Category Archives: Reflection Notes

Giorgia Aquilar: Evolutionary Landscapes in the age of imperfection

On Wednesday night, 2015 A.E. Bye Fellow Giorgia Aquilar gave us a very interesting lecture on evolutionary landscapes. The lecture was very informative because Giorgia introduced A.E Bye’s ideas in a very organized way and explained them clearly.

Mr. Bye is a great landscape architect who managed to develop landscape design in a natural and artistic way. I was really impressed by some of his concept because I find them making lots of sense in architecture as well: Bye thinks that landscape is alive and is in motion. He always took natural and human conditions as the universal principles. In his design, he fully respected the landscape heritage: he chose native plants in priority and thought about all of the phenomena of nature. This makes me thinking about the site analysis and material using in architecture. In my second year, we designed a weaver’s dwelling. The site is in Bald Eagle Park. The plants on the site change condition with the season and the river dries for few months every year.”  I considered these characters as a benefit of doing something “site specific”, I used the pattern of the forest on my facades and built a dam in order to keep the water during drought period. However, when looking back after this lecture, I figured that things could have been better if the aim was to respect the site. Instead of deliberately changing the condition of the site,  I could have used the wood from the site and develop the arid area into a wetland.

One thing I cannot totally agree with is that Giorgia mentioned that “unlike architecture, landscape is always evolving, the project is never completed”. From my point of view, architecture is evolving as well, however, it happens in a longer period among varies of buildings. It has its growth and motion in an artificial way. As an art of regret, architecture is always improved from the imperfection of former projects. Maybe in the future,when architecture and landscape become as coherent as mentioned in Biophilic Design, with full respect towards the nature, we will observe an even stronger growth on both of the areas.

Semiotics 1- Architecture and its Interpretation: A Study of Expressive Systems in Architecture

The main idea to this reading is that the meaning of architecture lies in the interpretations of the individual. Meanings can be formulated from complex things such as cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs to smaller personal ideals such as upbringing and favorite color. These meanings and interpretations vary from person to person and are no longer controlled by the architect or architecture. After the design and construction process, the interpretation is in the individuals hands. But, just because the meaning lies within the individual does not mean that concept and the architects meaning should be disregarded.

Semiotics is a complex system of signals and indexes. Signals are deliberately produced for the purpose of communicating and also so that the interpreter knows that it is used to communicate. Indexes are not used purposefully to communicate an idea. They are preconceived ideas of signals. In addition to signals and indexes there are intentional indexes. They are signals that are not recognized by the interceptor. Pseudo-signals are the interpreters view of a signal, whether is actually is or not. All of these things combined make up the basic of semiotics.

This is important to architecture because at the end of the day, the concept you create as an architect many not be apparent to the people that view your work. The individual has the ability to see what they want within the work. It is still important to have a concept to drive the project through the design process, but it is important to realize that not everyone will see the project as the designer did upon creation. Design should encompass the concept as well as the user and the function of the building. This is something that we should all keep in mind as architects, as the interpretations that we perceive will rarely come true.

If one were to use the Stuckeman Family Building as an example, one thing the architect may have used as a concept is an open floor plan to allow for integration between fields and years as well as leaving everything exposed to be used as learning tools. In addition, one side of the facade is the classical Penn State look using brick and the other is cooper to push the boundaries as architecture often does. A student using the building may interpret part of this building as a view corridor that does not lead to a view that is worthy of such a strong condition. This interpretation could be categorized as an intentional index. Another interpretation that the student might make is that the open spaces are not always conducive to a traditional learning environment.

Overall this reading challenged our ability to analysis architecture writing. But upon further examination, the ideas hidden within this excerpt can apply to our education now as well as to our professional careers. Although this was a difficult reading to understand, we now have a greater understanding on how to interpret an architects concept or meaning of a built from whether intended or not.

Slide show Link:

Photo Citation:

Sept. 13 Reflection Notes:

Why we build. in The Edifice Complex

The very beginning of this reading it stated how architects build to be simultaneously both modern and respectfully rooted in the past,” but are we really doing that? I mean look at our site for our studio project. We are located in a historically industrial area of Brooklyn, NY but we know that the city is proposing to have new urban parks and even new residential/commercial high-rises built. So are the architects of those new proposals really taking in to account the history of the area? I don’ believe so, and I believe that they necessarily shouldn’t. We build for today and for our future not for the past.

