Sunday, February 27, 2011

In Hindsight...

So I have returned to Toronto and just did some grocery shopping at Metro in order to replenish my fridge. Let me tell you, it feels very strange being back on campus and to our Canadian climate.

Going from this:

To this:

How could we not have learned a ton about designing under different climatic circumstances?

Looking back at the trip as a whole, I realize that there is just so much to see in Vegas and I will have to head back eventually to check out what I missed. I, for one, did not get a chance to visit every single hotel. In addition, I snapped some photos on the plane and, though I'm not 100% sure we flew directly over the Grand Canyon, I was in awe at the rugged landscape. A trip to the Grand Canyon is certainly on the itinerary for my next visit. It's unfortunate we didn't get to see it this time around but, as I mentioned, Las Vegas Blvd itself was a lot to take in.

Also, just to quickly add to Tricia's 'Crystals' post, in addition to concerns for maintenance we were intrigued by the lightshow on the cladding as well (Louis Vuitton portion). We suspect that the light source is on the cladding itself (as opposed to projected on to the building by an external source).

Night 'lightshow' (left of the palm trees)

Lightsource: the grid of 'dots'?

Component Design

QuaDror from Dror on Vimeo.

Though many of you are still coming off the Las Vegas and Nevada high, it is important to keep a focus on the remainder of the term's projects - most notably the final design assignment, P4. The first part of the assignment deals with the development of a base component or prototype of an envelope for an arid climate.  As a source of inspiration, the QuaDror design is an interesting precedent to get you thinking about the project and develop your own approaches to innovative design.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Springs Preserve Tour

It was an incredible honour to have Jeff Roberts provide the Ryerson Option Studio a tour of the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada.  As one of the chief designers over the project and advocates for sustainable and biomimetic design in the region, it was extremely appropriate to have him describe the strategies and challenges in designing in (what would be for many Canadian architecture students) an unfamilar climate. 

The tour was extremely thorough and allowed students to ask questions on topics from plant physiology to daylighting strategies to exhibit design.  Several interesting topics covered by Jeff on his tour included:

Design and Construction Systems
-the Springs Preserve campus had an ecclectic mix of wall assemblies (from rammed earth to strawbale, to conventional market systems), roof types (flat, butterfly, shed, etc.), and material palettes (weathered steel, paperstone, and other biodegradable composites)

Historic and Cultural Sensitivity
-the Springs Preserve is a rich archaeological site which is designed in such a way that the various sustainable systems and tourist activities do not adversely impact the existing conditions

Exhibit Design
-the spaces created and bounded by the Springs Preserve are designed to engage all senses for people of all ages
-though some activities are clearly focused on engaging youth and children there remain quite a number of interesting layers of exploration for adults (as displayed below)

Biomimetics as a System
-while traversing the desert conditions of the preserve, each plant or animal leveraged entire systems of mechanisms or components to produce a desired, efficient net effect
-biomimetics is not merely form-generation; rather it is the adoption of principles in nature that allow for efficient and effective results in a different condition

Las Vegas Shows

Though there were ample opportunities for research and design work during the days in Las Vegas, the nights were typically reserved for recreational activities from casino gaming to shopping to taking in some of the local shows.  All of the students were able to catch at least one of the Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas (there are currently SEVEN in Las Vegas alone!) as well as the hybrid comedy/magic performance by Penn and Teller.  As described in the lectures in Toronto, entertainment, though a small fraction of the financial gains of a resort casino, is critical in establishing an identity as well as a tourist draw for casinos constantly battling each other for gambling revenue.

Las Vegas provides an escape for its visitors.  Beyond relief from the banal daily routine, the Strip offers visitors a chance to engage in activities and meet with people they never would have a chance to otherwise.  While Klingmann describes the experience economy and Pallasmaa advocates for a level of multisensory design, one cannot deny the fact that architecture supports these events and activities; weak architecture seeks to become the event and activities on their own.

Around the World in Seven Days...Really!

It has been a week since my last post and there really too much to know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words...
What better way to start of the trip than a limo ride to the hotel?


Mitch searched high and low for a meat only buffet…..

Night time…Daytime?

New York


…we even managed to make it to the pool

Freemont Street
I couldn't help but fall in love the old school neon lighting!

Work Hard, Play Hard

While the trip was intended for educational purposes (and indeed, educational it was) we would be lying if we said we didn't have a ridiculous amount of fun and many, many good laughs. After 4 years of working our behinds off, it's nice to be rewarded with some time to make up for the "social life" that we've been so deprived of.

Googly-eyes at the Springs Preserve.

It was hard returning to Toronto weather after this...

All the accessories you ever wanted.

Zip-lining over Fremont Street (Yes... actually.)

(I probably shouldn't be posting the next few... but they're too great to keep to myself.)

Scaring people with our dancing - are you noting the girl on the top left? Amazing.

What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas if you don't have nail polish remover.

City Centre

We spent some time understanding the unique cladding systems at City Centre (oh what architecture school has done to us...) While it all looks great now, I would be interested in seeing how these buildings look 5-10 years down the road.

More Vegas!

So it's been a longggg week in Vegas and by long I mean I think I'm actually looking forward to going home?
Sitting on the not so spectacular side of McCarran airport waiting for my delayed red-eye flight back to Toronto gives perfect opportunity to update with a few more photos..

Can't go anywhere in Vegas without your sunglasses.

We learned very quick that the streets are filled with eavesdroppers. Our suspicious friend Bryan here : "Did you say Tao?"

Happily taking the ride up to the Venetian Shops...

Only to take them down on the other side again. How very necessary.

Vegas isn't just for adults but for children too! Too bad all the characters are distorted.

Jeff again at the Springs Preserve showing us the trap door in the wall..revealing Straw Bale underneath!

Cactus Skeletons

One of the many many buffets we ate, and also one of the best at Bellagio. (where we also saw Mike Tyson...not even kidding)


Penn and Teller!

Christmas Ornaments on Fremont Street

La Familia