Tuesday, October 25, 2016

AGSA Bowls the Alley one last time...

The Alley (http://www.bowlthealley.com/) has been the beloved bowling destination for students and residents alike since the 1960s. November 26th is the last day the historic bowling alley will open its lanes. They will be auctioning off their furniture in January and moving to the Liberty Warehouse apartment complex in Durham, NC.

AGSA couldn't let this historic part of student life pass without some activity! So, the first 10 in the door bowled for FREE. Letting loose on a Tuesday evening really produced a bunch of strikes for some and gutter balls for others. Overall, it was a lot of laughs!

Matus, Daniel and Sarah...waiting for shoes, gearing up for some major competition.

Warming up the lanes...

Matus keeping score old school...like middle school...how long ago was that?

Ryan throws a strike!

And the overall winner is...Matus!! Heroic looser...Sarah.

Look: Allison stopped by and is really happy about getting out of studio!

Next AGSA mixer is in November! Stay tuned for dates & details. 

Student Spotlight: Jennifer Smith, BArch - Track 2 MArch

Jennifer Smith took a moment away from her 15 credits (that's 5 seminars!) to sit down with us to talk about life as a Track II at NCSU. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia where her parents, sister, niece and brand new nephew still live, Jennifer received her BArch from Auburn University. While she has been in professional practice for the past six years, she has only four exams left to licensure! Just for fun we found out that Jennifer has a three-way tie for a favorite color: white, blue & green and dark chocolate is her favorite sweet...Lindt Truffles to be precise!

This brings us to some very important questions:

Why would someone so close choose to go back to school!?!?!?!

With that question, Jennifer laughed softly and responded, "Lots of reasons."

Presenting Jennifer Smith's top 3 reasons "Why I chose school over practice":

1. I am getting a Masters degree in only one year (3 semesters) and I didn't have to take the GRE!

2. Coming from practice to the design/build studio over the summer it was an easy transition to the theoretical world of education. Design/Build studio also allowed me to get to know a lot of the other students to expand my network, reduce isolation a Track II can experience in student life, and created an opportunity to learn and collaborate with other students from other tracks in their education.

3. Because Track II is set up as a thesis program, I am given the opportunity to work on a specific focus of my choice that I don't always get to pursue in practice.

"In short, Track II allows someone to take out one year to study your passion that is a rare and affordable opportunity that can be the beginning of a career path."

This leads us to our next question: What are you focused on for your thesis research this semester?

"I am studying Mid to Long term Housing after a crisis in cities: How Housing can Increase Resiliency. Where we build and place housing in the city."

Why did you choos NC State's SoA?

"This school offers an interdisciplinary education and communication as well as physical proximity. I found that the culture here is similar to Auburn so it was an easier adjustment and easier for me to blend with the culture. I value the creed that is preached here: Learning through making."

Thanks Jennifer for sitting down with us! We can't wait to see what you do next when you are in your studio semester!

Monday, October 3, 2016

ARC 503 - Public Interest Design are making a difference in Durham!

Professor Bryan Bell's PID studio have partnered with the Scrap Exchange and the surrounding Lakewood communities in West Durham to be an incubator for ideas that could transform the area from a failed commercial center to a vital and integrated Reuse Arts District. After weeks of research the 8 graduates have put pen to paper, designs into the Materials Lab, and the products given to the community to make a difference.

These mini-design/build projects have two criteria:
01. It must be a gift to the community that meets a need the student discovered during their research. 
02. It must be made out of reuse materials.

There was no limitation on the size or function of the project. They ranged from practical to theoretical and everywhere between.

Max partnered with the Durham Literacy center and the Scrap Exchange to create the Little Library. Stocked with 53 books, Max converted an old filing cabinet into a source that young and old in the community have a place to get free books to practice their skills they are learning at the Literacy Center. "In architecture school, we learn that our design process is one of the most important things. From this project, I learned that the communication and engagement process is just as important. An important point that made this project feel special was from the director of the Durham Literacy Center. She told me that "All of the layers are coming together," meaning that all ends of the community are connecting with each other for a cause to improve the life of the neighborhood."

Emily noticed that while the surrounding communities had lots of children, there were not a lot of places to play in the neighborhood. Partnering with the Durham Land Trust, they found a lot that has been deemed "unbuildable" by the city. By giving old tires a facelift, Emily gave the neighborhood a set of play structures that can be used immediately and hopefully inspire safe play for the children in the vacant lot.

