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

02 March 2010

New Features

I have added a  new feature in the panel to the Right.... some current links to stories that have some connection to either Architecture, Architectural History, Design or Medieval History.  I wish there was a way to just show my Facebook links on this site.... i love that feature, and would really like to share them here - so I am going to try and keep posting them here to.

I am recovering from the madness that was the Thesis draft.  Now that I have gotten some sleep, and taken my vitamins - it is time to start studying in earnest for tomorrows 19th century test. 

Also, why is it everytime I write a paper, the very next book I pick up directly relates to everything I have just written, and should have been included (yet sadly wasn't).  I just read a chapter while studying for my test tomorrow that would have really helped me to write my last chapter - at least it was a draft, and I can add it in... but really, sometimes I think the thesis gods are against me.  It is also snowing again, I hate winter and all it stands for!

This is a great book for anyone remotley interested in learning more about the Middle Ages.  Mortimer does a great job of describing what daily life would have been like.  It is written in a style that is easy to read and the overall narrative moves at a fast pace.  I read it while I was in London over 5 or 6 tube rides.  All in all, a nice, entertaining book.

01 March 2010


The Thesis Draft has been handed in..... let the critique begin.

It is only 4.5 days until Spring Break.  This is going to be the longest week ever.  2 major mid-terms and now the thesis revision is going to be hanging over my head. 

In other news, I really feel like I have learned a lot while working on my thesis.  I now know way to much about Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruce Goff and many other movers and shakers of the Organic movement.  I kinda feel like I know way to much about weird things, like all the research I did on 19th and 20th century cemeteries last summer.  [speaking of, I totally think I found a Prairie Style grave marker from about 1930 in the Oakland Fraternal Cemetery in Little Rock.]  I am officially an architecture nerd.  :)