Columbia GSAPP (George Showman)



Jan '05 - Jul '05

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    Brief trip report, etc.

    By George Showman
    Apr 4, '05 11:51 PM EST
    We found this plastic baby in the concrete spillway. He became our mascot.

    Tracking radio signals from the sun in the Owens Valley. These dishes were amazingly beautiful, and we were able to walk right up under them.

    The beaches of the Salton Sea are made of fish bones and shells of some kind. Like walking on a bowl of cereal.

    Near Glamis, CA, there is a large chunk of the desert set aside for Off-Highway Vehicle fun. The culture down here involves huge, glossy RVs, big pick-up trucks, and suped-up dune buggies paired Confederate flags. Somewhat creepy.

    Finally, a brief breather. It has nothing to do with time, everything to do with confidence. I spent this past weekend trying to kick-start a coherent final project based on all the scattered research I've been doing, but I ended up basically doing more brainstorming and no designing. I almost pulled an all-nighter Saturday night, just trying to get myself to produce. BUT, for some reason after my desk crit today I am more confident that I'm heading towards a clear project for the final review. So now I can rest easy and procrastinate by updating my blog (grin).

    Our studio trip to L.A. (March 7th to 13th) was excellent, though a little tiring. The highlights were:
    - meeting and traveling with Matt Coolidge from CLUI, the Center for Land Use Interpretation. Check out their website at, and if you're in NYC, you can see some of their work on exhibit throughout Avery hall (that's out building) for the next little while. I'm really impressed with the institution. They have a storefront in L.A. (Culver City) which includes a great bookstore. Anyway Matt took us on a tour of infrastructure in the Owens Valley which was quite interesting.
    - meeting "Doc Bailey", a special effects artist who lives and works (out of his server-filled basement) in the Hollywood hills. Check out his work at . He was extremely generous with his time and showed us a lot of his work, discussed the industry, etc. We're particularly into his work because he is generating an incredible variety of forms algorithmically. The screenshots from his website don't quite do justice to what he's doing. I was impressed that he was doing all of this with totally custom software he's written himself over the last ten years or something like that.
    - The beauty of the desert landscape itself, and the strangeness of the development patterns out there (e.g. "Slab City", near the Salton Sea, and Glamis -- see photo above).
    - Wandering around in the empty infrastructural zones of the city, like in the spillways and flood control basins (see first photo, above). After this trip I feel like I've seen large swaths of L.A. and the region that most people who grew up there have never thought about.

    I stayed on a couple of days after the trip to visit friends and relax. Thanks especially to that, I feel like I'm finally getting a sense for the cultural diversity of L.A. I can now feel the urbanity that exists between the highways. As an east-coaster and New Yorker I had always found it difficult to recognize L.A. as a viable city. Now I think I could happily live there.

    Studio is now (as of today) going slightly better. We have three weeks until our final review (see John Kher Kaw's blog for details of the review panel Ed has lined up). I have, finally, a vision for a project that I think will be pretty exciting, and that I think I know how to represent. At least sort of. Will I tell you about it? Not quite yet, sorry.

    Right now the 6th and 7th floors of the GSAPP (i.e. the 3rd-year studios) are abuzz with planning for the Kinne fellowship proposals, which are due April 8th. Basically, there is money available through the school (thanks to Kinne somehow) for travel and research after graduation. Apparently many people will get some money, but by no means everyone, so there is serious competition. The proposals have to include info on what you're hoping to research and where you're going.

    I don't have any particular interest in this, so I'm not applying. I have so many things I want to do here in New York, and in my head, that I can't think of a worthwhile trip to make this summer. Besides, a trip, even a fairly relaxing one, would feel like just another delay on taking control over my life again (which I seem to have given up for school). Plus I'm slightly anti-travel: I don't think we should travel just because we can. We need reasons. Travel, like any intense expenditure of energy, kills. :)


    • general acres

      check out
      he's done quite a bit of research out in the SoCal desert. he also has some property near bombay beach. he should be able to help you with your research if you need more.
      hope that helps

      Apr 5, 05 2:35 am
      George Showman

      Thanks for the link! Very interesting stuff.

      Apr 7, 05 3:47 pm

      The dishes look amazing. Nice photos.

      Also, I know what you mean about travel (esp. by air!), but it's so addictive!

      Also, it's pretty tricky to post a comment here with all the registering and whatnot. Geez!

      Apr 22, 05 12:15 am

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About this Blog

I did an M.Arch. I at the GSAPP between 2002 and 2005. I started this blog only in my final semester, when I had Ed Keller as my studio critic.

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