Craig Scott of Iwamotoscott Architecture to lecture on the Kent Campus this Thursday.

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.



t r a c e volume 3 issue 2 out now!

Find it on your studio desk or to view online click here.



On a rainy Saturday in October, 50 KSU Interior Design students participated in ABC’s Extreme Makeover, Home Edition in Pittsburgh PA. The participants volunteered their time cleaning up the home site after the construction had finished.

Extreme Makeover, Home Edition with host Ty Pennington surprise families with complete home makeovers. This episode featured a family’s home that was in poor condition; one side was covered with a tarp because of severe water damage and the other side had been destroyed by a tornado that hit earlier that year. With the help of Pennington, Designers, Builders Montgomery & Rust, and all the volunteers the family had a newly designed and built home when they returned from their Walt Disney Vacation.

KSU Interior Design students were offered the opportunity to participate through the campus organization IDSC (Interior Design Student Collaborative). IDSC is an umbrella organization for the national Interior Design Organizations ASID and IIDA. The opportunity to help out the crew of Extreme Makeover was open to all IDSC members. Volunteers were asked to unload accessories from the home and also cleanup the job site once the home was built.

“We knew the house would already be finished – so it wasn’t about seeing Ty Pennington – it was about volunteering our time to help in a neighboring community,” said participant.

IDSC members are familiar with helping out in their community, as the organization does a lot of philanthropic work through programs like Habitat for Humanity, Walk for Diabetes, and the annual KSU Beaux Arts Ball. Members volunteer for Habitat for Humanity throughout the year on Saturdays – however this year working around Saturday classes proved difficult, and no Habitat events were planned. In the fall, all ISDC members are encouraged to walk in the Walk for Diabetes.

“This event is very close to our hearts, in 1997 a student from our program passed away of the disease,” Julie Edwards, Philanthropist Chair of IDSC states.

In addition to the Walk for Diabetes and Habitat for Humanity IDSC members also collect ingredients and meal components for Thanksgiving Dinners and donates them to families in need in the Kent area. This past Thanksgiving, participating members provided five families with Thanksgiving meals.

Finally, the Beaux Arts Ball is organized every fall semester, by the Architecture, Interior Design, and Fashion students. The money is used to raise money for all three organizations and fund any events that occur throughout the year. Both the Architecture and Interior Design students create and set up installment pieces and , while the Fashion students put on a fashion show during the Ball.

Belonging to IDSC means more than belonging to an Interior Design Student Organization, it means giving back to the community through volunteer activities. The Extreme Makeover event was just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ with the philanthropic work through IDSC. IDSC president Kristen Kanotz comments on the experience -

“Even though the weather was cold and rainy – it was a great experience. It brought 50 of us all together from different years in the ID program; it was so nice to spend time with people we don’t get to see regularly.”

This episode of Extreme Makeover was aired Sunday, January 4 2009 at 9pm on ABC.


You found this issue of t r a c e on your studio desk, and now you are trying to discern what this magazine is all about. To reduce it to a simple set of ideas, it offers connectivity between the layers of our college; it acts as a forum for your opinions and as a creative outlet for inspiring thought. However, t r a c e is not the only channel for these, rather, it is just one part of a wider network of on campus organizations. Unfortunately, t r a c e and other organizations within the College of Architecture and Environmental Design have difficulty getting motivated and passionate people involved. At times we hide behind our workload and use it as an excuse not to involve ourselves in many of the student operated organizations. But if no one helps, who will?

Think of this small article as an opportunity, a call to arms even, to involve yourself in a meaningful way with your major. For those who currently feel apathetic or only view the College of Architecture and Environmental Design as being made up of studio work and our required course load, I ask you to rethink this logic and see all that this college has to offer. Within CAED student organizations such as AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students), CASU (College of Architecture Student Union), SAGE (Student Association for a Greener Environment), t r a c e, and the Lecture Series Committee exist to link the students and the college. These organizations are currently seeking to increase membership, because as past experiences have proven, decreasing interest results in the death of a vital organization. Outside of CAED there are even more ways to represent the college in the larger scope of Kent State University such as Habitat for Humanity, being a First Year Experience instructor, Undergraduate Student Government, Relay for Life, United Way, starting an intramural sport, etc.

Becoming involved can take hold of you and a domino effect begins to occur where suddenly you realize that you are not just part of one or more organizations but rather a network of people. I hope to act as an advocate for all organizations and will assist anyone in finding a creative outlet. My e-mail is
eresenic@kent.edu, feel free to contact me with any questions you have.



