Harvard University - GSD (Quilian)



Sep '06 - Dec '09

  • the last post

    Quilian Riano
    Dec 6, '09 10:25 PM EST

    Three and a half years ago I put everything that fit in a mid-size sedan and left the high desert of New Mexico to the shores of the Charles river in Cambridge. All this just to have an excuse to start a coveted school blog at archinect (hehe). Over 100 posts later, and six-months after graduation, it is finally time to end this school blog. But it won't be long until you see me here again from the other side of the pedagogical divide (details below).

    Before I go on I would like to thank everyone that read and commented on this blog. Now to tie some lose ends (sorry, this is a long post):

    So... What happened with thesis?

    GROUNDED! was selected for inclusion in this year's PLATFORM exhibit and publication. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself among the theses of my friends, and Chinatown INSERT! collaborators, Marrikka Trotter and Trevor Patt. We were grouped with projects that deal with Authorship, joining studio work and lectures by Joshua Prince Ramus, Rodolfo Machado, Jose Luis Vallejo and Belinda Tato.


    So... What did I learn anyway?

    I came into the GSD with three broad interests: 1- interactivity, technology, flexibility, and modularity (I view media/blogging as part of this interest), 2-ecology and building performance, and 3-expanding the role of design (and the designer by extension) into larger social/political issues. I am leaving still interested in the same issues, but with a fuller understanding of each of these issues. The GSD was particularly well suited for my interests because of the access I had to landscape architecture and urban design. In fact, studying landscape theory (a lot of it that coming from architects like Waldheim, Allen and Koolhaas) was what helped me formulate the arguments I used in my thesis and that I will continue to use as I teach/practice. In this regards I am glad to see that the GSD is making an effort to have the different departments talking to each other more and more.

    about blogging?
    When I began this blog I half expected that it would be left to gather dust eventually. One I started, however, I began to learn that far from a distraction, blogging could be a key part of my learning experience at Harvard. Having to write really forced me to start weaving a narrative across classes, studios and semesters, uncovering connections I may have missed otherwise. It also helped me to quickly explore and learn something from things that ended up being dead-ends.

    outside of class?
    Three of my favorite extracurricular GSD projects:
    -trays - I am very proud to have been a co-founder and the first editor-in-chief of this new web-journal for the GSD student body.
    -GSD Ecological Urbanism - This team-blog was so well received that parts of it are going to be included in the book the GSD is producing with material from the conference.
    -Chinatown INSERT! Marrikka, Trevor, and I just visited the insert after 2-months of operation and it was filled to capacity. The flexible design allows them to hold readings for children, English courses for the elderly, and Saturday night movie screenings. This is one of the best teams I have been a part of and the final product shows it.

    So... What's next?

    As I say goodbye to this blog soon I will say hi! to a teaching blog as next semester I will begin teaching design studios at Wentworth Institute of Technology. At Wentworth I am teaching a Housing and Community Design studio working with the students and a local Bostonian community to identify their urban, landscape, and architectural needs.
    Spring 2010 will also see me going down to NYC once a week to co-teach a studio with Teddy Cruz at CCNY. We are guiding ten students in the design of a community in the southern periphery of Bogota.

    dsgn agnc!
    Fellow GSD grad Dk Osseo-Asare and I have started an activist design practice we call DSGN AGNC (website and blog coming soon). We currently have some research and design projects, focused in Latin America and Africa, more details to come.

    As I said before I am probably getting a new blog here in archinect. I am also excited to be working with editor Nancy Levinson on a few pieces for places journal, beginning in January.

    I could not end this blog without thanking the following people for their time and help while at the GSD:
    Teddy Cruz, Eric Howeler, Christian Werthmann, Carl Steinitz, Mohsen Mostafavi, Paul Nakazawa, Charles Waldheim, Toshiko Mori, Alan Altshuler, Margaret Crawford, Thomas Schroepfer, Timoty Hyde, Amale Andraos, Melissa Vaughn, Shauna Gillies-Smith, Martha Schwartz, Sibel Bozdogan, Laura Snowdon, William Mitchell and Lluis Ortega.


    q View full entry

  • DISCO Project 3: City Hall Plaza

    Quilian Riano
    Aug 2, '09 11:00 AM EST

    The GSD's Career Discovery program finished a little over a week ago with a final project in Boston's famed City Hall Plaza. A challenging site for any studio, but for a 2 week project with brand new students even more so. The students, however, rose to occasion and made proposals with vision and... View full entry

  • DISCO Project 2: The two house project

    Quilian Riano
    Jul 12, '09 12:25 AM EST

    Among the most difficult things about teaching Harvard GSD's Career Discovery (DISCO) is to be clear on what you are actually teaching. Students come with expectations of learning how to 'build a building' and are surprised to be taught the architectural process instead. Furthermore, although all... View full entry

  • DISCO Project 1: The Stair Project

    Quilian Riano
    Jul 1, '09 5:40 PM EST

    The only way to describe any 6-week design program, such as Harvard GSD's Career Discovery, is INTENSE. Intense for the administrators, instructors like myself, but specially for the students. I empathize, back about ten years ago I did my first two semesters of design school in two six-week... View full entry

  • What's Next...

