Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

I graduated in 2013, but still live-blog here once in a while.

  • A Hottish Take on the Future of Environmental Technologies in Buildings

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    May 30, '19 6:52 PM EST

    Hi Archinect! It's been a long time since I've posted; first, because I took a job in a (non-architecture related) tech start-up, and second, because I had a child and took a long pause from the working world to spend some time with him. But I recently had the chance to exercise my typing fingers, and wanted to share the resulting text with you. It's about the possibilities we might find for the built environment when we think from the point of view of our thermal micro-environments and the physics of heat transfer. Thanks for reading!


    For humans, the boundary between organism and environment has always been blurry. We create smooth floors to ease our walking, cover our bodies in clothes for warmth, and spray our skin with oils to give ourselves an attractive smell.

    Contemporary interest in wellness, the mind, and bodily experiences is making us more aware of how sensory input shapes our moods, performance, and health. At the same time, the spread of wearable technologies that gather information about our movement, physiology, and environment have made practices of self-quantification and biohacking mainstream.

    For example, Apple predicts it will sell thirty-three million smartwatches in 2019. Wearers often set goals for standing, calorie burn, and heart rate, then work towards these goals by taking stairs instead of an elevator or by getting out of their chair.

    Networked air quality sensors, such as PurpleAir, and wearable ones such as PlumeLab’s Flow, track pollution hyper-locally. With the increasing frequency and severity of air quality events due in part to climate change, people are turning to this data to decide whether to go for a run, open a window, or wear a respirator. What does this mean for buildings?

    When smart and wearable technologies help us manage our physiological states, this can free buildings from the task of maintaining homogeneous environmental conditions, and allow them to instead offer more targeted and opportunistic sensory experiences.

    In a conventional heating system, air is filtered, brought to temperature, and circulated. But the building itself doesn’t benefit from having this volume of air heated or cooled. Reframing the problem according to the physics of heat and the scale of the body, we realize we can meet our thermal needs in other ways.

    Like warmth from the sun, thermal energy travels through electromagnetic waves, or radiant transfer, more quickly and efficiently than through convection, or the movement of a fluid such as air. Even more efficient--and just as satisfying to the senses--is conductive heat transfer between objects that are touching, such as holding and sipping an iced drink.

    Radiant and conductive heat transfer have been used in buildings for millennia, with fire heating stone and water. What sensors enable is for a building to monitor relevant environments, measure our temperature, or ask wearable devices for our preferences and current physiological needs. Thermally active building surfaces, furniture, textiles, and even wearables can provide the comfort of heating and cooling in an energy efficient, user-centric, and on-demand manner.

    Individualized micro-environments become feasible when interventions operate at the scale of a body. Without forced air heating and cooling, allowing operable windows and increased airflow becomes much less costly, as indoor air temperatures can vary more without impacting comfort.

    Glazing can lighten for breakfast diners to be energized by a warm sunbeam, while an adjacent space becomes darker, with cooler surfaces, to soothe a migraine. And the windows could open wide when outdoor conditions and air quality are favorable, offering a connection to the climatic patterns of a place and the pleasure of a breezy summer day.

    View full entry

  • A Conversation with Courtney Sharpe and Cara Michell, Black in Design conference organizers

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Sep 28, '15 1:04 AM EST

    Hello Archinect,Black in Design is a conference organized by Harvard Graduate School of Design’s African American Student Union (AASU), coming up on October 9-10, 2015. The conference is by, for, and about African descendants in the worlds of architecture and design. But it’s also about the... View full entry

  • How Frank Gehry, who doesn't know how to use a computer, started Gehry Technologies

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    May 12, '15 7:32 PM EST

    Hi Archinect, I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Gehry Technologies CTO Dennis Shelden and writing about Gehry Technologies, Frank Gehry's software and project delivery services company, for the data-driven blog Priceonomics. Gehry Technologies, as you may recall, was acquired this... View full entry

    The future is here, and the future is terrifying. Trimble and Microsoft's HoloLens.

