Thursday, July 16, 2009

stand down.
lashing at our heels.
intentionally neglected.

the degradation of a home.
humanity sits on its throne.
cover your eyes and ears and.
we can't escape the consequence.

we continue to drown the ocean in its own waters.
stand down. stand down.
time's out now.
kill like we know how.
killing like we're alone.

the degradation of a home.
humanity is so.
cover your eyes and ears and.
we can't escape the consequence.

and everything's ending.

make way.
make way for man.

bombs away.
bombs away.
bombs away.

now turn the other cheek and pretend.
full speed to hatred.
forcing life against its will.

full speed 'til we're dead.
we can't escape the consequence.

oh. bombs away.
the degradation of a home.
oh. bombs away.
humanity sits on its throne.
cover your eyes and ears and.
we can't escape the consequence.

- set your goals (gaia bleeds)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I have acquired an obsession with sticky notes.
Can you acquire an obsession?

My new idea:

just. products.

such as:

just giraffe.

and etc.

It's a bit of a long story, but one worth hearing at some point. Basically, it boils down to being bored in the office and starting to doodle... which is the cause of many of my ideas.

So it started with horrible sketches... and ended not far from there.

But where is the ending?

Who knows?

The new Set Your Goals album is UNREAL.

"The Few That Remain" is a current favourite...
"This Will Be The Death Of Us" is just so good, though... pretty hard to beat.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

a thought.

doug clark is to the faculty of architecture as kelley hrudey is to hockey night in canada.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A piece of writing.

Well, I thought it would be fun and beneficial to the world if I published a paper I wrote for my theory class in my blog. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out, considering I'm sure I wrote it in a mere one evening. Ah, school... I miss you.

Here it is:

RE_TAIN: Maintaining Environment, Community, and Culture
Through Red River College and Landschaftspark

“Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.” This Kenyan proverb is a powerful statement which is increasingly relevant in contemporary society. Sustainability of this planet for future generations is a topic which has recently become popular in the public eye. Of course, the thought of sustainability immediately conjures up images of ecological systems and energy efficiency, but it can embody a much broader scope of ideas. The sustainability of our communities and culture is also a necessity to the livelihood of the human race. Architectonic constructs are tools which shape our ecology, communities and culture in various ways. The Red River College building in Winnipeg’s Exchange District and Duisburg-Nord, Germany’s Landschaftspark have vastly different scalar qualities and programs, yet they share the common focus of fulfilling various aspects of global and local sustainability.

Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District is teeming with traces of the beginnings of the city and the industry which flourished there, beginning in the nineteenth century. It is a setting of past and present cultures, and an area of the city which has recently become the focus of urban revival. In 1997 the Exchange District was named a national historic site, and since that time the efforts to bring life back into the area have been accelerated. Of the existing 149 buildings, 117 were constructed before the first world war, and 62 are considered to be heritage structures. (Love, 27) This sense of history in a location so close to Winnipeg’s downtown is reason to celebrate the past development of the city.

Nestled among the existing buildings and bordered by Princess and Adelaide Streets and William and Elgin Avenues, The Red River College building coexists with these buildings in this historic setting. Designed by Corbett Cibinel Architects in 2003, the building functions as a new hub for the college’s multimedia and information technology education. The structure was built within and around six historic buildings which, since the 1970’s had been owned by the city and largely ignored and forgotten. The five buildings along Princess Street were retrofitted, retaining their original facades, and the six level warehouse building bordering William Avenue was also redesigned to incorporate new academic spaces for the college (Kopelow, 20). Ideas of environmentally sustainable technologies are extremely visible throughout the building, as is the essence of the former industrial site.

Across the globe in Duisburg-Nord, Germany, another brownfield redevelopment project seeks to breathe new life into a forgotten area. Landschaftspark is designer Peter Latz’s vision of a twenty-first century landscape park. The site, situated in an urban industrial setting, was once home to coal mining and steel making operations which originated in the middle ages. These operations gradually slowed down throughout the twentieth century and were finally ceased in 1985 with the closing of the final steelworks. The park is located in close proximity to the Emscher River and the Autobahn #42 highway and is part of an extensive riverbank park renewal project that is currently ongoing (Tate, 115). The most unique feature of the park is the fact that all of the existing infrastructure was kept intact at the onset of the project. Blast furnaces, massive gas tanks, ore bunkers, a power station and miles of abandoned railway track have not only been preserved, but have been given new life. The site has been transformed into a nature preserve which is also a destination for various recreational activities. The gas tank was cleaned and transformed into an artificial reef, acting as the new home for a scuba diving club. Repellers actively use the sides of the blast furnaces, and many elevated walkways were installed to provide interesting vistas for visitors. (

Latz’s ambition with the design was to capitalize on the filth of the industrial history of the place, rather than try to hide it. “Any changes that obscured Duisburg-Nord’s gritty history would be repugnant, amoral and aesthetic violation” (Lubow, 52). The park is a landscape which retains the aesthetic qualities of the old industrial buildings, while splashing a fresh coat of “green” on the surface, making it an inviting atmosphere.

These two examples of brownfield redevelopment design are similar in the fact that they have each reclaimed a parcel of land which had been previously forgotten. As well, each example exhibits a sensitivity to the local context and to the needs of the existing community. However, each architect’s perception of how ecological sustainability would be achieved was slightly different.

The aim of the Red River College building is to create a more environmentally sustainable site by cutting down on the amount of energy that is consumed and utilizing current green technologies to harvest energy. A $235,000 photovoltaic array is attached boldly to the south facade of the building and collects enough energy to support five average households over the course of one year (Kopelow, 20). A green roof is incorporated, as well as water conservation and treatment technologies. Materials for the building were also recovered from the existing buildings on site. This not only lowers the embodied energy of the structure, but also places an even greater emphasis on the historical buildings that exist. The emphasis is on being environmental while still being very urban (Kopelow, 21).

