UCLA (A Center for Ants?)

  • In reflection

    By A Center for Ants?
    Sep 19, '09 8:17 PM EST

    Wow. I can't believe that it's been almost 3 months since I graduated. In the last 3 months, it's been a roller coaster of emotions in every respect. A ride that I definitely wasn't anticipating when I first got to grad school, but my classmates and I were well aware of the grim reality of the "real world" months before we were to graduate. I have to say, also, that I didn't expect needing a while to recover from school, but the time has been nice. School's sustained intensity and the resulting isolation from the outside world totally shifted my mindset and it's taken a while to adapt to the pace of things. Another thing that I've realized was the amount of independence you have as a student. You're really able to do what you need to do in order to get things done and that kind of freedom is insanely liberating.

    I've been bouncing around LA working for a few firms and doing odd jobs to get by, and consider myself lucky to be still active. However, working FOR someone is a strange sensation that I'm unaccustomed to. I'm on their clock and their time so I have this anxiety of "wasting" time. But it's been getting better and I think I've slowed things down a bit and am readjusting gradually.

    But lets rewind three months back to the crit. The Crit, as mentioned below, was a star studded affair full of egos and everyone vying for a little talk time. It was a terribly difficult thing to manage as I felt like I was peppered with questions and never got a chance to finish answering one before I was bombarded with three more. In the end, I think the finished product wasn't bad but I put myself out of my element in the process of design and ultimately paid a price for trying something new. But I guess that's what school is for right?

    Images from final project, Greg Lynn Studio:

    The drawings don't quite show all the detail as it's been rasterized. But I shall move on.

    I was offered a position as a Jumpstart studio instructor. Jumpstart is UCLA's summer intro to architecture program, much like Harvard's Career Discovery, or SCIARC's Making and Meaning. It was a great chance for me to get to lead a studio again. The last quarter, I was TA'ing for Jason Payne's terminal undergraduate studio and it was a blast. I think the students put out quite a bit of impressive work and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of it. Teaching is really satisfying and I found it incredibly helpful in a reflexive manner. Especially when you deal with students who never have laid their hands on an olfa or ever seen illustrator or AutoCAD before. I've always thought if you really truly understood something extremely well you'd be able to explain it very easily to someone that had no knowledge of it. Not to say that I was a supremely adept instructor , but I looked forward to this opportunity to force myself to think about what I was saying at every moment. Too often we can hide behind a wall of jargon and split hairs, but when "extrude" or "tectonics" cause bewildered looks, you're forced to rethink everything.

    The studio went really well though it was hard to be faced with the fact that several students were just testing the waters of architecture and was a little tough to see when they began to realize architecture just wasn't for them. The hardest thing to do is to teach a student that just isn't interested in the work they're doing. It just feels like a huge waste of your time. So you have to adjust and make certain concessions for the student. Conversely, it was extremely inspiring to see students begin to "click" and start to be able to talk about their projects as designers.

    After that I was lucky enough to land a temporary gig at a professor's firm for a short period of time to help on a competition. The pace was incredibly grueling and going back to working long days and nights was a shock when I was suddenly on someone else's time. No little mental health breaks or taking an hour to run and errand. It was a little disorienting and frustrating and I had a tough time adjusting to the fact that I had literally no time for myself.

    After that wrapped up, I found myself embroiled in a new competition of my own. At least at this point, the competition was under my terms and I felt like I could do what I needed. We entered the Shinkenchiku competition sponsored by JA magazine and judged by Jun Aoki. It was really interesting and we decided to take on a very conceptual approach to the prompt. The competition asked for us to consider the new residence with respect to film and movies. Photography was a major catalyst in the reconsidering of the way architecture was understood and represented, and film has that same potential, especially considering the ease and ubiquity of film/video through the internet now.

