Friday, January 13, 2006

What about this?

A bulletin board, like vBulletin, that has drag and drop ability for images and posts. Imagine, each post is a snapshot of my desktop, all the study guides I have open, everything that I am reading, articles, etc. Is this any good?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

a struggling Target?

I was at Target yesterday, and I have this strange feeling whenever I am at this place. It is in a shopping center, not too far from an airport and a horse track. But there is very little drive-by traffic. It always seems empty, and I don't know why. It's a Target, after all, and they have market researchers. What is the problem? Why are there only 10-15 shoppers in the building at the busiest time of the typical day (5pm)? The Stop & Shop next door isn't much better, and I feel that they may have tried to extend the retail properties of the area just a little too far. A mile away lies the busiest, densest shopping strip around (route 16 from Medford to Revere) and it just doesn't spread over that way. Also, there are four other Targets within a 20 minute drive. So, densification has a limit in retail, as Krispy Kreme and Boston Market have found out.

Anyway, I was suprised to find out just what the market is for product placement in supermarkets. After reading some second hand discussion, it seems that the store expects to break even on the sales and turn a profit on the placement fees. I guess this means that you might as well start buying the items at eye level and on endcaps, because they are priced at the closest to cost. Reverse everything you knew.

Finally, a dream that came to me last night. You are in an airport running to catch flight 853 to dallas, and you find that all of the waiting terminal space in the concourse has been converted to shopping. There is nowhere to sit down without incurring some sort of fee. You search in vain, and eventually find a small sign that says, simply, "gates this way". Through the door, outside, you find yourself given the keys for a large buick and directions to the small tent that has been erected for entering the airplane, three miles down the road.

I suppose it suggests the full encompassing of shopping, to the point that there isn't room for anything else. That's the endgame.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

maybe change in life isn't so great - and one bad spelling pun

The payoffs usually come when you least expect it. While walking a job site today, there was a corner of this residence that my firm designed. It's a large house, on the ocean, and there was an ah-ha moment, for me, personally, the first in a long time. I do recall the last as being at a meeting with the president of the small university my last firm was developing a master plan. It was the moment that she and the group accepted a plan - in that case a dumpster relocation scheme - as the essence of the new direction that the school was moving in.

Ok, so it was dumpsters, but it's important in the devopment of a young archit-etc. Anyway, this house, the one on the ocean, is somewhere between modern and new england colonial. It has a cathedral space at the center and wings with a long flat ceiling. The showoff piece is shown in the photo at right, the center space, and it terminates at the water side with a sharp, knife edge soffit.

In this state, I could see the method of construction, the attention to detail, and to our details. In fact, if you look at the similarities, they are striking. This is a first for me, a visualization of the work that came from my desktop, performed by contractors who respect my work, and relationship with the client. It's still unfortunate that I recall something I heard from an internet post once -

if you ask the guy who is screwing sheetrock on your construction site how much he makes an hour (or his employers rate for him) you will go: WHAT?

then ask him how much he thinks YOU make and you will go WHAT?

now you tell me, who has the more responsibility and necessary education and knowledge for his job?

those guys work there butts off, and deserve what they make, shouldnt we?

but what can we do about it?

Continue drawing, I guess. Or become a developer/cm at the same time. Unfortunately, I have a strong distaste for subdevelopments, and couldn't sleep at night knowing I was contributing to their pervasiveness. For now, also, extra money is going to be saved towards the down payment of a house in Boston. Yikes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

frustration with the profession

I'm the type of person who thrives on being busy - it seems as though the more I do at once, the better it turns out in the end. Some don't understand this, but I feel the need to hang out on several forums, read some of the articles on slashdot and then study for an exam in the meantime. So, now that I have finished the architectural exam, it seems like that "educational" side of me is looking, searching for something to occupy itself. I have found a few academic programs that I would like to explore further among them, the Georgia Tech CM program, and the MIT house_n, both extremely exciting. It comes down to making the decision between doing what I love and making more money. What a pain. In the meantime, you can check out this house builder from Toll Brothers. It will be replacing architects any day now, no doubt.