    Quilian Riano
    Jun 18, '09 6:14 PM EST

    You know that moment of boredom you are supposed to feel after thesis is done? Well not for me... in fact I may be busier now! 24 hours after my final review and with little sleep I got on a plane to Madrid to do some research. I am working there on the next three books of the TransUrban series... View full entry

  • GROUNDED: Ecology as Frame for an Informal Community in Tijuana

    Quilian Riano
    May 16, '09 6:57 PM EST

    All the Images Below can be found at a better resolution in my thesis blog and Flickr Set. (you can also click on some of them to see them larger). First of all, I want to thank everyone that helped me in the final push of the project, many staying with me until the wee hours of the morning for... View full entry

  • less than 3 weeks left...

    Quilian Riano
    Apr 25, '09 3:39 PM EST

    An update of my fruitful contradictions T-Day is May 13th or 14th and the freaking out begins now!! View full entry

  • Liveblogging Koolhaas, Bhabha, Kwinter...

    Quilian Riano
    Apr 3, '09 6:36 PM EST

    It is 6:30 and I got to go into the VIP door using a press pass... pretty sweet. You can probably follow the action here (all weekend for the entire conference): you can also follow it in our student blog. LIVE BLOGGING: 8:38 - Ok, I am done. Personally, I... View full entry


    Quilian Riano
    Apr 1, '09 1:24 AM EST

    Some very dedicated editors at trays just designed and published a ZINE! Some copies will be printed and distributed to people attending the Ecological Urbanism conference and the open house for admitted students. They are, however, making the ZINE PDF available. The Zine was edited by James Moore... View full entry

  • Ecological Urbanism Conference - Student Blog

    Quilian Riano
    Mar 29, '09 8:37 PM EST

    There is a weird air around the GSD lately and I think I can smell expectation with a hint of anxiety. Some of this is evident before every Open House, but this time it is different. I think the difference is what is turning out to be an epic Ecological Urbanism conference and exhibit. Just... View full entry

  • Critical Activism - (draft)

    Quilian Riano
    Mar 20, '09 3:52 PM EST

    Since the beginning of the year I have been wanting to write something expanding on what I meant by Critical Activism in my '09 prediction. The following is a first DRAFT of an essay I am writing describing what I see as an emerging practice model. Influenced by Allison Smithson's 'How to... View full entry

  • Loud Paper Boston Zine round table

    Quilian Riano
    Mar 19, '09 10:03 PM EST

    On my previous update post I forgot to talk about Loud Paper's Boston's Zine round table. Moderator: Mimi Zeiger, Loud Paper Speakers: Braulio Agnese, Architect magazine Chris Grimley, over,under Ryan McClain, ArchitectureMNP Quilian Riano, | trays John Southern, Sumoscraper | Urban... View full entry

  • Midterm Review - reviewed

    Quilian Riano
    Mar 19, '09 3:38 AM EST

    A thesis update... in my thesis blog: Midterm Review - reviewed EXCERPTS FROM THE BLOG POST:My goal is to create a holistic landscape, urban, and architectural strategy that channels and cleans water, re-vegetates the site, brings needed social services, and creates economic opportunities. All... View full entry

  • Ins and Outs

    Quilian Riano
    Mar 19, '09 12:37 AM EST

    I just wanted to quickly update what is going on this semester. I will make another update specifically about Thesis, but as you can imagine it is taking most of my time this semester. However, I am still meeting weekly with anywhere from 5-15 friends and colleagues to talk about thesis. We now... View full entry

  • Patterns

    Quilian Riano
    Mar 1, '09 6:56 PM EST

    Another week another lecture worthy of viewing and re-viewing. This time is a conversation on patterns. The panel featured a few of the designers in the current exhibit. This panel is in part interesting because of the palpable anxiety voiced most clearly by Scott Cohen towards the end. He seems... View full entry

  • Spheres + Networks

    Quilian Riano
    Feb 22, '09 2:41 PM EST

    This is a must see GSD lecture:Bruno Latour & Peter Sloterdijk "Networks and Spheres: Two Ways to Reinterpret Globalization" View full entry

