Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chronicles of Mexico Studio Spring 2014 - Part 1

Photo by Fernando Garcia

Chronicles of Mexico Studio Spring 2014 - Part 1

This post is one in a three part series chronicling the travels of the Spring 2014 Mexico Studio. The instructor on the trip was Luis Montalvo, Director of Media Arts at the BAC, and the students were: Fernando Garcia, Jose Gonzalez, Marcus Cantu, Marwan Ghabour, Jamaal Siddiqui and Anastasia Lyons.

Day 1: Llegamos en la Oscuridad (We Arrived in Darkness)

After a long flight we land in Guadalajara under the cover of night and immediately head south in a rented van. I was eager to make out as much detail in the dark landscape that we speed by as my tired eyes could manage. After arriving at the Chapala Lake and our hotel, we set out in search of food. By this time most places were closed, but we headed to find a bar in Ajijic that served tacos late into the night. Luis drove the huge van down undulating and narrow cobblestone roads, past buildings whose faces were closed to the street, where old men sat on patios smoking and unnervingly eyed our passing. We spotted a bar with young people outside, sitting on upholstered couches in the open air. The barman replied, si claro!, of course we have tacos- we have pollo con mole (chicken with spicy sauce that has cocoa in it), ranchero beef (slow cooked beef), and cochinita pibil (pulled pork) – the mole is their best, he says. We entered a back room patio that was a half-ruin, whose splintered beams jutted overhead into space. Tall crumbling brick walls led the eye upward towards a ceiling of stars. A DJ was spinning house music, and young people sat on long benches drinking cerveza. It was our first taste of Mexico.

Day 2: El Tema del Viaje es Serendipia (The Theme of the Trip is Serendipity)

I had fallen asleep to the sound of trumpets blaring at a party near our hotel, and awoke early to the sound of a thousand birds singing. I walked to the window barefoot on the cool red tile. What a moment that was, seeing Mexico in the light after so much already experienced in darkness. The Chapala Lake was pristinely beautiful, and the colors -that blue juxtaposed with the butter-yellow walls of the hotel bathed in sunlight- felt like a dream. To state that the concept of color is important in Mexico is radically inadequate. I would soon observe that, in Mexico, color is more deeply significant, more plentiful, and more vibrant than anywhere I had ever been. I will never see color the same way.

After breakfast we were back in the van, listening to playlists burned by Fernando on CDs, and inventing nicknames for each other- DJ Onions. We were headed around the lake to stop by Luis Barragan’s family’s old ranch – the site for the studio’s final design project, and ultimately to the town of Mazamitla. Trekking across a rolling desert landscape; we shared the road with burro drivers and others all terrain vehicles. Up in the mountains, the town of Matzamitla had the feeling of an alpine village. Every building was painted white and red on the bottom, with red and black lettering, and dark wood carved in detail. Our hotel was right on the main plaza across from the church. We had a wonderful lunch prepared for us in the hotel patio, featuring locally made fresh cheese and cactus leaf that we wrapped inside of just made warm tortillas. Afterwards we went to sketch in the plaza.

Photo by Fernando Garcia

And then a remarkable thing happened. I noticed that the dogs were waiting patiently for their owners at the entrance of the church, and peering in I saw that they were holding a funeral mass service. Soon after the final blessing and sprinkling of water, the Mariachi’s struck a chord and the casket was being paraded through the plaza and heading down the road outside of town. The whole town appeared to join the procession, pouring out of doorways, and following the group to the cemetery, as the ten person Mariachi sang all along.

The cemetery is a complex of concrete tombs, layered one on top of the other, some with gaping openings waiting for the casket of the next family member to join this eternal dwelling place. The tombs are festooned with a confectionary like assortment of plastic ribbons, flowers, saintly figurines, images of the virgin and a white-faced savior, all piled up like the leftovers of many parties, the accumulated debris of familial devotion. We stayed in the cemetery with the people of Mazamitla, who leaned unscrupulously on the tombs of others passed, until they sealed up the opening of the dead man’s tomb with brick and mortar. All the while the Mariachi’s played the man’s favorite songs, and the lyrics pleaded that the loved ones not be sad for the dead, because living is harder than heaven.