  • Live Blog: Bethany Lang: Ugly Data Duckling: Grooming Messy Data With Policies and Procedures

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    May 1, '15 2:38 PM EST

    Hi Archinect,Another session at Do Good Data 2015. Bethany Lang is presenting. (Warning--no architecture here!) "Ugly data" here isn't talking about the nuances of metrics or computation, but very simply: wrong data. People change jobs often in the nonprofit world, and it's easy for... View full entry

  • Live Blog: Kristi-Lynn Jacovino, Using Data to Influence Your UX Decisions

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    May 1, '15 11:51 AM EST

    Hello Archinect!I'm in Chicago with the ACSA at Do Good Data 2015, and Kristi-Lynn Jacovino from the Onion and Clickhole is talking about user experience on the web. The Onion has a very small design team (two people, I think?) and they just launched their new site today! (There's a nice... View full entry

  • Live Blog - Cole Nussbaumer, "Storytelling with Data"

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Mar 30, '15 10:06 PM EST

    Hello Archinect,I wiggled my way up to the University of San Francisco for the first talk of the season in their Data Visualization Speaker Series, given by Cole Nussbaumer. [Update: a video of the talk is here.]7:05pm: Until two years ago, CN worked in Google's People Operations team, where... View full entry

  • Live Blog: ACSA 103 Opening Plenary

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Mar 19, '15 7:04 PM EST

    Hello Archinect,I'm in downtown Toronto for ACSA's 103rd Annual Meeting, themed "The Expanding Periphery and the Migrating Center." The first plenary session is "the pecha kucha of keynotes." From the program book:MISSION STATEMENTS Many things have changed and many things have remained the same... View full entry

  • Live Blog: LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne at UC Berkeley

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Oct 20, '14 9:47 PM EST

    Hello Archinect,I'm at UC Berkeley in the beautiful East Bay to hear Christopher Hawthorne speak at the College of Environmental Design. From the UC Berkeley website: Christopher Hawthorne has been the architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times since 2004. Before coming to The Times, he was... View full entry

    Gehry on fish

  • Live Blog - San Francisco NERT Training, Class 2

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Oct 16, '14 10:03 PM EST

    Hi Archinect,I'm back at San Francisco's Neighborhood Emergency Response Team Training, for our second class. Same disclaimer as last time: this isn't really about architecture, but I AM focusing on aspects that relate to the built environment. 6:40 pm: The dust in the air after 9-11 spread... View full entry

    That escalated quickly.

  • Live Blog - San Francisco Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) Training

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Oct 9, '14 10:01 PM EST

    Hi Archinect,I'm in a hospital basement auditorium in San Francisco for the first of six sessions to learn how to be part of the city's Neighborhood Emergency Response Team. It's a volunteer team, and the city offers the 20 hour training for free in order to help build the city's resilience in... View full entry

  • Ai Weiwei is @Large on Alcatraz

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Sep 28, '14 3:04 PM EST

    Hi Archinect,Here are some images from Alcatraz, including Ai Weiwei's new show called @Large, open until April 26 2015. Organized by the For-Site Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, @Large includes seven new installations that... View full entry

  • Live Blog: W. Gavin Robb, "Roots Run Deep: A Tomb for Manfredo Tafuri" (M.Arch thesis)

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    May 18, '14 3:34 PM EST

    Hi Archinect!W. Gavin Robb is presenting his M.Arch thesis, “Roots Run Deep: A Tomb for Manfredo Tafuri."The tomb and the sublime are closely linked.Relation between technology and buildings at this scale. Empathy: a tight fit between a body and its space.Instrument: a domestic scale and an... View full entry

  • Live Blog: Anya Domlesky, "HOT ROT: A Breakdown Manual" (MLA thesis)

