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Archive for May, 2011

I had the opportunity to research and write a thesis paper on the effects of nationalism on architecture in my undergraduate History degree. This is an important topic as still today it is somewhat of an uncharted territory for historians. We living in a built environment are constantly bombarded and influenced by the architecture around us. We should be more cognizant of its effect. Select the link below to be redirected to where the document lives on ISSUU, an online publication website.

Nationalism & Architecture – Online Reader

Introduction / Summary

The built environment we inhabit is a strategic tool in the negotiation of national identity. The citizen cannot avoid the nation space due to the reality that citizens inhabit cities that are part of the national discourse. This discourse is directed by the hegemonic power of a nation that can influence the design and construction of our environments. Thus a federally constructed cityscape can enhance the power of the nation. Numerous case studies have analyzed the relationship between nationalism and architecture which have concluded that nations use architecture to reinforce identity. Haim Yacobi analyzed the Israeli-Palestinian use of architecture in nation-building. Paul Baxa shed light on Fascist Italy’s attack on Catholic Rome to develop a pagan Roman identity. These two cases are just a sample of the many that concluded that the built environment reinforce national identity. A nation’s conscious effort to manipulate architecture for nationalistic reasons can simply be called architectural nationalism. The authors of the sample case studies do not agree on all aspects of architectural nationalism because it is a relatively new debate on the varying theories of “how architecture is used” and “what does it represents subconsciously.” The debate encompasses the instigators, origins, place, time, governmental structure, and symbolization of architecture and identity. The issues in the debate are the ingredients needed to create a program of architectural nationalism. However, the mix of ingredients can be quite different in each state.

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“I DO MODELS” HOODIE

So back in 2009-2010 as President of the Environmental Design Students’ Association, the Executive decided to make some architecture swag for our students. Unfortunately due to the controversial message on the clothing, we were unable to ever make our dream a reality. All we wanted to say was that Architecture students are skilled at building models. Some people took this out of context.

Special thanks goes to the designer of the swag and fellow graduate of the Architecture  program at the University of Calgary, Cameron Ashe.


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So after approaching and applying many of the well known firms in Toronto for an Intern Architect position, I wanted to share some of the lessons I have learned. I wish I had learned some of these lessons before I started applying, however I hope this advice will help my peers who are applying concurrently. Although the worst of the recession is over in Canada, some architecture firms are still struggling to recover. At the end of the day many firms are still affected by the lack of new loans for building projects, the lack of Federal infrastructure money, and other various factors. The AIA has actually indicated that the Architecture Billing Index has fallen below 50 which likely means that the industry will slow down even more. So people looking for a job must be strategic.

With all that said, I wanted to share any advice for us job seekers.

1. Decide what you want to do with your architecture degree and write down your goals and aspirations!

What are your short term goals, 5 year plan, and 10 year plan? Do you want to get registered? Do you want to be partner or own your own firm? What type of architecture do you want to do: civic, institutional, residential, commercial, retail,  urban planning, art, or competitions? Be specific, this is your chance to tell everyone what really excites you about architecture and what your are driven to accomplish.

2. Re-focus your resume and cover letter to emphasize your goals and aspirations in a way that shows a specialization in architecture!

If you want to do competitions, what experiences, skills, and projects have you done to make you the perfect candidate? Include a professional development section that captures all the conferences, competitions, certifications, publications, reports, and other preparation for your specialization in architecture. If you have previous work experience, include a selected projects list of work completed. Write a short cover letter that includes a couple sentences in a separate paragraph that focuses on your specialization.

3. Research what type/size of firm wants your experience!

Don’t apply for just any firm, do some research and figure out what types of firms need your expertise and leverage those expertise to get a job. For example, if you have a previous interior design degree and have some experience in the field, then I would suggest that you go after firms who do not have interior designers on staff. Those particular firms likely want to add those skills to their practice however cannot afford to hire an interior designer. It really is a give and take relationship between the firm and a potential candidate and in the end, the firm gets your expertise and you get in the door to start work as an Intern Architect. One caveat with this strategy is that you are clear with your intentions that you want to become an Architect and wish not to be pigeon holed.

