March 14, 2009

Rebargroup: Barbara Sturdevant

Field: Environmental Design (architecture)

Interests: Healthcare Architecture, Educational architecture, Urban design/planning, Healthcare planning

Talents: painting?, knitting, gymnastics, eating lots and lots of sweets

Rebargroup: Friday's Class(3-13)

In class Friday we discussed possible locations for intervention. We made up a list of places that need to be researched or looked into, ideas, etc. If you were not in class on Friday, you can go ahead and pick one or two of the places on the list and do some background research on them so that when Rebargroup gets here, we will have an idea of where we would like to work.

Diversity Plaza-Mike?
Langford/Ocng. Field-I think somebody already posted some about this on the blog
Simpson Drill Field
MSC bus drop off
Rec entrance
Rudder Plaza
Wellborn Ramp
Military walk
Academic Plaza-Barbara
Langford Alcoves-Charul
Blocker-Michael W.
Read Paving Seal
Kyle Field (N. Side)

March 13, 2009

Katie Smither

Away from image files right now....I'll upload a pic later.

Field of Study: Currently Environmental Design, in the process of transferring though to get a B.F.A.

Interests: Life, living it, and trying not to fail while doing so. My Lord, art, design, asking questions, politely breaking rules : ), reading reading reading...wish we had more time to read good stuff. Music, musicals, and anything old school Disney. Harry Potter, sushi, and sleep (the concept is intriguing...ha)....and on and on.

Special Powers: Lately, a whiz at filling out applications for anything really. Talking bigger game than might be true, ha ha, SO comes in handy. Recently, a ripstick extrordinaire. A master at beam ball. A steady stream of ridiculous ideas that should be followed through with more often. Perhaps a professional sarcastic. Skilled cleptomaniac. Disney lyric dictionary. And above all, nothing can top this, none of ya'll got anything after this is dropped.....Typing 150+ GWAM in middle school....dangerous digits right here, fellas.

Thanks, Katie Smither

Rebargroup: Sloan Springer

Field: Architecture (senior)

Interests: Urban design, mixed-use, folding architecture, integration of architecture, urban art, and landscape.

Talents: culinary arts, photography, ability to find my way around in any environment (particularly finding good food anywhere)

Rebargroup: Barbara Sturdevant

The site I looked at is Academic Plaza. It is a large open area of campus with lots of green space, both grass and trees-meaning shading! The pictures were taken in the rain, and Friday before Spring Break, so it is not an accurate account of how the plaza is normally used, due to the lack of people on campus today. It is a central part of campus and fairly heavily traveled. When the weather permits, this is a place people can always be found just hanging out. People lay in the grass and study, nap or just relax, sit on some of the benches here and there, or even set up their own hammocks between the trees. There is also a "sport" called slack-lining that takes place here most days. It's pretty entertaining if you have never seen people doing it. It is a good place to improve an already used plaza with possibly more creative seating options, potentially as an alternative to just plopping down in the grass, as others have mentioned.

Similar to that site in its use is the lawn/knoll by Langford. I think the smaller, more disconnected spots from the main field would be interesting. They are in a high traffic area and used heavily.

One more place to take into account that we did not discuss is an area between Herrington and the RPTS building (Francis Hall) near Chem. fountain. I had not even thought of this location but noticed it on my way to photograph Academic Plaza. It would be an interesting place to work with because it is heavily traveled and somewhat central, but has nothing inviting the user to actually use it, beside for just to walk through. It has some green space, and some trees also, so it could provide for some interesting installations.


I found three potential areas to place the inflatables. Outside of the Academic Building there are grassy areas where many people would rest on It is an area of slow traffic so if we place the objects there people will actually stop and check it out.

The grassy hills outside of Langford are also great resting and studying areas. Many students also play Frisbee, fly kites, tumble, and work on projects This might actually be the best spot to test the human interactions.

The grassy hills across from the underground by the northside dorms are also a great spot to test the inflatables. Everyday people occupy the grass areas to eat, play guitar, rest, and study. It is also an area of slow traffic so there will be many curious minds

As a sidenote, I noticed that many students would appreciate a place to lay and nap during the day. Students set up hammocks and lay on the grass when the weather is nice. I'm pretty sure they would love to have something new to lay on.

