So the NJSoA finally got itself a new website. It's good, if a tad corporate. Our old website was, I believe, from around the time when people still thought animated GIF's were cool. The nice thing is, it actually features current student work, so prospective students can see all the fun we're having. It's also a flash page, which I guess is the fad at the moment. If you have a minute to check it out, please do. (It won't resize your browser window, I promise!)
As the title of the entry suggests, I'm writing this on a rather muggy Sunday afternoon, sitting in my home studio space (a door on two sawhorses in a spare bedroom). The start of the new term is looming ahead, a week from this Tuesday.
As of now, I have only one of the 5 syllabi for the Comprehensive studios in my possession, so it's still too early to make a decision in terms of which critic to choose. NJSoA(NJIT) doesn't do Thesis year, as most schools seem to, we instead have a year of what are known as the Comprehensive Studios. These studios, consisting of Pre-Comp and Comp, are supposed to be the ones where you integrate all of your accumulated knowledge from 4 years of undergrad into one ultimate project, realizing everything from conceptual design, to programming, to systems integration and structural design. Accompanying these studios in the upper level curriculum are the Options Studios, where more complex ideas and projects can be developed without needing to worry about the demanding requirements of the Comp Studios.
Along with Comp studio, I'm also taking two arch. electives, "Spaces of Display" and "Cinematic Literacy for Architects". Cinematic Literacy, taught by Kim DeFreitas, should be rather interesting, as it focuses on film making techniques, with the ultimate goal being the complete production of a short film. It remains to be seen if there will be enough time in the day to fit 16 credits into comp semester, but we shall see. It's always easy to be optimistic when you're on this side of the fence.
Enough about the upcoming term, let's take a quick look back into what was the busiest summer I've ever experienced.
It's mid May 2008, and I'm just wrapping up my Pre-Comp studio work, getting ready for the upcoming Charette leading up to final. My critic approaches myself and two friends, informing us that a friend of his is working on a project in Manhattan, that will involve some plywood cutting on our CNC Router. We agree to meet this friend, who turns out to be Douglas Gauthier, working on the MoMA Home Delivery exhibit. We're informed that we'll be cutting 80 sheets of 5/8" and 3/4" plywood for the Burst*008 house. Completely psyched to be working on a project of this caliber, we all accept the job on the spot.
Around the same time, I receive a phone call from the firm I worked for last summer, RMJM Hillier, asking if I would like to return for another summer internship. I had a few tentative offers in Manhattan for the summer, but with a guaranteed position, a pay raise and other perks, I'd be stupid not to accept, right? I took the job.
Term ends, and still no word on the Burst house plywood. The start of my summer job is looming, and we have no clue when the plywood is going to be delivered. One day, out of the blue, I get a phone call from the construction management company, saying that they plywood will be there within the next few days. After a few hours of playing phone tag between my professor, the Project Architect at Douglas' office, the lumberyard and the construction managers, we agree on a Friday afternoon delivery.
Friday comes, and I arrive at school and meet the delivery truck. It should be noted at this point that we have a loading dock in the Architecture building, and had arranged to have the plywood delivered there. At some point along the line, someone must have assumed that "loading dock" meant "forklift", because the truck that arrived was not, as I had assumed, the style that tips the lumber off and then drives away, rather the kind with the canvas sides that requires a forklift (or about 4 people, not including the driver) to unload the 30 sheets of 3/4 ply. As it's just me at school at the moment, we have to reschedule the delivery for Tuesday (it was memorial day weekend).
Long short of it, the plywood is delivered, no hitches, on Tuesday, and we get down to cutting. We finished the first batch quickly, and by Friday are ready for more wood. This is delivered on Monday, and we continue to cut, no problems. Then, the router freezes when moving up along the Z axis. We reset, it runs fine for 30 seconds, then freezes again. We figure it's just a greasing issue, and grease the hell out of the rails. No go. We disassemble the entire Z axis assembly and de-grease the rails, bearings and guide blocks and put it back together. Still no go. Precix tech support tells us it's probably the motor, and a new one will cost 900 bucks and take 2 weeks to be shipped from British Columbia. My professor calls the company that makes the motor directly, and we get the exact same part for 450. We're back in business.
It's now June, and we're making slow progress through the current stack of 80 sheets, when I receive a phone call from the Project Architect. The SIPS panels that are supposed to make up the interior walls are impossible to cut using the tools that the factory has, so they're not going to work. They decide to use stud walls and standard plywood, which adds another 60 sheets to our itinerary. At this point, I'm well into my summer job, working days in Princeton and commuting to Newark at night, working 7pm to 2am, going home, sleeping for 4 hours, and repeating. It's taking it's toll.
It's July, and the opening is scheduled for the 15th. We're now up to a whopping 210 sheets (for those keeping count, that's 140 over the original estimate). The cutting is done, the router is cleaned and the floor is swept. We generated 30 large contractor bags full of sawdust from this project, so if anyone has a need for plywood dust, let me know and I'm willing to let it go cheap. We attended the opening party, had a blast, got our obligatory pats on the back and that was that. I wish I had some pictures of the cutting and party to post but I was a tad preoccupied at the time.
I think that's enough for a first entry. Prizes for everyone who read the whole thing. Look forward to more elongated rants, tales of woe with regard to Digital Fabrication equipment, Studio updates and maybe a short film or two.