Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

I graduated in 2013, but still blog here once in a while.

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    Defending Your Life--and other stuff

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Feb 15, '13 11:00 PM EST

    Hello Archinect!

    So...I finished my thesis but still have a few classes to wrap up this semester. I'm taking a statistics class with Michael Hooper, an independent study research project with Jay Wickersham (as a professional practice elective), and a seminar with Rahul Mehrotra on the "Kinetic City."

    [Image by Photo by Felipe Vera, nabbed from the Harvard Gazette]

    For "Kinetic City": Prof. Mehrotra argues that we shouldn't talk about the "informal" in urban spaces because this notion sets up a false binary between "formal" and "informal," and it's not as if "informal" spaces don't have a form. So he proposes the notion of a "Kinetic City" instead, that looks at ephemerality and change over time. It's a research seminar with a series of case studies. The central case study, occupying about 1/3 of the class, is a study of the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu religious festival that takes place once every three years (in one of four locations, in rotation) that is known as the largest human gathering on a single day, with between 2 and 8 million attendees. (The NYT also has a recent video piece on the Kumbh.) My case study is a bit different, and will look at some aspect--not sure yet--related to the internment of Japanese Canadians in WWII.

    The statistics course is a straightforward methodologies class. But it's already been useful, as for the first time ever I'm directly course material to help a friend with something (an ANOVA test for a data visualization project). Strangely enough nobody ever wants a topo model or a quad-panel discretized surface--though I guess I've been useful to friends in terms of Illustrator, Photoshop, and furniture-rearranging.

    My professional practice research project just got started, so I don't know what that's going to look like yet, but I'll be studying the practice of architecture at its boundaries, by considering how the changing role of outside consultants in architectural practice has helped define models of architecture firm organization. There will be some quantitative (statistical and economic) analysis of nation-wide and profession-wide trends, complemented by one or more case studies.

    So that's that--busier than I thought I'd be. And I have a few things to share:

    1. I wrote a piece called "Defending Your Life" for the current issue of ArchitectureBoston, the magazine of the Boston Society of Architects. It's an essay on the culture of architecture school crits, with some reporting from a recent final review at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. That was my first time writing for a print magazine, and working with a real photographer towards that end, so that was really neat--so check it out!

    2. You may remember an interview I did a while back with Sophie Wilkin from McGill University about ContemPLAY. Well, the project is up for an Architizer Award in the student design/build category, and if you'd like to vote you can do so here. Archinect showed a lot of love to this project when it was published, so if you like it, feel free to vote--or, if you wish, you can vote. They're in the lead right now, but it's close!

    3. Last thing for the moment: In all newfound freedom, post-thesis, I started a little tumblr called "My world in emoji," in which I post little scenes, from school and out of school. Basically, I have quite a bit of time to kill these days waiting to pee, as my desk is now on the 2nd tray (worst restroom to student ratio, and you don't need a statistical test to tell you that). And this is the fastest form of blogging I've found.

    That's all. Thanks for reading and don't eat all your 50% off chocolate at once, okay?


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About this Blog

This blog was most active from 2009-2013. Writing about my experiences and life at Harvard GSD started out as a way for me to process my experiences as an M.Arch.I student, and evolved into a record of the intellectual and cultural life of the Cambridge architecture (and to a lesser extent, design/technology) community, through live-blogs. These days, I work as a data storyteller (and blogger at in San Francisco, and still post here once in a while.

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