Saturday, February 9, 2008


This essay addresses the need of a community to engage in design opportunities within the surroundings of an industrial driven town planned out of conveyance. Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula is home to some of the world’s most beautiful land and natural surroundings. The beauty of the oceans, mountains and lakes has not been reflected in the built environment. The industrial mindset has left a sprawl of dilapidated buildings in the midst of residential and undeveloped nature. A change in perception is needed. Residences need to see an investment in the built environment that will match the beauty of the surrounding nature. Through questioning I will address the need for the community to band together, finding a sense of place that is derived from the community, to establish confidence and guidelines for the future.

Monday, January 21, 2008

And you thought you had a long trip.

Forgive me if I don't make sense in any of this but I just traveled halfway across the world in a day. That used to be inconceivable, but so was flying. Sounds like we have all had some very interesting experiences since we have been home and while we were traveling there. I read Mike's post and it jogged my blurry memory of one of my flights to the other continent, Alaska.
I usually am a little similar to the person Mike sat next to on an airplane. I don't really enjoy just sitting for 5 hours at a time inches next to someone I don't know and probably will never see again, so I bring a magazine and my ipod to entertain myself. Well when I sat down on the flight from Seattle to Anchorage I for some reason began a conversation with a young man my age that lasted some three and a half hours. Amazing conversation that hit on multiple topics that focused around the built environment in Alaska. He also grew up in Alaska just outside of Anchorage in a suburb that has been expanding tremendously in the last 10 years. He just built himself a house with the help of his friends in the middle of a classic developmental mentality town. All of the houses look very similar and only a few select contractors were allowed to build in this area, with himself being the exception because he works with these contractors. Not to bore you but I am going somewhere. We talked about a Alaska's image, what sense of place Alaskans are trying to show and he was as bewildered as I have been why people do not try to engage it. I found it very interesting to sit down next to someone my age and have very similar outlook on our sense of place. So my thoughts, how do I engage this generation, the one that will change my lifetime that will in turn set up a change for the next generation. I feel the key is in the design, in the questioning, in the process.

Research Paper Thoughts:
Three towns, largest being Kenai, Alaska 7,000 population, second being Nikiski (5k) which is 12 miles North of Kenai and then Soldotna (4k), which is 10 miles South of Kenai. Each city sprawls into one another and none of them have a sense of place. They are very linear in nature, most buildings are single story with the exception of a few two and one three story building. The community does not walk, it drives. Everything is at a distance, I want to go the post office, 15 minute drive. I want to go to the grocery store, 7 minutes. The other notable large problem is the image projected to the people that inhabit this community and visit the community. Residents have very limited design criteria and are often wanting to accomplish the largest program for the lowest price. In turn each building has any lack of character and materiality is something unknown.
The nature of the problem is in a few different area's. The one I would like to explore is in the Psyche. People do not see the reward in a well designed place nor community. They do not know what experience will be gained if they had the opportunity to live in a place that reflects more than the lowest budget possible. The community is a product of a large boom in oil and fishing both of which were not concerned with establishing a place for a community. Most oil workers work then fly home to another state. The money that showed up in the 70's has been used to build oil related buildings, which are some of the most dysfunctional looking places. The fishing community is built on the morals of survival. This sad state of affairs is an unusual one because it is built on some of the most beautiful land with a world famous river running through the middle of these towns.

The community that resides in this place now are here to stay if they can. They still mainly are the result of good jobs to do with oil and fishing but many other people and services are there to help that endeavor. The community even with their disarray has a very strong sense of pride for their community and their relationship to the larger whole or state. Its this that I would like to engage.

The community needs something that might engage them. To question what exactly they live in. They are in need of an example of design that relates to their scale, function and atmosphere. Going into a city and running out of your car to go to the post office and then running back to your car to get groceries to do the same and then driving to the bank to do the same thing again is a dysfunctional realm.
If there was an example to show how buildings might function in close proximity to help keep a sense of place. Not only would this product function well pragmatically it would also function to stimulate there being. There has not been an investment in the experience of the user and if it was the community would invest back in that change.

Bringing About:
A community that perpetuates itself to question its environment. This is what is not here. The questioning of why my town is set up to function the way it does. If a town could function to question for example, why we are going to build a bank at this particular location versus any other location and with these materials versus any other materials, it might be able to function as a whole, not for the betterment of the individual investor but for the total community.

Please feel free to let me know what you feel, see, think, smell and hear about this issue. Thanks.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

J.Duncan Reading

The exploration of what a human decides to keep around him is very interesting. Why do we or why would we make our landscape into something period. From what I see, we do it to fit into a group on one hand and maybe we like to do certain things (like gardening, have a lawn) on the other. But the form of the landscape can provide a symbol to reference what group we are trying to fit into. Look I have my grass cut with this pattern and therefore I fit into this class of people and can have these friends. It is a very interesting subject Mr. Duncan brings up. I can’t stop thinking of these groups that we want to be a part of. I can imagine these alpha groups have invested so much and enjoy having this little exclusive group that can do anything and only be around the people they are comfortable with. I’m sure we all have friends and family but do we all make sure everyone likes each other and is staying on top of their chores before we accept them as friends.

The social status of Bedford seems very apparent and I’m sure everyone there is aware of it even if they say they are not. It seems that this is apparent everywhere. I remember in college we lived in an apartment building in a small old money neighborhood. The houses were very well kept and could have fit into another category that might be a mix of attributes from the Alpha and Beta groups in Bedford. This is a very interesting topic and I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say about it. I hope we could all live for ourselves and not be in fear of what others think about the image we are reflecting.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Constructing Inequality:

In looking back on the outline I created for this article I'm reminded of the many examples of how history has brought us to this social state that we are in now. People, governments and many different administrations have made decisions and shaped this world into what it is now. I agree many of the decisions have been made out of fear and vain thinking, while disregarding the ethical responsibility people have when put in positions to make decisions for the larger whole. This reminds me of what Mr. Childress said in his introduction to the class, everyone has the opportunity to make this world better. Who is the judge of better and when will it be at its best. Or is there corruption within administration which has created this built environment?

In studying the constructs that people have decided to build, it is easy to judge motives but what are we looking at? A contractor wanting to make more money or are we looking at a government trying to encourage consumers to spend more money?

Her references to architecture and architectural elements were the most intriguing aspects of the article to me. The enjoyed the insight of the deliberate forced perspective from the Piaza Del Populo in Rome. Sennett's description was also meaningful; perspective creating movement in the city, giving an opportunity to create a new perspective with-in the forced perspective. I also loved the description of the gate in gated communities, it is so very powerful just a small gate across a road and it allows everyone passing through it a different perspective and feeling. Creating the segregation between these two sides might eventually create a people forgetting about the rest of the world. This is true, how out of context can we make ourselves? The dangerous thing is, the power rests within those gates and decisions made will come from this warped since of reality. Oversight of a public cannot be seen through a fence nor a gate.

The "outside" space seemed to have evolved and changed over time into a controlled larger version of a white mans interior space. Which brings me back to thinking of how these decisions were made and if they truly were forceful and deliberate. This article has many stimulating aspects to keep in mind for the future, how do we design cities to encourage a new perspective of the genuine public. What powerful elements in architecture might bring up these conversations between these strangers?