University of Southern California (Emily)



Aug '08 - Jul '09

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    3.17 :: Election!...and how not to build a concrete textile block house

    Emily Kemper
    Nov 25, '08 2:04 PM EST

    I am currently, and have been since the beginning of the year, the President of the Graduate Architecture Student Association in the USC School of Architecture. GASA, as we call it, is an umbrella organization for all the graduate students in the architecture school. It's important that we have this umbrella organization because at USC, the amount of money an organization gets is based upon how many students it has. Additionally, GASA sends a representative to the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, which represents all of the Graduate and PhD students in the entire university. GASA, whether the graduate students realize it or not, represents their interests in the larger university community.

    So we are having elections tomorrow! And that's pretty exciting. You might ask "why in the world are you having elections the day before Thanksgiving" and it's simple - it all has to do with the amount of time students spend in our school. Most of the graduate students in the USC SOA spend two years at USC. Some only spend a year and a half - like our Treasurer and our Senator. Which means that although these guys were elected in the middle of their first year back in January, they are graduating in December, and leaving ... so they can't be our Treasurer or Senator anymore ... and so we need new ones! Therefore, we need to have elections before everyone leaves for Winter Break.

    My year as President has been fun, but admittedly a little hectic. When I was elected there was not a lot of participation; when we came back after summer break, we had almost twice as many students as we did last year, and a lot more interest in the organization. I kept up by communicating as much as possible with the students and with the faculty. We are having growing pains in the graduate program, but it's nothing we can't handle, and it's been a great learning experience for me. I'll be around next semester to make sure my successor has a smooth transition and hopefully learns from my mistakes. ;o)

    And now for a gratuitous iPhone photo of my roommate's adorable kitten:

    In addition to the excitement of the election, I have to tell you about the field trip my class took to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Freeman House in the Hollywood Hills yesterday. USC SOA owns this house, which is good because it means that we can study not only the innovative techniques of FLW but also how not to design and build a house in the Hollywood Hills. This house is in a state of major disrepair, due to poor original construction and a little help from seismic events over the years. Literally, the house was built with just concrete textile blocks...and virtually no structural piers or beams whatsoever. It's really a labor of love getting it structurally reinforced and in good shape again, not to mention the debate it starts about historic preservation techniques. Anyway, if anyone wants to give USC some money to help make this house awesome again, please let me know (it doesn't hurt to ask).

    More iPhone photos:

    sweet view to the West and the setting sun

    The Freeman House sits right above Highland Avenue at Hollywood Boulevard ... you can see down Highland for miles

    looking out from inside the living room, and seeing through the dilapidated concrete blocks

    from the street it doesn't look that bad...

    ...but from the roof it looks like hell :o/


    • ha, I remember visiting the Freeman House as a freshman or sophomore... it hasn't changed much. :( Still an awesome place for a party though.

      Nov 25, 08 3:00 pm  · 
      vado retro

      i vote for adorable kitty!

      Nov 25, 08 11:43 pm  · 

      Aww...there's that cute kitty that I couldn't see at the party!

      Nov 26, 08 1:36 am  · 

      Any plans to rehab it ala Ennis-Brown? USC got deeper pockets than FLW foundation I'm guessing.

      Nov 27, 08 5:31 pm  · 

      Hi Appleseed! You'd be surprised at how not deep USC's pockets are. The house has required MAJOR rehabilitation, much like that of what the Ennis-Brown house has ... basically it had to build supports where there were none before, lest the house one day become a pile of rubble. It has been, and is continuing to be, a multi-million dollar effort. But also like Ennis-Brown, it got a very helpful FEMA grant at one point. So the effort continues...

      Nov 28, 08 3:51 am  · 

      thanks for the recent pics of Freeman S.216

      i gather that geotech investigations of 1923 were rather primitive (if any at all)

      so what work has been done / is being done / is planned for the house? what is the consultant team working on it? is any of the Schindler furniture still there?


      Dec 3, 08 8:35 am  · 

      you've been picked up by Curbed LA today. congrats!

      Dec 3, 08 4:02 pm  · 

      I just did find that out Alex! It's pretty crazy! I need to respond to the commenters on that thread after I get done today...

      Dec 5, 08 2:10 pm  · 

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