Please hold on, please set luggage cart break to on. (SFO)
T-27 days until I leave Virginia, I thought I would get a jump on the school blog. The past two months have been a whirlwind of travel and exploration, visiting potential grad schools, job interviews, a wedding, a funeral, goodbyes, hellos. Finally it is all settling down before Alexandra (My Other) and Fox (Our Dog) and I, hit the road for a 3000 mile trek.
About Me :
I had a tumultous undergraduate experience resulting in attending four different schools for various lengths of time and hopping majors from Law to Psychology to Art to Art History and finally, to Architecture. I have retained an interest in all of these fields and maintain that they are all integral parts of a solid design education. I ended up graduating in 2008 from UMass Amherst with a BFA in Design.
After undergrad, I found a job with a mid-sized firm in Southeastern Virginia formerly known as CMSS Architects. I started working the day Lehman Brothers collapsed (meltdown Monday), and the first round of layoffs began the week afterwards. I braced myself for being let go, but after losing more than 75% of the 110 original staff members, closing two offices and ultimately being acquired by an engineering company, I remain gainfully employed. The company was firmly planted in the Commercial sector producing some very successful New Urbanist schemes, and lost funding on key projects quickly.
During the two years I spent in Virginia I found a great community (Ghent) within Norfolk where a great deal of effort is being spent on revitalizing the urban core. I learned to appreciate the construction methods and techniques of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and studied tectonics and detailing. I wrote Architectural Criticism in a local journal which resulted in a building being tastefully refinished to integrate more with the historical precedent established in the neighborhood.
I have several key areas of interest that I am aiming to distill into one focus in my time at Berkeley. I am primarily interested in quantifying issues of architectural comfort so that elements of design such as daylighting and quality of material are retained as long term investments instead of value-engineered out to satisfy short-term economic goals. I am especially interested in strong 'boundary conditions' like old and new, public and private, rich and poor, and how architects have succesfully resolved those conditions.
In an effort to better understand issues of design and comfort, I have been focusing on Environmental Psychology and Neuroscience. There is currently a strong push in the Healthcare Architecture field that has been called 'Evidence Based Design' to provide a higher degree of authority for design decisions. This is facilitated by a combination of research, experimentation, and especially 'post-occupancy evaluations' which survey the end-users of a building. I will be spending this summer in Newport Beach, CA working for a firm that specializes in Evidence Based Design.
I look forward to maintaining this school blog over the next two years as I document my Masters of Architecture! Thanks for reading - M.
Architecture Research Lab specializes in design and construction technology and is located in Berkeley, California - www.archresearchlab.com