Posted January 19th, 2017  Blog Transcript:  The initial elements designed for RE_CYCLE Park are not determinate. They are intended to evolve from skill training and design workshops held with the community. This is a visualization that accompanies a proposed workshop included in the feasibility document produced by the UDBS in December. It represents members of the Braddock community in the production of climbing structures.
 Posted November 26th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  Sometimes the best way to make new friends is by building something together. Thank you to the Universidad de las Americas for hosting the UDBS and granting us the opportunity to work on as engaging a workshop as building vertical gardening prototypes for Senora Elvira. More personally, thank you to the UDLA students for all of the fantastic experiences and memories, and I hope we will one day be able to come together again in our professional careers.
 Posted November 25th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  On the evening of Tuesday November 15th the UDBS was granted the privilege of visiting Al Borde’s office and residential compound. The project was initiated by a former Swiss banker who had moved to Ecuador seeking a different lifestyle than he thought could be found in Switzerland. Eventually, he commissioned Al Borde to retrofit the complex of buildings (illustrated in this photo) which he had bought approximately a decade before. Since then, the project has grown and expanded to its current state, where though selective demolition, creative reuse, and design prototype and refinement, Al Borde has converted the site into a complex network of living spaces for Malu, the Al Borde interns, the Al Borde studio, and living space for the owner of the property. While there are countless poetically executed details throughout the project, the most remarkable aspect of the work is its origins and continued existence through patronage.  By partnering themselves to a creative patron willing to be a player in their living laboratory, Al Borde has secured housing, work space, and an incredible framework through which to explore and advance their mission. It brings to mind that in PID work, or in any work, nothing can be executed independently. Rather, the right players must be found, and partnerships must be formed in order to execute on work worth doing. We do not work alone, and we are greater for it. It requires creative collaboration to manifest an inspiring atmosphere like this, that could only be described as otherworldly. 
 Posted November 25th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  This photo was taken on the morning of Tuesday, November 15th. It is a white board in the studio at the Universidad De Las Americas and the drawings were generated as part of the first review with John, Jose Antonio, and Nuria. Jeremy, June, and myself collaborated with UDLA architecture students Sebastian and Diana during the La Tolita Workshop. Our group had some challenges with language since none of us on the UDBS side are fluent in Spanish. While to most that would appear to be a disadvantage, but in our work it became a  tremendous asset. Because we couldn’t rely on verbal communication, we had to communicate through drawing.  As we worked through our designs to advance the development of our prototype, we had to represent every idea and detail in drawing. By representing our work visually, it forced us to be more rigorous and clear. 
 Posted November 22nd, 2016  Blog Transcript:  November 20th marked Trans Day of Remembrance, the annual day for remembering all members of the Trans/NB community worldwide lost in the past year to transphobic violence. This past year marked eighty-seven documented cases of murder against transpeople worldwide, with twenty-six of these murders in the United States. Of these twenty-six human beings murdered, almost all were black or latin, and most were women. This marks the single deadliest year for trans-people in the United States in recorded history, and these statistics speak nothing to the countless incidents of assault, sexual assault, rape, attempted murder, and every other violence that trans-people face. And that even as many states and nations abroad further corrode legal protections for trans-people, they face immeasurable violence, not by coincidence, but in deliberate, often premeditated acts inflicted with horrific methods.  This is a personal day to me, as these lives, abruptly stomped from existence, represent my family: fallen brothers, sisters, siblings. But, this is not just a day for the trans-community to mourn, it is a day to remember that every one of these people had a mother, a father, significant others, friends, pets, coworkers, all of whom will never see them alive again, only feel the absence they leave. This year especially, I ask you take a moment, to remember. 
 Posted November 20th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  Oftentimes it takes an extreme perspective to truly appreciate the complexities with which time has knit together the urban fabric of a city. Last night, the UDBS students and John were granted such a spectacular view when we were graciously hosted at the restaurant, El Ventanal by CMU SoA alumni and generous benefactor to our trip, Adriel Deller. 
