Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kamphoefner Award

The recent blog silence can only mean one thing - the semester is drawing to an end and studio work is closing in.  We do have another professor interview coming your way later this week and review documentation will kick in soon as well, but today we're looking back a month at the Kamphoefner Award.

Granted to a Masters of Architecture student in his or her final year of graduate studies, the Kamphoefner Award was established by the late Dean of the School and his wife to recognize and support the outstanding M Arch student of each class.  This year's Fellowship Jury consisted of Pat Rand, Roger Clark, and Georgia Bizios, who had the right to select the recipient and also recognize at least one alternate.  Extended to students graduating in the top one-third of their cohort, this year's nominees boasted a 3.82 GPA or better - the highest cutoff since the inception of the award!
This year's nominees were:

Ana Maria Drughi
Alexander Ellenbogen
Adam Flynn
Shawna Hammon
Joshua Stephens
Holland Ward

After a morning of deliberation, the Jury selected Shawna Hammon as the first place recipient and Ana Maria Drughi and Alexander Ellenbogen as second place recipients!

Congratulations Shawna, Ana and Xander!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

AGSA Elections!

It's election season here in America, and we at AGSA aren't letting the politicians have all the fun.  It's time to vote in a new AGSA board! Below is our field of qualified candidates - it seems that the tightest (ie. only) race this year is for the coveted role of Communications/Media.  Check out the blurbs and be sure to cast your vote this afternoon during studio!

Kevin Diamond
I am a first year looking to get more involved and have some leadership experience from my undergraduate years. I am interested in getting to know the rest of the design community at NC State outside of my studio. 

Nick Purdy
In life before graduate school, Nick was an event manager.  This is the really short way of saying he helped sometimes clueless people understand how to plan events, frequently translated communications between artists and the rest of the world, and occasionally herded cats.  While running the sound board for a concert.  In theory, this background may make him a suitable candidate for the Communications/Media position for AGSA.

Adam Ward
As your current treasurer, I have worked tirelessly to ensure that AGSA continues to thrive in these challenging economic times.  In recent weeks, European leaders have expressed optimism in the recovery of their markets and banks.  I strongly believe this newfound confidence is a direct response to my diligent work as your representative.  Now is not a time for change. (No se puede!) We need more of the same.  Reelect me as the AGSA Treasurer. 

Patricia Chenery 
As a newcomer to the AGSA political arena I will seek to fill the large and hallowed shoes of our departing wizard of words, Holland Ward. I'm well organized, have fairly good grammar, and can type fast. Over my Christmas Break I intend to transcribe all of the episodes of Mad Men in order to further prepare myself for the demands of this position.

Vice President
Katy Liang
I am running for re-election as AGSA Vice President. I want to be able to continue to help keep all the studios connected and help bring you more events to get everyone a break from studio!

Julie Barghout
After completing a year of being the president of AGSA, I can honestly say that I loved it! Yes, there were times where things were bouncing off the walls, stuff was spilling off my plate, and studio took the back seat (shhhhh), but it was enjoyable and full of excitement nonetheless.  I would love and be honored to run again and be the President for last year of my graduate school career.  Vote for me! I want to continue to strengthen the student/faculty relationship and truly create a sense of community within our studios, department, and school.  I would love to continue to come up with new event ideas to give students a break from the stress of our projects and professors.  I can keep listing the many good things I would love to continue that comes with position, but most importantly, I would love to continue to represent the architectural graduate students here in the College of Design. So let's have another good year! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Architecture + Landscape Mixer

A few weeks ago AGSA joined forces with our Landscape Architecture counterpart to organize a mixer between the two disciplines to foster feelings of camaraderie and fondness, and to also scout potential partnerships for the upcoming ULI design competition taking place at the beginning of 2013.   It was fun to meet over drinks at The Player's Retreat, the site of so much bonding/decompressing/wallowing for us architecture students.  Thanks, Landscape!  You guys are pretty awesome. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Student Interview: Chelsea Sacks!

This week's interview is with Chelsea Sacks, an avid Penn State alum, proponent of pink and 3rd year in the Track III program.  Chelsea sat down with me during a break from grading ARC 432's cabin projects - hope you enjoy her interview!

