30 August 2010

Semester @ Sea


After an extended hiatus over the summer - I am back, with tons of great news!

I will be the Registrar/Assistant to the Accademic Dean on the Spring 2011 Semester @ Sea voyage!
More information can be found here - http://www.semesteratsea.org/ and here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semester_at_Sea (I read through the wiki article - everything jives)

We wil be stopping at the following ports:
Nassau, Bahamas
Roseau, Dominica
Manaus, Brazil
Tokoradi, Ghana
Cape Town, South Africa
Port Louis, Maruitius
Chennai, India
Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam
Hong Kong/Shanghi, China
Kobe/Yokohama, Japan
Hilo, Hawaii
San Diego, California, USA

Each port will include opportunites to travel in country as well as in port lectures and visits.
Fun Fun!  I can't wait.
For now, I am hanging out, working a bit in Paragould, AR - my home town.  I hope to do some needed Historical research for the town while I am here, as well as work on a few personal projects, incluidng getting some of my artistic ideas on paper.  I would love to produce some works and sell them in the local art gallery, but we shall see how far I progress over the next month.

This is the MV Explorer - the ship we will be sailing on!

04 June 2010

Family Matters

So, after some inspiration from my Mom - here is a quick look at two of my ancestors:

Nancy Hart

Mother and Revolutionary Hero; Nancy was known to have a fighting spirit since her youth.  During the Revolutionary War, she often volunteered for local spy missions, helping the local militia by providing information about the movements of various British units in the area.  This involved several daring trip into the British encampments in the guise of a crazy man, to avoid suspicion.  Cross-dressing for a good cause.

The most famous of her exploits occured when she was surprised at home by a group of six British soldiers who were scouting the local area for food.  Nancy, always ready to fight, let the men into her home and promised them drink and food.  While the men drank her store of alcohol, Nancy spirited away their rifles, which had been stacked in a corner of the cabin.  After being discoved, Nancy grabbed the remaining rifle and proceeded to hold the men at gun point until she could send her young daughter to fetch help from a neighboring farm.  During the standoff, apperantly one of the soldiers made a move to snatch her gun away.  Nancy made good on her threat to shoot the first man who moved or attempted to escape.  After the neighbors arrived, the remaining soldiers were hung from a tree in the side yard of the cabin.  Although many have doubted the daring deeds of Nancy, family histories and some surviving records proved that she was indeed a real hero.  During the 1920s, this fact was given further proof when the construction crew for a local railroad spur turned up a shallow grave containing 6 bodies and revolutionary war artifacts on the old Hart property.

Daniel Boone

Nancy Hart was also the first Cousin to Daniel Boone, the famous frotiersman, revolutionary soldier, surveyor, hunter, and indian fighter of the south.  He tramped throughout the Appalatian Mountains, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee, most before they were even considered as anything but wilderness territories.  The truths and myths surrounding his life have become childhood legends that continue to shape ideas of american ambition and tenacity.

Portrait of Daniel Boone, reworked copy after an original painting from life by Chester Harding in 1819.  Hardings painting repoduced below is the only known image of Boone taken from life.

28 May 2010

Thunder and Other Things

Its raining here.  A lovely, heavy drenching rain that is creating rivulets down every slanted surface.  Living in an attic apartment with windows that cut through the roof line and open out through the gable ends has its advantages.... it is so nice to hear the rain and the low roll of thunder across the hills and valley.  I have missed these storms.  At this point in Arkansas, I would have been bored with the constant waves of thunderstorms that would spring up every hot afternoon and roll across the Ozarks toward the Ridge.  Here, however, it is a treat to hear the rain beat down in an invigorating staccato rhythm.  Last night, I even stayed up well into the morning hours to watch the heat lightning that danced across the nearby mountain tops.  It was nice to fall asleep to the distant rumble of thunder, again.

There are many things I love about being in Virginia.  I am also thrilled at the prospect of spending the summer in a somewhat deserted college town - just like the summer in Fayetteville a few years ago.  No crowds, fun outdoorsy things to do, concerts, theatre, art, markets.  I look forward to them all, but there are a some things, like afternoon thunderstorms, that draw me back.  I even felt this way in London, when one night it poured down rain in heavy bursts - only lacking the static charge of lightning to make it feel just like home.  I love it when it rains.

