02 May 2009


so i've decided to resurrect this blog after letting it lay fallow for a couple of seasons. more very soon ...

10 December 2007

human tetris (or learning to love the pixel)

This is probably the most interesting video I have stumbled across on YouTube in quite some time. I watched the film, all the time wanting to control the "movement" of the pieces. It was most aggravating when I say a better move than the filmmaker. It is a brilliant synthesis of performance art and computer gaming.

26 October 2007

shameless publicity for the cu architecture

Student designs appear on campus

Students compete to win first place position, rewarded with use of their design.

By: Whittney Farrow

Award-winning designs to make Clemson more carbon neutral are underway this semester in the grad tower of Lee Hall.

The school-wide competition was called "Super Crit", and architecture students worked on projects in teams.
The students behind the three winning designs are bright and enthusiastic about the goals of their projects. "Our brief study looked at the many ways in which we could alter our perception of the Clemson University campus in a sustainable manner," explained Meg Chandler, one of the project team members.

There are three designs that won McMahan Awards for Sustainability: "Bringing Life Into Death Valley" by Nic Fonner, Meg Chandler, Will Wingfield and Tim Hoskins, "Maximizing Landscapes" by Ashley Ortmann, Paul Kennedy, Shawn McKeever and Thomas Weir and "The Harvest" by Michael Ward, Mandy Mobley, Clint Riddle, Nathan Missel and Alisha White.
The designers of the projects looked at existing structures on campus and available resources.

"Bringing Life Into Death Valley" uses, of course, Death Valley as a source of energy. For approximately 299 days of the year Death Valley is vacant. This design would involved placing photovoltaic cells on the backs of the stadium seats. They would all be folded down during the year when they aren't being used and Death Valley would become a source of electricity by absorbing solar energy. Nic Fonner points out, "[We] wanted to attempt to green the icon of Clemson University," said Nic Fonner. The Death Valley team is also considering ways to collect the millions of gallons of water that fall into the stadium each year.

"Maximizing Landscapes" looked at making the whole campus more sustainable by maximizing the natural environment and minimizing the consumption within the campus.
"We as a group realize the impacts that our student population has on the environment," said Paul Kennedy.
They also looked at ways in which things we do everyday can be altered to lessen their impact on the environment.

The third design, "The Harvest", is an interesting plan that utilizes the resources we have on campus.
Inspiration came from items such as lumber that has been cut down and rots away because no one needs it. "How can we use them?" asked Michael Ward of these trees. Students who are familiar with Lee Hall and the grad tower know that getting from one to the other is a little confusing and aggravating. The team decided to design a bridge connecting the two parts of the building. They were inspired by the basket weaving done in South Carolina.They created a similar design, keeping the extra lumber that is normally thrown away in mind. In addition to finding a use for our trees that are cut down, the latticework of wood would support vegetation and protect the building from ultra violet rays.

Along with the Solid Green spirit that Clemson has adopted, these designs could make a big difference. Each individual team member is working on a different aspect of his or her design over the duration of this semester.

The final review of the project designs is on Dec. 6.
It is open to anyone interested and the admission is free. These new ideas can one day become a reality at Clemson.


Whitney visited the studio space to talk with us. She was absolutely delightful, and seems to have taken an interest in issues of sustainability on campus. A staff photographer visited studio a few days later to photograph the models. This article appeared in the 26 October issue of the Tiger. Front page, above the fold. Just wanted to clarify a few points from the article:

The caption reads that our bridge intervention would be located between Lee + Lowry halls; this in incorrect. As stated in the text of the article, the bridge is to be located between the Grad Tower and Undergrad Studios of Lee Hall. The article makes this clear, but I heard reports that the some Engineering students were up in arms that we would put this next to their building. Additionally, we are unsure what becomes of the trees cut down by the University. We assume that they are ground up for mulch, but we have not contacted anyone at the University to confirm this.

On the whole, I am delighted to see the works of the School of Architecture relayed to the general student body. Hopefully, this will create some architectural discourse among the students of Clemson University.