4. Network and build relationships before you ask for a job!

Talk to your friends in the industry that you wish to enter, make new friends, go out for drinks, go out for lunch, and build relationships with people. Creating an intimate relationship with persons of interest in the industry will lead to timely advice and help in approaching the firms you are interested in. People within the field can offer insight to who is hiring and possibly offer an introduction. Remember the Iceberg metaphor when it comes to careers, most jobs are not advertised and just under the surface. That means we must network and build relationships to find the unadvertised ones. Only after have you built a relationship of trust and mutual respect with friends, partners, and principals should you ask for a job. You want that person to feel completely comfortable with you. This could take months, however it is a rewarding educational experience. And remember your please and thank you’s after every meeting.

5. Apply for the job!

After you have identified partners of firms looking to hire your specialization and have their contact information in hand, go after that job with a strong cover letter and resume. Consider emailing a portfolio sample or link your portfolio from a website, blog, or FTP. Follow-up with a call within a week. Ask for an interview or drinks. Even if there are no job opportunities, maintain that contact for the next quarter and keep in touch. Sometimes it can take months to develop a relationship to a point where it becomes a career offer.

GOOD LUCK!!!

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Barcelona Urban Interventions

I participated in the Barcelona Study Abroad Program for the fall 2010 semester. Our class was situated in the heart of Barcelona’s Barri Gotic off of Las Ramblas and challenged with a contextually Spanish problem of how to place an intervention in the Eixample. Our project brief required the development of a secondary school program within the context of Barcelona’s Eixample and integration of the educational program beyond the normative typology of a secondary school. We  wanted to reinterpret the schools urban condition to facilitate public usage concurrently with student usage and design a formal logic which reflects the functional aspects of a school without classrooms. The classroom was transformed into studio space where faculty, students, and external public dialoged. The education system was based on a Spanish Baccalaureate program that was composed of core classes and a specialization of the students’ choosing.

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MASS show boards

Growth in population and suburban subdivision sprawl has left our cities burdened with ever increasing urban  footprints that hinder our ability to live sustainably. Subdivisions create low density developments that are only accessible by the automobile and far from places of work or retail. The desire to live in a single family dwelling in a safe suburban setting makes it attractive, yet unsustainable to continue building this way. There is a dichotomy between suburban living and higher density mixed-used developments. The Dalhousie community exemplifies the suburban single family subdivision that is increasingly unsustainable yet attractive to live in. Is it possible to rethink suburbia and increase the density of the population while maintaining the character of the neighbourhood?

Re-Programming Territories is a proposal for Dalhousie and many other communities that resemble it. This prototype laneway infill attempts to re-program laneway garage space and foster a new alternative urban habitation grafted onto the existing laneway infrastructure without interrupting existing residences. The design strategy calls for the compensation and annexation of whole lengths of laneway to infill and add to the suburban fabric, increasing the density to approximately fifteen units/hectares. What was a monolithic empty back alley, becomes activated with occupation.

Pedestrian laneway activation is accomplished through the addition of enclosed public green corridors which are both a greenhouse and circulation spine for the residents where urban farming occurs year-round and lush vegetation warms the coldest winter days. This corridor is accessible to the whole community and operates as a year-round pedestrian promenade. It acts as a mitigating inbetween space for the laneway and existing houses. Existing houses now look onto a glazed year-round greenspace instead of monolithic garages. Activation is happening both in the green corridor and outside on the lane. Residents balconies overlook the public spaces and lane. Both laneway residents and existing residents share the same carports in the lane. The size and layout of the units will attract new demographics to Dalhousie to live in the lane. Units are designed to be a modular compact design perfect for bachelors, students, low income, and small families that are more inclined to use the community shuttle system. At the end of each block live-work and commercial unit anchor the lane to provide valuable services to the community within walking distance.

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