So, what is our (the architects') role going to be in 2020, 2050, 2100? I have no idea, but I am coming to the conclusion that we, as a whole, are in the preservation state, of both our firms, work, and titles. I see it with my supervisors, principals, and other architects. Before you sell your ideas, you need to sell your existence. That is a tough road to be in. No wonder we aren't keeping up with the standard of living that we set by the very projects we oversee. It's too bad that we don't embrace technology, and in some cases reject it. Does the computer make better design? No, but it makes design possible. I'm tired of that argument and am curious about the next step. For all the physical crap that Toll Brothers makes, their software is worth exploring for its full potential. I've seen a few promising articles on mass produced housing - not a new idea - that are showing the next wave of new, truck hauled residences. If we could find a way to apply such ideas to renovations, and also to clustering of these same units, we could do worldwide good. Ok.
Saw this on the ARE Forum. Seems to sum up the whole process pretty well.

You come to a solid brick wall, infinite in length and 75 feet tall at every point. You venture to touch it. As your gloved fingers move across the smooth, unbroken concrete, you stare in awe at the expanse to the north, then in the opposite direction. Perfectly level at the grade line, you wonder of its construction. "No control joints? What awesome and marvelous expression of form and stability..." until your mind considers the late 20th century technique of "slip forming." You notice something to the south, was it there before? Maybe. 200 feet away, just above head height, there is a break, perfectly rectangular. Walking over to it, you gaze up and through to the sky beyond. Their sky, the Others'.

You know about The Other Side. Your ancestors, in your youth, spoke of its mystery, the unwavering stability, occasionally a clay tile containing strange cryptic messages would come hurtling over the walls, silently and unpredictably. The tiles are mostly imprinted with series of unrelated questions. They are in your language, but none make sense. Some seem to point to an answer, some have two, three, or even four correct answers scrawled underneath. Others are short and seem to trail off. Still others are nothing more than blank tiles or nonsensical pictures. You knew a boy who ventured too close without being aware many years ago and was crushed under a slab. It was simply labelled "LF." This is why civilization has stayed away, but here you are today, making the trek to The Wall. All candidates try it, but no one has conquered it. You can pretend that you are uninterested, but the Others know the order of things, and that candidates will continue to return day after day, year after year. Your elders have told you that you can defeat them, to "toss those tiles back," but that strategy only works to the point that there are fewer impediments on the ground at the foot of the wall. Nothing changes. They still come back, they ALWAYS come back, and your additions to the tiles or exclusions seem go unnoticed. Over the years some have observed, the content changes, but the ambiguity doesn't. They keep coming, patrolling the wall, and heave the stones back. Some still ask why, but most acquiesce and continue on instinctively. You will be one soon, you are told.

You look at the hole again, it is up there, and square, about 11 inches wide and 8 tall. Maybe it is 8 1/2, but the wall, at least at this point is thin enough to allow oblique views upward. "thank goodness for forced perspective," you mutter sarcastically. You hop up, using the wall as a fricion surface, but with no ledge or handhold, you can only see if you keep jumping. Your truncated views are fair, however. You can see the ground on The Other Side. You see tiles, thousands of them. You jump again, and you see something that causes alarm, but you still jump. Up and down. Up and down. Adjacent to these lie actual, live residents of The Other Side, indulging in libation and what looks like caviar. Pilote lie strewn about. They are smaller than you imagine. As you continue to jump, one moves toward you, and speaks. It is your native tongue. Slowly and mechanically, it says "Thank you for using our guide, we just installed it, and we hope you may find it useful." Startled, you jump to the side, so that you cannot see the representative. You query, "why is this portal here?" Silence. "What shall we do with this?" No answer.

You jump again, this time farther away from the wall, in case of danger. To your great surprise, the portal has been replaced by concrete. Perfectly smooth, and not indicative of any prior disturbance. You look in both directions, and feel a lingering emptiness, which you then realize is not simply emotional, and as you look down, you know what you are going to see, in all the jumping, your fine gloves have been removed without your realizing. They are gone, and taken by Them as a barter for the information. Wincing, you remember their history. Passed down from your father, also a candidate, to help you handle the slabs without injury. Now part of the machine in full production and revelry of the slabs. Your devistation as you stare at your bare hands is overwhelming.

As you walk away, back to town to consider this bitterly ironic development, you are discouraged but curious to return, you realize that the price was in exchange for that lonely, solemn glimpse into the world of the Other Side. You alone have the expensive view, but, will it be of any help?

Introduction to blogging

Sorry. Can I do it? Most likely. Be good to me text editor and I will return the favor. This is your only warning....