UC Berkeley (Nick)



Aug '08 - Jun '10

  • Back to the Bay

    Nick Sowers
    Jan 28, '10 1:00 AM EST

    Tonight "anarchist" urban geographer Matt Coolidge from the Center for Land Use Interpretation gave an informal talk about an ongoing work that CLUI has been invested in right here in the SF Bay. CLUI is "a research and education organization interested in understanding the nature and extent of... View full entry

  • Thoughts on design research

    Nick Sowers
    Jan 23, '10 12:09 AM EST

    I was having a coffee break this afternoon at Strada Café with a senior undergrad named Ben and a ghost from thesis-past known by the name Shivang. We got into an interesting dialogue that I thought I would extend out here. Ben and I are working on thesis projects that are part of a larger... View full entry

  • An envelope to make something good

    Nick Sowers
    Jan 18, '10 2:25 PM EST

    Tomorrow is the "first day of instruction" for the last semester of school for the rest of my life. I like to think that thesis is one big blue sky. Not an oppressive thing at all, just something to call that white noise in the background. Thesis is the agar agar in the petri dish labelled... View full entry

  • The End of the Grand Tour

    Nick Sowers
    Jan 13, '10 5:15 PM EST

    A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has a personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself, no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that... View full entry

  • On Walled Cities and Snowflakes

    Nick Sowers
    Dec 22, '09 9:51 PM EST

    image by You might be surprised to learn there is a Caltech professor studying snow crystals. (Or if you've ever been to a party at Caltech, it might actually make sense.) He runs a website and owns a database of some strikingly beautiful images of snow crystals. He writes... View full entry

  • on site 22: WAR

    Nick Sowers
    Dec 19, '09 3:36 PM EST

    I am excited to announce my first published work, a two-page article titled "Military Estates: exact edges" in the current issue of on site, a semi-annual publication put out by the Association for Non-Profit Architectural Fieldwork [Alberta]. On site #22 contains some worthy reading on... View full entry

  • WPA 2.0

    Nick Sowers
    Dec 15, '09 4:08 AM EST

    While I was out inspecting bunkers and imagining how they might be integrated into some kind of territorial infrastructure for the Atlantic coast/North Sea this past fall, two teams working under Berkeley professors were busy putting together their phase II proposals for the WPA 2.0 competition... View full entry

  • Thesistan

    Nick Sowers
    Dec 1, '09 10:55 PM EST

    With the fellowship travels now over, I have already been taking the next steps. There is an internal circuit to follow: the ever-lurking thesis. It is the final country to conquer, and what a vast territory it is. Thesis, my own infinite game. I'm trying to heed the advice of one of my advisors... View full entry

  • MOUT 2: Jungle Warfare

    Nick Sowers
    Nov 23, '09 2:59 PM EST

    Sorry to disappoint: I'm not announcing the title of the latest X-Box 360 game. It's just another day on the Branner Fellowship and only two days from the end. MOUT 1 appeared way back at the beginning of the year when I posted some pics from my first encounter with Military Operations on Urban... View full entry

  • Manila Madness

    Nick Sowers
    Nov 17, '09 1:07 AM EST

    Manila. This ain't no vanilla. Stinking hot sweat stepping over fish heads pig intestines. Big guy with a big backpack on getting looks getting stared at squeezing through the market crowd. Jeepneys belching smoke choke cover the face no use no way out but through. Swimming through air hop on a... View full entry

  • Bella, Bellicosa Italia

    Nick Sowers
    Nov 10, '09 9:19 PM EST

    I spend a lot of time looking at ugly buildings. You could say I'm addicted to them. US military bases are not pretty things. One base planner put it to me this way: "We build 'em like jeeps, simple and functional." And there's a certain logic to jeep aesthetics: because it looks cheap and... View full entry

  • Berkeley ain't no Bargain

    Nick Sowers
    Nov 7, '09 1:12 PM EST

    I interrupt this flow of dreamy travelogues to report on something I feel is incredibly important. I got back to Berkeley a few days ago for a pit-stop en route to my final destination of the Branner fellowship, the Philippines and Guam. My inbox has been inundated with messages bouncing around... View full entry

  • Above and Below the Rubble Mountains of Berlin

    Nick Sowers
    Nov 2, '09 11:31 AM EST

    If there is a city ripe for post-military exploration, it's Berlin. And what a kick-ass city. Good food, great people, easy to get around, incredible museums, a scintillating soundscape, and fancy architecture to boot. Berlin has been my favorite city this year, and I'm kicking myself for only... View full entry

  • The Perpetual Militarization of Germany

    Nick Sowers
    Oct 24, '09 9:57 PM EST

    At the end of September, I spent nine days in Germany, a country that easily could have consumed the entire year of travel. You'd think the country is Europe's bunker heaven, full of war-landscapes and museums displaying big guns and stuff. Nope, that's France. Understandably, the residues of war... View full entry

  • Sounds and Sketches 2

    Nick Sowers
    Oct 14, '09 5:41 PM EST

    Continuing the game of catch-up with more sketches and sounds. As always, headphones are advised. My wife and I have spent a lot of time camping around Europe, to save money but also for the convenience of staying close to our sites. Outside of populated areas, camping next to bunkers proved to be... View full entry

