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Long Nguyen

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Heading out to do a case study on Miracle Mile was one of my unforgettable moments in first year studio.  One thing I regretted not doing while I was there was to experience different architectural exhibits near Museum Row.  Last Saturday, I felt the need to complete my Wilshire experience by going to LACMA and the MAK center.  My first stop was at the Mackey Garage Top, to see Sommer and Denari’s ‘Smooth Matter’ exhibit.  To my surprise, the exhibit was located on top of a makeshift garage behind the main building.  I made my way up the flight of stairs and the first thing that caught my eye was a glass panel that resembled something like a spider web.  At closer inspection, I notice that there are layers of fine lines encased in the glass.  I was first confused at what appeared to be splotches and lines but after reading the pamphlet, I realize that these portraits were 2D representations of landforms.  What impressed me was how Sommer was able to translate these chaotic ‘freeform’ panels into actual topological landforms using NURBS, a type of computer modeling.   At the center of the gallery, you can see a model that represents a smoothened ‘Oceanic Surface’ arising from the chaos of conflicting vectors.  My thoughts after seeing this exhibit was seeing connections between the artist’s renditions of freeform surface art to our concept of datum plane manipulations.

On the second part of my trip I went down the street towards LACMA to visit the contemporary art gallery.  I made it my way through top floor of the where I saw the first exhibit ‘Think Pink’, by Stephen Prina.  The furniture displayed in the gallery are actually replicas of Schindler designed furniture, but every piece was painted entirely pink.  This reminded me of the pink benches and chairs I saw in Grand Park in a field trip a few weeks earlier.  Pink furniture stuck out prominently as figures against the white background, which I thought was part of the artist’s statement.  Another exhibit that I liked was Chris Burden’s ‘Metropolis II’ – a hot wheels inspired cityscape of epic proportions.  Its complex traffic circulation is modeled after LA.  Upon closer inspection of model, one can fight odds and ends of just about anything including mosques and a miniature Eiffel Tower.  My final exhibit led me Richard Serra’s ‘Band’, which was a large structure that curves throughout the room.  I realized how an architect can make several spaces just by using one continuous line.  It was fun following the wall that led you ‘in and out’ of the large spaces.  My trip to LACMA and the MAK Center was worth the experience because it taught me how to appreciate not only architectural work, but I saw how fine art can influence great structures through color and form.

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Herzog & De Meuron is a world-renowned Swiss architecture firm founded in 1978. Known for their works such as the Bird’s Nest Stadium in China and Tate Modern art gallery, their style of architecture can be described as modern minimalist.  The firm made their first debut in the United States by designing the Dominus Winery situated in Napa Valley.  Clients commissioned Herzog & De Meuron to design the winery because of the fact that architecture firm had knew and respected the traditions of wine making.  Herzog & De Meuron is also known to pay attention to surface material and design throughout much of their works around the world.

The concept of the winery is to integrate the surrounding landscape with the natural ecological materials of the façade of the building.  This was done by gathering local basalt rock from nearby canyons, and binding them with steel wires to create a gabion exterior.  The lack of mortar used in this project is one of the key features of the winery for that it allows natural light to breach through the building as well as providing transparency between what is inside and outside.  The basalt rocks also play a role in insulating the building from the hot, arid weather during the daytime and allow heat to dissipate during the night time, which is practical and crucial to brewing and storing wine.  These elements along with the simplicity of the building’s shape make the Dominus Winery exemplary of a building blending to its landscape.

De Admiraal

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Image Source: Urban Landscape

Designer/Year Built: Delta Vorm Groep 2002

Gravel is being extruded by steel casts containing evergreen shrubs to reveal the courtyard’s focal elements.

Military Cemetery

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Image Source: Visionary Gardens

Designer/Year Built: Dieter Oesterlen & Walter Rossow 1969

A recreation of a fort on top of a hill with contouring walls and stones commemorating deceased soldiers.

Berggarten in Graz

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Image Source: Visionary Gardens

Designer/Year Built: Kienast Vogt Partner 2000

Pyramid mounds are being exposed in a symmetrical fashion as reflected on water.