Rebargroup: Cory Arcak

Hello All,

When we began discussing the areas/issues with campus I originally envisioned an activity taking place in the large "green" spaces on campus such as Simpson Drill Field, Golf Courses, the knolls between Architecture and O&M. These locations lack "furniture" yet provide access to the earth where students can sunbathe/sit/sleep and be in contact with the earth. That said, the issues with this/these activities is that the grass isn't always the most pleasant place to sit due to moisture, insects etc... so playing off of Kristina's post ages ago about melting shopping bags and creating jewelry, i have been playing with the idea of melting plastic shopping bags and creating "blankets/quilts" that students can sit on. Granted plastic may not be the most conducive material in that with our Texas temperatures one may begin to perspire, but maybe by using the same concept we can also create shade blankets. The plastic shopping bags could be designed to be either a "shade" blanket or a sitting blanket etc...Maybe form it into an umbrella etc... This would recycle a material, be accessible to all and could be left at strategic locations for others to share...It's just an idea.

Following Barrett's idea of creating a giant frisbee game in a heavily populated location, we could do a form of intervention/interaction that required strangers to play/talk with us. I've often said that we are so connected (ipods,cell phones,mp3 etc...) we are disconnected as human beings. If we "attack" a heavily populated area I wonder what the results of human interaction would be? Positive/Negative???

These are just a few thoughts...

By the way, my name is Cory Arcak and my background is anthropology. I'm interested in human behavior, culture, art and education. I'm off across the great pond for the next ten days. I look forward to reading what is posted while I'm away.

Take Care,

Miki Ting Fan

(Me on the Right)

Field of Study: Landscape Architecture (Sophmore)

Special Interests: Abstract art, Japanese anime/art, hip hop dancing, people watching, piano

Talent/Powers: Poppin' (hip hop dancing style), a little bit of breakdancing, getting along with people

March 12, 2009

Mike Droske

Profile: Mike Droske

Field of study: Landscape Architecture (grad), English literature/Religious studies (undergrad)

Special interests: Ecological restoration, native plants, sustainable design, green building, edible landscaping, songwriting, post-singularity science fiction, cooking Indian food, '70s progressive rock, horticulture, DIY, gardening

Talents & Powers:
  • Drawing & Painting
  • Photography
  • Writing allegorical short stories
  • I can get along with just about anybody
  • I can find lost keys/items very quickly, as long as they're not my own

Rebargroup: Mike Droske

Diversity Plaza

This is definitely an area of campus in need of some intervention.(click on the panoramas for a better view)

It represents the overall aesthetic of campus pretty well: disjointed design elements, asymmetry, poor drainage, wasted space, lots of pavement, Asian Jasmine, and declining Live Oaks.
Ok, as you can probably tell, I'm not a fan of this plaza's present state.It's definitely a heavily-trafficked area. But that seems to be the only activity going on here.
To be fair, it's been raining and cold today, so there wouldn't be anybody out playing frisbee here anyway on a day like this. But from all I've seen, it's just a thoroughfare. The concrete benches here are sometimes used, but nobody seems to stay here long...

It's a shame, because the buildings are actually pretty nice, and on the other side of the academic building is a plaza that people actually sometimes use.Here are some a-frame signs for campus organizations. They tend to get knocked over very frequently.
So what does this site have going for it? Lots of people, lots of space, lots of visibility.
What's wrong with it? Several things I can think of:

1.)it's ugly- the landscape just doesn't make sense. It's asymmetrical in a meaningless way, and the green spaces here just aren't very inviting.

2.)it's uncomfortable- there are a few (very few) places to sit, but most are located in spots that aren't very comfortable due to the hard concrete benches and no shade.

3.) It's chaotic- when classes get out, there are huge masses of people pouring out of the buildings and the circulation is not very well-defined. There are big empty spaces and big crowded spaces and no obvious paths of travel and places for hanging out.

I'm sure there are more problems, as well as opportunities, that I'm missing. So, what to do about them?