The thesis is done, turned in and tucked away - I think I will let that project lay for a few weeks, so that I can tackle it with fresh feelings.  I would love to get parts or all of it published, but it will still need work, and time, and energy before its ready.
Graduation was a success - all laughter and smiles and sun.  I loved having my mom in town, if only for a few short days and I think she really enjoyed it too. [especially the wine tasting :) chuckle, chuckle]  The day was long, and tiring, but so full of good friends to share it with that it will be a wonderful memory - and the excitement of actually getting my degree was more than I had anticipated.

I also started my summer Internship in Scottsville, Virginia this week.  I think it is going to be a fun project and the people I am working with seem really excited about my plans.  I can't wait to have something to show them, and a fully finished project that I can claim as all mine.  This is real personal progress, where I feel like I am actually contributing to someone or something.

10 May 2010

The Defense

I'm DONE!  with the Defense of my Thesis - and I passed......  Lets just take a moment to say YEAH!!!!! for me!

ok.... so I have a few revisions to do, and more works study to finish.  Then I have to figure out what I am going to be doing with my life..... that is probably important, but I will worry about that tomorrow.  Now - I will be celebrating my successful defense.

I feel like I have produced a lot of good work while at the UVA.  I think, as I am sure everyone does, that I could have done better, but what the hey..... I will take what I can get.

More Later

15 April 2010

The Birthday Edition

Last weekend was my Birthday - Happy 24 years on earth to me!

Here is a run-down off all the cool stuff I did over the weekend - plus a few other cool things I found around the Interwebs.

Pavilion IX, UVA Lawn

On Friday, Prof. Nelson's field methods class was able to meet up with a recent Grad of the Masters ARH program who works for facilities management at UVA.  He was an excellent tour guide of the current construction and preservation projects around the lawn and even showed us around Pavilion 9.  This included a climb up a utility ladder into the attic.  Lets just say that it was a BLAST!!!  The attic's of historic buildings like the lawn pavilions are excellent, because no-one really gets to see them often, so they don't get changed and updated.  We could see the original notation marks on the beams and joists (used to fit the right tenon in the right mortise after they were carved before installation.)  Also, we were able to see the brick structure of the chimney, which included an interesting series of connecting arches and jack arches.  After 3 hours of crawling around the construction site and walking around the lawn, I headed home for a nap.  It was such a beautiful cool and sunny day, but I really needed a nap after my adventure.  This was probably a mistake - as I never really fully accomplish anything after a mid-afternoon nap.  Also, upon waking, I discovered that I had pulled a muscle in my leg (probably during my time in the attic - which was definitely cramped and probably dangerous - but we are architectural historians so it was all good).

 German Homestead, Frontier Culture Muesum

On Saturday, I actually got out of bed at 7am and got ready to head to Staunton (pronounced as if it didn't have a "u" in it.... yeah its weird I know).  The field methods class was heading to the Frontier Culture Museum to look at some great old buildings and then learn how to build a nigerian hut using only clay mud.  Yep, I got to mix mud with my bare feet and throw it to build a wall.  I was so happy to get in touch with my 4-year old self again.  The structures on the site were also interesting, they included homesteads, barns, and outbuildngs that had been bought in Europe, deconstructed, shipped to Staunton, Virginia and then reassembled on the Frontier Culture Museum's site.  It was actually interesting to see these structures including a German barn that was originally constructed during the 16th century.  However, the museums overall theme and purpose must be tempered with the reality that these buildings are no longer on their original sites, in thier original environments and are very selective in the past they present.  The frontier farm model was not necessarily the original context of these structures.  The German Homestead was actually an urban structure that now looks like it was a rural farmhouse.  Also, costumed interpreters just freak me out.

On Saturday Evening, I attended the Art Auction and Beaux Arts Ball at the Architecture School.  Colin Curley (a A-School friend I got to know in Jamaica) did an excellent job on organizing the even as Design Council President.  It was a fun night and Kat even came over and we danced for hours.  It was a nice end to the day.  On a side note - I also picked up a print of a Greg Otto painting and some fabulous printed Greg Otto note cards.  He is an amazing artist from Baltimore, Maryland, inspired recently by the architecture of Chicago.  Look up his stuff - it is Great!

 Three in a Row, Greg Otto

On Sunday, I traveled to Keswick with Sierra and Laurin to do our assigned field work for Field Methods [I have just realized how Field Methods heavy last weekend was].  We were on a mission to record what was left of a slave quarter at the Old Poorhouse Farm.  The owners were lovely people and it was a wonderful day, but the site was less than stellar.  The bones of the slave quarter survived, but there had been at least 5 different additions to the site.  I think there we recorded the interesting bits, but I don't know how helpful it will be in terms of research on slave quarters in central Virginia.  We arrived on site at 2pm and left, with all of our measurement at about 8pm, so a long 6 hours of measurements and drawings.  Fun Times.  I only wish the structure had been in a more consistenly original condition.  