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For my field trip alternative assignment I headed down to San Pedro where I took a trip seeing various landmarks.  One distinct landmark apart from the ports and Victorian buildings of San Pedro was a monument that stood out on the cliff side. It was 8 in the morning when I stepped out of the car and walked up the pathway leading to the structure housing the bell. The setting was very quiet with the sound of distant waves crashing the earth. There were only a few people walking along the beach and walking theire dogs.  The mood became more sober as I encroached southward towards the main monument.  Well kept plants were aligned along the path showing perfect symmetry with the landscape and the building.  Then all of a sudden I was dazzled by bright colors of decorated rooftops and at the center was a massive immovable metal dome.  At an angle the protruding rafters on the rooftop were colorful, yet intimidating.  This reminds me of a time when I visited the pagoda near Hacienda Hacienda heights.  I remembered looking upward tall red columns with intricate artwork along the ceilings.  There were more stone slabs with foreign symbols written on them.  I really didn’t know whether it is was a list of names commemorating people or writing that shows Korea’s friendship with the United Sates.  All I know was that this was a place to pay homage to. Its tranquil, yet sober theme was splendid due to its site and orientation with coast.

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REVISED:

Blog Post #3:

Chronological:

For my figure ground study, I chose to go to San Pedro to observe the Korean Friendship bell.  This particular landmark interests me because of its location and architectural features. At 8 am I headed out to the San Pedro peninsula.   The early sunshine gave just the right amount of light for taking pictures.   As I pulled into Angel Gate Park, I realized that the weather was more cloudy and windy than I expected, which made it more difficult to get a good shot.  Still, I admired the tranquil surrounding around me.  That’s why I was compelled to explore the surroundings as part of my study.

I then began to approach southward to the concrete pavement that led directly to the interior of the monument.  Along the walk I noticed how the shrubs bushes and the pillars are set to be axial to one another.  It immediately made me think of symmetry as a fitting lexicon theme.   I snapped a photo and walked towards the main structure.  I stopped short of the steps at about ten feet away and was dazzled by the sight of warm colors of the pillars and rafters contrasted by the pale sky.  A massive metal bell stood at the center about 8 feet high.  It was amazing to see its intricate casting and I wondered how they managed to attach the piece on top of the ceiling joists.  I took a series of pictures of the interior and exterior of the monument including some of the plaques that lay on the ground.  The back entry led straight to the beach where I managed to capture a panoramic view of the coastal cliff side.  I concluded my visit at about 9 am with a walk along the beach.

Blog Post #4

Thematic:

For my figure ground study, I decided to visit a well-known landmark in San Pedro, the Korean Friendship Bell.  While there are other museums and landmark in San Pedro, I think the open landscape of the site reveals more of the beauty of the coastal peninsula.  Upon entering the port city, I can say that that there is a big difference in the weather.  The cloudy morning skies and chilly breezes made it harder to capture pictures though I took it as an advantage in capturing the Friendship bell in a different light.

The Korean Frienship Bell is actually stationed at Angel Gate Park.  I was taken in at the tranquil, remote setting where sounds of ocean waves and seagulls crying brought back memories of walking by the beachside.  The pathway towards the steps of the monument included bright flowers and neatly sculpted bushes in symmetry of the walk path.  A lexicon word that came to my mind of this theme was symmetry, a feature well applied in Oriental architecture and landscaping.  The pictures I captured included a walkway and a panoramic view of the coast.

The monument was even more magnificent closer up.  The interior was much more ‘showy’ than the exterior of the structure.  While it is located in a pastoral setting, vibrant colors on the painted wood provided a steep contrast with the gray sky.  Visitors, I believe, are supposed to walk around the bell and look at the intricate works of the pillars and ceiling which were adorned with animals and inscriptions. An observation I found was that there are 12 pillars surrounding the structure, each with its unique artwork.  It would make reasonable sense that the concept of this building is attributed to astrology.  In any case, I regretted not being able to read Korean Language but what made the trip worthwhile was to have a taste of Korean architecture while enjoying the serene landscape.