UC Berkeley (Nick)



Aug '08 - Jun '10

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    XXS, XXL

    Nick Sowers
    Oct 15, '08 7:57 PM EST

    There's something really wonderful about being at such a big research University. When you walk about a block away from Wurster Hall, there's this cafe called Strada (that probably grosses a million dollars in coffee sales from architecture students alone). Usually we go, grab the coffee and get right back to studio, BUT, if you have time to stay... you get to overhear some really amazing conversations. The other day I heard some researchers talking about "bending" atomic structures and the space of interaction in this extra extra small world that they are so absorbed in. It got me thinking to architecture, and what it is, if anything, specifically, do we absorb ourselves in? Make no mistake, we are absorbed and absorbing and probably too full of it. We can't leave the world alone, it all has to be designed. I think one really great thing about architecture is that our focus spans so many scales, not to mention the breadth, of disciplines, arts, and sciences. So that I feel is the great thing about a big research school--you are swimming in this fantastic mileu.

    This is certainly glossing over some of the difficulties (mostly lack of time) that prevent us from going out there and working with researchers in other departments, though a little of that is happening here. I say so what, we as architects must be obsessed with building and our own craft, so inevitably we will only skim of the surface of these satellite disciplines where researchers are able to plumb the depths. I love just knowing what's out there, and how to know more about what's out there if I have the time/need to know.

    XXS: for thesis prep a couple weeks ago I pinned up the specs for a sound cannon that fires a precise beam of sound up to 500 yards away. The sound could transmit at extremely high frequencies and at up to 150 dB....causing ear splitting pain to, for example, suspected terrorists on a boat approaching a US Navy ship (it was developed by the American Technology Corporation after the USS Cole bombing in 2000). But the sound beam could also transmit voices across great distances. If you don't see who is firing at you, you may very well believe that a little voice is inside your head. It is already being used for commercial purposes.


    Luke said that it reminded him of radio waves and how it's frightening to think of AM/FM waves (which the sound cannon is not) that proliferate in space. I think about this too, so I did some more research, and found this incredible "map" of the spectrum of radio waves. This is actually an official document from the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA).


    Not sure what I'm doing with it, but this is all part of the amusement park ride which is thesis. You get a hold of something that interests you, you keep climbing up, you can't see the peak, and and... hold on tight.

    XXL: These site visits for my offsite fabrication class keep lighting me up. Today we visited XKT, a steel fabricator on Mare Island. It's actually the first visit to a former military site (a Navy ship building yard) since getting the Branner, so effectively my travels have begun (but we're always traveling, never mind that).

    The island has tons of huge warehouses. XKT is inside one of them, building temporary supports for the navigation span of the new bay bridge. Take a look at this photo, and then...


    ...let me tell you that these massive A-frames of steel will be scrap metal when the bridge is complete. Awesome, eh? I think you could have fun with a design competition for what to do with these things.


    image______________yours truly


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