Wednesday, April 29, 2009

[pair]ing Down


The duality between meditation and celebration can be defined clearly through differences as well as similarities that unify the two words. Meditation deals more with creating a calm, serene atmosphere, whilst celebration “meditates” on a certain aspect of the design. For example, my “sacred space” project for studio is theoretically divided into two spaces, one that is a more relaxing and meditative space created by the clean, quiet, atmosphere while the other induces a certain feeling of chaos in its visitor. It is a more celebratory section in that it celebrates the overlapping of squares and the feeling it creates by displaying a reoccurring theme throughout the entire portion of the room.



Light and the absence of light is another duality discussed largely through the world of design. Light is an important aspect of a design and can basically “make or break” a project. Light enhances an object, structure, or space, and allows it to come alive by being illuminated in that light. The manipulation of light starts to add in the thought of shadow as well. For example, my studio window project consisted of a series of various sized squares that were arranged in a way that celebrated the light. It also enhanced the absence of light by elevating some squares on others that created a shadow around that square and allowed it, too, to be illuminated through the absence of light.



A building’s central theme or essence allows us as designers to truly see the transposition and juxtaposition throughout the design. Translating an idea or a concept through a building is its motif. It is our job as a designer to reflect that concept in a coherent way without transposing and juxtaposing it too much. For example, the Sydney Opera house mirrors and reflects the concept of sails on the horizon. It creates a certain rhythm and allows the theme of sails and boats to be transposed to fit the building while keeping the juxtaposition of the building in tact.




In terms of speaking and writing, a monologue is a story told by one person where as a dialogue is a conversation between two bodies. This can be translated easily to design. A building or space can be conversing with a neighboring structure or telling its story alone.



Literal and Abstract take on the same themes as transposing and juxtaposing in that it takes an idea and converts it to fit the building or space without literally using the precedent. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Action - Verbs

To speculate is to indulge in conjectural thought and to engage in a reflection or meditation. Oftentimes designers have to speculate on the materials, space, or constrictions they have to work with to create a design. Contemplating a space and its features is an important part of the design process and is required to develop a design and conform it to fit the “speculations” of that space. Designers also speculate about the original intent of a building and its use and presence within its environment. Roth explains how “a building also has a symbolic function and makes a visual statement about its use.” (Roth 16) It is our job as designers to analyze that presence and speculate about its intent to draw inspiration and influence from it to move forward in the cycle of design.

Composing means to make or form something by combining things and parts or elements. It allows for inspirations to be combined to create a composition that is well designed and thought out. Composing also relates to music in that it is how a piece of music is produced and developed to create a well-structured piece of music. This is not unlike the design world. The composition should speak for itself if it is well designed. Roth talks about how “architecture is frozen music.” (Roth 103)

Energize means to rejuvenate something and give it “energy” to make it jump out at you. To energize something requires giving it “life.” Many parts of the design cycle are energized when a new wave of design is introduced to the world of design. Corbusier was a prime example of this. He brought energy to his designs and declared that “a new beginning through a re-formulation of the roots of architecture” was occurring. (Weston 94)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

[Reflections] |||||| Unity Summary

The reflections unit of our history and theory of design class covered a range of topics ranging from the industrial revolution to “east meets west.” It covers the Romanesque Revival and the main principles of it, including social change, need for meaning, romantic past, and other things in the past that can be studied.

The idea of cities and traditional structures were being modernized and constructed with newer, stronger, and more sustainable materials. The Trinity churches in New York and in Boston are prime examples of this. Concrete, metal, and glass were discovered and combined to create a new technique. Architects and designers discovered that metal strengthens the concrete as well as cast iron and glass in terms of verticals. There are many buildings and structures around the world that portray these materials in an effective way. The Brooklyn Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, and the Crystal Palace are among the most famous structures that bring together the new combination of materials to create the newly constructed formations.