Michelangelo, Drawing and the Invention of Architecture, Cammy Brothers  ---------->

Monday started with class, but my Renaissance Spain class was canceled for this week - so I got to take another nap (a small birthday present to myself).  Professor Brothers is on a trip to Europe for her new book about the drawings of Michelangelo:  Michelangelo, Drawing and the Invention of Architecture.  It is a wonderful look at the importance of drawing to the creation and development of architecture during the Renaissance.  Monday evening, there was also an interesting lecture by Dr. Susan Kern from the College of William and Mary on the birthplace of Thomas Jefferson:  Shadwell, Virignia.  It was an interesting discussion of Thomas Jefferson's father's house in Shadwell and the various readings of the archeological evidence associated with the site.  Sadly the house and any records concerning its architectural form do not survive.

<---------   Biophilia, E. O. Wilson

Tuesday was pretty lax, so cheers for days in which I can get some stuff done.  Also of note, Dr. E. O Wilson, this years recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture, lectured on some of his most famous biological theorems and their relation to architectural theory.  I find Dr. Wilson's biological theory fascinating, particularly his interest in biodiversity and the interconnectedness of all earthly biologies.  This is obviously a reworking of other spheres of spiritual thought, such as Buddhist beliefs, but still it is amazing to see the evidence of interconnected species throughout the biological world.  

And in further celebration of my Birthday:  A little video I found on youtube.


08 April 2010


Watch and be amazed!

I just have to say that when the Tetris blocks fall on the Barclay-Vesey Building (originally the New York Telephone Building, now the Verizon Building) and the floors disappear when the Tetris pieces "complete" the row was so epic; I watched that part 5 more times.

Also, Stephan Kieran [who won the recent competition for the new US Embassy in London] is coming to lecture at UVA tomorrow.  If he doesn't address the project, you can bet that I will in a very pointed "why does your building look like a castle with a moat" question.

This is the design as selected by the competition committee.

My question is, what happens to the beautifully sculpted park when the state department puts up is obligatory "What if they bomb us?" fence and concrete barriers?  Also, will the moat be stocked with crocodiles to stave off possible terrorists?  In reality, will the building ever function like the "open box" it is meant to be?

The original press release about the project can be found HERE
A little more about the scope and intention of the project can be found HERE
The firm can be found online HERE

I have also selected a subject for my final paper in Wilson's 19th Century Lecture.  The 1845 Old Medical School Building, now known affectionately as the Egyptian Building in Richmond, Virginia.  The Egyptian Revival style of this structure is absolutely brilliant.  Amazingly, however, there are actually very few studies of Egyptian Revival architecture in the United States, and none specifically about this unique building.  A great opportunity for some fresh research and ideas.

Look at those cute little feet!  Some of these posts had 6 toes per foot, some five, some four.

And finally - as an April bonus:  

It is apperantly in Montreal, and actually unoccupied at the moment.  This building may be in danger, but the local community seems to be trying to figure out what to do with it.

06 April 2010


I have come to the conclusion that bumble-bees are evil.  Not only are they evil, but they are stalking me.  Why else is there a bumble-bee that waits at the door to the A-School and hovers menacingly whenever I walk out?  A bumble-bee, yes a fat little bumble-bee has actually made me change my exit route from the A-School.  This is crazy, I know, but I refuse to let the bee intimidate me - I just don't want to be stung (after previous bad experiences).

Work on the Thesis, and other projects is also continuing.  The weather here, however, is making it hard to focus on studying.  The beautiful weather, (75-85 degrees, sunny, with slight breezes), is spectacular - but why couldn't it wait until Summer, or at least the end of April, when I will need some good weather to revive me from my paper writing stupor.  This paper deluge always happens no matter what planning may go into the rest of the semester, there always is a train wreck of work in April, always.  In an effort to make my life easier, I have just decided to accept this fact.  I will be sleep deprived, crazy, and over worked for the next 5 weeks.  This is just how it is going to be, and I accept that fact.

I feel better already.

I have also been thinking a lot about my cousin Stephen.  He works for Heifer International, based in Little Rock, ARkansas and was recently despatched to Haiti to help with some of the work that is going on there.  His pictures of the devestation in Haiti were shocking.  However, the love and laughter of the people, evident through candid photos at various heifer projects, was simply inspiring.

