University of Southern California (Daniel)

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    Reärranged and Resorted

    By Daniel
    Sep 11, '06 1:49 AM EST

    I’m back in Los Angeles. Not that I just arrived; classes—specifically, studio—began the 21st, which I suppose means I’m a bit late with this blog, but I’m functioning under the excuse that I ‘had to get settled in first.’ Feel free to marvel at my procrastinatory prowess. I’ve moved into a surprisingly spacious apartment on West Adams, am all unpacked, reörganized, and eager for a new year of school. Already everyone is full of speculation about the new year: they’ve done away with some longstanding, almost institutional projects, rumors are flying about the new dean (who wasn’t announced in May, as expected), and supposedly Frank Gehry’s son is a first year student.

    This year and for the rest of my time at USC studio will be worth six credits, an increase of two from first year. The desks are bigger and have smooth new masonite tops; so smooth I’m almost tempted to not even bother with a drawing board cover. My instructor is Arianne Groth, who is very pleasant but also strongly encouraging for us to pursue and unwrap our concepts to their logical ends; desk crits are driven by a catechetical “what does this mean?” energy, which is exciting because our projects are fresh and more than a little improvisatory so far.

    Second year at USC has customarily began with the boat project, in which the students crafted canoe-sized boats and raced them amid much splashing and general poolside fun. Being uncomfortably hydrophobic myself (...don’t say you didn’t see that one coming), I was dreading the project and its waterlogged culmination all summer long, only to find they’ve completely revamped the projects.

    The first, which we just finished, was inspired by Le Corbusier’s Modulor and involved thoroughly measuring and documenting the human body and its dimensions and generating a system of measurement and proportion. I suppose I’ll explain my own work in a later post, when I have my drawings scanned and ready to present. We’ve just begun the second project, which is a quick study of conditions of dichotomy.

    My other courses at the architecture school are 214b, the second half of History of Architecture, and 213a, the first half of the Building Structures and Seismic Design with Professor Schierle.
    ARCH-214b was apparently going to be taught by Maria Romanach (in lieu of the usual James Steele, who is on sabbatical), but there was a bit of last-minute switching around and now we will be instructed by Scott Wolf, whom I think we stole from Princeton via SCI-Arc. Already he’s started delving into the philosophical roots of modernism and nineteenth century theory and German tectonics and French Rationalism. While it isn’t the sequel to last semester’s historical survey course that everyone was expecting, it’s the sort of class I’ve always wanted to take. I love every minute. Theory is my first love, so I think I may be taking it a bit more seriously than the rest of the class. Beyond that, I’m quite selfishly (and possibly unwisely) eschewing another general education course and indulging in Latin I.

    P.S. For the curious, I’ve uploaded my pictures from Cambridge to Flickr under the username ffenestr, which is super awesome Latinate Welsh for ‘window’ (which is sort of architectural) or ‘viewfinder’ (which is sort of photographic). Here’s the link, though they’re a bit out of order (the England pictures are interrupted by a few pages of Kaua’i and California) and you may prefer to navigate using the tags.

    Right after I visited the (amazing) Tate Modern, by the way, news broke about Herzog & deMeuron’s shiny new addition, a £165m glass ziggurat that will loom with shimmering dynamism over the South Bank come 2012, when London hosts the Summer Olympics and the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee. Regardless of the numbers thrown around by both articles linked above, the museum was fairly empty when I visited on a hot Friday afternoon. The much trumpeted rehang was intriguing.

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