Frank Lloyd Wright had a very impressive and innovative way of using concrete, glass, and steel. The majority of his more recent designs particularly displayed new techniques of combining these materials whilst still returning to the roots of basic design as he did in his own personal home and studio. Other homes and buildings he has designed, however, use the concrete, glass, and steel in an innovative way as well as taking advantage of the landscape around it.

Fallingwater is a prime example of the way concrete and steel comes together to support glass. The large cantilever over the waterfall supports itself from the reinforcements in the concrete by steel and incorporates the nature around it. The reflections unit revels on several buildings of this nature by Wright and other designers and architects of the age.

The Monadock building introduces bay windows in skyscrapers to add a hint of visual interest as well as a view of the city and allowing for light to enter in a large amount. Another interesting feature of the building is that the exterior façade supports the entire building in an expensive manner as apposed to the Home Insurance building that introduced the freestanding façade for the first time in design history.

The reflections unit covers many different examples of skyscrapers, industrial buildings and homes that bring together new materials and techniques that gain influence from the Romanesque Revival and other eastern ideals. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ROAD TRIP (opus 11)


Root refers to the origins of something or someone’s home or environment.  Roots plat new beginnings and designate the origin of that influence. For example, the medieval and baroque periods heavily influenced the post design eras. As the root of a tree grows and strengths the tree itself, design concepts and time periods do the same. Without that underlying foundation, new innovations in design would fail because there wouldn’t be the provided stability that influences all the present and future designs to come. 


Congruence relates to symmetry in a great and eminent way. It is the quality or state of agreeing or corresponding to something to create a unified and cohesive composition. Congruence represents harmony and conformity.


A concept is compiling ideas together to suggest a general notion or idea formed by characteristics or particulars from a precedent. The concept allows a designer to develop ideas and create a unique composition by looking at the work of others and gaining inspiration from other things. In studio, for example, we are making a window details that captures and manipulates light to make the building a “glittering gem” in the distance. As a studio we decided to work of the concept of a “gem” and a “Tiffany lamp” and how they both create different facets and colors while they manipulate the light. 


Materiality is largely dependent on the materials being used and the methods and techniques in which they are manipulated to create a structure. Frank Lloyd Wright was very mindful about the materials he used and the manner in which he used them. “Wright adapted a design of horizontals and verticals and the use of natural materials to create a uniquely American style of expression.” (Massey 51) Massey shows how he combines his design techniques and the materials he has to work with. “Built on a rocky hillside, the concrete structure cantilevers over a waterfall. The emphasis is on the organic, with rock-masonry walls, North Carolina walnut furniture and fittings, and huge windows creating a harmony between the natural beauty of the setting and the interior living space.” (Massey 85)

Compression : Release

Fallingwater demonstrates a prime example of the compression versus release theory. Wright designed the home to be a retreat and a relaxing residential space. He practically forced the residents to be comfortable by working off the thought of compressions and releases. In some of his rooms, the ceilings are lowered to just above the head, emitting a feeling of closeness.  It makes you want to sit and relax at the same time drawing you into the natural beauty of the location. While it compresses in some places, it releases in others that aren’t meant to be “relaxed” in quite as much. The ceiling opens some along with the space between the walls, allowing for more movement rather than a constricted and compressed illusion. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Between Silence + Light (Opus 10)


Craft represents a number of things in design relating to the construction of the space or structure. A well-crafted design incorporates firmness and a timeless and everlasting appeal to it. Craft can also include experimenting with new techniques and styles to create an innovative method. Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” takes on a new approach by combining concrete and steel to strengthen it as well as adding steel supports to prevent glass breaking. It took a large amount of skill and craft to create the cantilever over the waterfall.



In a home or other industrial building, there are some parts that are supposed to be kept private whilst others remain public and communal. To distinguish between the two, certain design techniques and methods can be used. For example, Falling Water makes use of darkening hallways that lead to more private sections of the home, creating a privileged and disclosed area. This designates where a guest or visitor is supposed to enter and where he is not.



