Aug '08 - Jul '09
This is not your average day at the University of Southern California...campus is abuzz, and not just because it is the last full week of classes before Winter Break. My final thesis presentation for the semester is on Friday and I think I am in good shape for it. I would tell you more about it but it's too hard to explain, so I will just try to get it up and running over break, and I'll let you know when I do. In the meantime, let me take you on a tour around campus this morning.
Today we had final presentations in my urbanism class, which meant that people wrote papers and then we tacked them to the wall. (Strange, yes, but I'll get to that in a minute.) Each student in the class was to select one of three topics to study: 1) a traditional city, 2) some portion of Los Angeles, or 3) a city that has urbanized rapidly in the last century or so. Never one to conform, I decided to pursue a topic I have been obsessing over lately - the topic of sustainable cities, or "ecocities". This topic suggestion was well-received, so I was up until the wee hours of the morning carefully crafting my paper into a format that might be presentable on a wall amongst a sea of 96 other papers (mine is the second column of papers from the left). Essentially with such a large class, it was impossible to do individual presentations, so we all stuck our papers on the wall and spoke about them for about a minute each. In the end, it was unconventional, but it worked:
I discussed ecocities from Arcosanti to Portland, from the probably defunct Dongtan to the tiny town of Huangbaiyu. You should really read up on that last one, it's an eye-opener.
Anyway, after class I took a walk around campus for an errand and passed by our statue of Tommy Trojan, which is being diligently guarded all week by an army of undergrads in anticipation of Saturday's football game with UCLA. Every year they wrap Tommy up in a big duct tape "condom", as it were, and they watch over him 24-7. Note the dude sleeping on the loveseat in front.
After having a chuckle over Tommy's Trojan I meandered past the construction site of the new student center (the formal name of which escapes me) next to the existing bookstore, where I discovered that they have the final beam of the structure on display and available for EVERYONE to sign. What a great idea!!! Here's a photo of someone signing the beam in the foreground with the construction and bookstore behind...
...and here's a photo of my signature, which is really less a signature and more an opportunity to show off my architectural handwriting to the university community.
You know, USC seems to catch a lot of flack from outsiders and people who regard it as the "University of Spoiled Children". I can assure you that I'm not spoiled, and when I see stuff like that beam, I'm reminded of how great a community the Trojan family is. (Now if someone could hook me up with a post-graduation job so I can pay off my ample Trojan loans, that would be great, thanks!)