Rebargroup: Teresa Moran

Hola! Hola! As you can see ^ I'm family oriented and never fail to help/get everything ready for family events...
I'm originally from Mexico City but most of my education has taken place in Texas with the exception of a semester away in Italy and one back in the mother country. I am finishing up my Bachelors in 'Environmental Design' which you'll come to know is another name for Architecture.
my interests:
Different places, cultures, languagues. I'm mostly interested in behavior though. I like to observe, analyze, and study why people act the way that they do. I'm introspective too. All that involves a dive into the discipline of psycology, communication, and a lot other disciplines which I haven't gotten to yet. As much as I am interested in understanding the why of things, I also thrive from knowing that I can make someone aware of what's going on around them.
my special powers:
  • I can make some GREAT TACOS! no, really, I can.
  • I am very insightful.
  • I can relate to people easily (that makes it easier to communicate with them).
  • I am good at repairing/restoring situations.

Rebargroup: Teresa Moran

Place of Observation: the field in front of Langford A

I was a little hesitant to bring this site up. But after realizing that a lot other people behave just the same way I do around it, or rather, through it, I decided it was worthy of attention.

A lot of people nap around here or just hang out reading/studying. Some take advantage or the whole field to play frisbee or tag football. But I find that regardless of how much I might find myself wanting to do just the same sometimes it's way muddy or just plain wet. I'm not in the habit of carrying a blanket around with me I must say. But not being prepared doesn't take away the desire I get each time I see it to engage. There are quite a few benches around but sitting on a bench watching the grass just doesn't feel the same as petting it.

What I have found myself doing is walking across it. As you can see, a lot of people are doing the same too. I feel guilty to say the truth. There's not enough green to go around and when there is, I trample on it to get to class? My excuse: It is in my genes to run late.

Having said that, I wonder if anyone else feels the same or has any excuses.

p.s. click on images to better see people

Rebargroup: Barrett Davis

These are just various sites around campus. Each of the sites has a heavy amount of traffic on a given day.

However, one consideration worth noting is Mondays and Wednesdays seem to have the most traffic. Tuesdays and Thursdays have less and Fridays have the least. Weekends are typically abysmal if one hopes to see anyone on campus.

My desire is to find a space that has a lot of people and do some sort of interaction with them.

A few ideas:
  • Have a large quantity of Frisbees [or similar item] at the Simpson Drill Field or the field outside of the Architecture building. Considering that people frequent Frisbee and napping on these fields perhaps there is some object that could double as a pillow or to rest one's head on?
  • The ramps outside of Evan's library or the Student Rec Center force people through ramps and into a sharp angled entrance. There is potential to disrupt.
On a side note: I had flipped through a contemporary art book the other day and I had read about a quite amusing installation piece. The name of the artist(s) allude me; however, the premise was that a man and a woman were naked facing each other in the entrance of a gallery. To enter the gallery, the visitors were required to decide how to pass by the two given it was the only way to see the art inside.

Rebargroup: Barrett Davis

Field of Study: Visualization [transitionally undergrad - graduate]

Special Interests: Painting, writing, video games, interactive art, generative art, film, animation.

I'm finishing my last semester as an undergraduate with a focus on visualization - transcribing what I think into a tangible, aesthetic form. I've been accepted to continue my studies in the Master of Science in Visualization program here at A&M. The main project in my focus is to develop a program which creates a three-dimensional painting of sorts. If all works as initially planned it will be an abstract, non-representational representation of my own abstract, non-representational paintings. :-)

Talents & Powers:
  • Ability to consume any number of cookies in front of me (esp. chocolate chip) without hesitation
  • Ability to transcend objects floating in the wind
  • Pun-extraordinaire
  • Aura of the artist (without any initial intentions!)

March 10, 2009

Rebargroup: Katie Smither

So while I was working the 4 AM shift at my job.....which if I left such up for interpretation, could seem scandalous (so I will).....I witnessed the comings and goings of potential material, though I don't really know how they could be used.  I vote we just keep them in the back of our mind just in case an intervention ends up lending itself to them.....But at 4 AM there is a tall thin man who comes onto campus wobbly under an enormous number of newspapers.  He brings the stack, half as tall as he, to the rack where the neglected Battalions from the day before lay lonely and misunderstood.  He removes them, and replaces them with the newspapers for the present day.  Then he meanders off with a good foot tall collection of day old Battalion....otherwise known as raw materials for the taking...perhaps, if fate will have it as such.   That much newspaper does become quite massive, but that flimsy newsprint is also weak......who knows, but remember...if there's about a foot of old Battalion in every rack all over campus there's a lot of leftover paper.

