first chance to truly be away from home and I discovered that even the small moments of daily life add up to something profound. Being engulfed in a foreign country that has an entirely different way of doing everything than what I am used to somehow changes you. Part of this included learning enough Italian to get by as well as learning the area. More than these components though, I had to adjust my perception of how I think things should be. Parts of the Italian culture can be difficult for me as an American to understand, but it was necessary to be open-minded and accept the fact that Italian culture is what it is. Nothing I can do will change that, so it was necessary instead to change myself in order to truly thrive within this situation.
These components are why I say that this semester has changed me. But, I think that a better way to put it is that this semester has evolved me. I am still me, but now my horizons have been expanded well beyond what they were and I feel much better equipped to deal with any sort of situation that may arise. Once you have lived and studied abroad for a semester, just about anything else seems feasible and simple by comparison.
Although I hope that my words have shed some light on Kent State’s incredible study-abroad program, I know that they are not enough to fully explain what this experience has been like. The most effective words that I can say are that this semester is something that you must experience for yourself. So my advice to first and second years is the following: study abroad in Italy. Let the experience evolve you and make you grow. Don’t turn your head from the countless opportunities that you will encounter. Let this semester abroad be an opportunity to shape and refine who you are. One thing that I can say for certain is that you will not regret it.
Thanks for your interest and be ready for another issue next semester!
Have a safe summer.
Our small texting devices, our little free blog – our intimate daily technologies that embed these personal/ social opportunities are surfacing as literally healthy. Blogs specifically are rising as a solution to increase our general wellbeing, and are rapidly being applied (especially in a world full of stress, angst, and inaccessible/ expensive healthcare). Could these daily devices (blogs, for instance) be thought of as vitamins that strengthen certain parts of our bodies? It is a playful analogy; these little technologies as inexpensive accessible over-the-counter vitamins (for example, blogs, wii-fit), compared to the expensive “antibiotics” counterparts (blogs replace shrinks, wii-fits are considered over gym memberships and personal trainers).
Such “antibiotics” /devices are not mere substitutes for the unaffordable. These sorts of small/ personal- scale technologies should not be thought of as just “tools,” for technology is a “medium and engine for social relations”; it generates new spaces for us to meet, gather, talk, vent, cry, love, cope, soothe, and befriend. In other words, technological change informs “what we believe we are supposed to do,” our adaption, or amendments to living.
BLOG AS A THERAPUTIC DEVICE
Journaling has established itself as a therapeutic medium; several studies show it can lead to significant improvements in an author’s physical health, psychological well-being, psychological functioning, and overall functioning. (Baker & Moore 81). While chronicling thoughts, emotions, dreams, fears, opinions, rants and anxieties is not novel, technology embeds a living audience into the blogging medium. Immediately there is a receiver, a listener, a global readership.
AOL surveyed 600 bloggers July 2005 to find the true intent of bloggers; how blogs are actually used. Results showed hardly any signs of users like “wannabe journalists” (16% blog because of interests in journalism, and just 8% blog to share political views). The leading role of blogging is not a news outlet, not a gossip corner, but rather it is emotional, intimate, and open: the survey revealed that nearly 50% blog as a self-therapy (Peterson 28).
Interestingly, the poll showed, when faced with hard or stressful times, 31% of bloggers will turn to writing in their blog or reading blogs with similar issues. Surprisingly, turning to family and friends scored only one percent more bloggers, at 32%. Blogs today have become so powerful, so healing; their breadths of comfort to those who use them are comparable to the blogger’s own personal confidants. Blogs may also be seen as a viable substitution for psychologists or counselors (the results show that only 5% of bloggers would prefer a professional in such times). Blogs have been described as a “typing-cure”, (essentially) free accessible global therapy.
How incredible. Free accessible global therapy.
SURFACING AS A CLINICAL COMPLIMENT
If this is the case, can blogs bloom as a clinical resource? Does this everyday technology really have healing powers, the therapeutic potentials for patients?
Christina Vernon Ayers, The Cleveland Clinic Director for the Office for a Healthy Environment, explains a depressing truth: that many times there are “back doors” in hospitals for certain patients, like those with the visible baldness of cancer, who do not want to be seen at any cost. Physical signs of sickness prevent them from reaching out, and destroy their chances of finding support, advice, or confidant. Blogs may have a strong appeal to cancer patients in this regard, for those sorts of patients that apt to hide themselves because of hair loss, deformity, visible sickness. Blogs can become "…a bit like a neighborhood pub or coffee shop. It's a little like a salon, where I can participate in a hundred ongoing conversations with people who don't care what I look like or sound like, but who care how I think and communicate" (Jones 33). Blogging can be a sort of safe / protected medium for sensitive patients, since the blog inherently has a “high intimacy with low vulnerability” (Bennedett 1).