14 August 2007

September 11 Memorial Tour

The national tour begins on Sept. 10 in Columbia, S.C., home to the company fabricating thousands of tons of steel for the memorial. Two 37-foot-long, 4-ton beams that will be installed at the memorial will travel with foundation leaders, Sept. 11 survivors, and exhibits including a firefighter's helmet, and the watch and building IDs of a man who escaped from the north tower.

01 August 2007

Major Demolition in Heathwood

I was born + raised in the Heathwood community of Columbia. My father told me stories of the grand Heathwood Hall which was demolished just days before the City could name it an historic landmark. Over the past few years, as increasing numbers wish to relocate to Shandon + Heathwood, many grand estates have sold off their side lots. But recently, speculators have begun to buy property, and sell off lots under half an acre. But the sheer madness of this latest move has me worried for the fabric of Columbia's first suburb.

Republished from The State, 01 August 2007

The surprise destruction of a 78-year-old farmhouse — sitting on more than two acres in one of Columbia’s most affluent and historic areas — has renewed debate over the value of preserving old neighborhoods.

The city’s preservation office is at least three years behind on requests for protected designations from a handful of historic neighborhoods, which include hearings on demolition projects like the one razing the house at 3916 Kilbourne Road in Heathwood last week.

At the center of the conflict — community concerns vs. individual property rights — is a two-person city preservation program with a backlog that frustrates people on both ends of the debate.

“The demolition of this house is a wake-up call,” Mayor Bob Coble said.

Today, Coble will ask City Council to review all the city’s development laws governing neighborhoods and historic designations. His mission: to protect buildings that have asked for historic designation while they wait for approval.

The review comes at a time when the price of in-town real estate is rising and developers are scouting for available lots, factors that make some residents say the nostalgic character of their neighborhoods is at risk.

“‘There’s just nothing we can do’ is what we’re constantly told by the city,” said Mary Baskin Waters, co-president of the neighborhood association for Kilbourne, which consists of stately homes on large lots.

“There just seems to be so little recourse to saving these houses ... other than getting the historic designation, which takes a long time.”

Waters said she’s been corresponding with the city’s preservation office about Heathwood’s historic designation since 2003.

She wants to bring together residents and city staff on “a plan for compromise,” saving old buildings in the city’s core.

But Councilman Kirkman Finlay’s view of the preservation program is that once an area is protected, unworkable rules hold up progress on economic-development projects.

Finlay said he’s in favor of historic designations — as long as the process is “streamlined and efficient” and the focus is on protecting history, not allowing people who don’t own a piece of property to tell the owner what to do with it.

“I’m always leery of putting on additional restrictions,” said Finlay, who represents the Heathwood area on city council.

The Kilbourne Road home, on roughly 2.37 acres, sold for $2.2 million, which apparently is a record for Heathwood this decade, according to Dan Pater with Russell & Jeffcoat Realtors.

The property has frontage on Devereaux Road, too, so the new owner could replace the one home he tore down with nine — all without getting the city’s permission.

Coble and some neighborhood groups are suggesting reforms to guide the style and placement of new houses within older neighborhoods, as well as the demolition of old homes or commercial buildings.

But even the former owner of the home at the heart of the debate would object to telling people what to do with their property.

“Why he tore it down, I don’t know,” David Ellison Jr. said of the new owner, developer Ben Arnold.

“But am I going to second-guess him and his plans or goals? No, I am not.”


Columbia has 10 neighborhoods where the architecture is protected. Five more, including Heathwood, linger on an informal waiting list at the city.

Establishing a historic district takes at least nine months, given the research that goes into the designation, said preservation planner Amy Moore.

Staff members walk through a proposed neighborhood to look at each building, listing historic structures and noting newer ones, Moore said. Meetings with property owners help work out the boundaries as well as what kinds of restrictions will be adopted.

Some neighborhoods on the waiting list for consideration as historic districts are big ones, such as Shandon, a 1920s neighborhood that Moore said could take four months just to walk and survey.

Once the city council designates a district, the preservation office monitors new construction, renovation projects and demolition requests.