 Posted November 4th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  Documenting the existing physical conditions of a site, and analyzing the patterns found between the site’s major elements is a method by which designers may approach a site with sensitivity and respect to the spaces and people already there. The above site plan analyzes the site’s existing vegetation, shade, ground permeability, and surface runoff, which will allow UDBS students to make more informed decisions in their designs, raising the quality of design, and achieving a more conscientious approach to the site’s impact on the surrounding community.
 Posted November 3rd, 2016  Blog Transcript:  Recently, as part of the UDBS’ workflow in progressing designs on Recycle Park Braddock, the students have adopted the use of a plywood panel onto which a site plan, community generated images, diagrams, narratives, and other related streams of visual media can be projected. This board, with mounted elevations of the surrounding blocks, and a constantly layering extrusion of design iteration and conceptual thought functions as a hybrid drawing and model, a “drodel”. In a single day of working on this drodel, it quickly became apparent that as an object, and as a method of workflow, it was of great interest. It functioned in generating conversation, both within the UDBS and with other students of architecture at Carnegie Mellon. These conversations were a reflection of a transparent design process, one that allows for presentations of proposed designs to function as public interest presentations should: as conversations, not defenses. The accessibility and potential for idea discussion and design dexterity that the drawdel has demonstrated so far, and will have when utilized in meetings with the Recycle Park Group, provides the potential for the UDBS’ designs for Recycle Park to function as representations of a beautifully collaborative and inclusive design process. 
 Posted November 2nd, 2016  Blog Transcript:  Whenever designing, it is of great importance to understand the site upon which one is to build. Above is a collage describing Verona Street Junior High, constructed between 1909 and 1910, and at Braddock’s peak, home to 545 students. The school was demolished in the mid-20th century, and its rubble now lies just a few feet below the site’s current surface plane, a living palimpsest of Braddock’s course through history. As designs move forward, it is certain to be exciting to see how the site’s underground is negotiated.
 Posted October 18th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  Concurrent to the CMoA installation the UDBS produced in partnership with the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh, and the UDBS’ recent meetings with the Recycle Park Group, the UDBS has begun to utilize a taxonomy of verbs as a directive in the design of Recycle Park. These verbs are derived from community interests, and are: Swinging, Sliding, Climbing, and Sitting. As a jumping off point, the CMoA artifact might be used as both a proof of concept to the potential of the masonry carpet, and as an object to frame the UDBS students’ minds as they move forward, designing with this taxonomy.
 Posted October 17th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  On Saturday, October 8th the UDBS visited the Carnegie Free Library of Braddock to meet with the Recycle Park Group, a collection of Braddock Residents with vested interest and enthusiasm in the transformation of recycle park from its current state into the extraordinary public space it has the potential to become. The group contains representatives of a number of significant groups within the Braddock community, including the North Braddock Borough Council, North Braddock Cares, and Transformazium. Also in attendance was Marialuisa (MaLu) Borja of the Ecuador based architecture group, Al Borde, whose preliminary community investigations now inform the UDBS’ designs.  During our meeting, we had the privilege to use one of the beautiful meeting rooms on the second floor of the library, which, like the rest of the library still reflects the grandeur afforded by Andrew Carnegie’s massive investment into the structure. The Braddock Carnegie Library was the first Carnegie Library to open in the United States, and was fully endowed by Andrew Carnegie, signifying Carnegie’s recognition of the role that Braddock’s manufacturing capacity had in the rise of his steel empire. And as we enjoyed the privilege of a public space constructed with the funds of one of the wealthiest Americans to ever live, it occurred to me the irony that Braddock now suffers from such disinvestment and abandonment despite its incredible historic importance and wealth of structure. And accompanying that irony hand in hand is the tragedy which it represents and the hardships that the Braddock community faces as a result. Perhaps it is this tragedy then, that defines how truly extraordinary the Recycle Park Group is, for despite the hardships facing contemporary Braddock, they possess an enthusiasm and a dream so strong they pursue it with inspiring passion. They dream of a public space which might uplift their community and project Braddock into a brighter future. This time, however, they rely not on the funds of a potentially distant and unrelatable billionaire to provide salvation, but seek to pursue a materialization of Braddock self-actualizing its own potentials and hopes. The poetic beauty and potential impact of such a project is immeasurable, and I cannot wait until our next meeting with the Recycle Park Group.
