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Posts tagged ‘architecture’

Envisioning a library of the future with students in ARCH 353

This post is written by Jesse Vestermark, Architecture and Environmental Design Librarian. Featured image: A future library envisioned by Claire Joseph.

In December 2013, I received and unusual request from Professor Richard Beller, an Architecture faculty member I have worked with in the past.  He didn’t (necessarily) need me to help his students find resources on the design of libraries.  Instead, he wanted me and a handful of my library colleagues to help advise his twenty or so third-year students in ARCH 353 Architectural Design 3.3 (Lab) through the process of designing a public library for Oakland, California for the year 2030. Read more

Reimagining Kennedy Library now, to build a bridge to the future

On November 21 and 22, a project team from the architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch will be visiting the Robert E. Kennedy Library. Their visit kicks off a project to reimagine Kennedy Library for the next 5-10 years. Consider these 5-10 years to be a bridge between the library we know now, and the library of the future, also known as the academic commons.

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Julia Morgan’s legacy lives on in Cal Poly architecture students

A tiny city sprung up almost overnight this January in Kennedy Library’s 1st Floor Gallery, thanks to the work of 2nd year architecture students.

The city, or rather, models of buildings all inspired by architect Julia Morgan, was the result of the architecture students’ work last quarter studying the history of the iconic Morgan. Architecture professors and students worked with Kennedy Library’s Special Collections to access Morgan’s own documentation of her work, and then designed projects in response to Morgan’s style of design.

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An interview with Clare Olsen (+ bonus video!)

In this first installment of their email interview, Renee Jain, a 5th year Architecture student who is working on her thesis, asks Clare Olsen, an assistant professor in architecture, about her upcoming installation in Kennedy Library. Renee has been interested in the art of making since high school and digital fabrication since attending Cal Poly. Involved in both on and off-campus art exhibits, Renee has worked on various types of installations. Fittingly, Kennedy Library is her favorite place to exhibit!

Clare Olsen teaches in the Department of Architecture at Cal Poly and also runs her own practice, C.O.CO.  Before moving to San Luis Obispo, she taught similar coursework at Syracuse University in upstate New York. Clare has designed projects at a wide range of scales, but her practice has focused on smaller, crafted works including installations and furniture. (The renderings of the installation you see here are Clare’s.)

RJ: I’ve heard and read about the installation going in the stairwell. In your words, tell me about the installation.

CO: I’m super thrilled to be working on a project for Kennedy Library. Since I’ve started teaching at Cal Poly, I’ve been really impressed with the number of students that use the library on a daily basis—the building seems to work well as a study and gathering space, and I’m happy to be working on a project that will contribute to the experience and atmosphere of a prominent space in the library, the grand staircase.

There are a number of contextual factors that contribute to the design: the academic context of the library has influenced the formal approach to the project, which consists of aggregated diamond-shaped modules that grow and spread along two walls.  The stairwell context has also inspired a dynamic, diagonally moving organization of the modules across the wall surfaces.

RJ: Kennedy Library definitely has a great context. Why did you decide to use the library stairwell?

Kennedy Library stairwell installation renderingCO: I’m very inspired by the movement of natural light. Although the window wall in the stairwell faces north and doesn’t receive much direct sunlight, the space has a serene, solitary feel despite that it’s a major route of passage in the building. In order to play up the light qualities of the space, I’ve incorporated glossy, mirror-like materials and small perforations in the modules, which will subtly reflect light.

RJ: What’s the meaning behind the title, Learning is Infectious?

CO: Well, that’s the title that I gave the project in the beginning to clearly link the library with the form of the piece, which seems to spread like a virus across the walls of the stairwell. I haven’t quite decided if that will be the title that will get etched on the plaque, but because the form of the piece is very abstract—connected diamond modules—the title helps to describe the project in relation to the library, which was a big driver for the initial design. In the past, I’ve toyed with one-word titles that are a play on words, but I haven’t had the Title Epiphany yet. In any case, the piece will probably be entitled something pretty close to “learning is infectious”.

