Its been about a week since my last blog but some exciting things have been happening here at Taubman College and on the Central Campus of the University of Michigan.

My most recent excursion south into Central Campus was for the Alumni Center’s Real Life 101 presentation on entrepreneurship.  The company, “Real Time Farms,” is a start up internet venture that enables people to be informed of what local produce and meat is in the meals served at restaurants.  The best aspect of this presentation is their description of their trial and error process.  In essence, it became clear that to start a business, it takes practice.  While the husband was working as a computer programmer for Google, the wife began creating internet companies selling products on EBAY.  A few of these companies were quite ambitious, not necessarily in their monetary power, but in their ability to achieve influence or market share.  For instance, her button company – jewelry made from buttons – became part of shows in New York and professional models actually wore her products. Far from fashion designer, her success hinged on her passion for her work and her ability to sell, using the internet as a tool.  Also of crucial importance is their thought that “if you aren’t embarrassed, then you have waited too long.”  Their point is that you will never be able to get your site or product to the most resolved phase.  At some point, you simply have to start the company.

At the architecture school, this week was mid reviews.  Mid reviews are very interesting and different here.  At Ball State University, at about this time, all the teams for the competitions would be hammering out their final designs and really resolving a lot of the technical challenges of the project.  I appreciated this mode of work and it has become ingrained in the way I present and critique my work.  At University of Michigan, the Mid Reviews is more about presenting the idea and instigating a conversation about the project.  Being a research university, these reviews focus on the manner by which students are addressing new ways of thinking about architecture and its interaction with the world.  During the reviews, precedents and understanding of “where” this fits within design history becomes more visible.

 

This own review for me involved more anxiety than nearly any review I had to present for.  The main reason for this is I geared the presentation towards a particular conversation, per Professor McCullough’s suggestion.  Usually I present everything down to the last nail, which I previously believed “covered all my bases.”  In this case, I intentionally omitted parts of the work, which enabled the conversation to take off in the direction I wanted to direct it towards.  Throughout this week, I learned the importance of communicating clearly and channeling energy and effort.  This ability is necessary in the professional world as well, where opinions and viewpoints of clients need to be focused and directed to particular discussions.

Last night, we heard from Lisa Iwamoto of Iwamoto Scott.  In their practice, installations became part of their testing ground for how architecture positions itself as a discipline.  One interesting aspect of their work is “non-optimization” of form.  In other words, contrary to engineering where forms become optimized as an end goal, Iwamoto Scott uses computation to create non-optimized forms that become de-familiarized.  Their work also explores the relationship between parts to whole.  Although strongly grounded in computation, their work explores particular materials and qualities.  This is an interesting “cross-ground” of work, where their installations are made of a completely physical material but manipulated in a way that could only happened digitally.  As Iwamoto discussed their work, she spoke of  structure being the main hurdle to scaling up these design installations and skins into larger architecture.

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