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.


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