Nov 11, 2014

Visiting Cornell University: My Top 4 Things To Do

This past weekend, I visited Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. I had a wonderful time exploring the beautiful campus and learning more about their architecture program.
Here are a few tips for your own tour:

1. Visit the Johnson Museum of Art



The museum has a patio, a light-up roof, and a viewing tower.

Whether you're more of an art-observer or an architecture-oogler...

Architectural detail of a two story floor-to-ceiling window.

you'll love the view from the top! (And did I mention it's free?)

Beautiful panoramic views of campus, Ithaca, and the lake.


2. Explore Ithaca!

Ithaca is a rural town in the finger lakes region of New York. Cornell University is located on a hill to the northeast of town. Campus itself is divided into central campus (where all of the academic buildings are), north campus (north of the river, where freshman housing is), and west campus (down the hill on the western edge of campus, where upperclassmen housing is).
Below are two of my favorite "downtown" type places in Ithaca.


Collegetown is directly south of campus and has many great places to eat. I'd totally recommend Collegetown Bagels. Their chocolate chai blew my mind!

Collegetown

The Commons, under construction during my visit, has many more great places to eat. My favorite restaurant there was Waffle Frolic. Yes, just as the name implies, it is indeed an entire restaurant dedicated to the most delicious and inventive waffles ever.

Ithaca Commons


3. See Some Natural Beauty

To work off all the extra bagel and waffle-related calories you'll be consuming while in Ithaca, take a walk to some waterfalls. If a "walk" in the cold New York weather sounds daunting, don't worry. Triphammer falls can be seen from your car as well as from a footbridge literally on top of it. To get the true Cascadilla experience requires climbing stairs down into the gorge, but it's SO worth it!
There are so many beautiful waterfalls in Ithaca, but these two are right on campus (see map above).

The top part of Triphammer Falls.

Cascadilla Falls

Cascadilla Falls


4. Get in the Classroom

Last but not least, it is important to really investigate what it means to be a student at this university. For me, that meant attending an AAP (College of Architecture, Art, and Planning) Information Session and visiting studio. The information session gave me an opportunity to ask architecture-specific questions to an admissions person and get to know the requirements and expectations of studying architecture at Cornell. Visiting studio was one of the highlights of my visit at Cornell because, as an architecture student, I will be spending the majority of my time in studio. First of all, I loved how Milstein Hall being one giant room encourages so much collaboration and community between architecture students. Second, I got to sit in on a critique and really see how intellectually Cornell approaches design.


If walls could dream... they'd dream about art, food, and waterfalls.

Aug 24, 2014

Ghost Towns in Northern California

Last month, while camping with my family at Lake Davis, we took a day trip to two of the best ghost towns in Northern California, Walker Mine and Lucky S Mine.

First was Walker Mine. The drive was actually quite straightforward and the site safe and easily accessible, with a great view from the top. Directions (and some great historical photos) can be found here.


At the top of the hill is the entrance to the mine, complete with railcar lines, old railcars, and outbuldings.




One of the outbuildings was full of shallow boxes scattered about like the one pictured below.



It was only after we left that we realized that they were for rock samples like these I photographed.


Below the main buildings are other concrete structures that we assume were used to process the copper.


We had lots of fun wondering what these structures could've been used for, from a safe distance.


I was amazed at how the ruins had partially deteriorated and revealed hints about the construction, but still left us all guessing about the function.


For example, the walls of this overgrown structure were partially constructed out of random materials, hinting that perhaps they were building and growing so fast that they had to use scrap material instead of waiting for a shipment of new materials.



From there, we headed out for Lucky S Mine, unsure if we could even find it with the vague directions we had. But by using paper maps, cell phones, our car GPS, many hours driving down dirt roads, and sharp eyes, we finally found it! (Photo credit to my dad, below)
For most of the drive, all I saw out of my window was green and brown, trees and plants, the occasional cow. The only thing man-made was the trail itself and the occasional sign (usually just a logging trail marker). I'm searching the landscape as we reach the GPS coordinates, picturing some haunted strip of overgrown buildings, when suddenly, I saw something grey and angular, definitely not a tree - a roof.



There were two cabins and two outbuildings.


I was amazed, first of all, by the fact that there were such well-built buildings here in the middle of nowhere. Then, I was amazed by the craftsmanship of the buildings, which their abandoned deterioration only exemplified. The fallen ceiling beams made you more amazed that the roof was still standing.


While amazed with this mini neighborhood, our directions promised us at least 7 buildings, one of which a 3 story hotel, so we continued our search. We continued toward the GPS coordinates and found a shed labeled "Caution: Explosives" and a steep dead end road. We assumed that we were not going towards the town, if there even was a town, and turned around. Following a small road around the cabins we found earlier, we were suddenly greeted by 3 more buildings and a number of outbuildings.


And, yes, there was a 3 story hotel!


In addition to the buildings, there were artifacts everywhere, including furniture in the houses and hotel.
My favorite was a sled.


Sadly, many of the artifacts had been used as target practice over the years.


Next to the hotel was a slanting building we assumed was a saloon or kitchen/mess hall.



Towards the end of our time at the ghost town, a truck pulled up and its driver introduced himself as a member of the family who had just purchased the land the town sits on. He was very kind in answering our questions about the town and explaining that they intended to do their best to preserve this amazing little town for generations to come.



If walls could dream... they'd dream of outliving their residents.

Aug 11, 2014

Printing Models using Sketch Up

Playing with printing models straight from Sketch Up this morning. Here is my Frog House model.


The key is to select "Parallel Projection" under camera and then the view you would like before printing.


Then I simply cut out the printed walls and taped them together!


If walls could dream... they'd dream of printing house models!

Jul 22, 2014

Map of Architecture Colleges

As all "visual people" would know, the NAAB (National Architecture Accreditation Board) list of architecture colleges is not very helpful in understanding where these schools actually are, so I created this interactive Google Maps map of all of the accredited BArch programs in the US. Now we all can easily visualize the locations of the schools as well as start to learn about the climate and the town around them to help simplify our college search.

Jul 6, 2014

Frog House with Blue-Gray Kitchen


A few weeks ago I sketched the frog house, named for its modular and frog-shaped floorplan with a great room in the center and two bedroom "legs" off an L-shaped hall.


Then, I modeled the house in Home Designer. (And had lots of fun with the paint color!)



As you can see, the floorplan stayed largely the same with a few minor modifications in the bathrooms.


I chose to put the bathroom in the guest bedroom "leg" off the hall instead of off the bedroom. I took the design one "leap" further and separated the sink area from the rest of the bathroom.


I chose a bold color in the kitchen as well with blue-gray cabinets and white marble countertops/backsplash and a white island with butcherblock.



Spoiler alert: I'm also modeling this house in SketchUp to have more freedom with the sculptural design. Check back in soon to see the finished model!

If walls could dream... they'd dream of animal-inspired houses coming to life!

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