QUESTION: What were you doing before you started grad school?
CHELSEA: I did 5 years at Penn State, took a year off and essentially regrouped.  During that time I was coaching and playing ice hockey.  When I started contemplating graduate school, I initially was looking at interior design programs, but my parents were big advocates for architecture - I'm glad I listened to their advice.  I also took a couple art classes to get my portfolio together.  

Q: If you could visit one piece of architecture, what would it be?
CHELSEA: I think that the opera house in Oslo, Norway that Snøhetta did is incredible;  I would love to see that one. 

What's a project you really enjoyed doing?
 In one of my international business classes in undergrad we did a semester-long case study of a company that’s only located in the US and designed a business model to take it abroad.  I studied the Cheesecake Factory and adapted the menu, the spaces, the restaurant layout to expand to the Asian market.  I conducted a lot of research on the customs and identity of my proposed international location and how one would mold the business so that it would be suited to that.

What's your favorite tool in the shop?
Probably the band saw; I use that thing all the time for everything, probably for things I shouldn't really use a band saw for.  

You were a varsity athlete at Penn State, what was the hardest thing about that?  The best?
I was in a leadership position on the team for 3 years, which actually was more of a babysitting job more than anything.  It was a challenge, especially as an underclassman.  Time management was also really difficult, but probably prepared me really well for architecture school.
The best thing was that I got to play hockey every day!  I miss that part.  

If you could work for any architect living or dead, who would it be?
There's an architect based in Westchester, Pennsylvania named Richard Buchanon,  he specializes in historic preservation, does a lot of work with barns, which I've always loved, and grew up around.  I’ve known him for a long time, he was actually really influential in my decision to come to grad school.  

If you could travel to any 3 places right now, where would they be?
1. Nashville
2. St. John, which is like my 2nd home, but I haven’t been there in a while and I'm dying to go back.
3. Asia, my best friend just got back from Shanghai and her pictures and stories are amazing - I'd like to travel there at some point.

What's your favorite architectural book?
10x10 and the Green Studio Handbook.

If you could take any class outside of Architecture, what would it be? 
I would like to take a landscape architecture class.  I feel like it’s a component that we’re asked to think about but not given much direction with it, and it can really improve the design of a building.

How many pairs of cowboy boots do you own?
Oh man.  Currently I own 17.  And there’s a couple that could probably count as cowboy boots that I’m not including...When I design my house, I’m designing some kind of shoe rack for all my boots. 

Thanks so much, Chelsea!

Have a suggestion for a student or professor interview?  Email me at ncsu.agsa (at) gmail (dot) com.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Section Models

Askew Taylor has been out of 1/8" cardboard since last Monday, and there is not a stick of basswood left in the entire state of North Carolina...if you're a graduate of NC State's Architecture Program, you know this can only mean one thing - SECTION MODELS.  Below is a peak into the process of building the behemoth models- 2am on Thursday night, a cardboard massacre in the box, and various reviews.  Luckily I didn't capture any panic attacks or existential crises, but I did catch a verrrry tired AGSA president...

(photo courtesy of Nick Purdy)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

ARC 405 Review

For their review a few weeks ago, the students in Wayne Place and Tim Martin's Design Fundamentals: Building Technology built the biggest site model I've ever seen (granted I wasn't around to see Matt Griffith's final project model, which was supposedly "ginormous".  Heresay, I say).  Below are pictures from the review.

Thanks for the pictures, Katy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Professor Interview: Dr. Paul Tesar!

This week we're excited to feature an interview with Dr. Paul Tesar, one of our school's most well-loved and esteemed professors.  Thank you, Dr. Tesar for spending the morning with us answering our questions.

Q: Where did you grow up? What was your favorite part of growing up there?

I grew up in Vienna, the capital of Austria.  In retrospect being there made it apparent that growing up in a city with so many historical layers that are manifested in so many ideologies - political, social, psychological - made me aware of the complexity of the world.  I didn’t grow up in a one-dimensional environment.  The fact that we have traces of Roman times, Romanesque, the period of the middle ages, the Baroque, the 10th century, layered on top of one another produced a totally different world view.

