I came across these really cool city transit line posters today. Thanks to my colleagues Gabriel Fay and Matt Provolt, who recommended this website to me...
They would look really cool in my livingroom... If only I had enough money to buy more than one. It would be really cool if they sold them in kits because I want to buy about 10 of them right now!
The final week for the ULI competition was very intense for our team. After finally realizing that we needed to start producing final material and stop messing around with architectural concepts, we decided the best way to finish the competition was to divide the group into designers/revit modelers, graphics/diagram person, and financial people. The result was a mediocre design concept that involved the connection of districts into a "LiNK" District as we called it... a district that proved the complete amenities of a successful recreational/business/residential district in a linear fashion. And what I mean by that is we used pedestrian pathways to literally cut through the buildings and infrastructure and serve as the "link" between buildings and structure. The results are shown below, and the final result was something we were all proud of... given we only had 2 very short weeks to produce this.
The project was a success and we learned a lot. And even though we didnt win or even receive an honorable mention, we were satisfied with our final product. We gained an experience that put us ahead of other colleagues in our class who didn't do the competition, and i only wish this competition was incorporated into our curriculum.
At this moment, there is only one high speed rail service in the U.S. It is Amtrak's Acela Express which runs on the NE corridor from Boston to Washington D.C. Barack Obama has made it clear that America needs to invest in HSR in the near future. In April 2009, as required by ARRA, the FRA released its strategic plan describing the agency's vision for developing high-speed rail in the United States.
The benefits of HSR are numerous, just check out some of the stats...
Faster, more efficient mobility, enormous energy savings, reduced environmental damage - a train system solves many problems:
For our studio project this semester, we focused on a HSR station in an American city. My group, which consisted of one other person, chose to study Las Vegas.
Why Las Vegas?
"Las Vegas is the second most traveled tourist destination in the U.S. behind New York City... Over 30,000 people drive to Las Vegas from LA everyday. Desert Xpress will cut that in half..."
"DesertXpress allows passengers to bypass traffic, traveling at speeds of up to 150 mph non-stop to and from Las Vegas in approximately 80 minutes compared to an average highway drive time of approximately 4 hours. Driving on I-15 can take several more hours during peak times, and longer with any accidents or other delays. DesertXpress alleviates congestion on the I-15, providing a better, cleaner, safer, and faster alternative to driving, and an unparalleled transportation EXPERIENCE."
There is already a station proposal underway for Victorville, CA. Our project was concerned with a HSR terminal station in Las Vegas. We wanted to make it a destination point. We knew that 1.) it had to be in proximity to Las Vegas Boulevard and 2.) it had to be along I-15 (the main highway that runs through Las Vegas. We investigated the site possibilities for a while, but finally chose a very large site, consisting of 2 parcels located directly across from Mandalay Bay.
Little did we know the criticism we would get from this site... At mid-term juries, a large discussion took place about our site selection. The main criticism was that our site was not along Las Vegas Boulevard. However, our argument was that it was actually closer than if we were to put it further south along LVB. We are even proposing to take the existing monorail and extend it into our building...
We strongly believe that the site we chose was a very good location for a HSR. Even our professor agrees with us. The argument is clear to us. We believe the HSR should be a destination point. And without going into the concept of the project (future blog) we believe it was a very successful proposal.
The ULI Competition this year motivated designers to develop "bold, BIG ideas." So naturally, going into this competition, our team dreamt of just that. Being a graduate from the art-oriented architecture program at Kent State University, my ideas were nothing short of something BIG for an urban design competition...
We had this idea of "corridor connections" where the built environment acted much like a street would. It would facilitate and attract movement along a pathway.
Here's another approach to the idea designed by Gabriel Fey where each corridor served a different function.
We even explored bridging these connections to encourage relationships in section...
And after going through nearly 2 rolls of trace and 3 sleepless nights our advisers finally told us to step back into reality and realize what this competition is all about... It's about implementing a design solution that solves problems that already exist rather than trying to solve problems by creating new ones.
So our BIG ideas got shut down, and rather quickly. So, if there is a moral to this story, it's know your design limititations before going in.
Also, design planning can only go so far...
In terms of design competitions, making a work plan beforehand will only get you so far. That "production time" ended up lasting until about 2 hours before we had to print and ship our package. So, try to stick to it, but don't count on it!
More on this competition in future discussions...
So I recently decided to test out some LED lights in this architectural model I'm working on for a Las Vegas High Speed Rail project. We've all seen those pretty white architectural models lit up with LED lights...
So I thought for this project I'd give it a go. Of course, as long as it was semi-cheap. I found this on amazon where you can order strips of LEDs for relatively cheap. So I bought a sample strip. And it worked out great!