The staff handles from half to three-quarters of development requests, cutting the time for a decision to a matter of days. Complex requests go before the city’s Design Development Review Commission for an answer. Getting a decision there could take up to a month, Moore said.

So what kinds of construction projects, in a historic district, go to the city ?

At one end of the scale, in the Elmwood Park neighborhood, the design review commission can require an owner to install historically accurate windows.

At the other end, in the Waverly neighborhood, for example, the staff could sign off on simple renovations to a porch.

In almost every case, a property owner must get permission to tear down an historic building.

It’s a process similar to what’s in place in Greenville, said that city’s zoning administrator, Bryan Wood.

Moore’s office monitors more than 3,600 parcels. In addition to the neighborhoods, it oversees about 120 individual landmarks, a mix of commercial buildings, homes and institutions.

In Columbia, 38 potential landmarks are on a waiting list compiled by Historic Columbia Foundation. Most have been there since 2004.

One of them, Central Baptist Church on Huger Street, was torn down last week, leaving 37 on the waiting list, said Robin Waites, director of Historic Columbia, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Belinda Gergel, a preservation activist who is running for City council, said the city needs to bolster its preservation program.

“We can’t allow the interests of a small group of private developers to beat the clock of historic designation and forever change the integrity of these historic neighborhoods,” she said.


Computerized tax records say the 3,250-square foot farmhouse on Kilbourne Road was built in 1929. It had four bedrooms, two bathrooms and just a handful of owners over the years.

In the spring, Ellison placed the house on the market after living there for the better part of 35 years and raising his three sons.

He and his family put a lot of time and money into fixing up the house. But at 68, he said, “an old football knee” made it hard to get up and down the stairs. He and his wife moved to a family home overlooking the Forest Lake golf course.

Arnold bought the property, saying he planned to save the house and create four lots around it — building a house for his family on one of them.

Last month, he went before the planning commission with a request to divide the property, agreeing to keep the old house. Heathwood residents reluctantly supported Arnold’s plan, according to minutes of the meeting.

Arnold said in an interview last week that his plans changed, so he retracted the request.

Arnold said it wasn’t feasible to keep what he viewed as “an old, rundown house” and that he intends to sell the property as a nine-house subdivision.

Because the original zoning on the property allows nine lots, he can proceed without a public hearing or vote of city council. A hearing would be triggered by a request for more or differently configured lots.

“I don’t know why people are making such a big deal over that house. It’s nothing special,” Arnold said. “It’s a farmhouse in the middle of town that’s out of place.”

While some residents understand the value of subdividing the Kilbourne Road site — the largest tract to become available in Heathwood in years — there are concerns with the number of homes in the latest plan.

“Six lots, I can deal with,” said Sam Waters, who shares neighborhood duties with his wife, Mary. “Nine lots, I get uneasy.”


Jackie Bartley is president of the Shandon neighborhood, where consideration of a historic designation is at least two years away.

Bartley said residents in her neighborhood are fed up with newer homes squeezed in among classic bungalows. It’s a trend that seems to be accelerating, she said.

“It started in Rosewood and, in the last two or three years, it’s coming to Shandon,” Bartley said.

The latest controversy in her neighborhood involves a developer building a three-story log home on Duncan Street, a house that Bartley said looks out of place in materials and scale.

Bartley said the Kilbourne Road demolition points up the need for reforms in Columbia’s older neighborhoods.

“There needs to be some waiting period, some public notice” when an owner wants to raze an old building, she said.

Robert Lewis, a developer and preservationist who lives in Heathwood, said a waiting period could have saved the old farmhouse around the corner.

Last Wednesday, when he realized the house was going to be demolished, Lewis said he called the real estate agent with an offer to buy the house and one of the lots, where he would move the house.

He was too late.

Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.