Q: How have your architectural priorities changed from when you were fresh in the field to now?
Well, I started architect school in 1960 it was the height of the modernist, functionalist thinking.  I accepted that premise more or less without question; it made sense, form follows function, who could argue with that?  As I developed and grew older, I started questioning that; realizing it’s a bit more complicated.  One thing that started creeping in was the notion of how culture influences architecture. It’s not just about program, construction, economics.

Q: If you could take your students to see one work of historical architecture, what would it be?  What about one work of modern architecture?
One building that totally overwhelms me is the cathedral in Sienna, Tuscany.  As a spatial experience, the light, materiality, spirituality of the space was palpable and overwhelming.  Off the top of my head, that’s the one, although there are a half dozen others I could mention in the same breath.

The interior space of the Berlin Philharmonic, by Hans Scharoun.  From the outside it’s this awkward, bulky looking building that looks like a stranded whale.  But when you enter, it’s this incredible space designed for music.  Musical space.   You walk in and its one of the few modernist spaces that made me weak in my knees, start tearing up.  Walking in, I thought “Oh my god”.

Q: How do you take your coffee? 
Right here black, without anything.  In Europe one of my favorite places is Nannini, in Sienna.  It’s a coffee bar close to the Piazza del Campo, and they have an espresso machine that seems to be 15 ft long.  The whole places smells like cappuccinos and lattes.  There I get a cappuccino with some pan forte, the sort of local fruit cake, which is much better than American fruit cake.

Q: Is there some lesson that you learned at one point in your career that you’ve returned to many times since?
It may be self defeating, but sometimes I feel what architects take as very important and spend a lot of time and effort on doesn’t seem to matter all that much in life, in a more general perspective.  I feel we are sometimes racking our brains about things that matter very little to most other people.

Another one is that particularly in dwelling the notion of comfort its more important than we generally give it credit.  Comfort over image.  Right now it’s the other way around, may things we admire I feel I wouldn’t want to live there.

Q: From what do you draw daily inspiration?
In general I have to say from animals.  I love animals, I love to watch animals, their directness, their innocence, their sweetness.  I always feel that they have qualities that I wish human beings have but most often don’t.  Interactions with animals makes us more human, and the reverse can also be true.

Q: If you could host your studio in one city (without the interference of the study abroad office), what would it be?  Why?
I would have to say so many cities in India have impressed me, particularly Ahmedabad.  I was impressed with the vivacity of the urban life there. When I’ve been there I’ve had a feeling of a spiritual experience amidst the buzz of ordinary life, of children on motorbikes, and donkeys and camels and cows and people and vendors. Rather than being spiritually inspired by cathedrals, I felt this experience in the middle of the Indian street.  Call it spirituality form below rather than above.  It rose in my body from the sensuality of the place rather than from intellectual and religions feelings. 

Q: What is your favorite non-architecture book?
One book that I keep coming back to is wonderful book by the author Martin Buber called I and Thou.  Ich und Du.  Not a book about religion but rather about how we relate to the world, how we relate to each other.  About the basic philosophy of relation and says we can enter two kinds of experience; an “I-You” relationship, or an “I-It” relationship.  Fascinating.

Thank you for contributing to our interview series, Dr. Tesar!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


This past weekend found Professor Burak Erdim up at University of Virginia defending his dissertation, titled "Middle East Technical University and Revolution: Development Planning and ARchitectural Education during the Cold War, 1950-62".  The weekend was a success, and we now have another Doctorate-decorated professor in our College!  

The following professors made up Dr. Erdim's dissertation committee.
-Professor Sheila Crane (Art and Architectural History), UVA (director of dissertation)
-Professor Richard Guy Wilson (Architectural History), UVA
-Professor Dell Upton (Architectural History) UCLA
-Professor Gülsüm Baydar (Architecture), Yaşar University, Izmir, Turkey
-Professor David Waldner (Political Science), UVA (reader from Arts + Sciences) 

We asked Dr. Erdim to sum up the defense experience - his description is below.