Techniques are used mostly to define the way something is made or used to create or evoke a certain feeling. For example, Falling Water was meant to be a restful retreat, and the home literally forces you to relax. This is achieved by using the technique of lowering some parts of the ceiling, forcing you to sit and be tuned in with the nature surrounding and incorporating the home. Another example of a technique is formed through the use of the natural elements of Monticello in its design. For example, Acorns were painted white and wedged between recessed spaces around the fireplace to create an interesting and unique detail. This technique effectively encompasses all aspects of the nature around the home in the home itself.


Virtual applies to the things that seem to be in existent but aren't actually there. It deals with something that appears to be temporarily simulated and doesn't fulfill anything but the essence. FallingWater demonstrates a perfect example of this. The exterior staircase leading to the guest home is supported by beams only on the left side. As you move through the passageway, they are turned slightly so that when you arrive at the top, they are "virtually" invisible. 


Language is the way an architect or artists incorporates his own style and "voice" within a piece. It displays a certain feel and emotion that can only be achieved by the creator. Language is a way to communicate ideas, individual techniques and personalized styles through the designs easily and effectively. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Precedent Analysis - Draft #1

The Massaro house is a beautiful and exquisite home located in an intoxicating location on Petre Island on Lake Mahopac in upstate New York. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 1950’s but wasn’t actually commissioned until 2007 when Joe Massaro, the owner, discovered five original sketches of a home that Frank Lloyd Wright had suggested. Massaro then hired a Wright Scholar, Thomas A. Heinz, to finish the design and build the home exactly the way Wright intended it to be, from only a floor plan, a section view, and three elevations.

The 5,000 square feet, single-story, four-bedroom home was constructed from glass, concrete, and mahogany wood on an interesting land plot. One of the most famous characteristics of Wright’s designs is that he incorporates the land in a unique and interactive way. The Massaro home has many dramatic features, including the 28-foot cantilevered section that juts out over the lake, giving the illusion that it is floating on water due to its elevation. This home is believed to have the largest cantilever Wright ever designed, even larger than that of Falling Water, one of his most well known pieces. In addition to the cantilevered section of this home, there are two large boulders that the house was built “out of.” The largest, Whale Rock, is 12 feet tall and 60 feet wide, forming an exterior to the entry and an interior wall. The smaller rock too forms interior walls that line the kitchen counter and the bathroom wall.

There has been quite a bit controversy over many of the features Wright suggested. He designed the home to have interesting triangular grid skylights as a ceiling detail. The details are made as a single cement entity, and extend over the kitchen and dining area of the home. Many people thought that this was an undeveloped design concept, arguing that they should have been flat rather than domed. Scholars and architects also argued that there were too many issues with the amount of fireplaces in the home, that they capped six of them, helping with ventilation problems in the space.  Other internal qualities were affected as well. Heating and electricity, too, had to be altered because of the time period in which the building was designed verses being constructed. Though a few miniscule things were changed, the main designs and central concepts were still based around Wright’s original sketches.

Overall, the Massaro house successfully captures the essence of the surrounding environment and utilizes it in a unique and sophisticated way. It incorporates the beauty of the land through ways such as the 28 foot cantilever over the lake, the two large boulders that essentially become an important and useful design feature, and the triangular skylights that allow natural light to enter and be manipulated to increase the sensibility of the space. 

Sunday, April 5, 2009


And God said… “Let there be light”

Falling Water and Monticello share common methods and approaches of manipulating natural light in a unique and well-designed way. Each demonstrates its importance in the design and how it was celebrated to present a certain presence in the space.  Monticello created a special way of using skylights and mirrors to manipulate light to make the room seem larger and more spacious by brightening it and elongating it. Falling Water does something similar, in that it has a wall nearly completely constructed of glass to invite light in as well as taming it so that it isn’t entirely overpowering.