Lotte noticed that a busy bus stop had no shelter. Through many iterations, she discovered the elegance and simplicity that could be created with young bamboo, wire, and old vinyl signs. Designed for the morning sun, locals waiting for the bus outside the Y will now have shade and beauty to enjoy.

Elaheh noticed the many informal paths that have been made by the constant use of the residents around the Scrap Exchange property. By using reused wood, Elaheh built an entry gateway to mark the pathway as an important entry to the site. 

Jose Luis focused on a more abstract need for mystery and intrigue. Creating a geometric casing, the inside is filled with old rubber tires used to make vibrations, old c/ds for reflections, and reused test tubes filled with water of different colors to bounce off the interior of the object. 

Afsoon saw that there were limited to no sidewalks and most pedestrians walked in the middle of the street. By creating frames along the side of the street that lined up with the existing colonnade of the building, she not only created direction, but a safe place for people to walk. Unfortunately, we don't have a finished picture because while she was installing, she went to another part of the site to help a fellow classmate. When they returned, half of her project had been taken. We will check back in with her later as she is revising her gift based on this valuable lesson.

Anastasiia found a need for fun and games. Crafting a chess game from reused wood, she gifted the board and pieces to the local barber shop. 40 Below Barber shop is well known in the community to promote comrade and cross generational learning. They are a key component to giving back to the community so it was appropriate that they received a gift for a change. 

Sarah, also looking at informal paths, found one of those paths that was on the side of a steep hill. Having a hard time navigating the path, she decided to gesture at a way to create a safer route by adding stairs to the hill. Using a recycled 55 gallon oil drum she cut two half circle steps, welded found rebar on the inside and filled them with asphalt found on site and concrete. "When we were finishing the last step with concrete Charles walked down the path. Once he realized what we were doing he was so excited! "I use this path everyday," he said. " When the weather is bad, I have to walk all the way around which doubles my walking time!" It is amazing how those 5 minutes talking with Charles made all the stress, frustration, and manual labor of the last week fade away."

The Public Interest Design Studio, with Bryan at the helm, is far from done in Durham. We will be heading back to see how these projects have fared in the community. Are they being used, appreciated, or not? Either way, great job to the entire studio for their hard work!

A shout out to the blood sweat and tears...some process pictures to enjoy:


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Did Someone Say "T-Shirts"?

AGSA is a student run organization. While we greatly appreciate the support of the amazing faculty of the School of Architecture via emotional, mental, scholastic, and monetary contributions, they can only do so much...and we want to be able to do more. So, we do fund raisers throughout the school year. T-shirt sales is one of them. Of course, as a student run organization, we look to each other, the students, to make those fund raisers happen. Last spring we put on a T-shirt design contest. By graduate student vote, the choice was by a landslide! Receiving 81% of the votes, Rhian Lord's CoD Section design was the winner!
T-shirts are only $15!
If you are interested in purchasing a T-shrit, please contact ncsu.agsa@gmail.com for payment and pickup coordination.

Thanks for your support!
-Team AGSA

Monday, September 26, 2016

In process...Studio time!

A big part of Architectural Grad school is the Studio Culture. The SoA graduates are hard workers and dedicated to excellence in their education. The layout and locations of each of the studios facilitate a collaborative work environment. As studio classes are not closed, but open to encourage the students to talk with each other and share ideas, it is easy to see the high level of design that comes out of this school. We took a tour of some of the graduate studios this past week to find our grads deep in crits, reviews, site installations, meetings, books, iterations, diagrams, models, and lots of caffeine....just to name a few.

Cam rockin' out finishing his final models for next week's 2 Pavilion final review.

      Jose Luis and Lotte adding a bus shade in front of the YMCA as a mini-design/build gift to the community.

Sarah grinding it out.

Halifax is moving studio huddled up in discussion.

Context model for Tall buildings design.

Tall building literature and some 3D printed schematics.

Kelsey making some models.

Initial sketches from team Yujie and Matus.

David Hill giving Allison some valuable critics on her form.

Ross presenting his Charleston maps.

You never know what you will find on the desk of an architect student!

Cal posing with his drawings in the second year track 3 studio.

Installation of a gift to the community....details coming soon!

Studio culture at NCSU SoA is not limited to the four walls of studio. The design - make - design process is in full swing. Tune in for future blogs to see the result of all this hard work!