  • Spring 09 Lecture Poster

    Quilian Riano
    Feb 18, '09 10:22 PM EST

  • Thesis Prep Mock Up

    Quilian Riano
    Feb 11, '09 6:02 PM EST

    Getting Closer... View full entry

  • GSD cartoonist

    Quilian Riano
    Feb 5, '09 4:23 PM EST

    trays just began posting some cartoons by KLAUS. Among my favorites: The epic Ben Van Berkel - Preston Scott Cohen conversation (cannot find it in the webcasts...)Ordos Conversation (WATCH). For more comments on it check out Orhan's here in archinect. It will be updated throughout the semester. View full entry

  • Bogotá - Brick and Movement

    Quilian Riano
    Jan 17, '09 1:51 PM EST

    What is it about vacations that as soon as you start having fun you get sick? This time in Bogota I wanted to do a tour of Rogelio Salmona's work, but instead I was bedridden for most of my last week there. I will leave that for my to-do list in my next trip. I did, however, get out to a couple of... View full entry

  • Medellin - Infrastructure as Change

    Quilian Riano
    Jan 3, '09 11:06 AM EST

    When I arrived to Medellin by highway from Bogota the thing I first noticed was the ever present informal settlements in the mountains. But these were different, from the highway you could see the loops of cables carts moving in and out from the informal settlements and the metro that then moves... View full entry

  • Thesis Update - From Frames to Lagos

    Quilian Riano
    Dec 20, '08 12:07 PM EST

    As I watch inches of snow fall in Boston my mind wanders to Tijuana, Nicaragua, and even Lagos. I am beginning to more carefully tune my arguments, trying to learn from specific precedents as well as taking a closer look at work I have done in the past. Of my personal work I am specially looking... View full entry

  • last class

    Quilian Riano
    Dec 10, '08 5:09 PM EST

    Just had a pretty momentous personal occasion and I almost did not even notice it. At 4PM EST I finished the last class of my 8 year MArch journey. It was a conversation with Sanford Kwinter about relational aesthetics, Ai Weiwei, and whether they give us a clue on how to move forward in... View full entry

  • everyone's talking

    Quilian Riano
    Dec 8, '08 3:59 PM EST

    This is the semester when the GSD decided to talk. Maybe it is the new leadership, more vocal students, or the fact that my class is in thesis prep (forcing us out of studio and talk to each other more), or a combination of these things, but it seems to me that this semester there is an increase... View full entry


    Quilian Riano
    Oct 31, '08 6:19 PM EST

    UPDATE 12/05/08 RESULTS and analysis of trays' first sketch competition: The overall winner: “Throw Open the Curtains.” by James Brown, 2008-2009 Harvard GSD Loeb FellowUPDATE 11/04/08 The Jury is: Sanford Kwinter, Eric Howeler, Margaret... View full entry

  • The Goreacle in the Yard

    Quilian Riano
    Oct 22, '08 11:11 PM EST

    Today was cold, so Al Gore came to give a speech about global warming. He was here to launch a series of new Harvard-wide green initiatives and encourage people to think deeper about these issues. Among the most interesting things he did, and something I had not heard before, is a rhetorical... View full entry

  • The GSD's New Orange Walls

    Quilian Riano
    Oct 17, '08 1:58 PM EST

    I have to admit to not being a fan of Gund Hall. I find the big open space - where anything can happen and everyone can see you - a bit oppressive. A building that exposes modern anxieties. A few weeks ago people came into the GSD to see that the trays now had some orange boards sprinkled through... View full entry

  • Scott Cohen and Wes Jones Discussion - LIVE BLOG

    Quilian Riano
    Oct 14, '08 6:25 PM EST

    Wes and Scott are talking today, not entirely sure what about, so I decided to take notes and call it a LIVE BLOG. Watch it LIVE: Discuss and add your comments below. 10:00- Finished dinner with Wes and GSD faculty Mariana Ibanez, Scott Cohen, Michael... View full entry

  • Architects and the Web: Ferraries or Obamas?

    Quilian Riano
    Oct 8, '08 12:57 PM EST

    For the second year in a row I just got back from NOMA's national convention in DC. One of the most interesting presentations and conversations that I had in this surprisingly conservative conference was about the role of web environments in architectural practice. This conversation called my... View full entry

  • FALL 08 Lecture Poster - What do you think?

    Quilian Riano
    Oct 2, '08 1:17 PM EST

    So what do you think? More about the Lectures here: By the way, to answer the last comments on that previous post, I ended up taking the Kwinter and Waldheim classes. A couple of weeks into the semester but I feel like this semester... View full entry

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