    However, we decided to take a contrary approach which said that it wasn't just film, but rather the ease in which ALL raw information could be spread and shared now. Rather than a strict apparatus of knowledge making and legitimization through academia and the newsmedia, we are confronted with the ability to see all the raw information immediately. As a result, knowledge generation is a product of how we as individuals choose to filter the vast quantities of information put before us. I'd go on and on, but I know that this is pretty esoteric stuff. So we proposed that the new architecture wasn't about form or philosophy or theory even. It came down to how we generate what we "know". This filtering process.

    So now we come to today. I found another short term gig at the firm I worked at before I started school. It's a little tough because most of my working experience (and by most, I mean all) has been in everything from the beginning of a project through DD. I've never gotten a chance to see a project through CDs and CA. I think that it's incredibly important experience to have but realize it's going to be tough to get my hands on that now. So right now I'm content doing competitions, RFPs, and short-list proposals.

    Some days I feel incredibly energized by the current state of the market as it provides anyone with talent and dedication an opportunity to really rise up, and other days the bleakness of it all weighs down on me and I feel like I'm not moving forward at all, despite being inspired by school. But I persevere. Most of my classmates are only partially employed or not at all in the industry and its tough to see so many people that work hard and are talented completely stymied. But I remain optimistic and keep plugging forward. I think the most important thing now is to keep the knives sharpened and staying active, whether on my own or with another firm.

    Well that's enough for now. More reflections on school and how I feel coming out of UCLA to come.

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  • Wow, done! (almost)

    By A Center for Ants?
    Jun 11, '09 1:32 AM EST

    This will be a quick one as I'm taking very well to the luxuries of "regular" life. Finals was crazy. Absolutely crazy. Never has it been so drawn out and difficult. It also is amazing how things went considering how little sleep I got. But I'd never want to do it again. Final jury was equally... View full entry

  • Rearranging deck chairs...

    By A Center for Ants?
    Jun 3, '09 12:33 AM EST

    As we hurtle towards our final deadline (friday) I can't help but get a bit of the feeling that we're all just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The industry's crippled at the moment and anyone who even bothered to put together work samples and a resume hasn't heard anything. Meanwhile we're... View full entry

  • It's Architecture!

    By A Center for Ants?
    May 21, '09 1:00 AM EST

    I used to watch this all the time when I was a kid. View full entry

  • The nitty gritty

    By A Center for Ants?
    May 1, '09 12:51 AM EST

    First of all it's official. I'm finally a "candidate" for the masters degree. Just an interesting visual survey I've started. It's always interesting to see what people are reading/researching. I've been doing an independent study creating a book of research and projects we've done in the last few... View full entry

  • Formal Processes, Part III

    By A Center for Ants?
    Apr 22, '09 1:47 AM EST

    Interested in taking a more formal approach to design, I was experimenting by starting with a few formal techniques that I was interested in and then using diagrams and program etc. as a secondary organizing element. So to begin with, after looking at the Zaha and UN Studio projects, I was... View full entry

  • Formal Processes Part II, Germany and Austria

    By A Center for Ants?
    Apr 3, '09 10:52 AM EST

    So in this past winter quarter, I had Dagmar Richter's studio. We were to design a ski resort hotel that was at a site of our choosing. Getting an opportunity to go to Austria and Germany, we took a week-long trip, staying southeast of Munich and jumping into Austria to look at ski-resorts there... View full entry

  • Formal Processes... Part I

    By A Center for Ants?
    Apr 3, '09 10:35 AM EST

    So I've been tinkering around with the notion of process for the past two quarters now. For a long time I've been taking route that's much more of a bottom-up kind of process: identifying specific challenges, problems, etc. Through an iterative sequence of research, analysis, diagramming, I'd... View full entry

  • Crises in the studio. Is YOUR project next?

    By A Center for Ants?
    Dec 7, '08 2:41 PM EST

    So turns out all these students had their projects wayyyyy overleveraged on sleep. As projects have all run into the grim reality of studio, increasing numbers of students are finding they have to default on their sleep loans. Designers were overconfident and frivolities like explorations in... View full entry

  • Brilliant!