Columbia has 10 historic districts:



Downtown landmark district

Governors Mansion

West Gervais business district

University Hills



Old Shandon

Oakwood Court

Another five neighborhoods are on a waiting list for the historic designation. Research for each takes a minimum of nine months, though waits for consideration can take years:

Wales Garden


Hollywood/Rose Hill



SOURCE: Columbia preservation office

06 March 2007

jean baudrillard 1929.2007

French sociologist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard has died aged 77 at his home in Paris following a long illness.

Baudrillard, a leading post-modernist thinker, is perhaps best known for his concept of hyper-reality.

He argued that spectacle is crucial in creating our view of events - things do not happen if they are not seen.

He gained notoriety for his 1991 book The Gulf War Did Not Take Place and again a decade later for describing the 9/11 attacks as a "dark fantasy".

Baudrillard focused his work on how our consciousness interacts with reality and fantasy, creating from them a copy world he called hyper-reality.

He said that mass media led to hyper-reality becoming a dominant force in today's world - an argument taken to a provocative extreme in his statement that the 1991 Gulf War primarily took place on a symbolic level.

Since little was changed politically in Iraq after the conflict, all the sound and fury signified little, he argued.

'Dark fantasy'

In his essay The Spirit of Terrorism: Requiem for the Twin Towers, he caused controversy again by describing the 9/11 attacks as a fusion of history, symbolism and dark fantasy, "the mother of all events".

While terrorists had committed the atrocity, he wrote: "It is we who have wanted it. Terrorism is immoral, and it responds to a globalisation that is itself immoral."

Born in Rheims into a peasant family, he studied German at the Sorbonne, later working as a teacher and translator. He taught sociology throughout the 1960s.

He was a prolific writer, penning more than 50 works including: Simulacra and Simulation (1981), America (1986), and The Spirit of Terrorism: An Requiem for the Twin Towers (2002).

01 March 2007

pixelated skin lecture at the NAI, rotterdam

The Pixelated Skin
Realities:United + Rogier van der Heide

Thursday 8 March at 2000

More and more, architecture has become image. And that image is, like other images, turning into a medium of communication - a medium that has moreover come to the surface. Guy Debord already foresaw this happening in his book The Society of the Spectacle. The skin of the building is changing: instead of static stone, concrete or glass, what we now see is increasingly often a dynamic image of the kind only made possible by electronics. The skin turns into a display screen on which the message is plainly legible. The building thus turns into an "urban transmitter" whose skin not only shields its interior but functions as a programmable information membrane. The surface has become a pixelated skin, capable of furnishing the city and its inhabitants with information and entertainment. Salient examples of this phenomenon include the well-known NASDAQ Building on Times Square in New York and the Galleria Department Store built by UN Studio in Seoul.

The German group Realities:United and the Dutch lighting designer and director of Arup Lighting, Rogier van der Heide, are both pioneers in this field. Van der Heide collaborated with UN Studio on the design and execution of the Galleria Mall. Realities:United have been involved in among other things the development of the "communicative display skin" for Peter Cook's Kunsthaus in Graz.

The participants in this lecture will talk about their projects and about developments that await us in this field.

19 February 2007

17 February 2007

archinect hoodie

now available from archinect, this hoodie, an extension of their popular t-shirt line, represents their first foray into outerwear. the graphic, created by archinect's chief editor john jourden, is reflective gold foil printed on a unisex american apparel fleece pull-over. the cost is 42 usd.

15 February 2007

pixel house

our proposal for the salone satellite will be a multi-family housing complex with a pixelated skin composed of fractured glass, perforated copper, diaphanous acrylic, and organic panels. pixels on the interior skin can be organized by the occupant to select views and specify programmatic functions in the interior spaces.

09 February 2007

salone satellite

Students studying at the Charles E. Daniel Center for Architecture have been selected as 1 of 22 schools from around the world to exhibit work at Salone Satellite in Milan, Italy.

SaloneSatellite, it it's 10th year, is a link between the world of creativity and the international design industry that has always been cloned, spied on, copied outright. It remains, however, the first, unique unleading talent-scout event for young designers' creativity. SaloneSatellite is an incomparable opportunity for young designers from every corner of the world to make a major contribution to strengthening the common culture of design in the city of its heart and soul: Milan.