Photo by Luis Montalvo

After the funeral we returned to the plaza, where the Mariachi band appeared a little later. Everyone played with firecrackers, fart bombs, and sparklers; the young men sang loudly and danced with tequila bottles. The whole world it seemed could spin out from this place, where this small-town ballet keeps everything alive. We ate on the balcony and watched as many couples danced in unison in the night’s cool breeze under a full and waning moon.

Day 3: El Pueblo y La Ciudad (The Village and the City)

The next day we are back on the road to Guadalajara, following Barragan’s life to the place where his first works were constructed. On the way we stop at an even smaller village, called La Manzanilla. It’s Sunday, people are gathered in the plaza, the old men sit, watch the children play games and gripe about each other. On occasion visitors arrive in this quiet town to go to the shrine of the Virgin- a tower and chapel all dressed in pink stucco. They say a miracle occurred here, wherein the Virgin Guadalupe appeared on a piece of slate stone, which now rests on the altar within the shrine surrounded by a display of angelic figurines with weepy eyes. People have left children’s clothing and shoes as well as locks of hair as offerings in prayer with their embroidered messages of gratitude to the Virgin Guadalupe. We enter a hotel run by an old woman who collects sentimental objects, her collection amassed over many years sits under layers of dust – ancient photographs, poor souvenirs and random mementos – and she begs us to buy some, then asks if we’d like to buy the hotel itself.

Photo by Fernando Garcia

There is a little store in this town where Luis says, you can buy anything you need. I buy a hat; we buy confetti, tape, star stickers, shoe polish, candy and big dried corn as chips for playing loteria (Mexican bingo) – our favorite mealtime activity. Then we are back in the van, listening again to Julieta Venegas sing “Eres Para Mi”, and we invent a dance to the Fatback Band’s funky 1980 hit “Backstrokin”.

The Backstroke Banditos arrived to the city of Guadalajara, which is more Spanish-looking and much more cosmopolitan, in the late afternoon. We were tired from the long drive. On the way to the historic center, we get tacos before checking in at the hotel and visiting Joe Clemente Orozco’s famous Hildalgo Mural in the Palacio de Gobierno just a few blocks away. Orozco is one of Mexico’s most famous muralists and a friend of Barragan. Here in the governmental palace he depicts – at an indescribable scale – Miguel Hidalgo, the father of Mexican Independence brandishing a torch at shadowy figures that represent oppression and slavery. In another area Orozco painted an enormous-scale mural of Hidalgo signing the decree to abolish slavery, surrounded by grotesque figures breaking free of their chains. To call these murals, specially the Hidalgo on the stairway, visually arresting is an understatement, Orozco’s expansive murals take up the total of your upward-turned visual space; they dissolve the boundaries of architecture to appear as even larger and deeper than they are. They are so powerful that they threaten to come down from the ceiling and pound your chest into the floor.

Photo by Fernando Garcia

Turning out from the governmental palace onto the plaza, we see the Sunday crowd gathered here too. There is music everywhere in these streets. We join the children who are shooting things that shine and flutter into the evening sky.

Student Summer Project :: Week #10


Student Summer Project :: Week #10

Excited to be done with school for the summer but are looking for something design related to do? Want to keep your drawing skills on point? Do you want to show off how awesome you are? Well here is your chance!  Student Life and BACBlog would like to introduce the brainchild of your fellow student, Courtney Walsworth, the Student Summer Project!

Here's how it works:
  1. Each week this summer (Wednesday morning) there will be a topic/subject given,
  2. Draw what it says,
  3. Submit a picture of your drawing to studentlife@the-bac.edu within 5 days of the post,
  4. Said picture gets posted to the Student Life Facebook page and BACBlog,
  5. People "like" the drawings they like best on Facebook,
  6. You get a chance to win things (gift cards, BAC merch, and more)!
Week #10 Topic:
Design what a house might look like on the planet Mars

DRAW!

Previous Topics
Week 9 - Contour drawing (don't look at your paper)
Week 8 - Study a poorly designed space, call out what makes needs to be improved
Week 7 - Study of structural support
Week 6 - Study of Light and Shade in a space
Week 5 - Human/s interacting with technology
Week 4 - Two point perspective of an exterior space
Week 3 - One point perspective of an interior space
Week 2 - An exterior landscape that you see every day
Week 1 - Single object, add in a call out showing the texture

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Competition :: Space Prize for International Students of Architecture Design


Competition :: Space Prize for International Students of Architecture Design
Registration Deadline - Monday, September 01, 2014

Politicians, social workers and religious leaders worldwide are currently faced with the challenge of finding peaceful solutions to a host of ideological conflicts.