 Posted October 1st, 2016  Blog Transcript:  This is a montage I made after attending the Art Olympics as part of the Re:NEW Festival. The Art Olympics are a performance art based event in which teams of artists construct an audience interactive sculpture piece out of surplus material donated to the Re:NEW Festival by Goodwill Industries. One of the most striking aspects of the Art Olympics is how it represents a microcosm of art being used as a vessel of community outreach. At the onset of the event, it was little more than an empty room of strangers gathered together to watch three teams of artists attempt to build some interactive and exciting object from material named as “waste”, but by the event’s conclusion, these objects had been converted to vessels that had provided opportunities for people to create art of their own or participate in the creation of the finished products. My experience at Art Olympics, has me thinking of how some of the participatory strategies employed there might be translated into community outreach and design charrettes UDBS might do in the future. Being able to make design and process accessible is of tremendous value in maximizing community engagement. 
 Posted September 22nd, 2016  Blog Transcript:  On Saturday, September 17, we met in the  Building Optimism: Public Space in South America  exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Heinz Architecture Center. We met there to reflect on an exhibition of work that the South American architecture group Al Borde produced in collaboration with the community of Pittsburgh suburb Braddock. Our objective was to take the preliminary design work and idea generation that Al Borde had produced and begin to expand their ideas into specific ideas for a masonry carpet we are to design and execute in collaboration with the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh. While we were sitting around a communal table in the exhibition and brainstorming, a number of people walked through to examine what we were drawing, or hung about the edges to listen in a bit to what we were discussing. All visitors followed this pattern, but one. At one point, about an hour into our charette an elderly man walked through and politely asked us what it was we were doing. We stumbled to answer. And as he left, the man made a half joke, “Just put a football field in, and everyone will be happy.” It was an embarrassing moment, as we had failed to articulate even a single aspect of our proposal which could give this park a life beyond just that of a football field. We knew what ideas we had, and we knew what aspects of Al Borde’s work they related to, but we failed to provide proof. This moment stayed with me, I knew that the ideas we were developing were solid and with merit, but we had failed to convince this stranger of that fact. And it has forced on me a consideration that the lexicon that we in the UDBS so often use when conversing to one another is totally useless in communicating to that other 98% for whom we design. And it was this old man, with all his curiosity and good intention that finally drove home the point to me that we’ve been skirting the edge of for our first few weeks: we design for the  other  98%. Meaning, not ourselves. And therefore, we have a responsibility. A responsibility with every drawing, with every model, with every word we speak or write – a responsibility to communicate in such a way as to not only be articulate to others, but to be convincing, to excite others about our work so that it might become  our  work. A collective work among UDBS, TIP, Braddock, CMoA, and all those whom we might inspire and educate. A work that dares to dream.
 Posted September 20th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  On Wednesday, September 14, a demonstration of virtual reality being used to capture and make intimate architectural elements was given by CMU’s IDeATe Reality Computing Class. They used Autodesk’s ReMake software to create a 3D digital model of one of the capital bases from the College of Fine Arts building on CMU’s campus and then using a virtual reality headset, allowed each of us to gain a better understanding of how such software can bring a user into a virtual space, something that should be extremely useful in the future to create powerful proposals and demonstrations.
 Posted September 20th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  In order to find precedents from remaining buildings in Pittsburgh for proposals on details on the August Wilson House project, a photographic expedition was planned and executed on Sunday, September 11. As part of this expedition, Google Maps was used to identify and locate specific buildings that appeared to have similar details. This brought the team through portions of the Hill, Polish Hill, Lawrenceville, Garfield, and Larimer. In addition, the Lawrenceville portions of Penn Avenue and Butler Street were walked on foot and documented due to their especially high number of Victorian storefront structures.
