Thursday, March 26, 2009

Unit Summary - Alternatives

The Alternatives unit of our history and theory of design class revolved around extending past the basic principles of design that we learned about in the theories and foundations unit. From the central principles of design such as commodity, firmness, and delight, the alternatives unit dove straight into applying those fundamentals to design as it changed throughout history.

            As Christianity spread across Italy and become the major religious force, the church setting became a very important aspect of the designs that originated in that era. Monastic churches began to be constructed far away from urban spaces and stood as a basis for how churches were shaped. People were concerned about the world coming to and end in the year 1,000, so they began to become more involved in their religion, which called for more churches. The central theme of millennial observations was that everything that still existed on earth descended into Hell when the world ended.

            Romanesque architecture became an imperative part of the time as well. Romanesque, meaning “in the manner of Rome,” held Roman architectural ideals such as their ever-famous column details, pilasters, arches, and rose windows. The oculus tended to not face heaven, but opens to a civic space. Elaboration at the head of the church was another important ideal in building and creating these massive Romanesque churches. Families, who in turn, were granted indulgence, sponsored the series of chapels. Their ticket to heaven was hypothetically guaranteed. The fa├žade was and is the most important part of the cathedrals. It was meant to appear bigger and more magnificent, making the structure itself take on these qualities as well.

            Geometry played a large role in the design and construction of these cathedrals. They influenced the platonic clarity and beauty of the structures as well as the interlocking theme of a transformed classical order. The renaissance played a large role in influencing the designs of the cathedrals. Though the principles were present before the renaissance, they started to be written down and heavily considered. During this time, people were obsessed with order, and with order came the geometry that was so imperative in the designs of the cathedrals.

            As we moved to Venice, we noticed in class, that the gothic architecture, forms, and motifs tended to be quite a bit more organic. Venice is known as the city of floating stone. The stone that most of the buildings were constructed from gives it a simplistic look in a way as well as allowing it to compliment well with the large amounts of water throughout the city.

By looking at several different examples across Venice and Spain, we were able to deduce that water is used in a variety of ways. It transforms light and makes it dapple as well as helping to extend the distance and make a space look much larger.  The king’s desire was to know that his kingdom was large and vast, and by having many water features, the designers were able to get that illusion across. A hall of mirrors was also used for the same effect.

I found the alternatives unit of our history and theory of design class a useful and memorable one. It aided my sight of how the basic principles of design were applied to the designs and cathedrals throughout the renaissance and gothic eras, as well as how they developed over that time period. The millennial observation was an interesting concept to see how the design reflected human nature and the thoughtfulness of geometry in relation to those designs. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009



Audience is a very important part of design and must be considered heavily when creating a new design, space, or piece of architecture. Like with writing stories, the audience is who is receiving the information or using the design. A children’s storybook would not be written with a high amount of legal jargon, as would a college textbook use elementary language. A design is much the same in this aspect. A design must be considered for who is using the space and how it is to be perceived and utilized. A building constructed for medical purposes would not be designed without wheelchair or disability access! Instead, it would be designed to accommodate its users and inhabitants to make the space more comfortable and useful for them. This goes with interiors as well. Certain types of furniture are placed in a room for a specific purpose and works well with its surroundings. 


Character represents a person in a story or narrative as well as the nature of a story or design. In design, the character of a building describes the overall feel and uniqueness of the space and allows for it to eminent a certain presence. A mistake, many times, can be a blessing, in that it gives a design character and eventually becomes one of the most important features of that project. A designer has character in himself and that character influences his designs in turn, encouraging him as a designer and enhancing his design skills. The drawings of my nature display a certain character in each piece of nature that I collected. I experimented here with exaggerating those special characteristics and making them really exhibit their own character. 


Transition pertains to the way things change in a design. “the way it transitions into something else.” The rhythm of a design often dictates the transitions that happen throughout a piece. As one portion of a design moves and changes into another a transition is created. As designers we strive to create a smooth and delicate transition to where the entire piece is unified in itself and creates a sense of conversion from one thought to the next without breaking that rhythm and defining its limitations. 


Revisions in design are imperative to their development and the overall discovery of new ideas. It acts as constructive criticism in a way and allows a designer to see the flaws in the design so that he can change and develop it to create new concepts and make it more useful for its users. Without revisions, a designer could make a mistake that could potentially be detrimental to the design and cause it to be less effective in its commodity, firmness, and delight. 


