Friday, April 22, 2011

tech tip : file-->open

Have you ever tried opening a CAD file and the dialogue box doesnt show up? Instead, CAD asks you for the file path of the file which you are trying to open. THIS CAN BE A REAL PAIN! But don't worry, theres an easy fix! The next time CAD asks you for the file path, simply use the command FILEDIA. Set the command to (1), and your problem is fixed. I find that this command is especially useful after CAD has crashed on me and needs to be restarted.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

effectiveness of work samples

Lately I have been evaluating the success of a series of work samples as opposed to an in depth portfolio. In many cases the best employment opportunities (subjectivity, noted) arise from ASLA Job Link, Archinect or even via Facebook. Many large firms are broadcasting their job openings to a very general, public audience and, thus, are receiving numerous applications. When 100 or 200+ applications come across the desk of whomever will be in charge of short listing applicants, the level of patience this person has to read through a full portfolio naturally decreases over time.

So, using this scenario as a basis for argument, I tend to favor a comprehensive series of work samples that highlight a few projects and a broad range of skills. However, in playing devil's advocate, the portfolio offers a much more in depth look at projects in terms of process and ability to think critically. A portfolio is undoubtedly more powerful in an interview setting when you have the chance to walk someone through your step by step process.

I suppose the big questions for rating the better option are: how powerful is your portfolio when you are not there to explain it? Conversely, how well can you sum up a project in a work sample to illustrate critical thinking and design ability?

And, how do you keep your portfolio under, say, 5mb?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

concept to product

Professional practice demands an intense production schedule and one that heavily favors computer graphics. It's easy to get lost in a world of autoCAD or making numerous curves with the pen tool in illustrator. This has me thinking to remember the importance of a quick hand sketch and the native looseness that can't compare to solely computer generated line work.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

urban park as opposite of refuge

The High Line was recently featured in a National Geographic article that spoke to the notion of a paradigm shift in urban parks. No longer does an urban park need to escape the vernacular of the city and turn its back on infrastructure and urban form. As we all know, this is a shift that will continue long after the hype of the High Line has faded. With so many vacant structures, dilapidated water fronts and under utilized warehouse districts amidst numerous cities around the world, the precedent set by the High Line is one that will constantly be examined and built upon.

I think the most exciting fact about this article is that adaptive reuse is being recognized and the concept of beauty is emerging in what was once ruin. Designers will undoubtedly play a major role in re-envisioning and reconstructing the urban form for years to come - so to see the success and popularity of the High Line continue to grow is only more motivation for what more can be done.

So, in the 21st century, is central park dead?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

a reflection on perfection

Design school has, undeniably, conditioned us to strive for perfection in our work. Juries tend to respond best to the highest quality product, both graphically and conceptually. Top grades are preached as being given only to projects that achieve a certain level of perfection, where doing what is required will simply not suffice. When you add this idea to the fact that studios are a catalyst for competition, it is not surprising that we graduate with the attitude that perfection is the only option. (A quick footnote: we need to be trained in this manner)

Entering professional practice presents a different reality. When you are no longer a student pursuing individual goals, but instead a resource utilized to complete multiple projects efficiently and beautifully, the notion of perfection naturally shifts. Entry level work is initially centered on production and producing a multitude of products for a variety of projects (scale, context, client, design language, etc.). It is possible to put in long hours as one would in a studio in this scenario. However, the responsibilities of the professional designer evolve and you are called upon as more than just a production machine. When responsibilities become more integral to the overall success of a project and eventually multiple projects simultaneously, perfection as we have come to know it cannot be sustained.

Not all projects are competition entries, nor are all projects documented for professional awards. Projects need to be profitable and budgets need to be met. In this case, we have to revise our notion of perfection as has been conditioned in the realm of academics. This is difficult. But, just as we develop a mastery in many practical skills and better understand design, we more quickly achieve beautiful and well thought out concepts, graphics and built work.

Ultimately, the revision is not to settle for less but to push ourselves to continue to learn and, at times, relearn what we have previously been taught. Shifting from academia to professional practice means building upon experience and learning from those who have been in the profession for much longer. When we begin to depart from the idea of perfection (every line just right, every color in perfect harmony or contrast with the next, every tree and shrub perfectly placed) and just put pen to paper, so to speak, we may actually be achieving more beautiful and less restrained design.

Our profession is great in the fact that there is always room to perfect and perfect again - but it is even more interesting to manage that desire for perfection and design without inhibition.

I am interested to hear responses in the form of criticisms, agreements and outright disagreements.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

tourism (in place)

After recently working on a master planning/ visioning project, I have been thinking more about what tourism actually means in relation to place. It is interesting to understand how the two can both help and hinder the progression of the other. If we design for tourism by better exposing and, at times, exploiting the components that create place, this artificiality can deconstruct the exact elements that make it attractive initially. I think the goal is to achieve a mutual balance between generating economic gain through tourism (when a viable option) and maintaining the true character of the people and landscape.

Otherwise we create fabrications of reality that cater to the specific needs and desires of the tourism market/ demographic they attempt to attract. Then years down the road the people that originally made the place special and desirous are long gone and all that is left is a paper thin image of a past reality.