RJ: You mentioned the reflectivity of the materials and the light quality. Could you talk more about the material selection?

CO: From the beginning of the design process, I was interested in utilizing a durable, lightweight material that could be cut using digitally controlled machines. This narrowed the choice of materials very quickly and I am working with aluminum because it’s lighter weight and less expensive than steel, and can be plasma cut.  I’m collaborating with Dr. Mark Zohns, who runs the plasma cutter in Agricultural Engineering, and we’ve worked together to develop techniques for setting up the file so that the machine will cut the modules in a way that they can be assembled quickly and easily.

I plan to work with a team of architecture students to partially assemble (i.e. fold up) the modules and we’ll transport them to Chad at Full Spectrum who will powder coat the pieces in two different finishes—white and clear. Powder coating will further enhance the durable, industrial quality of the modules—you’re probably familiar with the finish because it’s on bicycle frames. I also really like the intensely glossy, super smooth qualities of powder coating, which would be difficult to achieve by hand.


Check back here for the second installment of Clare and Renee’s interview, coming later this month!

Below, watch the second video in our documentary series in which Clare Olsen discusses the challenges of using color with Patrick Kammermeyer (who is behind the camera). You can watch the first video in the series, about prototyping, on our Vimeo channel.

Read part two of Renee and Clare’s interview and watch a video on color.

Learn more about Clare and the Clare Olsen Company at C.O.CO.

Prototyping an upcoming installation: a video documentary series

Clare Olsen, an assistant professor in architecture at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, is working with the Kennedy Library on an sculpture called, “Learning is Infectious.” This video, by Patrick Kammermeyer, is the first in a series documenting the process. Look for the installation in January, 2013!



Architecture time machine!

Second year architecture students are stepping into the past with the help of Kennedy Library’s Special Collections. The upcoming exhibit, Atelier Morgan, features an inspiring collection of Julia Morgan’s sketches and drawings. As part of the exhibit, every second year architecture student at Cal Poly participated in the Julia Morgan Symposium, where they had a chance to look through the Morgan Papers to draw inspiration.

Architecture instructors rarely choose the same projects for their students, so this is an opportunity for the students to work on the same subject and explore Cal Poly’s Special Collections, architecture professor Robert Arens said.

“Students will take this opportunity to see the Special Collections and also see this great exhibit,” Arens said. The exhibit opens at Kennedy Library on November 9, 2012.

Faculty selected one of three Morgan projects to focus on for the quarter, having students design structures or create drawings that are inspired by, but not necessarily derivative of, Morgan’s iconic work.

Photo of Cal Poly architecure students review Julia Morgan papers“Everyone’s taking kind of a different approach to it,” Arens said. He described the challenge for students: “How do you fit into an existing context and kind of a revered one? How do you respond to that without imitation?”

And the students’ experience with these revered works has inspired them too.

For architecture student Karin Bjorkman, who is working on a sketch inspired by Morgan’s work at Hearst Castle, access to the Morgan Papers is a special privilege, she said. “It was really touching that they brought it down to us,” Bjorkman said.

For architecture student Eli Beckman, that privilege is also an incredible way to study something first-hand. “It’s a great sort of primary source as to what Julia Morgan’s work looked like,” Beckman said.

The Atelier Morgan exhibit is November 9, 2012 – January 11, 2013, with an opening on November 9 from 3-4pm in the second floor Gallery at the Commons. The opening is followed by The College of Architecture and Environmental Design’s 2012 Hearst Lecture Series featuring Victoria Kastner, historian for Hearst Castle and author of two books: “Hearst Castle: The Biography of a Country House” and “Hearst’s San Simeon: The Gardens and the Land.” The lecture will be from 4-5pm in the Business Rotunda at Cal Poly.

The architecture students’ Morgan-inspired projects will go on display in the Gallery at the Commons on the second floor of Kennedy Library, January 14 – February 1, 2013.

UPDATE: See photos from the exhibit opening on our Flickr.

Learn more about Kennedy Library’s Special Collections.

More information about the Julia Morgan exhibit is available at Atelier Morgan.

– Victoria Billings