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Showing posts from March, 2013

Kinne Trip: Part 2

This is part 2 of a multi-part description of my trip to Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan, as part of my Kinne Traveling Fellowship grant through my studio at GSAPP.  You can read the first post here.To see all my photos from Kyoto, visit my Google+ album here.

March 13th

Our second full day in Kyoto. This time we checked out the southern/southeastern part of the city, visiting  Fushimi Inari Taisha (Grand Shrine), Tofuku-ji, and then back in downtown, Nijo-jo (Nijo Castle). Fushimi Inari is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the deity Inari, whose messengers are foxes (kitsune). There were fox statues everywhere! This shrine is the chief shrine to Inari, and is distinctive for its thousands of vermiliontorii, or sacred gates. Torii are present at every Shinto shrine, but here it’s traditional for families and even corporations to donate them, so there are tunnels of torii lining the pathways. The shrine grounds encompass a mountain trail lined with smaller shrines and rest stations. We walked up for…

Book Review: "Abstract"

Every year Columbia GSAPP releases a yearbook of sorts, full of student work from the previous year.  This year's Abstract, designed by Stefan Sagmeister,has been setting the school a-buzz, but not for the usual reasons.  Because this year's Abstract was a decoy.


Inside the flimsy plastic case that resembles a book is... nothing, just a web address spelled out in block letters, like the packaging for some alphabet toy.  The actual Abstract is an electronic-only affair, downloadable from this website, available as an application only for desktop computers (Windows and Mac) and iPads (sorry, Android).  There is no web version.  So far I've only seen a limited preview, since I don't have an iPad, and I don't spend much time at home.  I've heard numerous complaints that the application doesn't work at all, but I hope to find out for myself... eventually.  From what I've seen by looking over the shoulder of someone with an iPad, the app is actually quite ni…

Kinne Trip: Japan!

This spring, all my fellow third-year GSAPPers and I have the privilege of traveling as part of our studio, thanks to the William Kinne travel grant provided by the school.  My studio is traveling to Tokyo, Japan!  The trip traditionally takes place the week before spring break, allowing students to extend their stay in the visited location through their break; my trip is taking place during spring break, this week, so instead we were excused from studio last week and allowed to head out a week early.  Justin came with me, making this our first international vacation together.  We've been having quite an interesting time so far!  I'll try to break up the trip into a few posts.  We started the trip in Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, and home to most of the important sites from Japanese (architectural) history.  After four days there we went to Tokyo, where we are now, and will remain for the rest of the trip.

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March 10-11th

We left Newark at 12:30pm and had an uneventful 14…

"YES IS MORE": Kind of a BIG Deal

I finally finished reading YES IS MORE: An Archicomic on Architectural Evolution (2009), which is the monograph by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) in Denmark (company website).  My overall feeling from reading the book, which is in comic-book format, complete with endless images of Bjarke Ingels himself speaking in speech bubbles, is that it's like watching a train wreck: terrifying and somewhat sickening but you can't look away.  It's organized into a series of apparently chronological chapters, each of which covers one design.  I understand that this book is directed to a general public, not to architects, which accounts for some of the vast oversimplification that occurs in its descriptions of the architectural design process; and that it's a manifesto of sorts, which explains its overly enthusiastic tone and sweeping generalizations.  And yet, there were many points at which I didn't want to continue reading any further, didn't want to look at any more of the en…