Final Presentation and Assessment

I gave my final formal presentation on Wednesday and a lot of people have since asked, how’d it go? It went well. There was some pretty intense discussion following the slideshow, but it was never mean-spirited and definitely enriching overall.

The jury included David, Vince, and Stephen (though Darryl also asked some great questions). To be frank, I figured that the presentation was likely to sink or swim based on whether or not I could sell it to Stephen. Unfortunately, I’d never taken a studio or seminar with him to really understand his thought process. But since I knew he was big on design philosophies, I made sure to include a few quotes from my research and a lot of process material.

My hunch proved largely true as it was Stephen who led the early discussion. One of the first things he brought up was a follow-up to the quotes byJuhani Pallasmaa (from Questions of Perception). He pointed out that Pallasmaa and his coauthors advocate complete sensory design, never design for a single sense. My heart immediately dropped because I knew he was right; I had read the book and understood their thesis, but I somehow failed to see that I was using their writings to justify a single-sense design. So after claiming that sound was a forgotten sense, I proceeded to ignore the other senses!

The rest of the discussion focused on this or several related points. I suddenly felt very insecure about my project since my own research on cognitive mapping – things I made a special point to mention during the slideshow – made it clear that the mind understands its surroundings through an amalgam of sensory inputs. And yet my project made an extra effort to focus on just one. After chiding designers for focusing solely on vision, I was essentially guilty of the same crime (How did I not see that as a problem?!).

But it was also pointed out during the discussion that this project was never truly about design for the full sensory experience (the question I attempted to answer was How can architecture improve the standing of sound in the designed environment?). So was it really a problem to focus on sound during the design process? Perhaps not. Or perhaps the question was flawed from the very beginning.

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presentation .pdf

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Wk 12 – Unfolding and Re-folding

I started the week by rehashing a couple of drawings I felt were weaker or needed improvement. I started by altering the site plan and ‘sound map’, making it a full perspective drawing. I also added some contextual information to the floor plans and improved the ECS/section perspectives with clearer roof and cavity information.

When that was done, I started work on the physical model. I wanted to go a little ‘outside’ with the model materials since I haven’t often done so in previous years. I decided to use burlap-crete, a really interesting material which Brittany and I explored during Design/Build, to represent land. It took a while to find a contrasting material for the water, but I eventually some scrap upholstery foam while wandering around Mac’s (where else?).

I patched the layer of foam together using spray-adhesive and bamboo skewers (again proving to be the cheapest and most useful things to keep around studio).  I then used some of Dan’s extra cork to create the basic topography before covering it with strips of concrete covered burlap.

The decided to use 1/16″ corrugated cardboard for the building model itself. I’d used it a few times in the past and knew it would work well for the folded plate structures. I ‘unfolded’ the building’s digital model and then used the laser cutter to score one side of the cardboard. Then I simply ‘re-folded’ the cardboard and glued it into its final shape. To finish the display, I took David’s advice and created a sound file which suggests different spatial qualities. I used stock sounds found online and added digital reverberation to suggest spatial progression.

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These are the boards which I submitted for grading. We now have a week to tweak the colors, print, mount, and hang them. We have the same amount of time to build a physical model. David has also asked me to consider producing a sound sampling – time to get familiar Audacity!

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Wk 11 – Production Week

There was an enormous amount of work to do this week, moving toward finalized presentation boards. I began by working on renderings, two of which were underway last week and four of which were started this week. I then created a context map which includes a sound map based on information from November’s site visit. I also created some new graphics (coupled with some recycled ones) to help describe the theoretical elements of the project such as acoustic arenas and sonic illumination. After generating floor plans, I completed modeling of the space frame structure above the laboratories.

There was also some progress made in regards to the courtyard. Thanks to Ty and Lance for helping me to imagine it as a generator of sound. That information didn’t make it onto the boards, but it is sure to show up in the oral presentation.

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Wk 10 – Moving Forward

I finished work on the screens early in the week and starting looking more closely at several of the interior spaces. I’ve also picked several views and will work toward rendering them in the next week.

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Wk 9 – Change Orders

I realized early this week that I needed to rethink the function and appearance of the ‘nodes’ or ‘vignettes’. I decided to create a semi-transparent screening elements on the outside of these regions, which will ensure a strong, singular appearance no matter what the backing arrangement might be. This will allow for much greater flexibility (and transformability) of the interior spaces without compromising their powerful outward appearance.

I also installed the latest Maxwell plugin for SketchUp. It’s pretty easy to grasp and can create draft renders very, very quickly, making it ideal for material studies. I used the series below to compare corten and aluminum screens.

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Wk 8 – Spring Break, Recital

Work on my thesis project has slowed since the midterm reviews. I spent quite a bit of time prepping for NDSU’s accreditation visit and my own saxophone recital. But I’ve done a bit of planning in terms of the final products and now that those other things are out of the way, it’s full steam ahead!

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