A datum is a point, line, or surface used as a reference, as in surveying, mapping, or geology. It helps to determine where things are to be positioned and allow for a visual effect as well in designs and presentations. The Datum line represents a visual separation in a sense and allows for a smoother transition through the design. In the presentation board for Suzanne, my group decided to create a cardboard arch with a strip of brown paper behind it, extending all the way across the board to act as a datum line for the presentation. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Precedent Analysis Outline

I. Massaro House Introduction 
a. Named for the resident 
i. Where its located 
b. Architect 
i. Home wasn’t actually built until 2007 
ii. Frank Lloyd Wright’s original sketches and plans 
1. Floor plan 
2. Three elevations 
3. Building section 
II. Construction and Interesting design qualities 
a. Triangular Grid 
b. Because of the time of the design, some internal qualities were updated such as heating and electricity.  
c. Six fireplaces were capped.  
d. Incorporates the terrain 
i. Just like the Greeks considered the natural elements around them and used the nature in their designs. 
1. Smaller rock - kitchen and bathroom wall 
2. Whale Rock – exterior to entry and interior wall  
a. 12ft tall – 60ft wide


1. Site Plan

2. Floor Plan

3. Exterior Left Side View

4. Interior – Kitchen

5. Front view from water

6. Interior - Fireplace view

7. Interior - Dining Room

8. Interior - Ceiling detail (Rock Wall Formation)

9. Exterior Right Side View

10. Interior – Bedroom

11. Exterior – Fireplace view

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

P - WEEK (opus #7)


When speaking about professional, there are many approaches one could take. You could take the route and understanding that a professional is one that follows an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain. This person tends to be an expert in that occupation and earns their living by means of this “profession.” Professional could also suggest the manner in which something or someone is presented. If it, or they, were presented in an unprofessional manner, one would suggest that they lack the necessary ways to communicate an idea in an orderly and appropriate fashion in regards to the audience. Someone who shows up to work dressed in inappropriate attire can be viewed as unprofessional. A presentation given in an informal, unorganized and incoherent manner is viewed as unprofessional and is frowned upon. For a presentation, or presentation board, to be professional, it must be simple, coherent, and organized to convey a sense of order.


A process describes the journey a designer takes throughout his career or throughout a project. This process displays the different steps it takes to reach a final goal or design. It ranges from the brainstorming and idea-creating portion to a segment of organizing many ideas and simplifying them to create a more conceptual abstractness. From this point, a designer moves through the process and develops his designs, working to recreate them and enhance them to be a better designed final product.


A periphery is the essential outskirts or restrictions of a city or urban place. It is similar to a boundary in that it defines and surrounds the external limitations of a space. It delineates a certain space or district and places emphasis on that boundary and its importance in the space or design. As with the Greek city of Athens, the Acropolis was designed in a way that has paths leading out to farms and more flat landed areas with homes and other public buildings. “At the base of Akropolis, paths leading out to the surrounding farms eventually became streets and along one of these, northwest of the mass of the Akropolis a roughly triangular, open space was set aside as the agora, whose boundaries were defined by surrounding houses and public buildings.” (Roth 222) Roth shoes how the boundaries of the Akropolis are designed around the space and are emphasized in that Periphery. 



A portfolio is a compilation of works by an artist, designer, or architect that is usually carried and contained in a flat, portable case. This collection of works is usually what people show and present to a client or employer to illustrate the quality and examples of their work and ability. Organization is an imperative part of the portfolio as a whole. It makes things easy to find and read, making it easier to communicate one’s work and designs. Organization and coherency boosts the professionalism of the portfolio, allowing clients to view your quality and skills as a professional designer. 


Perspective is helpful when visualizing a space from a certain point of view. It is a picture that employs a technique of locating vanishing points to recreate the space in a certain point of view, capturing it in the state in which it exists before the human eye. The way we perceive the building or space changes from the point of view. One can view the space front a frontal position, where a single vanishing point exists. One can also view the space from a different angle in which more than one vanishing point might occur. These vanishing points and perspectives aid in making a drawing proportionate to the way we would visualize it by the human eye. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009


This is a detail of the Ferguson building I produced to contribute to the building project in suzanne's class.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009



Beginning with the early Greeks, a new wave in the design cycle arose, creating a new theory in architecture and interiors that began to shape the design world and influence every building structure from that time forward. The porch, court, hearth theory suggests that every building, city, or structure has a specific space that fits the commodity of a porch, a court, and a hearth. The porch, would be defined as the “entryway” or the beginning. It can be a literal porch, as on a residential home, or a figurative porch, as in the Acropolis in Athens. The court, or the meeting area, is where people congregate to interact with each other and entertain company. The Hearth is the more private section of the space, where only certain groups of people are to enter.  These structures, or sections, of a home or building are a “tripartite arrangement [that] begins with the reception spaces and is followed by the great hall and a private section.” (Blakemore 6) Blakemore shows how this arrangement unifies the design and how a building cannot be complete without one of the three. It defines the space and the sections within it, allowing its users to move comfortably through the space and using it effectively.


A composition includes arranging things in a way that makes it an easily coherent and well-designed structure or image. In our studio critiques, there are always several comments made about the compositions as a whole, but I feel as though something cannot be a composition unless it is well designed in a way that makes it easily comprehensible. If a design considers the basic principles of design, such as commodity, firmness, and delight, then it can effectively be considered a composition. 


