Saturday, February 9, 2008

The "Abstract" to my research paper

I would like to slow the mass production of houses across the U.S., however, I want to focus on the city in which I live. Or at least make people aware of option of getting an architect for the design of their home. Generally people buy & build houses that are the master plan from a developer. People live in houses that are mass produced (in this fast paced world that we now live in) from a developer who is making a huge profit(okay, some architects do it too) rather than caring about the individual or family who buys these houses and their unique needs. In this paper I would like to study the cost comparisons on the standard mass production house compared to hiring an architect. Sure, I could live a mass produced house, I do, I am renting and this old house is good enough for our family to get buy, don’t get me wrong, there are many things that I would love to change about this house. I can only imagine how many other feel about their homes in one of these developments where all the houses sit at the same distance from the street the only real choice they made about the house was: what color should the stucco be, tan or brown? These houses are bland and look the same and are void of almost any architectural details.I would like to show in this argument that choosing an architect (even if it is for consulting) would improve and enhance the way people live in and experience their homes, and our overall view of suburbia, and just plain improve our environment by choosing more sustainable options and smaller home footprints.. However, I have not been able to prove that at this point, I have found this topic to be frustrating and very sensitive to people.

I have to end, my thirty minutes is up.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Research Topic

Hello Everyone,

I hope you all made it home safely. My luggage didn't make it until just a few hours ago. I thought the airport security was going to taze me, because they did not check my luggage all the way through to Salt Lake City, so I had to get off in San Fransisco and run and grab my bags and recheck them and go through security again. To make things worse I had lost my drivers license on the way out to Boston, however, I have a British license that they accepted. Any way it is great to be home. People at work asked how it was and my words could not explain the intensity and learning leap that took place. I wonder what all of you are doing, and I laugh when I think about our great group of people, and can't help but think that it was not a coincidence that all of us came into this program at the same time. (too deep)


Here goes. This paper, I hope, is just what you asked for, a rough draft! My topic of research is in the form of a question, a question in which Herb brought to my attention. My question is: Do people (particularly in Salt Lake City) look at housing as a consumer product vs. a place where dwelling occurs (which is unique to each person and family)? In Salt Lake City, UT as in many other states across the country, repetition has been occurring in urban sprawl. The repetition takes place in the form and function of houses, Houses in which we see a mass production of, as if humans were all the same. I am curious to know if the repetition is just a consequence of what happened after World War 2 and the baby boomer generation. Are the homes just a reflection of local political paramount by mandatory conformity to zoning and building codes? Are homes owners just buying a floor plan to use because it relieves them from making any possible future difficult questions?

I would also like to explore an idea that I thought could be plausible, that the general public who already owns homes or are about to, may not be educated about their options as far as designing a home goes. Do they know that there are Architects who came meet their needs? Or maybe they do know that they could have an architect design their home but feel that it may be to expensive? Is there a marketing Issue, in which architects do not advertise for some reason? All of these questions are driving me into this topic, it is something I find very interesting and would love find out. Perhaps there is a way to get architects more involved in residential projects, which in my opinion is the most important of all, where families spend time together.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Landscape Taste as a Symbol of Group Identity

The central thesis in this argument claims that socioeconomic status between two different groups is indicated in the type of landscape they display. James Duncan Jr. also claims that “one should be, therefore able to identify different socioeconomic groups on the basis residential landscapes.”

This argument is very evident throughout the U.S. and England. I have always noticed that the landscapes of those who are perceived to well off are similar to each other in that thier landscapes seam to say “look at me, this is my status, this is how I perceive my self to be.”

I also found it interesting that the so called “Alpha” area had a deep desire to live the pastoral lifestyle. The pastoral lifestyle to them meant keeping everything as close to the original as possible. Change, is a word I will use to describe why I think it is hard for people to let “newcomers” enter, in fear of changing what they had come to love. I totally agree with the “Alpha’s” position in this case. That is not to say I don’t recognize the “newcomers” position either.

I live in Salt Lake City, Utah and currently reside on the East side of the valley on the bench of the Wasatch mountains. The Salt Lake Valley has a mammoth segregation with a fine line of demarcation running from the North to the South. The West side of the valley is looked upon as the lower economic status faction, and the East side is looked at as a more affluent economic group. The same thing is happening in Salt Lake City that is happening in this argument; it may not be as abrupt but it is evident. There is no pastoral lifestyle left in Salt Lake City but what is hear now is protected by the ancestry of those who may have had a pastoral bliss at one moment in time. The neighborhood that we are living in now is riddled with members of the same families that have lived hear for generations, they may not all have the same Landscape but they probably should, at least for James's sake.

What I am trying to say is this; whenever you have groups of people with different opinions on how we should experience or live life there is going to segregation I am not saying that segregation is right, it just seems to be the response that people have as a way of protecting what they believe is right and good. I believe that everyone has a God given right to pursue happiness in this life, however, if in that process we make someone else’s life less meaningful or happy then I believe it would be impossible for us to happy. No matter where we live or regardless of or socioeconomic status we should never trod anyone under our feet because of their economic status.

This was a great reading; if I was to apply it to myself I would say that I am definitely not living in the “Alpha” or the “Beta” but somewhere in Omega, if I wanted to change my status I know it will start with the landscaping.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Susan Bickford Paper

This was a very interesting argument written by Susan Bickford. Susan argues that architecture (particularly contemporary architecture) is a tool used to create segregation, or physical separation of upper and middle class whites from various poor minority groups.

Susan argues that architecture is used to "purify" the public spaces from fear and uncertainty, and this happens because people in political positions belong to the majority of peoples and not the minority. These political leaders then are not exposed to the full spectrum of opinions and experiences that belong in their own community and then approve projects or push forward with gentrification of ghettos and tightly discriminating security systems that further this physical separation. Basically what she is saying is that contemporary design(post world war) has forced this separation because suburban sprawl and gated communities are growing more and more popular and affordable still today, we as members of the human family, are not mixing together and communicating as we could be in order for all of us to have a more diverse and open minded opinion, we have lost "the meaning of the public life". This separation and racist attitude , Susan argues is supported by institutional policies such as the the 1968 fair housing act for example.

The danger in this is shared by both sides according to Susan, "what we all risk losing in building up the worldly artifice in this way is the possibility of a democratic public realm, one that depends on the presence of a multiplicity of perceiving and perceived others."

Susan suggests a solution that begins with the re-structuring of political institutions in which important decisions are made about how to govern the way citizens experience each other. She also suggests that "the built environment can cultivate or eradicate that specific stranger like recognition that is central to the possibility of democratic politics in a diverse and unequal polity."

I agree with Susan to some extent on these issues, especially thinking critically about how we as future designers of the "public" can include or exclude by creating physical boundaries or gentrification of the so called "ghetto's". I think that gated communities are ridiculous, however, having children of my own I can see how families would want to separate their children from experiencing the "ghetto" or high crime area's, or moving to a more secluded suburb to keep their children out of trouble. Personally, I think their should be change on both sides for us to move out of such racists attitudes and indirect institutional endorsement of segregation.

Curtis Bingham