Thursday, March 26, 2009


In this unit, one of the main topics was the idea of a Duomo. A duomo, translating to an Italian cathedral, was usually seen as the chief landmark and often placed in the center of the city. “The street plan of Milan,” for example, had “streets either radiating from the Duomo or circling it, [indicating] that the Duomo occupied the most important site in the ancient Roman city of Mediolanum" (Duomo). Being placed in the center of the city, the duomo was often thought as to be a symbol for the city and what potential it had to become in the future. Connecting with the idea of the duomo is the notion of heaven and earth. Cathedrals were built around the idea of a connection between the heavens and the earth utilizing ornamentation, paintings, and basic forms of architecture seen throughout the churches.

One of the major time periods that influenced design is the Renaissance. Some major concepts that led to the start of the Renaissance were the rebirth of antiquity, the rebirth of individualism and humanism, the rediscovery of the natural world, and the glorification of the state as a work of art. With the idea of rebirth and rejuvenation amongst the city, patronage became a big part of the society as people donated money to build up the surrounding area. The Renaissance introduced the idea of patronage as a source of funding for the city and also served as the introduction of private money, the rise of the merchant class, and humanism. Some other things that changed from the medieval thirteenth century to the fourteenth century during the Renaissance were forms of housing, concern with images, the church, and distribution of power.

As the concepts of the Renaissance continued into the following years, villas became more popular as a ‘get-a-way’ home on the countryside. These villas were away from the chaos of the city and were usually very extravagant. Not only were these ‘weekend houses’ a place for the wealthy to get away, but it also opened up new jobs for people. Most of these villas invested a lot of their wealth into the land, which helped to feed the city due to its vast farmland.

Associated with the counter-reformation, the era of Baroque design took many of its designs from emotion and tended to incorporate emotion into new designs as well. “From the Mannerist style the Baroque inherited movement and fervent emotion, and from the Renaissance style solidity and grandeur, fusing the two influences into a new and dynamic whole" (Baroque).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009



A revision is considered to be the altering of something in light of new ideas. Revisions can occur for many different reasons, such as to fix a problem, to incorporate a new concept, or to add more to the original idea. When Bernini was working with the Vatican palace, he ran into some problems with the existing buildings that forced him to revise his original idea. “His solution was to divide the piazza into two parts, the portion immediately next to the façade being a trapezoid and the more distant portion an oval enclosed by curved Tuscan Doric colonnades focused on two fountains” (ROTH 408).

The first drawing detail I did for the MHRA building in drawing class was a quick representation of the hallway on the first floor.

After some feedback, I revised the drawing , got more feedback, and revised it one last time to compose a final drawing.

In modern day design, revisions are made all the time, as they were during Bernini’s time as well. Some of the drawings I did for drawing class started out as a thumbnail. After quickly drawing the basic parts of the scene, I went back to revise it by enlarging and adding more detail. After a final critique from classmates and professors, I revised it one more time and took into account all of the feedback I received.


Transition is the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. The transition from one stage to the next shows how a person or object evolves through time, taking their surrounding society into consideration while in the process. As the Gothic era of architecture came to an end, it “became more and more elaborate, with proliferating ribs that eventually became free of the vault surface altogether” (ROTH 398). In a more literal sense, Giacomo della Pota was “inspired by Alberti, and used large, curved volutes to make the transition from the high nave to the lower side chapels” on the façade of the Gesu (ROTH 401). A literal, and visual, transition on the building itself brings the entire façade together and lets all of the varying designs flow as one.
With language evolving and information traveling faster, architecture and design began to move away from aesthetics being considered the most prominent commodity in a design. Instead, structure became more important and aesthetics succeeded it. “By the time Vierzehnheiligen was being completed in the early 1770s… a radical change was already well established in France, an abrupt turn toward a fully rational architecture” (ROTH 435). Rationally, the structure of a building should be the first thing to consider; with non-structural design closely following.


A datum is a standard position or level that measurements are taken from. Serving as the starting point for any drawing or form of design, a datum determines the dimensionality of the rest of a project. In assembling a presentation board for the design drawing class, finding a datum was the first step to figuring out how to layout all of our work on the board.

Focusing more on the center of the board, consisting of our two diagrams and the title, the measurements outward are all uniform. All of the drawings around the edge of the board have the same size border and spacing between them. Although not everything design is based off a datum, the ones that are show a greater sense of unity and help tie the entire project together.

Another example of datum is how measurements add up and work together to form an object. In our drafting class, we worked on using these measurements to form different views of houses.