From ancient times to more recent days, the development of architecture has been intrinsically related to ideological and political issues. Architecture is both a useful tool and a powerful art that can be used to send out a message with plentiful expression. The twentieth century, with its tidal wave in the shifting of political, social and economic powers, gave birth to new urban landscapes and architecture in the aftermath of the war. Critical perspectives on the combative and masculine architectural form that now fill our cities, however, have led to diverse attempts to find a new kind of architecture.

As social power shifts towards the public, a reinterpretation of new powers, and the recreation of an expression of authority in architecture is at hand. The political significance of architecture must shift away from the former supportive role of power and ideology.

Changing consciousness through architecture is possible. Sharing and inhabiting a common space means as much as sharing the same ideology and philosophy of life. Can architecture claim its own powerful sense of ownership to peacefully resolve the conflicts of ideology and religion?

Registration and additional information.

Monday, July 28, 2014

To the Members of the Boston Architectural Community


To the Members of the Boston Architectural Community,

After 17 years of dedicated service to the Boston Architectural College, Ted Landsmark is ending his tenure as president. Julia Halevy, our provost, will serve as acting president while we conduct a comprehensive search for a new president. These changes will take effect immediately.

On behalf of all the trustees, I want to extend my gratitude to Ted for nearly two decades of leadership as BAC’s president. After assuming the presidency in 1997, Ted led the transformation of BAC from a center into an accredited college that today offers eight baccalaureate and master’s degree programs. He worked aggressively to expand our educational offerings online, helping make us one of the premier architectural colleges for distance learning in the U.S. and globally.

Ted’s impact goes well beyond the BAC. In 2006, he received the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award from the American Institute of Architects, which recognizes significant contributions in challenging the architectural profession to meet its responsibilities toward current social issues. Ted has long been a leading advocate for strengthening diversity in the architectural profession, and he significantly expanded diversity among the BAC’s faculty and student body.

The Board is talking with Ted about playing a future role at BAC, and we hope to have an announcement about this soon.

Like many higher education institutions, BAC is facing a number of challenges. We need to continue to attract the best students and strengthen our financial operations, while also working on strategies to ensure a strong future for BAC.  We believe that new leadership will help us address these challenges, and we hope to name a new president during the coming academic year.

In the meantime, Julia has graciously agreed to serve as acting president, and I know you will join the Trustees in wishing her well. She has deep experience integrating theory and practice to produce strong educational outcomes. She also knows how to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit that is essential to non-traditional instruction, while meeting and exceeding the requirements of college accrediting bodies.

This year we celebrate the BAC’s 125th anniversary. For 125 years we have worked to build a better world through design. Our commitment and ability to deliver leading-edge design education will put us in good stead for the next 125 years.

Sincerely,

Marc W. Pelletier
Chair, Board of Trustees

Cuba Studio + Seminar Info Session


Cuba Studio + Seminar Info Session
Monday, August 4, 2014 at 7 PM
Fishbowl, 320 Newbury Street

Interested to study in Cuba? The Fall Cuba study abroad studio will count as a 3 credit C1 studio and a History/Theory elective. This meeting will share the course framing, learning outcomes, and answer issues of finances and logistics of travel. Please join us at 7pm on August 4th at
320 Newbury 1st floor conference room if you want to reserve a seat in the Courses!

Contact Kyle.Sturgeon@the-bac.edu to RSVP

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Projects :: Städel Museum Extension


Sunday Projects :: Städel Museum Extension

Firm: Schneider + Schumacher
Project Location: Frankfurt, Germany

The extension to the museum is placed along the central axis reinstating the historic spatial arrangement. The central foyer and all vertical access are remodelled in order to make the whole building wheelchair accessible. The spaces for special exhibitions are located on the ground floor linked directly with the foyer and the new extension. Administration, the Metzler auditorium and the library are relocated to the west wing. The new space below the garden houses the 20th century art collection. This space is dominated by a gently domed, airy ceiling with circular roof lights. The domed ceiling is a prominent feature in the topography of the garden above and resembles a land art object. Due to its compact underground building volume, the type of heating and cooling and the large heat storage capacity create an optimal room climate with minimal energy consumption...