Impression can be defined as the first and immediate effect of an experience or perception upon the mind. It evokes a certain sensation in a person, causing them to experience a space in a unique way. For example, the Salisbury Cathedral we discussed in History this week gives off a certain impression when you are standing beside it. “The Gothic cathedral was yet another byproduct of the Crusades, for when the first crusades saw Constantinople on their way to the Holy Land, they marveled at the size and wealth of the city and the vast scale and splendor…” (Roth 328) It is such a majestic building and awes the viewer, giving off a distinct impression. 

Another example of a structure that evokes a certain impression, is Stonehenge. The majestic quality of the structure itself presents a great impression on the person experiencing it. The magnitude of the structure evokes a sense of inferiority in a person. The studio project from this week required us to create a portal, drawing influence and aspects of a certain precedent building or structure. I was assigned Stonehenge. I felt as though the most important part of Stonehenge was the mystery of its construction and the magnitude of the structure. This gives off a certain impression to the viewer, making them experience the impact of the greatness of the structure and leaving them with an everlasting sensation.


Details enable a designer to zoom in and really concentrate on the smaller aspects of a building or structure. Many times, it is human nature to just take in the magnitude of a composition as a whole and ignore the more miniscule aspects. The details, sometimes give more of an impression than the composition as a whole. This week, Suzanne had us continue on our building project, and instead of zooming out and capturing a moment, we were to zoom in and concentrate on the details of the space. I feel as though it really helped me actually consider the smaller aspects of a building or structure that are just as important to its composition as the building itself. 


A diagram is helpful in drawing out different aspects of a building, space, or city. It aids in the comprehension of how people interact with the space in terms of traffic, fixed elements, circulation spaces, and the visual aspects of a building. There are several types of diagrams that can be helpful when defining various aspects of the space: Analytical Diagrams, Zoning Diagrams, Matrix Diagrams, Bubble Diagrams, and many more. In Suzanne’s class, we have continued even further on our building projects, and have progressed to diagramming the space within our group. We are covering several different important things, such as circulation, context, function, hierarchy, and gesture. Hailey Sudderth and I worked together to diagram the circulation space of the Ferguson building. We highlighted the central locations where people congregate and the human traffic flow throughout the building. 

Monday, March 2, 2009


The Foundations unit of my History and Theory of Design class covered the basic principles of design and how it relates to the earlier human civilizations such as the early Mesopotamian societies, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans. Each civilization received a different impact from the influence of the changes in the design cycle, altering it and expounding on it to make it unique. Though the different locations and people influenced the changes in the designs, they all revolved around the central themes of commodity, firmness, and delight.

Commodity, Firmness, and Delight are three different terms defining a different aspect of design, but all relate to each other and are dependant of the other to create a well-designed space. This is first shown through the Mesopotamian and Egyptian societies, where their designs served a certain purpose, whether it be the city of El Kahun and its unique use of space, (commodity) or the distinct firmness and magnificent beauty of the Pyramids of Giza. The commodity, or use, is highly evident in each structure and design, as well as the firmness and ability to withstand pressure and natural elements. The delight, many times, takes care of itself, but as designers, we must consider all three of these aspects as a whole to create a well thought out and a respectable design.

The Foundations unit continues as we reach the theory of the three part “porch, court, hearth.” During this lecture, we learned that every building from the early Greeks to the present contains a porch, a court, and a hearth, in some shape or form. These three portions of a building unify it, making it, again, a well-designed space. Blakemore defines this theory well by saying that the structure or sections of a home is a “tripartite arrangement [that] begins with the reception spaces and is followed by the great hall and a private section.” (Blakemore 6) Blakemore confirms the theory that every building or city has a porch, a court, and a hearth. This is a prototype that is continued, improved, and enhanced as time passes.

From the porch, court, hearth theory, the foundations unit moved on to recognizing archetypes, prototypes, and hybrids as changes throughout the design world. The archetype, or the ideal, represents perfection. The prototype, in contrast, is every step that a designer takes to get to the archetype. Every piece of art and architecture throughout history and time in general is a prototype. It sets the standards for the designs to come, and influences each in a way, leaving its mark on history and introduces new ideas and concepts for new designers to develop in their own work. The roman coliseum is a prime example of how each prototype is combined together to create the hybrid, or the result. “As in the Theater of Marcellus, the stone arcades incorporated engaged columns – unfluted Doric on the ground floor, then Ionic, Corinthian, and finally Corinthian pilasters on the uppermost, fourth story.” (Roth 267) The different column orders are used simultaneously with each other in the coliseum, demonstrating how each prototype influences the other to create a hybrid.

The foundations unit covered some important principles of design that are still being used today, and are essential to each designer’s growth. From the Egyptians to the present, commodity, firmness, and delight is utilized and considered greatly in design to create a well-designed space. From there, the theory that every space, city, and building has a porch, court, and hearth, is introduced and continued throughout time as well. This was another important movement in the design cycle, one that still influences the designs we have today. Not only did the unit cover the main principles of the commodity, firmness, delight, and the order of a building, it also expounded greatly on the movement throughout history in relevance to archetypes, prototypes, and hybrids. It showed how each idea (archetype) gives way to greater conceptual designs (prototypes), and how each influences the next to create a finished or new product that is well designed (hybrid).