    By A Center for Ants?
    Nov 28, '08 6:26 PM EST

    Ok. I've had a long time fascination with Thomas Kinkade. The whole low-brow / high art / Benjamin Aura thing has always been of great interest to me. Oh, you've never heard of him? Well then... May I present Exhibit 1 which I consider one of the seminal works of his current contemporary period... View full entry

  • The eye of the storm...

    By A Center for Ants?
    Nov 27, '08 4:12 AM EST

    Happy Thanksgiving! And thank god for it. The quarter definitely started off a little easier than usual. Very light and well paced. So I thought it was going to be nice and easy. Then the storm clouds rolled in. I participated in a 6 week long competition called the NAIOP Southern California Real... View full entry

  • John Entenza vs. Paris Hilton

    By A Center for Ants?
    Oct 27, '08 4:29 AM EST

    So I'm in the midst of prepping for a midreview that'll happen in about 13 hours. We're formatting our research for LA and the case study houses for a juried review. No design yet, but this will finalize the overall direction and hopefully we should be designing soon. Since we're in the middle of... View full entry

  • It's a marathon, not a sprint

    By A Center for Ants?
    Oct 20, '08 8:08 PM EST

    So we're entering week 3 of 10 and things are off at a full clip by now. Our research studio has been doing background research on materials with relation to boat building and that's been quite interesting. Seems like there's a great deal of potential in carbon fiber but it's just so damn... View full entry

  • First Week / Last Year

    By A Center for Ants?
    Oct 1, '08 12:36 PM EST

    M.Arch I, Third (FINAL) Year So for the first time, the quarter has not forced me to hit the ground running and it's been more of a gradually ramp up; a refreshing change. As I mentioned before, for the quarter, I have Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of Atelier Bow-wow (as a visiting professor) for studio... View full entry

  • Beginning of the end of the beginning

    By A Center for Ants?
    Sep 29, '08 9:16 PM EST

    So this is a quick entry before the Bjarke Ingels lecture in 10 min. This quarter, I'm in the Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (Atelier Bow-wow) Studio. We're using the idea of the Entenza Case Study program as the starting point and then creating a new framework to update the program. For Research Studio... View full entry

  • On architecture: education, practice, and the pursuit of happiness or late night musings in the beginning of the end... Part I

    By A Center for Ants?
    Aug 21, '08 3:59 AM EST

    I'm going to preface this and the subsequent follow-up entries and say it's all written stream of consciousness. The last year of school is upon me within a few weeks and it's prompted me to really think about the last few years. Specifically what's led me to this point and where I'm going next... View full entry

  • Summertime!

    By A Center for Ants?
    Aug 11, '08 2:37 AM EST

    I know that summer is riding it's way into the fall, but just a few photos to prove I'm doing something. I'm working for a professor right now having jumped from one project to another but in a good way. Enjoying the work and realizing it's the fourth firm I've worked for. It's really nice having... View full entry

  • crumble = rapture??

    By A Center for Ants?
    Jun 5, '08 2:26 AM EST

    i am not a true believer so... it has come to my attention via some astute classmates that rumble falls on 6/6 @ 6pm... yep. that's 666. this is a live webcam image from our studio... View full entry


    By A Center for Ants?
    Jun 4, '08 3:19 PM EST

    So... our "Rumble" space that we are designated to install and present in is the same room that our studio is setup in. Which is fine. The deadline for everything to finish is 6pm on Friday, which also has been known for a while. We install over the weekend. However, somehow some genius in the... View full entry

  • overheard in perloff

    By A Center for Ants?
    Jun 4, '08 5:29 AM EST

    "aren't you worried about that thing catching on fire?" said in reference to pam (the cooking spray) being sprayed on a vacuum forming tool. "does it (PETG plastic) come flat?" "well it comes in long sheets so you probably have to roll it up" "oh that won't do, i need it flat" "well it unrolls"... View full entry

  • love the smell of laser cutter in the morning... smells like finals.