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    May 18, '14 3:08 PM EST

    Hi Archinect,I’m at the GSD for thesis reviews—Anya Domlesky is presenting “HOT ROT: A Breakdown Manual” for her MLA degree.Landscape architects should be not just the apologists or ameliorators for solid waste, but active agents in the procedures of dealing with waste.The site is South... View full entry

  • Live Blog - Marian Dörk, "From Bird's-eye Views to Street-Level Data Exploration: Taking Text for a Stroll"

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Apr 25, '14 2:35 PM EST

    Hi Archinect!From the OpenVis Conf website:Marian Dörk is a research professor for information visualization at the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences. Motivated by the design opportunities and research challenges arising from growing information spaces, Marian is particularly interested in... View full entry

  • Live Blog - Mauricio Giraldo, "NYPL Labs Building Inspector" at Bocoup's OpenVis Conf

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Apr 25, '14 12:08 PM EST

    Hi Archinect!The full title of Mauricio's talk is "NYPL Labs Building Inspector: Extracting Data from Historic Maps." From the OpenVis Conf website:Mauricio enjoys playing with code, objects and all things interactive. He is currently an interaction designer at NYPL Labs, The New York Public... View full entry

  • Live Blog - Robert Simmon, "Subtleties of Color" at Bocoup's OpenVis Conf

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Apr 25, '14 10:40 AM EST

    Hi Archinect!Back for the second day of this great event. From the OpenVis Conf website:The purpose of data visualization is to illuminate data. To show patterns and relationships that are otherwise hidden in an impenetrable mass of numbers.In many datasets, color is one of the most effective... View full entry

  • Live Blog - Andy Kirk, "The Design of Nothing: Null, Zero, Blank" at Bocoup's OpenVis Conf

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Apr 24, '14 4:10 PM EST

    Hi Archinect!From the OpenVis Conference Website:  Andy Kirk is a UK-based freelance data visualisation specialist. Andy in February 2010 and this has grown to become a popular source of information about the data visualisation field. He became a freelance... View full entry

  • Live Blog - Jen Christiansen, "Visualizing Science," at Bocoup's OpenVis Conf

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Apr 24, '14 2:16 PM EST

    Hi Archinect!The full title of Jen Christiansen's talk is "Visualizing Science: Developing Information Graphics for Scientific American Magazine."From the OpenVis Conf website: From its first data-based chart (on the topic of inertia, momentum, and projection) up through to today's web... View full entry

  • Live Blog - Kennedy Elliot, "Coding for the News," at Bocoup OpenVis Conf

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Apr 24, '14 11:55 AM EST

    Hi Archinect,Kennedy Elliot is up now, talking about using data in journalism.From the OpenVis Conf website: Each week the Washington Post publishes five to ten graphics, many of which are interactive and nearly all of them have a web presence. The reach of the graphics department covers breaking... View full entry

  • Live Blog - Mike Bostok from the New York Times, at Bocoup OpenVis Conf

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Apr 24, '14 10:45 AM EST

    Hello Archinect!I'm in East Cambridge for the two day OpenVis Conference hosted by Bocoup, an open web technology company based here in Boston.Mike Bostok, graphics editor for The New York Times, is the first speaker. From the conference website: He is also the author of D3.js, a popular... View full entry

  • Live Blog - Eric Fischer, "Mapping Billions of Dots" at Bocoup OpenVis Conf

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Apr 24, '14 10:32 AM EST

    Hi Archinect!Eric Fischer is up next at Bocoup's OpenVis Conf. From the conference website: Eric Fischer is a data artist and software developer at Mapbox. He was previously an artist in residence at the Exploratorium in San Francisco and before that was on the Android team at Google. His work... View full entry

  • Yestermorrow Design/Build for Public Interest

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Apr 23, '14 9:50 AM EST

    Hello Archinect,This is a throwback to 2007 for me, when I attended the two week design/build course led by Jersey Devil co-founders Steve Badanes and Jim Adamson, along with New York-based architect Bill Bialosky. I had the pleasure of seeing Steve at our ACSA Annual Conference in Miami a couple... View full entry