Last spring I saw a great show - two hip, young, up-and-comings from New York came in to Kent to perform. When bands come into your town, as the host band, it’s customary to make the touring band feel at home; you go to some record stores, you hit up the dive diners, you show them your gear, and you tell all of your friends about the show, so that there will be a good showing. Swap 7”’s. Provide PBR and a floor/couch to crash on.

For many [young] musicians, this is what it’s about. Most indie-rockers are completely qualified to hold office jobs, wear white collars, and work for ‘the man’, but the ones on the road will tell you: “Life’s not all about money, it’s about friendship, tours, and stories.”[1] After the show last spring, I talked to the travelers about the essence of being on the road. “You wouldn’t believe how many bands there are that are touring the country making just pennies a day with no chance of going anywhere…just for the love of music,” David Benjamin tells me.

Except that David Benjamin isn’t an indie-rocker [anymore]. He’s an architect. His “band” [with Soo-In Yang] is called The Living. They did not sleep on my floor. However, they are from New York [Columbia, Pratt] and we did show them around our studio [and look at the projects/gear we were working on/with]. We also swapped works [I think they got a t-shirt and the poster we’d designed, we received their Life Size books], shared a drink [not PBR], and throughout the day had hyped the show [lecture] to our friends.

From dabbling in both, I can attest: Architecture is closer to indie rock than one might think. What’s more interesting is that the similarities aren’t just skin deep. We’re not like indie rockers because architects are style conscious hipsters, but rather because as architects [and especially architecture students], we’re youthfully idealistic and have a refreshing apprehension for the corporate world that drives the industry. However, unlike our musical counterparts, we lack some steadfastness in maintaining our idealism in a tough industry. When it comes down to it, it’s easy to “sell out” and become one of them.

This is exactly why we should take note. Although lead holders aren’t exactly guitar picks, there are some pretty direct ways that we can look to the indie community for inspiration as youthful designers.

Reason 1: Indie Rockers hold concept and product in equally high regard.

Musicians in the indie community are interested in two main things: expressing themselves through music and sharing this expression with others. As designers, we have similar interests: creating and producing (the product, as the way in which we share our creations). Too often, architecture becomes a choice between concept and buidlability. As we work through problems, it’s easy to bend to one side or the other. If we’re working with tricky forms, we don’t worry about how the building might actually come together (precast concrete of course!). If we’re focusing on the fidelity of a wall detail, then our grand formal moves simplify into Revit-friendly forms. As designers, we should be dually focused on what our design means and how this meaning will be communicated. The Living, for example, use “flash projects” to exercise both creativity and production. By their definition, flash projects take a question and a set sum of money and develop a working prototype. In this sense, the flash project is similar to the musician’s demo - concept quickly developed into a tangible result for the sake of distribution.

Reason 2: The Indie Rock community operates on a DIY ethic.

As a musician with a low budget and high expectations, the best way to produce something is to do it yourself - with a bit of internet-savvy elbow grease and borrowed guidance. If you need a specific sound, borrow the gear you need. If you don’t know the best way to record a cello, call the one guy from the one band and ask how he did it on his album. DIY isn’t as much about doing everything yourself, as it is being personally accountable for what your produce. If you want it, then you do it. As designers, the best way to make our designs well rounded is to learn about the many aspects that go into a design. As students, now is the time to practice, or else in five years, you’ll wished you spent more time ‘building your chops.’ If you’re not good at structures, use your resources (books, teachers, colleagues) to get better. If you don’t know a program, find somebody who does and ask them to teach you. Likewise, promote cooperation by offering your services; you may end up on the liner notes.

Reason 3: The Indie-rock community is propelled by a humility, honesty, and respect.

Regardless of the band, after any set, the other bands on the bill will shake hands, and profusely compliment the performance. Indie-metal-heads will tell folk-guitarists how rad their set was and honestly mean it. For a split second, after any show, personal opinion is set aside and the focus is instead on celebrating the lifestyle and the art of music. The result of this isn’t only the feel-good nature of the moment, but that it brings different artists together and achieves a greater good. Bands will swap shows in hometowns, which leads to swapping music, talking shop, and generally making new friends. While critique exists, it’s always in the positive vain and delivered with tact and with a stylistically open mind. The way to succeed in the indie community is through being friendly and showing respect to everybody else.

Then there’s architecture. Even our closest studio friends aren’t immune to the snarky comments we unleash in the back row of a review. Too often, our Northeast Ohio Sense-Of-Eternal-Mediocraty takes over and it’s easier to cut down everybody than pull anybody up. We can be cut-throat in the worst way, emulating our professors and jurors instead of being compassionate and helpful towards our colleagues. Sure, maybe comic sans is pretty third grade but the best way to handle this is through tact and honesty. If your bandmate was playing out of tune, you’d tell them – it makes everybody sound better.

