Sarmen Abedi Masihi

Clover Garden

Finished project: Clover garden. photo taken by Rennie Tang.

I decided to volunteer in the construction of a native garden for the Clover Elementary school in Los Angeles for my Los Angeles event experience blog. On Saturday May 18th I arrived at the school at 8:30 in the morning. After a while we met Gabrielle, who was the designer of the project. She explained everything clearly so we knew what we had to do for the rest of the day. The garden was in front of the 5th grade classrooms. Since this was my first time building a garden project, I was not familiar with the process. After Gabrielle explained the process on her plan, I got a better idea of what we were supposed to do. First we had to spray the garden with two different colors. We sprayed the garden with two colors of orange and blue. After we sprayed the garden based on the plan that Gabrielle gave us, we started digging the blue area and made mounds on the orange sprayed areas. It was a great opportunity for us to learn about construction. Later, we setup the irrigation system and learned the process. High pressure water was used to move the pipe from one side of the garden to the other side from under the asphalt through the soil. Something I never thought about before. After setting up the irrigation, we started planting the plants. Finally, we spread mulch over the entire garden and left a radius of about 1-2 feet free of mulch around the plants so the mulch would not cover the plants. It was around 4:00 in the afternoon when we finished the garden and that was the end of my garden building experience. The process of making the native plant garden was a fun and great learning experience for us. Now I am more familiar with reading the construction plan. Moreover, the garden will give a new look to the school yard and the students at Clover elementary school will be happy with the new landscape on their school yard.


California Academy of SciencesThe California Academy of Sciences, designed by the Italian Pritzker Prize winner architect Renzo Piano is recognized as a building that balances nature and civilization. The Academy is located in Golden Park, San Francisco, California. It looks as if Piano lifted the park ground surface up and pushed the building underneath. There is strong balance between architecture, engineering, and art together with his great knowledge of structure. He mixed the private and public space together by digging into the nature. Also, his interest in technology in addition to his problem solving ideas in architecture is noticeable in his designs.

The Academy of Sciences in California is a great example of a sustainable architecture compared to the old building designed in 1934. $500 million dollars with almost 10 years of work went into this project. The building blends with the surrounding natural environment and is known to be one of the greenest buildings in the world. There is a strong emphasis on sustainability throughout this project. The building consists of different areas.

There is natural light in 90% of the spaces in the museum. The roof of the academy’s lobby is raised as if the room is pumped with air. The landscape outside is visible from the inside through the windows. People can access the huge green roof area from the exhibition halls which shows how the interior and exterior of the building are mixed together. The entire rain water from the green roof gets recycled and re-used for irrigation resulting in less water consumption. Solar panels produce hot water and energy. The thermal insulation as a result of the green roof reduces the need to use air conditioning. Piano used native plants for the green roof in order to reduce the water consumption. The windows are automatically opened to allow cold air in once the inside temperature rises. About 90% of the old building material was recycled; mostly concrete and steel. Denim jeans were used in wall insulations. Moreover, the untreated concrete of the walls and floors shows his emphasis on natural materials.

“Museums are not usually transparent, they are opaque, they are closed. They are like a kingdom of darkness, and you are trapped inside. You don’t see where you are. But here we are in the middle of a beautiful park, Golden Gate Park, so you want to look out and know where you are (Renzo Piano)”.

image source:

Finsbury Avenue Square

IMG_0471The beautiful light pattern design has brought the entire area to a new level with the spectacular light color changes which is a great experience for the public.

  • Maurice Brill, Urban Landscape. 2004.


Light Passageway by Anna Valentina Murch

Light PassagewayThere is a strong relationship between time and the landscape; People in the train will have different experiences during the ride since everything changes in the landscape as time goes by.

  • Designed Landscape Forum, Spacemaker Press. 1993.


The Craigieburn Bypass

The Craiggieburn Bypass

The light rhythm next to the highway follows the drivers, creating both a different and new visual experience for them with its exceptional appearance.

  • Taylor Cullithy Lethlean in collaboration with Robert Owen, Urban Landscape Architecture. 2005.

a great experience

Blog #4: Chronological:

It was a nice sunny weather in San Diego when I arrived to the Salk Institute around 8:10 in the morning. Once the tour started, I became more interested about the institute. We started walking around the institute listening to the interesting information about the Salk Institute and left the institute a few hours later after 12:00. I knew I would come back to this place again.

During the tour I noticed the great choice of the material on both the building and the surrounding area. The concrete work and the stone pavement together with the wooden windows were a great combination. The symmetrical quality of the design was also interesting since it makes the open ocean view area stand out more.

It was past 10 and I noticed how the buildings created a nice shadow on the ground surface. That is when we were told about the water pathway shadow line during the solstices. In order to make an idea like that come alive one must have a strong design capability. Louis Kahn is the architect who designed this remarkable place.

After the sun covered most of the area, I noticed that there are minimum amount of trees in the area. Actually there were no trees in the open courtyard area except next to the entrance door. Later, we were told about the significance of the water design and the open space area. It was designed so perfect that it did not even need any landscape since it is a strong landscape itself.

After the tour was over around noon, I stayed and tried to capture more photos of the site. What I really liked was the water element including the narrow waterway falling in a pool. In my opinion, it made the entire dry concrete color area soft and nice to relax and spend more time there. The Salk Institute the best part of the field trip.



Blog #3 Revised: Thematic:

The field trip to the Salk Institute was an amazing learning experience. It revealed new ideas and interesting information about the design. Although I did not have much information about the Salk institute, I left there as I was fascinated by the amazing design together its purpose.

One thing that I liked about the Salk Institute was the great view of the open space area where the ocean meets the sky. It looks like The narrow water line ends in the ocean. Just the fact that the shadows of the buildings line up on the water path during the solstices was amazing.  It simply shows the prominence of Louis Kahn, the architect of Salk Institute.

In addition, I liked the general purpose of Salk Institute which gives hope to many people. The Polio vaccine saved lives of many people, together with finding the cure for many other diseases.
It was nice that I could see  inside the labs through the windows where the scientists were doing their job. I could see different posters inside the labs which gave me an idea of what the people inside that lab might be working on.

I can think of different meanings and words about the design. One perspective can be seen as  the sky is the limit for finding the cures for different diseases and that everything is done at its highest level at the Salk Institute. However, others might look at it in a different way. The trip was a great opportunity for me to think about the different elements of the design and how Louis Kahn came up with these great ideas back then. I will definitely visit the Salk Institute again.



I knew the field trip was a great opportunity to visit the Salk Institute and I could not miss such a great learning experience. We visited the Salk Institute on the first day during our field trip. I did not have much information about Louis Kahn before actually I arrived at the Institute. I could see inside the labs since they were all made with glass with steel frames. After hearing the story about how the Institute was founded, I wanted to know more. The first thing that caught my attention was the beautiful scenery once I entered the open area in the middle of the institute. It gave me an impression that the surface was ending in the ocean. The water path which cut the institute in half was amazing. It made more sense once we were told about the shadow line on the water pathway during the solstices. It simply shows the prominence of Louis Kahn, the architect of Salk Institute. We stayed there with the rest of the students for a while after the tour was over. However, I was also able to experience the space on my own which was interesting. With only being there for once, I could tell that I will remember everything for a long period of time. It might be the design or just the simplicity of some parts of the design. Most of all, I liked the general purpose of Salk Institute which gives hope to many people. It was just relaxing every time I looked at the end of the open space where it met the sky. I can think of different meanings about the design. It takes away an important meaning for me every time I think about it. It can mean that the sky is the limit for finding the cures for different diseases and that everything is done at its highest level at the Salk Institute.