  • Review - GSD's "Platform 6: A Year of Research through Studio Work, Theses, Lectures, Exhibitions and Events"

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Mar 24, '14 11:08 PM EST

    [Image from Pimentel.]“You will be remembered for what you leave out or neglect.”Rosetta Elkin, Editor of Platform 6, includes these words in a short meta-essay entitled “Editing Pedagogy,” in which she retroactively imagines a brief for the project of gathering, selecting, and... View full entry

    Flip-through of Platform 6

  • Live Blog - Manuel Castells, "The Space of Autonomy: Cyberspace and Urban Space in Networked Social Movements"

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Feb 18, '14 8:05 PM EST

    Hi Archinect,It's a packed house in (half) Piper tonight for Manuel Castells, Professor of Communication Technology and Society, USC Los Angeles. His talk responds to recent movements in Brazil and Turkey, drawing on themes from his book Networks of Outrage and Hope; Social Movements in... View full entry

  • Live Blog - Christopher Glaisek and Bruce Kuwabara on Waterfront Toronto

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Feb 11, '14 7:01 PM EST

    Hello Archinect,I'm back in Piper to see Christopher Glaisek, vice president of planning and design for WATERFRONToronto, and Bruce Kuwabara, founding partner of Toronto-based KPMB Architects and now Chair of the Board at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. As a... View full entry

  • Review - "If You Build It," directed by Patrick Creadon

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Jan 30, '14 12:06 PM EST

    Hi Archinect!Okayyyyyy, I'm back at the GSD to watch "If You Build It," directed by Patrick Creadon (2012), a film about the origins of Studio H's design/build education taught by Emily Pilloton and her team of teachers (including GSD grad Hallie Chen!).Studio H now hails from... View full entry

    If You Build It Official Trailer

  • Live Blog - Kyle Bergman and John Connell in conversation

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Jan 29, '14 10:49 PM EST

    Hi Archinect,After the screening of If You Build It, film festival director Kyle Bergman and John Connell, the founder of Yestermorrow Design Build School, had a short conversation and I wanted to share it with you here. I was interested to see Connell live, as I had been to Yestermorrow for... View full entry

  • Live Blog - Futures Past: Design and the Machine (Mindell, Steenson, Theodore, Galison)

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Nov 24, '13 8:02 PM EST

    Hi Archinect! Drew Harry and I are here at MIT’s Media Lab for Futures Past: Design and the Machine, a conference organized by Duks Koschitz (Pratt/MIT), Olga Touloumi (Harvard GSD), and Theodora Vardouli (MIT). (Don’t worry, Kanye is not in the house though if you haven't been sated yet, you... View full entry

  • Update - GSD African American Student Union and Dean Mohsen comment on Kanye West Visit

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Nov 18, '13 10:24 PM EST

    Hi Archinect, Over the past few days there have been over 30,000 views of this blog's Archinect post on Kanye, and many times that number of reposts and articles about the event at other media outlets (including Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, USA Today, and Buzzfeed). It seems as if... View full entry

  • VIDEO - Kanye stops by studio to talk about architecture with students

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Nov 17, '13 7:17 PM EST

    Hi Archinect, Yeezy surprised students tonight with a short visit to Harvard GSD's design studio. I REALLY like Kanye--Late Registration, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Watch the Throne basically got me through studio, from first year to thesis--so I'm bummed that I wasn't there. He... View full entry

    Kanye speaks with architecture students at Harvard Graduate School of Design (Video by and courtesy of Flavio Sciaraffia.)

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About this Blog

Lectures and exhibitions, news and events, now primarily from the Bay Area! Please note that all live blogs are abridged and approximate. If you want to see exactly what happened, in many cases a video of the event is posted online by the event's hosts.

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