Also, are we forming another Label or Section for the student profiles we're suppose to submit?  I saw Briana put hers up, but there was talk of putting them under another label...someone comment yea or nay.  Thanks kids, and pick up a Battalion, it needs a friend!

Katie Smither


March 9, 2009

Rebargroup: Briana Morrison

Profile: Briana Morrison
^ That's me in pink, enjoying a free hug in Austin

Field of study:
Landscape Architecture and Horticulture

Special Interests: Graffiti, public art, public space, sociology, social and environmental sustainability, political advocacy

I'm hoping to eventually attend graduate school to study something similar to the goals of the people create meaning, genus loci, and community through public art/graffiti/flash mobs, etc. The details aren't quite fleshed out in my mind. I'm still searching for inspiration, which is why I'm waiting, and also why I'm excited about this project!

Talents & Powers:
  • Landscape Architecture training...which better be a talent of some sort after five years
  • Painting and drawing
  • Photography
  • Public speaking
  • Event planning
  • A townie, which has advantages when it comes to gaining access to certain things/places :)

Inflatable Moment

A group formed by architects and sociologists wanted to “formulate a radical critique of architecture, urbanism, and everyday life in the French Seociety. This utopie group created inflatable furniture, sculpture and environments. Architects and artists in Europe, United States, and Japan were greatly interested by the exhibition of inflatable art. After propagandas released in May 1968, “the Utopie group increased.” They published works “denouncing speculative urbanism and consumerism.” May criticized the ambiguity of the Utipie group.. Student strikes occurred during this time. Most of the protesters “espoused left-wing causes” and a small minority “espoused far-right.” The government in Paris, France was close to collapse. The Inflatable Moment ,by Marc Dessauce, documents this fascinating intersection of architecture and social science and politics. His essays examines the idea of the pneumatic through modernity, and speculates on the symbolic function of inflatable objects in utopian narratives and during revolutionary moments. His books also concludes on the happenings, and “why inflatable furniture nearly came unhappened again.”

Conference call summary - Rebargroup

Conference call and summary
Rebargroup: Blaine Merker and John Bela
(apologies for pidgin English)

Summary to-dos:
John and Blaine request of each person: post a picture, secret talents and special powers, area of study, "where you're coming from" (general interests).

Your research for the week of March 9-13:
Explore potential sites on campus, make photos, notes, identify unmet needs in spaces, come up with candidate sites. Let sites frame the problem for us, leaving open the design response and take cues from the sites

Conference call:

3 different sites, maybe pick more then narrow them down.

order materials over sp. bk., have them here to begin on friday when workshop starts

examples: furniture not obvious what function is, left open for people to explore a function.

blaine: we'll be coming as 'one more team,' bringing bushwaffle project, experimenting w/new prototype versions, will share. projects will be more successful when they are more open ended..."forget" how furniture works, what is minimal intervention we can do to allow for maximum positive change. simple intervention, may not look like anything they've seen before.

katie: is there anything else with your general approach in addressing public space that's important...what about campus vs. urban space, different concerns?

blaine: yes, we deal with more urban projects mostly. not too familiar with campus or town. we'll rely on you to do the scouting and find potential sites to work in. not sure if on campus or in town, you tell me what would be most easy to work in. interested in anywhere people use space.

cory: while scouting spaces, talk to people in the spaces...what about a bed over by msc?

(john bela joins call)

katie: campus is most active and best place to talk about public space

john: campus can be good laboratory; more leniency than in urban place?

katie: campus is large; space is sidewalks plazas people move through; grassy areas for sitting

(general agreement the most people/traffic are found on campus)

john: spaces where people move; pause; are set up to accomodate behaviors, then there are spaces where there is a desire to socialize, pause, rest, but physical structure isn't there. identify places that need something, some quality of environment where we can set up temporary social space. identify candidates for interventions. places we can introduce something to fulfill that need.

blaine: people don't always know they need something in a space, can hang out and watch what's happening, watch to see how they occupy a space and identify a potential.

how important is temp component?

blaine: could develop into permanent intervention, but one quality that helps frame problem is that it's ephemeral, either temporary or permanent ephemeral...moveable seating for instance in european'll be easier to think about if it can be rapidly deployed on site, lightly. thinking about permanent installations we don't have time to do might work for later.

john: could prototype a temporal thing that becomes permanent later. focus on accomplishing a prototype during the workshop.