At the beginning of the year, I took part of the Gerald D. Hines Urban Land Institute Design Competition. Me, along with two others from the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative: Tommy Chesnes and Gabriel Faye, and two others from Cleveland State University, one a law student and one an urban planner, formed a very solid team, i must admit. But the competition process began a long time ago. In fact, our Urban Systems professor, Sagree Sharma persuaded us to compete in this competition. Beginning in the fall, we began the very long process of getting ourselves prepared for this competition. Beginning with the initial interviews (or blind dates) we selected teammates who I felt were well rounded students in a variety of subjects. Debby, who was from Germany, had much experience in leadership positions, was our urban planner, and Pete, who had experience in law, was also from CSU.
Gabriel Fey | Team Leader | M. Arch + M.U.D. @ CUDC
Brandon Young | M. Arch + M.U.D. @ CUDC
Tommy Chesnes | M. Arch + M.U.D. @ CUDC
Debby Riemann | M.U.P.D. @ CSU
Pete Zahirsky | M.P.A. @ CSU
The application process, I must add, is quite complex for a design competition. You know its a major competition when you need a separate email address for it. It was also a chance for me to review my teammates resumes; which were very impressive. Truth be told, I was confident that our team had a very good chance of becoming finalists.
So what is this competition?
"The ULI/Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition, now in its tenth year, is an urban design and development challenge for graduate students. The Hines Competition challenges multidisciplinary student teams to devise a comprehensive development program for a real, large-scale site. Student teams comprising at least three disciplines have two weeks to develop solutions that include drawings, site plans, tables, and market-feasible financial data. Please visit the competition archives to view previous submissions and view thedocumentary video to learn more about the competition format. ULI will announce this year’s competition site on January 17, 2012, which is the day the competition officially gets underway.This is an ideas competition; there is no expectation that any of the submitted schemes will be applied to the site. The winning team will receive $50,000 and the finalist teams $10,000 each."-taken from the ULI Competition website
The competition was exactly 2 intense weeks, during the beginning of the spring semester. So, to top things off, we had studio and other class work to do as well. This just made the competition even more challenging than it already was.Of the 3 teams that participated in the competition from the CUDC, only 2 submitted. However, the other team put up a very good fight. More about this competition to come....
An interesting note from Rustwire.com:
"Everyone attributes young people moving away from this area because of lack of opportunity. I attribute it to lack of good leadership and hope for a better region because of that deficiency. When you have the right people in charge of a place, young people will stay and take chances, hoping to stay near their families. When they inherently feel like the leadership of a place is making decisions that destabilize their future prospects, they leave. No one wants to talk about that as a factor in brain drain. All they want to attribute it to is lack of job opportunity instead of lack of openness to new ideas for different kinds of economies and industries."
I couldn't agree more with this. I'm a leaving example of this. I am leaving Cleveland after I graduate because, simply put, there is no opportunity here for me. More significantly, I don't see Cleveland as a place where the people are willing to embrace change.
However, there is a different side to this argument. That is... taking a bad situation and making it something good. With a shrinking city like Cleveland, it might inspire an urban designer to stay here to make it better. With that in mind, i'm not quite sure if I want to be the leader or follower...
After finishing this book this past summer, I was surprisingly satisfied with the knowledge and inspiration I've gained from this novel. One of Rand's best, this book inspires not only a debate about architectural practice and theory, but about the idea of collectivism and individualism which I have been researching and investigating the last couple of months. Particularly, I am interested in the realm of architecture, the client/architect relationship, and the transparency between the two. Have architects lost their role as the primary designer in commissioned projects? Or are the clients the designer? It's a boundary we must defend as architects.
I've also looked into how us architects can market ourselves as designers... A discussion we can get into at a later time. For now, I want to bring attention one of my favorite quotes about architects and architecture from the book:
"What the architectural profession lacks is a understanding of its own social importance. This lack is due to a double cause: to the anti-social nature of our entire society and to your own inherent modesty. You have been conditioned to think of yourselves merely as breadwinners with no higher purpose than to earn your fees and the means of your own existence. Isn't it time, my friends, to pause and redefine your position in society? Of all the crafts, yours is the most important. Important, not in the amount of money you might make, not in the degree of artistic skill you might exhibit, but in the service you render to your fellow men. You are those who provide mankind's shelter. Remember this and then look at our cities, at our slums, to realize the gigantic task awaiting you. But to meet this challenge you must be armed with a broader vision of ourselves and of your work. You are not hired lackeys of the rich. You are crusaders in the cause of the underprivileged and the unsheltered. Not by what we are shall we be judged, but by those we serve. Let us stand united in this spirit. Let us--in all matters--be faithful to this new, broader, higher perspective. Let us organize--well, my friends, shall I say--a nobler dream?"
"...and when our system of society collapses, the craft of builders will not be swept under, it will be swept up to greater prominence and greater recognition..."
Brandon E. Young