Jefferson put much consideration in the design and construction of Monticello, placing emphasis on the way light was being used. In many of the rooms he created high ceilings that were enhanced with a skylight opening that allowed for a significant amount of light to enter the space. This method allowed light to protrude into the room without being too overpowering. It lengthened the room and made it larger as a rule, manipulating the light to create the illusion of size.

Wright manipulates illumination by placing a high emphasis on the sources of natural light. He leaves an entire wall open in each room to create a natural source of light. Wright was very intrigued by windows and how they are used as ventilation systems as well as natural light sources and sound manipulators. He designed them so that when opened, the volume of sound would be manipulated as well as the amount of light entered into a room. It allowed for candles and other artificial light sources to be kept at a minimum.

These two buildings and structures were designed in a way that light was given a great consideration and emphasis during the projects. It was formed around the essential uses of the spaces themselves to create and provide a lighting that was appropriate for the setting. Monticello accomplishes this by adding skylights and mirrors while Falling Water incorporates an abundance of windows to create the same effects; Both giving an aurora of well planned design and manipulation of light.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

[Re]Actions (Opus 9)


A rotation is the act or process of turning around a center or axis in a uniform and precise pattern. Rotation often helps in the movement or rhythm of a design, allowing things to be changed in their position and viewed in different ways to gain better knowledge of the thing or space. As it turns, many times on an axis, it is uniform in its pattern of movement but may not follow the same visual prototype.


Movement in terms of design is the suggestion of motion in a work of art, either represented by gestures in figurative paintings and sculptures, or by the relationship of structural elements in a design or composition. The movement dictates the level of energy in a piece, and allows it to come alive or retain a sense of firm stiffness. Movement can also apply to the changes in the design cycle over time. Anne Massey demonstrates this as she speaks on the subject of the aesthetic movement. “The Aesthetic Movement lacked the moral concerns of the arts and Crafts movement. Its object was to create less ponderous and healthier ‘artistic’ interiors for the Victorian middle classes, whose tastes had now matured.” (Massey 26) Massey shows how the arts and crafts “movement” turned into more of a healthier “artistic” regime known as the Aesthetic Movement. 


Reflection in terms of design is similar to movement in that it has a dual meaning. It could be a literal reflection, where something is reflected on an axis or origin and is flipped and displayed on the opposite side. As in Versailles, water is used excessively to make the region appear longer by reflecting its length and width through water. Reflection can also be representative of something. If a certain genre of design “reflects” a time era, then it is taking on the qualities and characteristics of that time period, relating to the social behaviors of the people. When Massey introduces the Arts and Crafts Movement, she shows how design reflects different aspects of the environmental and governmental influences. “This was a conservative style, inspired by French Classical architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and in interior decoration was marked by lavish use of carving, gilding, rich marble, and extravagant lighting, well suited to provide an atmosphere of  grandeur for large hotels, department stores, opera houses, and the ostentatious houses of the wealthy…” (Massey 31) Massey shows how the French classical architecture influenced the interior decorating aspect of design. She also elaborates on how the “Paris Opera and the Beaux-arts style in general influenced interiors of Opera houses, department stores, hotels, municipal buildings, and private houses all over the world,” particularly in America. (Massey 31)


Source is much like reflection in that it stands as a resource and influence of the origins of designs. Many designs gain this influence from past examples in history or from pre-standing structures. “For the Grander type of interior the prevalent style was the Beaux-Arts, so called because of its source was in the teaching of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.” (Massey 31) Source also considers the source of a material such as water, color, or light. In studio, we were considering the sources of natural light and building a structure to capture and manipulate that light from the source. 


Illumination is taking an object or an aspect of design and highlighting it in a certain media such as color, light, shadows, etc. It celebrates the characteristic and allows it to shine through and be “illuminated” within the design. The resplendent quality of an object or design is important in the design when creating a hierarchy or an illustrious focal point.