katie: combination of bushwaffle, and vendor cart idea, interested in vending use?

john: yes, view as piece of infrastructure a city might develop, as part of city infrastructure. cities have been removing such structures due to issues about safety, so spaces are devoid of creature comforts. vending system approach in place for bicycles, cars, could be developed. how will fellow students interface with what you develop? designing a social interaction that allows people to give themselves permission to walk up to the odd thing you've provided...not just a physical object, but a social transaction is designed. when people see something weird, they just walk by it. we want them to get distracted by it for an hour.

katie: still want to be encouraging lighthearted community, allowing people to interact in enjoyable way?

j,b: no, we hate social interaction :)

we get a pretty good response, totally playful. goes a long way in opening people up to other possibilities.

kate: bringing everything needed for bushwaffle?

blaine: we'll bring bw. with us we've already produced, can play with those. over next couple of weeks we'll research raw materials to make other inflatables, will work with you ... sheet plastic, plastic sealer welder for simple inflatables. have queried recyclable plastics so we can get alt to pvc. not sure what's going to come through yet, we'll see what we get.

materials research lab on campus? locate

katie: is it important the materials are found, recyclable, sustainable?

john: yes, particularly for temporary interventions. ethos we bring to it: either we're using repurposed, recycled materials, and we know where we'll recycle it after it's over.
important to know where we find it, where it ends up.

katie: this week, we'll id sites and issues. about forming groups

blaine: groups will be informed by site research. as you post findings on blog, issues will emerge. observations such as how people congregate and chat, how can interventions be designed will emerge, then groups and concepts could form around those. or, could do it arbitrarily just to move ahead.

jb: different disciplines work together and have to sort things out, that could be fruitful. if drawn to that rec form interdisciplinary teams.

barrett: bushwaflle: do you want us to rally around bw or concepts, materials, or is it more open ended?

jb: bw just one type of sort of thing we're working on, has more history, has design issues to refine. we're looking at it as something we bring to the week. we may not even make more, may do different things. we don't want you to just focus on our project or our idea, but want you to have freedom to think on it, you can participate with bw or own your own idea. we'll work alongside you on bushwaffle but also with your own ideas.

blaine: bw's current design has shape that allows us to do 2D tesselations. joined together using grommets, has components that allow you to assemble clusters of objects in spaces. just begun to address formal characteristics of bw...if someone has good 3D modeling skills could look at alternate shapes so we could address 3D tesselations to construct larger aggregate shapes.
if someone has a particular interest in that, parametric modeling stuff, would be great.

ricardo: would be helpful to find site for bw?

blaine: yes, helpful if site research covers this, scope it out.

katie: about rain or sun exposure a problem?

jb: bw is all weather outdoor device...used in water, on asphalt, in rain...bring it on.

katie: anything crucial about public space or past of public space we should look at?

jb: not sure you can do a lot of research on that topic, we posted some things to look at on blog. in every space there is a set of unwritten social codes that goven behavior. in the next couple of weeks develop a new set of eyes, become good watchers, keen observers, let observations inform design ideas.

blaine: observe how people respond to dif. physical environments, how they discourage, encourage behavior, how spaces reinforce this.

research sites this coming week, pics, notes, materials

post on blog with design ideas, post solutions to other posts

wait to form groups until info comes in

Rebargroup: Chris Gassaway

this is a site that has good potential for intervention...

it located on an important route through campus between the east side and the central msc area...

though this space has multiple benches i never see anyone sitting on them... just lots of people walking past them

also the space is limited to foot traffic due to the steps up and down out of the space

i'm not sure of exact things to do with this site but slowing people down , getting them to sit, or disturbing their bee-line paths seems like the most obvious interventions...

also on the campus map this space is labeled as #19

March 8, 2009

Seed Post Update: Chris Gassaway

just to update... the "sustainable" seed post is starting to see significant growth... but with the growth problems with the design have been revealed...

in area 1 the bermuda grass has started to grow and is uninhibited by the lace

in area 2 wildflower seeds have started to sprout but the leaves are too big to push through the lace

in area 3 wildflower seeds have managed to push through

so in hindsight maybe wildflowers were not the best idea for this iteration of the seed post

but on a positive note... the catch basin at the bottom seems to be working well and the twine core has managed to wick the water more than halfway up the seed post