There is no doubt that patient-blogging is growing in size, popularity and power. Current trends have promptly integrated blogs into recovery/ therapy programs; like Blog for Hope, and CarePages – even if it is simply because "It takes more than medicine to heal. We must meet our most elemental needs for personal connections and community, too, and the Internet is rapidly evolving to meet those needs" (Dr. Sharon Langshur; co-founder of CarePages). Perhaps it is not too farfetched to argue, that a free blog, a ten cent text message, holds a surprising weight in clinical recovery. Today’s small intimate technologies have capacities to globally combat isolation, depression, restlessness, stress, and loneliness. The world is discovering that those “over-the-counter” technologies (for example, texting, blogging, wii-fits) are not only upgrading our wellbeing as a community, but these daily influencers that we take once, twice, three times a day, are actually the producers of communities. “Communities are defined as shared, close, and intimate, while societies are defined as separate, distanced, and anonymous” (Jones 18). It is both adventurous and romantic, that today we have new forms of community, that they can be assembled swiftly, created immediately. The ability for modern technology to create 24 hour community, a sort of pre-assembled community where one can slide between online and offline, is a clear asset for the rapidity and unpredictability of disease.
The blogosphere has actually evolved into a therapeutic space for those who have the most challenges (appearance-boundaries, mobility, intensive treatments, etc) with occupying space. Without a doubt, the blog will rise as a powerful “spatial – vitamin”, not just to the sick, lonely, handicapped, immobile but the blogosphere can be anyone’s “spatial – vitamin” -- the cheap (if not free) amazing supplements to increase each of our social stamina, our emotive wellness and cerebral fitness. In a country where healthcare is slipping out of the reach of the young, becoming a burden to the elderly, and becoming expensive for our parents, the blog will surely rise and contour as (an already-labeled) “typing cure”, perhaps the truest form of a miracle drug we had ever seen: the free global chemical-less vitamin.References:
Bennett, Jessica. (2008.) My Shrink Says … Blog! [Electronic version]. Newsweek. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
(C. Vernon Ayers, personal communication, March 2, 2009).
(E. McDaniel, personal communication, April 14 2009).
Baker, James R., & Moore, Susan M. (2008). Distress, Coping
Baker, James R., & Moore, Susan M. (2008). Distress, Coping, and Blogging: Comparing New Myspace Users by Their Intention to Blog. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 11(1). Retrieved April 8, 2009 from Electronic Journal Finder.
Jones, Steven G., (1994). Understanding Community in the Information Age. In S. Jones (Ed), Cybersociety, Computer-Mediated Communication and Community (10-35).Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Langshur, Sharon. (2008). Online Healthcare Gets Personal, Health 2.0 and the Healing Power of Supportive Communities. CarePages.com. Retrieved April 12, 2009.
Lenhart, Amanda & Fox, Susannah. (2006). Bloggers, A Portrait of the Internet’s New Storytellers. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved April 12, 2009.
Peterson, Tommy. (2005). The Typing Cure [Electronic version]. ComputerWorld. October Issue. Retrieved April 9, 2009 from Electronic Journal Finder.
Saffo, Paul. (1993). Hot New Medium: Text [Electronic version]. Wired Magazine, Issue 1.02. Retrieved April 10 2009, from <http://www.wired.com/wired/
So the CAED lacks some things.
Now that that’s over with…
Just think of what a wonderful opportunity it is to be here. You can do whatever you want. My years at
Lecture series sucks? Make it happen. Find money, get money, get people, make posters, do it. The school will never help you so don’t cry about it; just get it done (this was seemingly so, until this year). Think the print room hours suck? The school won’t change them; make friends with the employees and facilitate favors when you’re in a pinch. Woodshop? Take sculpture so you can use the fine arts building’s. Or bring in your own saw. This whole mess becomes guerilla studio. After all: you want to be here. You like architecture. What more do you need? The guidance of a few who care, friends who want to help, and your own ambitious can take you to some amazing places. For a school with a long list of physical deficiencies and little to no legitimate leadership in the last decade, we’ve sent students to Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Penn, The Cooper Union, RISD, Sci-Arc, IIT, OSU, Washington St. Louis, Pratt, USC…and quite a few of our graduates work for some legitimate firms that aren’t in Akron, Pittsburgh or Cleveland.
In a way, we as students can feel abused by the bureaucracy, and it can be tough to deal with the self-esteem-cutting bullshit that we encounter from faculty and fellow students. It seems that everybody talks down about what we do, what we can’t do, and what we produce. Reviewers come in and are generally positive, but our environment breeds this “I’m not good enough” sentiment. The only people who seem to be proud of KSU architecture are the ‘golf’ type: male, graduated in the 90’s, working as project managers for second-rate healthcare firms and are ‘almost done’ with the ARE after 15 years of working in the field. Not quite the progressive outlook I hope for.
This is where we come in.
On your mark.
The lecture is scheduled to begin at 7:15pm in the Michael Schwartz Auditorium and is free and open to the public.
ISAR was recently selected as a finalist for the MoMA/PS1 young architects design competition.
Click here to link to the firm's website for more information.