[1]Sean Gardner of Winter Makes Sailors notes in “It’s Not About You” – www.myspace.com/wintermakessailors


In a time where our reality constantly feels as though it’s turning into a video game, it may be normal for one to question what constitutes their existence in the 21st century. With this in mind, insinuating that in the digital age many of us reside in a form of virtual space more often than in “real space” may not be as far-fetched as might be first perceived. Not only do many of us engage in conventional thoughts of virtual reality such as video games, we also enter other forms of intangible space as well. These spaces, often caused by a collision of new and pre-existing forms of media with the physical world, will increasingly define our existence and possibly even redefine what it is to be human.

Of the multitude of “media spaces,”
[1] most apparent of these for the young scholar are social networking sites. In digital platforms such as Facebook, it may seem as though a user is simply viewing online profiles, but while snooping around for the latest gossip, the user subjects themselves to a series of spaces that are constituted by an array of words, pixels, and friend requests; a space that is defined by the human interaction that occupies it. When one uses the phone, that person loses their physical body and is reduced to a voice lingering in the abyss. As well, listening to digitally reproduced music (a Mozart concerto over headphones, perhaps), interacting with an in-car GPS system, watching television, and surfing the web are all additional forms of virtual reality.

We can also see examples of media space in immersive online gaming environments such as Second Life. SL is an online virtual world that enables users from across the globe to interact with one another. Unlike other popular social networking models such as Myspace and Facebook, Second Life places people, represented by avatars, into a virtual environment that in many aspects attempts at representing real life. Still, the possibilities in Second Life verge on endless due to the fact that, as part of its platform, it easily adapts to the needs and wants of its users. Because of this, the computer program is generating a great deal of commotion among analysts, scholars, etc. for the potential and implications of the game.

So in these new conditions, where does so-called tangible space end and virtual space begin? It’s apparent the distinctions are becoming increasingly blurred. The consequences this virtual phenomenon brings with it are central to the way we live. As Tor Lindstrand has commented, “…The profound effect that we live our lives in an accelerating rate through media is something that clearly changes our perspective and understanding of the reality around us.”
[2] In these situations the space we occupy is not comprised of the physical and tangible elements that surround us. Instead, we find ourselves in a paradox of place; an absurdity of our indication of position as one or more sensations acts as a deceit to the truth of our current condition. It is true that many of us live life through interactive media that, in some respects, places an obscure threshold between the individual and real life.

Moreover, the way in which we interact with real space is influenced by our connection to these virtual spaces. Take for instance wi-fi signal. As CityofSound recently examined
[3], areas in which signal is strong, one can find a collection of illuminated faces toiling on unknown projects. Spaces where signal is weak or non-existent are considered undesirable, sometimes regardless of their physical spatial qualities.

In essence, our presence is constantly divided between two dimensions; one foot in the “real” world and one in the virtual. So what does this mean for the future of architecture and society as a whole? Will the succession of our lives into the virtual continually increase until we experience life in a wholly illusory environment? While life in the digital age continues to progress into unknown realms, experimentation in the world without limits becomes more and more legitimate and less ‘unrealistic’. In essence, our definitions of real and virtual could reverse, where what architecture now considers fantasy becomes the truer manifestation of human interaction and life as a whole.

For instance, in Second Life an enclosure is not meant for shelter from en­vironmental elements; there is no rain. Rather, architecture here serves a much more abstracted role in the lives of the users of the game. In any virtual reality the “rules” of architecture no longer apply. Therefore, ar­chitectural dialogue has an entirely new dictionary. Of course, designing for the virtual is nothing new at all. Lebbeus Woods recently released a set of conceptual sketches done for the movie Alien III.[4] Although the movie Woods was commissioned for was never realized, his design for a decaying world of the future dealt with conditions of an entirely dif­ferent environment that is legitimized by the possibility that it could one day be our own.

In a world increasingly defined by degrees of virtualized space, considering the implications of virtual architecture, and at a broader scale virtual life, becomes more and more relevant. No one in the millennial generation can deny that our lives are experienced in both reality and a computer often simultaneously. If this is where we exist, then shouldn’t our spaces be informed by that juxtaposition as well? Whatever the case, it seems as though the newest frontier lies not beyond our atmosphere or even this solar system, but within the capacities of our technology and the little illuminated screens directly in front of us.