First Off:  My Cousin, Stephen at a Haiti Heifer office, doing what he does best:  IT

A Street Scene in Haiti (without much noticeable damage, reminds me a lot of Falmouth and Kingston in Jamaica)


One of the Many Tent Cities

Various People Stephen Meet During His Work and Tours with Heifer

Again, A house that reminds me a lot of Jamaica

And of Course:  A Heifer, from a Heifer Project Site

Here are a few pics on a totally different subject, from Neatorama - and all about architecture:

03 April 2010

Happy Easter

This is from the BentObjects blog, an interesting look at the secret lives of inanimate objects.

Also, just for fun on this beautiful spring day - some interesting architectural themed artwork I have seen around the web:

 Click this Link, you MUST see this zoomed in

31 March 2010

Charlottesville Updates

It has been an interesting week in Charlottesville.  Although I haven't exactly gotten much work done on my Thesis, there have been some other happenings worth reviewing.

Last week was the admitted student open house for the entire A-School.  I think all the prospective students had a good time.  I thoroughly enjoyed the lecture by Professor Ed Ford and the dinner at the Biltmore Restaurant [yummy burger with bleu-cheese].  Professor Ford's lecture was interesting, in that it combined a quick overview of his design and teaching theory with a walk through of several of his architectural designs [both built and unbuilt].  His books also look like a good read.  His lecture also brought up an interesting point - do we spend to much time "reading" buildings and focusing on the effects of signs and symbols, rather than trying to understand the building itself as a whole product of an individuals thought process?  Professor Ford's argument was definitely sound, and has really made me thing about the way I look at buildings, which I think may help me see some new angles on my thesis.  Also, I have a new building that I really must visit:  The Vienna State Library.  I wish I could find a pic of the handrail that he created for his house, lets just say that it rates up there with the Kahn handrail from the Kimbell in Fort Worth, TX.

 State Hall, Vienna National Library

There were also two other interesting public lectures last week, one about the role and transformation of Modern Urban Art in China during the last two decades and one about 3-D reconstructions of an ancient roman house in Antioch.  Both of these were brilliant, and were very visually striking.  In other 3-D reconstruction news - the Urban Simulation Team at UCLA have some excellent videos on youtube for various recreations.  The one below is of the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago:

 Also, here is a really nice recreation of the processional route through the Temple at Karnak, Egypt

25 March 2010

Some Things That Rock

I saw one of my favorite concert muscians on Tuesday night:  Ben Folds.  This time around it was just Ben Folds and A Piano.  It was truly epic.

I had seen Ben Folds a couple of years ago in Tulsa at a truly horrible venue, but this time around it was much better.  Ben had been great before, but the newly renovated Jefferson Theatre made the experience fantastic!  Also, in response to an internet sensation, namley "piano guy", who has been using chat roulette to serenade random strangers with improv piano compositions, Ben Folds got into the act by doing a bit of chat roulette himself, during the concert!  It was hilarious and the whole crowd got involved.  Here are just a few clips from some youtube videos as well as a post on CNN about the whole Ben Folds - Piano Guy online fued.

Ben Folds Duel on CNN

Ben Folds and the crowd's harmonies (WARNING!! some foul language - also Not My Video)

Ben Folds plays chat roulette (Not My Video)

In other news, today is also Ada Lovelace day, in celebration of the role that women have played in the science fields. [We will just include architecture in there too - because we always need more women architectural role models - she was just an architect of computer programs]  Ada Lovelace is considered by many the first computer programmer, writing a program for Babbage's Analytical Machine in the early 1800's.  All in all, she pretty much rocks [and she was pretty beautiful too!]

I also found out today that the director of the new TRON movie, coming out soon, hopefully, actually trained as an architect.  A few blogs I have been reading have actually picked up on this fact - and used it as a way to look at his method or directing (which tends to use lots of really impressive sets, rather than stricktly green-screen digital effect.)  Impressive Mr. Kosinski!

Tron = Architectural History (blog post)
Joseph Kosinski Website

So lets recap: Ben Folds, Ada Lovelace and Joseph Kosinski  all definitely ROCK!