"The defense was actually very enjoyable and productive. I made a 12-minute introduction that summed up the objectives and the methodologies of the project. The committee was impressed with the clarity of this introduction and, I think, this piece was responsible for getting everything started on the right path. I am so thankful that I was able to put that together before the defense. Professor Sheila Crane then opened the floor for questions allowing Professor Upton to begin since I had begun this project under his supervision in 2005. Generally speaking, my committee members were pleased and impressed with the work, pointing out certain problems with the current organization and asking me questions about how I might address those issues in the future of this study. In the process, many key ideas emerged in terms of how I could frame the content of the dissertation in future publications. I was very pleased with the discussion since this is essentially how you want a dissertation defense to go where the committee is spending their time and energy on the future of the work. The committee did not require any major revisions, although they did point out that I had close six-hundred pages in the main body of the text and only four pages as the conclusion to the dissertation. So, they asked me to write a more substantial conclusion. Following the dissertation, I also got the chance to speak with Professor Crane at length about the comments and the defense. This was also very helpful since everything was fresh in our minds. 
I am very thankful to Professor Sheila Crane and to all the members of my committee for their great support and guidance in this work. It is not possible to do a work a like this without the support of outstanding scholars, mentors, and teachers, but also institutions. I understand that more than ever at this point in my career and I hope to continue that circle of scholarship through my teaching at NC State."

Congratulations, Dr. Burak Erdim!  Now you have the time to go on those long runs you've been missing out on!

See the abstract below written by Dr. Erdim for a more detailed look at his impressive work. 

"Through the analysis of the inception and development of the Middle East Technical University (METU), my dissertation examines the relationship among diverging ideologies of development within the political context of the Cold War. METU was established initially as a School of Architecture and Community planning through an unlikely partnership between the United Nations Housing and Town and Country Planning agency (UN-HTCP), the University of Pennsylvania School of Fine Arts, and the Turkish Republic in the relatively new Turkish capital, Ankara in 1956. The study shows how the idea of architectural training and education emerged as a new strategy of development and as a common ground among these multiple agents. It also examines how prevalent ideas in development, architectural education and planning were contested, transformed, and implemented within this dynamic as it examines the making of the School's innovative curriculum and the planning of its campus. As a result, the study shows that METU, as a case study of postwar projects of social and economic development and cooperation, was not a product of a singular program, agency, or an ideology. Instead, the project reveals that METU emerged as a product of contentious relationships among multiple political and professional groups. In this way, the dissertation does not only problematize current definitions of the Cold War, but it also identifies how professional groups, such as architects, planners, lawyers, and state officials of multiple disciplines, participated in this dynamic."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

ARC 403 City + Precinct Reviews

Monday found the first years pinned up in the Rotunda presenting their city + precinct Charleston models.  I for one was blown away by their level of research and exploration and their beautifully crafted models.  Way to blow it out of the water, ARC 403!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shawna Hammon takes Woven to Shanghai

As many of you already know, last semester Shawna Hammon's project Woven was selected as one of five finalists (out of 357!) in the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat's (CTBUH) International Student Tall Building Design Competition (whew that was a mouthful, I'm exhausted).   Developed as a studio project for Wayne Place's skyscraper studio, Shawna's scheme was predicated on the notion of challenging the public's perception of wood as a feasible structural material for skyscrapers.

Shawna travelled to Shanghai in September along with the other finalists for the final presentations.  A link to the article, with further details about final standings, can be found here.

Congrats on this huge honor, Shawna, and thanks for representing NCState so well on the global stage!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Midterm Reviews hit the COD

This week leading up to Fall Break has been chock-full of midterm studio reviews, kicking off on Monday with Jay Smith's Comprehensive Studio and Paul Teasar's Architecture and Cultural Sustainability: Contemporary Interventions in Traditional Urban Environments.  With a panel of reviewers dressed all in black, the critiques were pointed and hard-hitting, reminding us students that maybe we don't actually have everything figured out at midterm, and giving us that extra push going into Fall Break to refine and develop our projects.  At least that's what happened in the Comprehensive review!

Architecture and Cultural Sustainability: Contemporary Interventions in Traditional Urban Environments

Comprehensive Studio