Character is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual or the distinctive nature of something. Character can usually be seen through the work and actions of an individual. For example, “Bernini’s prodigious creations in architecture, sculpture, painting, and theater design, coupled with his air of confident buoyancy and social ease, brought him international acclaim” (ROTH 409). Bernini’s confident personality was illustrated throughout his work, which the public commended him on. Bernini let his character show through his work, thus making his work stand out from others.

Cassiano dal Pozzo commented on good architectural designers “who took the true proportions of those perfectly regular orders from Roman buildings. Departing from these always leads to errors” (ROTH 397). The distinctive quality of Pozzo’s time period was to observe and abide by the rules, thus breaking them was out of the question and constituted for an unsuccessful design. Designers today have rules to follow and regulations to abide by, yet there are still those who design outside of the box and break the rules.


An audience is a group of assembled spectators or listeners at a public event or meeting, or simply people giving their attention to something. In the early Georgian period in England, “Versatility in planning to accommodate social events was the motivating force” for the change in space planning (BLAKEMORE 250). Hagely Hall, for example, “was flexibly arranged to accommodate guests of different numbers” (BLAKEMORE 251). The change in social gatherings affected the society so much so that architecture and design evolved from the purpose of structure and shelter to pleasing an audience and showing off wealth.
An aspect of audience is present in every form of media today, whether it be in movies, books, or design. An audience is the most important form of critique for any final product. With forms of transportation beginning to expand, information traveled quicker from empire to empire. So, a critique of an architect or designer’s work from Paris was soon known throughout all of France and sometimes further than that. The progress of language allowed for information, of a piece of work or any other medium, to travel beyond one empire.


This week’s Opus title, GRAMMAR: SYNTAX brings together the ideas of revision, datum, character, transition, and audience, which all deal with the idea of language. In a prototype of any design, feedback is given, and revisions are made in order to better the quality of the product by taking the criticism into account. Without the language of feedback, revisions would not be as meaningful and necessary to a project. A datum, serving as the starting point of a project in which everything else derives from, represents the language within the piece of work itself. A datum unifies a project because of its relation to everything else in the design, thus there is a strong language between the datum and the remainder of the project. The character of an architect or designer can often be seen throughout their design, which lets their product stand out from others. The language between the designer and the design is a strong one that allows its audience to understand their thoughts through their design. Both a literal transition or color or form, and a transition from idea to idea show how the surrounding society influences the world of architecture and design. With information and language traveling through the expansion of transportation, an audience is able to voice their opinions or carry conversations with others about a piece of work, thus circling back around to giving the designer feedback for revisions.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Deliverables Articulation

berlin, germany

1. Perspective of facade
-in ink on bond with gray tones
2. Perspective of building during WWII
-in ink on bond
3. Detail of glass dome
-in ink on bond with overlay to show the difference between night and day
4. Detail of the inside of the glass dome
-on vellum to show the effect of translucency the mirrors give off
5. Perspective of north side of building
- in ink on bond with gray tones
6. Perspective of south side of building
-in ink on bond with gray tones

Outline of essay
I. Introduction
a. dates of building and rebuilding
b. architects
c. purpose

II. Historical Perspective
a. the impact of the war on the building
b. occupants
c. the influence from different architects

III. Design
a. pre-war
b. during war
c. post-war
d. glass dome
1. how it has evolved through the destruction and rebuilding of the reichstag
2. it's significance
3. the significance of the mirrored spiral in the middle of the dome

IV. Summary
a. what made it a successful building
b. commodity, firmness, and delight
c. personal experience from visiting the building

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

P Week [opus 7]


Periphery refers to the outer limits or edge of an area or object, or a boundary. A gate, for example, serves as a good periphery, or outer edge, to a city or a building. The periphery of an object or a space is used to define what that object or space is.


Perspective is the art of drawings objects on a two-dimensional surface in which all measurements are proportional to each other. It can also be defined as a point of view. In the English Renaissance, Sir Henry Wotton “advocated elimination of excessive ornamentation; orientation of rooms according to points of the compass; adjacencies of rooms of related function… and changed to correct the weakness of the room arrangement whereby the innermost room could be accessed only by going through all the other rooms” (BLAKEMORE 131).

In the era of the Italian Baroque, Harold Osborne commented on the Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power that “This…is a triumph of ILLUSIONISM for the centre of the ceiling appears open to the sky and the figures seen from below appear to come down into the room as well as soar out of it” (BLAKEMORE 154). This idea of an optical illusion is a good example of perspective because of how real the painting looks to its audience.