More information and additional images.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Student Services Office Closed 07.23.14


Student Services OfficesClosed 07.23.14

Student Services (Bursar, Financial Aid, Registrar) will be closed Wednesday, July 23, 2014 due to their office relocation. The offices will be available Thursday by phone and email and will open to walk-in traffic on Friday, July 25, 2014.

Student Services new location is the Basement level of 951 Boylston Street accessed by the elevator.

Fall 2014 BAC Studio & Workshop Lottery


Spring 2014 BAC Studio & Workshop Lottery
Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 from 6-7:30 pm
320 Newbury Street, Cascieri Hall, 2nd Floor

Who?
Attending Studio Lottery is required for architecture students selecting Segment II studios or design workshops. If you are taking ARCH 1 or ARCH 2 (New curriculum), this does not apply.

Additionally, please note:
  • Interior Architecture students do not participate.
  • Architecture Foundation Students (Segment I) do not participate
  • Lottery results will be available online the next day, through the Student Life Blog. We will have a quick turnaround between the lottery and registration this year – so Please check the blog first before enrolling in other classes!

What happens at Studio Lottery?
We will briefly discuss the crossovers and course options for classic curriculum students and new curriculum students.

Instructors briefly present their studios and workshops. Students then meet with instructors to determine their top choices. Students complete forms and hand them directly to Kyle Sturgeon or Karen Nelson. The registrar will automatically register students for the assigned studio [if you completed mail-in registration]. Students should not try to drop the course and add another; they will be prevented from adding/changing studios without Kyle’s permission.

*COMPLETED FORMS MUST BE RETURNED TO KYLE STURGEON BY 7:30 PM TO BE CONSIDERED VALID.

How to choose a Core studio or Workshop?

Classic Curriculum
Every architecture student is required to complete (4) Core studios and (1) Workshop in Segment II.  At least one studio must be a C1 and one must be a C2. C1 studios are focused on conceptual production as well as methodological approaches to design and argument, resulting in schematic design proposals.  C2 studios focus on building systems and material assemblies and arrive at a resolved building design proposal. It is strongly recommended that students entering Segment II begin with a C1 studio. Graduate students may elect to take any studio section (even if it is a Bachelor studio); while undergraduates may only take undergraduate studios. Students should balance what interests them with what they need to work on towards a complete portfolio submission.

New Curriculum
Students Who have taken ARCH 1 or ARCH 2 will notice eligible studios cross-referenced as ARCH 3, ARCH 4, or XDS (Advanced Interdisciplinary). These courses satisfy the next studios in your curriculum.

How does the Lottery work?
Lottery is based on Segment II studio seniority. If a student has completed (3) Core Studios, then the student will likely get his/her first or second choice. If a student is taking the first C studio, then the student is not likely to get her first or second choice. After seniority, reasons written why a student wants to study with a particular instructor are considered – please include relevant information to this regard on your selection sheet. Make certain to say so on the lottery preference form. If a student wishes to study with a friend, this should also be included on the sheet.

Missed it?
If you are unable to attend the Fall 2014 Studio Lottery, please contact Director Kyle Sturgeon for information on submitting your studio selections via email. All course descriptions for Segment II studios and workshops will be available by August 2nd online through Self-Service, or via email by contacting Kyle Sturgeon.

Student Summer Project :: Week #9


Student Summer Project :: Week #9

Excited to be done with school for the summer but are looking for something design related to do? Want to keep your drawing skills on point? Do you want to show off how awesome you are? Well here is your chance!  Student Life and BACBlog would like to introduce the brainchild of your fellow student, Courtney Walsworth, the Student Summer Project!

Here's how it works:
  1. Each week this summer (Wednesday morning) there will be a topic/subject given,
  2. Draw what it says,
  3. Submit a picture of your drawing to studentlife@the-bac.edu by the following Sunday,
  4. Said picture gets posted to the Student Life Facebook page and BACBlog,
  5. People "like" the drawings they like best on Facebook,
  6. You get a chance to win things (gift cards, BAC merch, and more)!
Week #9 Topic:
Contour drawing (don't look at your paper)

DRAW!

Previous Topics
Week 8 - Study a poorly designed space, call out what makes needs to be improved
Week 7 - Study of structural support
Week 6 - Study of Light and Shade in a space
Week 5 - Human/s interacting with technology
Week 4 - Two point perspective of an exterior space
Week 3 - One point perspective of an interior space
Week 2 - An exterior landscape that you see every day
Week 1 - Single object, add in a call out showing the texture