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