 Posted September 18th, 2016  A still from a timelapse of Ivy model-building. The full video may be found here:  Blog Transcript:  If one examines the work of any architectural master, it is clear that in every object, material and intersection within a project has had its potential identified and realized. So often architects attempt to enforce top-down approaches and coerce the material aspects of architecture into subordination with imposed social agendas. However, in attempting to emulate the master Louis Kahn and converse with a brick, one must go slower and, just as Kahn did, begin to question the desires of the material with which one works, determining the material’s potentials from there. And in building these scale masonry models, the material and spatial sensations which categorize architectural experience come back to the foreground of design, allowing for these potentials to become apparent.
 Posted September 18th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  On Saturday, September 4th, our studio drove out to visit Philadelphia, with the intention of seeing Francis Kéré’s  Building for Community  exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The full exhibition was a fantastic insight into the process and reasoning behind a fantastically successful PID architect. One portion of the exhibition was a video displaying the construction process of the primary school Kéré designed for his home village of Gando, Burkina Faso. This video, of all the elements of the exhibition had the greatest impact upon me. One of the most inspiring points of this video for me was the incredible degree of sustainable practices that Kéré had incorporated into the structure. The floor was made of locally sourced clay, ground and smoothed by the women of the community. In doing so, Kéré has created a ground which seamlessly blends the interior of the structure to the surrounding earth of the village, eliminating harsh thresholds between this new structure and the existing fabric. Furthering his sustainable goals also was his approach to constructability, having the entire structure built from members which were installed by teams of workers of no more than three persons at a time, even for elements such as the roof trusses, which were lifted one element at a time and then welded on site. In doing so, the project is able to avoid the additional costs of bringing heavy construction equipment out to the village and also opened up the opportunity for residents of Gando to become the primary builders of the project, a point of great personal importance to Kéré. As he said of his work, “If people participate in the process, that is the only when people will know how to evaluate the success. They will take real ownership of it, and they will care for it.” To therefore have had a project of such social importance as a school then built by the community it serves seems to me an inspiringly true realization of the ideologies of Public Interest Design.
 Posted September 17th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  Friday, September 2nd was our first group visit to 1727 Bedford, the site for our portion of the August Wilson project. Going into the visit, I had done some research and preliminary sketching of mid-19th century Victorian architecture to begin to gather some idea of what it is we are to be restoring the building to, but upon our visit, my conceptions began to shift somewhat. Upon seeing the building and hearing Jeff Slack, the preservationist from Pfaffmann Architects, with whom we are collaborating with on this project, expand upon some of the alterations that have been made to the structure since its inception, it occurred to me that while we aim at a faithful restoration to the building August Wilson would have known during his residency there, the structure has a much longer history. It brought Ruskin to mind, that this structure is not ours, that it belongs partially to those who built it, and partially to all generations who will follow us[1]. And while I do not agree with Ruskin that these buildings are therefore untouchable, I have found a great deal of awe and inspiration within the fact that this structure holds such history and cultural significance. I think that finding a multifaceted approach to this restoration that considers and appreciates the full history of the structure will prove to be a considerable and rewarding challenge.  [1]          Ruskin, John. “Lamp of Memory.“  The Seven Lamps of Architecture . New York: Dover Publications, 1989. N. pag. Print.
 Posted September 17th, 2016  Blog Transcript:  Among our collaborators on the August Wilson House project is Autodesk. This is a sketch I made while Marc Zinck, of Autodesk explained the process of using UAV and terrestrial based scanning technologies. We will be using data collected via these methods with  Autodesk’s Recap 360 software. During the meetings with Marc, he demonstrated how the software is able to produce a workable, dimensionable, 3D digital mesh model only from a series of photographs and scans. The potentials of this technology are inspiring to see, as it would appear from the short demonstration we had that this software could liberate architects from some of the sizable amount of time spent collecting field dimensions. Looking toward my professional future, I am very excited to see how the architectural profession will reshape itself in the future to adapt with both this software and other emerging technologies through the coming years and decades. In the immediate future, I am grateful to have this opportunity to work so closely with a representative of the company responsible for such advances, and I am eager to test out the digital models produced in order to begin to test the efficiency and accuracy of this new technology.
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