    By A Center for Ants?
    May 30, '08 6:40 PM EST

    It's time to start production. Last minute changes are made and panic is setting in. We have exactly a week before our pencils down deadline.We students at Perloff only pray for one thing: (administration, please take note) enough paper products in the bathroom and in the plotters at all times and... View full entry

  • Ay (c)Rumble....

    By A Center for Ants?
    May 23, '08 3:29 PM EST

    If you've perused the features section of archinect, you might've noticed the ads running for "Rumble". Rumble is a new fangled idea that's been cooked up to help condense the final review period at UCLA in order to generate a little more excitement and interest. Until recently, reviews were... View full entry

  • More Tokyo...

    By A Center for Ants?
    Apr 26, '08 12:48 PM EST

    So we've been here six days now and it's been a whirlwind of subways, getting lost in prefectures, documenting urban conditions, photographs, walking for miles and miles a day and late nights drinking. The wheels are starting to come loose and might fall off if we keep this pace up. Tomorrow's our... View full entry

  • And.... we're back OR Tokyo, Japan, Day 0.5

    By A Center for Ants?
    Apr 20, '08 6:04 PM EST

    Back with the blog. Sorry for the hiatus... In Japan right now for a weeklong+ excursion for studio. Going to start the touring today (Monday morning). We left Saturday from LAX in the afternoon and arrived Sunday (Japan time) in the late afternoon. Didn't get to see too much as we were all... View full entry

  • Halloween!

    By A Center for Ants?
    Nov 9, '07 2:42 AM EST

    Yes. It's a week later. Several of the second years have been campaigning to do more social activites for the school. Better for a sense of community and bonding (esp. since we have a whopping 60 first years). And it's a chance to do something fun. So we got some small amounts of funding and got... View full entry

  • It burns....

    By A Center for Ants?
    Oct 22, '07 5:48 AM EST

    Yep. Southern California is on fire. Fire i tell ya. Pics from today in Ventura county: View full entry

  • And we're back...

    By A Center for Ants?
    Oct 3, '07 12:25 AM EST

    So it's all started up in ernest (since last Thursday). So my own lineup is programming, structures III, and studio and I'm TA'ing a design culture course. Had a little bit of trepidation as school started. It's not so much the work but the lack of sleep and social life (outside of classmates)... View full entry

  • LA Forum - Fall Lecture Series - "Out There Doing It"

    By A Center for Ants?
    Sep 4, '07 12:28 PM EST

    Not specifically UCLA related but here's the LA Forum lecture series schedule. All events are at the Schindler House on King's Road except for those noted... ($10 for nonmembers) 9/13 7:30pm Hitoshi Abe (Dean @ UCLA and Atelier Hitoshi Abe) & Ramiro Diaz Granados and Heather Flood 9/20 7:30pm... View full entry

  • UCLA 2007 Fall Quarter Lecture Series

    By A Center for Ants?
    Aug 31, '07 12:19 PM EST

    10.01.07 KIVI SOTAMAA, Visiting Professor, UCLA Architecture 10.08.07 YOSHIHARU TSUKAMOTO, Co-principal, Atelier Bow-Wow, Tokyo 10.15.07 KAICHIRO MORIKAWA, Architectural Theorist, Tokyo 10.29.07 KYONG PARK, Director, International Center for Urban Ecology 11.19.07 SHUNJI YAMANAKA, Principal... View full entry

  • Vicious Rumors!

    By A Center for Ants?
    Aug 24, '07 2:58 PM EST

    Word on the street is that there are a whopping 60 incoming M.Arch Is to UCLA as well as approx 15 or so M. Arch IIs. Combined with the new undergrad program, which is rumored to have something like 20, that's a lot more bodies in Perloff Hall. Also, word on the street is that the M. Arch IIs are... View full entry

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