One point perspective

Two point perspective

An example of a building drawn in two point perspective

In a more literal sense of the word, perspective was used in spatial relationships and designs. In the Palazzo Barbernini during the Italian Baroque, “The surrounds of the third floor windows are in feigned perspective” (BLAKEMORE 155).


A process is a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. In the transitional phases of the French Renaissance “modifications to the floor plan were least affected by the advent of the Renaissance. Gradually, emphasis was given to symmetry, rectangular plans, and uniform spacing” (BLAKEMORE 114). Also in the French Renaissance, “Decorative processes included marquetry, inlay, carving, and polychrome enhancement” (BLAKEMORE 121).


A professional is thought of as someone who is engaged in a specific activity as their paid occupation rather than a pastime. Last week, we had the pleasure of attending the Design, Art, and Technology Symposium at High Point University where we heard Alexander Julian talk about his professional life.

Alexander Julian


A portfolio is an encasement for a set of drawings, papers, or other types of loose document. It can be a physical case, like the one drawn below, or it can be a digital portfolio.

Rather than a simple collection of every piece of work done by an artist, a designer's portfolio contains a set of well-crafted and revised projects, drawings, and other work that can be used to illustrate the designer's full potential.


This week’s opus, entitled “P-week” brings together the ideas of periphery, portfolio, process, professional, perspective, and portfolio. The idea of proportion, however, fits with this week’s words as well. In the French Renaissance period, “proportionate relationship between form and decorative detail” was a key factor in furniture design (BLAKEMORE 121). In the English Renaissance, “the precise tenets [of design] revolved around order and proportion” (BLAKEMORE 130). During the Italian Baroque, “grand proportions of rooms were typical of Baroque interiors” (BLAKEMORE 157). All of these words together can be used to describe what we should be thinking about upon obtaining a professional career.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Article Writing

Design Process vs. Writing Process

Though they are two very different ideas, the design process and the writing process are very similar. Both processes go through the same development of planning, coming up with a first draft or model, making changes, and finishing with a final product. Both incorporate fine detail, craft, and an overall sense of unity. As we have learned in our courses so far this semester, commodity, firmness, and delight are all concepts that, together, make a design successful. In his book, Writing Places, William Zinsser suggests that writing should be able “to make complex subjects clear and enjoyable -- and useful --to ordinary readers,” thus proposing that the design concept of commodity, firmness, and delight is also used throughout the writing process. (Zinsser, William. Writing Places. Harper Collins, May 2009). The same tactics are used in both the writing and design processes in order to create a successful product.
Not only is the design process similar to the writing process, but it also has many parallels to stories and storytelling. Zinsser comments on the fact that “the great writers of the Yale faculty weren’t the theory-obsessed English professors.” Rather, “they were the history professors… who understood that their knowledge could only be handed down if they imposed on the past an act of storytelling, one that had a strong narrative pull and a robust cast of characters” (Zinsser, William. Writing Places. Harper Collins, May 2009). The reason why the professors who used the act of storytelling were thought of as better writers than the ones who didn’t conveys the idea that engagement, interaction, and exaggeration make a piece of writing stand out. These same concepts of engagement, interaction, and exaggeration are what make a design stand out to its audience.
Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Every design has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Though they are composed of different media, the same process is used to develop one idea into the next. Both stories and designs have a common goal of encouraging their audience to interact with their work. In writing, the author’s intent is to create a piece that engages the reader and persuades them to continue further into the story. In a design, the designer’s objective is to allow their audience to physically and mentally interact with their work. In both instances, the audience is meant to form some kind of a connection with the final product.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Foundations Unit Summary

After completing the foundations unit, I feel that there are three main themes that accurately explain all of the material covered in this first unit. Commodity : Firmness : Delight, Archetype : Prototype : Hybrid, and Porch : Court : Hearth are three ideas that illustrate what architecture should be, what it is and can become, and the process of how it came to be. Vitruvius stated that "architecture...must provide utility, firmness, and beauty or, as Sir Henry Wotten later paraphrased it in the seventeenth century, commodity, firmness, and delight" (Roth 11). Commodity serves as the reason to create the building, firmness is the way in which it should be built to ensure a successful structure, and delight refers to the aesthetics that make the building appeal to the client as well as the public.

Another theme of this unit is Archetype : Prototype : Hybrid. The Romans are a good example of how archetypes, prototypes, and hybrids are used in the advancement of architecture and design. “The interrelatedness of the influencing factors illustrates the dependence of Roman arts on the cultures of the other races. At the same time advances in technology (materials and construction techniques) allowed the Romans to attain innovations in spatial features which exceeded those cultures represented in their conquest,” (Blakemore 47). For their ideas to evolve, the Romans searched for information from outside sources as a means to improve their existing ideas about architecture and design. These influencing factors inspired the new designs, or prototypes, as well as the hybrids.