Architecture is built to be used as a language of what is going on today. As read, architects build to show that their country is the most up to date regarding technologies, building materials, etc. We build to show off what we know and what other other countries don’t know. Architecture becomes a metaphorical means for political, social and economic issues of today. Now whether everyday people know what the true meaning of the built architecture is is another story. I don’t believe someone walking on the streets understands the conceptual/metaphorical thought behind any building. The only people that know are the architect of that building and the person who commissioned that project.

Generally, the people who want to use architecture as a means of propaganda are those who have the money to do so, and those who have the money to do so typically have the power. A lot of things are a money and political game. I find it extremely interesting how architecture falls into the money and political game more often than not. Architecture can and is used to control people by shaping the way we live. So ultimately do we build to control people and their lives? Who actually builds, the architect or the commissioner?


Power. in Framing Places: Mediating power in built form, 2nd ed.

Architecture is intertwined with power. Even in the other reading, architecture is essentially built for the wealthy and by the wealthy. While reading this I felt as though having the power to build and design with the imagination is a negative thing. By using the words such as manipulation and coercion which typically have these negative connotations make it seem as though architects are bad people. We “force” people into our own imaginations for the spaces we create by convincing them through words and promising images of the space.

No matter what, power will always be around us. Weather it’s the power of the commissioner telling the architect what they want, or the power of the architect designing the specific space, the users of that space are subject to the power of the architect and he commissioner.

I don’t agree with the fact that we manipulate, coerce,  or seduce the audience we build for. We should be giving them architecture that fits their needs and not the needs of the person with the power, or the most money.


Style Guide

This page gives you guidance on how to use the site, and how your posts can be most legible.

Using this Website

  1. Begin by editing your Sites at Penn State profile:
    • After logging into this website in the top left corner, find your PSU ID in the top right corner. Roll over it and select “Edit my Profile”.
    • Complete the Name field.
    • Upload a fairly recognizable photo/headshot of yourself.
  2. Engage Proofreading for your posts:
    • After logging in to this website, go to your Dashboard. Under Users/Your Profile, there is a list of Proofreading tools. Please begin the semester by selecting all of them.
    • You do not have to follow all of the recommendations of the proofreader when you post. However, it is a powerful instruction device regarding common writing errors and better writing style.
    • At the bottom of the Proofreading list, there is an opportunity to include “exception” terms in the dictionary, such as LEED, Bonta, Eisenman, etc. that you may use a lot, but are not recognized by the Proofreading dictionary. Feel free to add words liberally to this list.

Where to Post What

  1. Your reflection notes should go in the Comment section of either (a) the Blog Post by the presenters, available one week in advance or (b) a particular Event that is DUE if the blog post is not available.
  2. Your writing assignments should be new Blog Posts.
  3. Your theory presentation should include:
    • a new Blog Post regarding the reading, including the questions you have for the audience, posted one week before your presentation day.
    • by the day before your presentation, include in the blog post a link to your presentation for either playing or download.
    • the blog post should also have a “featured image” as indicated below.

Creating New Blog Posts

  1. I selected the TwentyFourteen WordPress theme, and specs of the components of this theme—including appropriate image sizes—can be found on WordPress’ TwentyFourteen Theme Page here.
  2. Images: Given the visual nature of our profession, you must aim to include relevant visual content with your writing. This should always include a “Featured Image,” which works best in this theme if it is at least 1038 pixels wide. All other images within your post can be whatever size you deem fits with (and within) your message.
    • You must have permission to use your images. I find that going to, entering a search term, then selecting the “Creative Commons only” option under “License” provides you with a host of possibilities for download and (frequently non commercial) use.
    • All images must have a photo credit, and should have an architect credit.
      • For the featured image photo credit, please do so at the bottom of your post & if you can, include a link to the original photo source (as done below). I also make this text light gray and italics before applying the links so that it recedes from your main text.
      • For all other photo credits, please use the “Caption” box available to you when you select or upload your Media. The theme will take care of the formatting.
  3. Give your post an appropriate Title related to the post’s content. Do not include your name or the date or the name of the assignment.
  4. Make use of the Paragraph Styles in your writing. When doing so, realize that you do not need an extra blank line between paragraphs. You can find additional advice on readability here:
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  6. For any Links, please use the link button in the toolbar rather than pasting URLs into your text. URL text reduces the legibility of your work. This linking applies to any bibliographic information that would normally include the URL. We are already working in HTML format, so we don’t need the links written out for us.
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  8. Select an appropriate Category, and create relevant Tags for your post. If you included a featured image (which you should), include the tag Featured for your post to appear in the top grid of featured posts.
  9. Please use full sentences, appropriate grammar, and spellcheck. Note: Refer to “Using This Website” #2 above.

photo of WU Vienna Teaching Center by HerrWick. Architecture by BUSarchitektur.