  • Sounds and Sketches 1

    Nick Sowers
    Oct 3, '09 3:57 PM EST

    One of the requirements of the Branner Fellowship is to give a lecture in Berkeley at the end of your travels. You and the other fellows are alotted 20 minutes each. Unless you give your lecture to the tune of the Johnny Cash song: I've been everywhere man, I've been everywhere. ...Oklahoma... View full entry

  • Inside a U-Boat Bunker

    Nick Sowers
    Sep 9, '09 12:49 PM EST

    Often we think of WWII disfiguring cities through destruction: Hiroshima, Dresden, Rotterdam, Berlin, etc. But what about cities disfigured by addition in wartime? Such was the case for St. Nazaire when it was converted into one of five U-boat bases on the Atlantic coast of France. A former... View full entry

  • Bunker Recycling Services

    Nick Sowers
    Aug 28, '09 12:12 AM EST

    There's a missing chapter from all the books on fortification I've had a flick through. While they will go into sometimes nauseating detail on how developments in wartime led to certain innovations, material choices, etc., the authors of these books tend to freeze the structures in that stage of... View full entry

  • The Meeting of Three

    Nick Sowers
    Aug 18, '09 4:26 PM EST

    Writing from a campsite in Zeeland, in the south of the Netherlands. I've been skipping down the coast with my wife hunting for bunkers from the second world war. A week ago, I met up with fellow Branner fellows Nicolette Mastrangelo and Taylor Medlin in Rotterdam, where I worked one summer seven... View full entry

  • Fuzzy Blob Tourism

    Nick Sowers
    Aug 10, '09 10:36 PM EST

    For the last week I've been on some islands called the Azores, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It's amazing to think that a Portuguese community has inhabited these islands for over five hundred years. Houses and walls are built with volcanic rock; scattered across the landscape are shells of... View full entry

  • Urban Islands Final Review or My attempt at writing the longest school blog post ever

    Nick Sowers
    Jul 29, '09 1:51 PM EST

    Well, when I sat down at my laptop tonight, I didn't plan to do this. I swear. I don't know if it's the longest post ever but at least it is for me. After a few days of being through with the intensity of Urban Islands, and given a couple days respite on our friend's farm back here in New Zealand... View full entry

  • Urban Islands day 11

    Nick Sowers
    Jul 24, '09 11:25 AM EST

    T minus nine hours to the Final Review. This is a rare moment, folks. How many school bloggers are crazy enough to take twenty minutes in the middle of the final push to give a shout out? Thanks to some abuse of the Cockatoo Island facilities by students of one of the other sections, we all gotta... View full entry

  • Urban Islands midreview

    Nick Sowers
    Jul 21, '09 11:35 AM EST

    It's been four days since the last update. In this time frame I've managed to escape the studios for a wholesome two-hour walk around the North Beach suburb where I'm staying. A rocky headland separates this beach from Manly, a famous surfing spot and location of the best ferry into the city. To... View full entry

  • Urban Islands day 4

    Nick Sowers
    Jul 16, '09 10:01 AM EST

    11:59 pm Today was a work day. I would love to report on what's going on, but haha, I'm still working. So if you're wondering what the hell's going on over here in Sydney, you'll have to deduce it from the following three photographs. Interpretations welcome. Mark Smout's group: Geoff Manaugh's... View full entry

  • Urban Islands days 2 & 3

    Nick Sowers
    Jul 15, '09 1:02 PM EST

    View Soundscrapers Location in a larger map Day 2 Another packed day in Sydney. We all met up at Circular Quay, all set, if a bit bleary-eyed, to embark for Cockatoo Island, the site of the Urban Islands design workshop. First on the agenda would be a crit of the individual design project handed... View full entry

  • Urban Islands day 1

    Nick Sowers
    Jul 13, '09 3:17 PM EST

    4:01 a.m. Sydney Good morning? If nothing else, this is a welcome return to studio life. I'm at the end of the first day of the Urban Islands studio on Cockatoo Island, Sydney. It's been a huge day that began nearly 20 hours ago with a bumpy bus ride through traffic from my digs near Manly Beach... View full entry

  • The Tanks of New Zealand

    Nick Sowers
    Jul 12, '09 9:51 AM EST

    Just got into Sydney about five hours ago. I'm here for the Urban Islands intensive design studio which begins tomorrow! More on that soon. In the spirit of serious architectural research, I watched Transformers on the flight over from Christchurch. I hadn't seen the movie before, as a friend... View full entry

  • all this talk...

    Nick Sowers
    Jul 2, '09 8:12 PM EST

    ...about North Korean missiles got me thinking back to my experience in White Sands. I've just put together my first podcast in five weeks. In the recording, I will walk around and point out various missiles in the park, and then let some of the museum video material speak for itself. You might... View full entry

  • Pet Power Lines

    Nick Sowers
    Jun 30, '09 4:29 AM EST

    I've spent the last week packing up my apartment, preparing to travel for a continuous four months. And finally, my wife is able to join me! She's taking a four-month leave from her office . Luckily she is in architecture too but getting her to accompany me on 25-mile circuits of military bases... View full entry

  • New Desert City

    Nick Sowers
    Jun 21, '09 4:30 PM EST

    Just got back from a stellar week in militarized West Texas. I got out to former Fort D.A. Russell in Marfa, went on a tour of the US/Mexico border with homeland security, and spent a day touring one of the largest military construction sites in the world. Just to give you a sense of how... View full entry

  • ×Search in:

Affiliated with:

Authored by:

Other blogs affiliated with University of California, Berkeley:

Recent Entries