The last theme of this unit is Porch : Court : Hearth. Although it is a more specific design idea, it is one that can be found almost anywhere whether it is in a building or an entire city. The sequence begins with the porch, which serves as the gateway or entrance into a building, area, or city. The court represents the large open area following the porch where people can congregate. Lastly, the hearth is the main attraction of the building or area where leaders, priests, and other important figures reside and is usually off limits to the general public.

Although I feel that these three ideas illustrate the entirety of the material the foundations unit covered, the concept of parts coming together to form a whole, or the oedicule, is another major theme of the unit that encompasses what Commodity : Firmness : Delight, Archetype : Prototype : Hybrid, and Porch : Court : Hearth portray.


The idea of the power of three and the oedicule both show how parts of a whole can come together to form a new idea. The power of three is an important ideal for any type of design and allows three separate inspirations to connect and help a design evolve.

MICRO : MARCO [opus 6]


The idea of Porch : Court : Hearth is that there are three main areas to any space, the gateway, the large (and usually open) common area, and the most important feature or attraction of the space. An area is “often opened from a great court, a feature continuing into later residential architecture… a porch, an optional anteroom, and a hall (the largest space) with the center of the hall being “a circular hearth set with a raised edge” (BLAKEMORE, 31).

Another example is in Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, where “the entrance to the hall was from the screens passage at the lower end of the hall…which led to courts on either side of this nucleus of the medieval house. The purpose of each of these was to divert drafts from the central hearth” (BLAKEMORE 71). Whether it is found in a specific building or by looking at an entire city, almost everything contains these three components both in the Middle Ages and in modern day.


An impression can be described as an idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone, an imitation of a person or a thing, or a marked impressed on a surface. Printing is an example of an impression because the words are literally engraved into the paper. In the Italian Renaissance, “Engraved wood blocks and copper plates were new printing techniques that stimulated the dissemination of information from these treatises and spread new designs to other areas of Italy and Europe” (BLAKEMORE 92). Impressions were not only used to convey information, but they were also used as artwork or details in architecture.


A detail can be described as an individual feature or item. Interior architecture and decoration in the Middle Ages illustrates “enhancement with paint was through flat color application as well as decorative treatments, among which were simulations of masonry by using colored lines on plaster washed, ornamental detail applied to friezes, and figurative events on such areas as friezes or murals on walls” (BLAKEMORE 75).
Although details seem as though they are used for the sole purpose of aesthetics, they can also be used and manipulated in a way to make a space seem larger. In the Italian Renaissance, “both woodworking techniques and painting were used to extend space” (BLAKEMORE 97).

Detail can be found on anything; walls, furniture, etc. and incorporates ideas from outside sources as the amount and style of detail continue to evolve. “Ornamental detail for interiors and furniture largely revolved around the design vocabulary of the classical Roman period” (BLAKEMORE 112).


A composition is something that is composed of multiple elements. One of the most well known forms of composition, in both architecture as well as entire cities, is the megaron. The magaron is “comprised of three components: (1) a hall, (2) a storeroom at the back, and, later, (3) a porch” (BLAKEMORE 30-31). Composition also has a lot to do with functionality. The composition of something can change based on what it is being used for. “As functional and social needs shifted over the course of the Middle Ages, the space finally became an entrance hall in the late Tudor period in England, during the reign of Elizabeth I, 1558-1603” (BLAKEMORE 71). The overall composition of the area changed as the social needs and function of the space began to evolve. In any design, composition needs to be taken into account by means of how the client wants a space to be laid out, what feelings the client wants the space to portray, etc.

A diagram is a means of showing a space's use or intended use.
In the Renaissance period, for example, “the plan consisted of an octagonal star-shaped city with streets radiating from a central market square. Antonio Averlino… was the first Renaissance designer to use the ideal form of the circle as the basis for a city plan” (ROTH 360-361).

This is an example of a functional diagram of the first floor of the MHRA building on campus. Different than a normal floor plan, this functional diagram shows what parts of the building are being used for.


This week’s Opus title, Micro : Macro does a good job of describing large ideas like Porch : Court : Hearth as well as smaller ideas like detail. Porch : Court : Hearth is a specific type of composition which can be shown through a diagram. The details that are incorporated within the design, as well as the structure of the design itself, allows the viewer to form their own impression of the space and also illustrates the designer’s impression of what they feel the space is.