21 March 2010

Richmond with Prof. Wilson

 Monumental Church Interior (Professor Wilson in the center to the right, looking up)

On Saturday, Professor Wilson led a group of Undergraduate and Graduate students on a whirlwind tour of Richmond, Virginia.  It was an absolute blast!!!  Professor Wilson knows everyone and was able to get us into several sites that are normally closed to the public due to ongoing restoration work.  We started the day off visiting the Maymont Mansion and Grounds, a beautiful house designed and built in the mid 19th century.  Thankfully this great site still stands as a loved public museum and park.  The house is spectacular and includes all of its original furnishings and finishes including a bed carved like a giant swan, "modern" tiled bathrooms, and conspicuous consumption displayed in every room.  Next we caravaned to Capitol Square, where we toured Jefferson's Capitol, Monumental Church (which is actually closed to the public), [so I found out that this structure is actually open to the public - by appointment through the Historic Richmond Foundation!  If your visiting Richmond - It is definitely an neat place to visit, as one of the most important American architectural commissions of the 19th century!]  the Old Virginia Medical School and St. Paul's Episcopal Church.  St. Paul's has some of the best stained glass I have ever seen in the United States, several pieces of which were designed by Tiffany.  The altar piece, a replica of Leonardo's Last Supper is also a rare Tiffany mosaic.  Our last stop was at the Branch House.  This 19th century Tudor revival structure now serves at the headquarters for the Virginia Center for Architecture.

The weather was glorious, and everything we saw was interesting!  Thanks to Prof. Wilson and all of our guides for a great trip to Richmond!

  Virgina Capitol, Designed by Jefferson
Rear Facade, Virgina Capitol
Monumental Church
The Monument, Monumental Church (Egyptian Revival)
Crypt of Monumental Church - looking toward the Columbarium
This was where the ashes of those killed during the tragic theater fire were interred.  Monumental Church was constructed on the site of the fire as a memorial to those who died.
Old Virginia Medical School (Egyptian Revival)
Can you spot the Pyramid?  hint:  look behind.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Tiffany Stained Glass, St Paul's
Stained Glass, St. Paul's (Egyptian Revival by a Pre-Raphelite Artist)
The Branch House designed by John Russel Pope (Tudor Revival)

19 March 2010

14 March 2010

Fun Stuff

So, it has been a while.

I have become increasingly obsessed with some interesting stuff on the web, including online comics and the upcoming Virginia Festival of the Book.  The last starts Wednesday and if you are in Charlottesville, you should take a look - a lot of the events look really interesting and most are free.

On the Thesis front, I am continuing to work on the last few chapters.  As well as trying to figure out what exactly my conclusion is.... somehow I need to discover a profound meaning which underlies my gathered research.  Hopeful this will come to me in a flash of brilliance later this week (I can always hope).  I also still need to find a few images, but here are some pics for fun anyway. 

The Bavinger House by Bruce Goff, an early tutor of Jones

The Plaza Gazebo by Jones, North Little Rock, AR

An early sketch for the "Ozark Church" project by Jones

I hope that the Thesis will be in better shape by next week (including the conclusion).  I have sadly been procrastinating a bit over spring break, so now it is back to the graduate grind stone.  Other classes are now clamouring for attention and my 19th century and Renaissance Spain papers need to be well on there way by the end of March.  As usual, school work will continue to eat my social life, but it was fantastic that I was able to spend some time with actual living people over spring break.  This included a wonderful visit from Allison & Tim Reavis, now residents of Wilmington, NC.  It was a blast to play tour guide and I hope Allison and Tim didn't get an overload of Charlottesville facts.  I know way to much about this town now (including Thomas Jefferson).  Also, Kat and I took a little road trip to Barboursville and a few local wineries for fun.  I know have wine that tastes of Chocolate as well as wine that tastes like mulled wine, which is actually pretty confusing but so delicious.  Oh, and we watched the Oscars (I Love Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin).  To cap the week off, I got to see Blind Side again with Johanna and have Fish and Chips at a local pub [it was actually pretty good, but way to expensive - i miss London :( ] 

These are some Pics I stole from Allison's Facebook.  They are a fantastic representation of the close bond that now exists between all three of us and Thomas Jefferson (also known as TJ or the TEJE by those who know him well...lol)

Well, for now the saga of Graduate School continues.  I am getting amazingly close to the end of this chapter in my life... hopefully there will be some large neon signs indicating the next path soon.

Also, if you have read this far, thanks for sticking with me - and here is your treat.  A guy in Arkansas has financed a project to build a medieval castle using historically accurate techniques in the middle of the ozark forest.  Is anyone else completely wierded out by this.  I am so confused, yet intrigued!  http://ozarkmedievalfortress.com