Landschaftspark approaches ecological sustainability in a much different way. Where Red River College is meant to be an energy efficient building, Latz’s creation is meant to be an industrial rebirth to natural systems. Visitors to the park do not completely lose the traces of the mechanical past, but they are confronted with the gesture that the natural environment has returned to its original position as the dominant force in the landscape. This project is more obviously about mending a wound, while still leaving a scar as evidence that the land was overused and polluted. Although the buildings are celebrated for their industrial aesthetic qualities, even to the point where they are illuminated in colourful light at night, they are most certainly dormant and decaying. It is a visible stillness which is in drastic contrast to the new activity and growth in and around the buildings. The turbines do not spin, the tanks have all been emptied and no smoke billows from the stacks. Natural order is restored.

In each case, it is easy to see that environmental sustainability was an obvious central intention in the process of design, but the outcome of each design is quite different in terms of the physical creation of a sustainable site. However, the most interesting aspect of these designs is not simply in their physical transformation of the environment, but in their deeper social underpinnings. The ability of the built environment to sustain community is another aspect which is seen within these constructs.

Red River College places itself within an old and historic sector of Winnipeg. The program of information technology and multimedia education is extremely suitable. This building is all about education. The obvious fact that it is a college is not its only embodied educational quality. The building reveals the history of the site, as well as the technologies of the future. The lessons learned from the integration of old and new systems would not be possible if the building had not been a revitalization project. Furthermore, Red River College is a central destination for people coming in from other areas of the city. It is the gathering point for a new community within the Exchange District. The addition of this space for collaborative work and a community of scholars brings a renewed sense of permanence to the area. With this new program the surrounding community is enabled to flourish.

Landschaftspark is also a centre for new community development. The site itself hosts a multitude of recreational subcultures which collaboratively use the space. This intermingling of unique users begins to construct an internal community which has as much diversity as the park lands themselves. Additionally, in terms of the site’s context, the design of the park has actually transformed its spatial quality. Once an industrial boundary between two residential communities, the area is now becoming a connection point (Tate, 119). It is not only creating a new central community within, but also helping to link others.

In these ways, each of these spaces foster sustainability in respect to community and context. Not only do they attract users from various outlying areas, they also catalyze community growth and collaboration through their specific selection of programmatic elements.

Besides the sustainability of ecological systems and local communities these two constructs both inform sustainability of a different, more theoretical makeup: the sustainability of culture. Both of these projects are extremely valuable in terms of historical significance. Not only historical in terms of the past, but in terms of present day techniques and the consideration of future generations. In each case, the formal intentions of the design are very much secondary to the creation of spaces which enhance the local community, and keep the original genius loci of the area alive in a contemporary environment. Red River College fits in where it can. It is not about taking over the space, or blocking the images of the past, and neither is Landschaftspark. In each of these situations, the design is intended as a tool for highlighting what used to be, what is, and what should be in the future.

Landschaftspark and Red River College are each influencing the future by preserving the past. Restoring and integrating heritage buildings in the exchange will keep memories of Winnipeg’s beginnings alive and may inspire a new generation. Landschaftspark’s decaying structures, illuminated like giant scars, will act as a constant reminder of years passed. The entire notion is not simply about the conservation of historical masonry or dilapidated steel structures, but about keeping past lessons of human activity apparent in our current built environment. The physical entity of a blast furnace in itself may not seem valuable to a particular community or the advancement of society, but the way in which such a structure influences the experience of a particular group of people is very important. A different perception of who we are and where we are going is gained by each and every person who experiences the design. Everything in our world comes from something else. The way in which we advance is a direct consequence of the way we learn from the things around us. Buildings can be teachers, and these two designs are great examples which reinforce the fact that the built environment is didactic.

Architecture, whether it be in the realm of buildings or landscapes, will always play an important role in the way we advance as a society. In the tactile environment we respond to things we can touch, see, or experience. History is alive in the structures of the past. Just as the pyramids at Giza remind us of the ancient civilization of the Egyptians, old industrial brownfield sites inform us of the powerful age of the Industrial Revolution and the times when mechanical systems and machinery were the dominant fixture in human society. Reminders of this period inform decisions and serve to inspire the development of new ideas in architecture as well as other disciplines.

Architecture may be defined as the planned construction of built forms and landscapes, but it is truly much more than that. It is not always about what we build, but what we leave behind. Sustainability is a topic of great importance and relevance in our current society. Contemporary design ventures have the opportunity to preserve not only our environment, but also our communal society and our cultural being. Landschaftspark and Red River College each respect and preserve the historical artifacts of their local context while setting an example of how humans should build in the future. They are less about the design of a particular construct, and more about the making of a new perception. Each acts as a window to observe the past, present, and future. This earth and culture that we have loaned from our children will not be handed down to them in the same condition as it was when we received it. The cultural evolutions we will go through will inevitably change the shape of our earth through our generation. Design which revitalizes a part of our history will always play an important role in ensuring that our culture continues to grow, and our earthly resources never diminish. Treat the earth well. Sustainability is our key to the future.


Love, Myron. “College Development Pumps New Life into Historic Winnipeg” Planning Feb. 2001: 27-28.

Tate, Alan. Great City Parks New York, New York. Spon Press, 2001.

Kopelow, Gerry. “Green Lantern” Canadian Architect Jan. 2004: 20-23.

McMinn, John. “Mainstreaming Green” Canadian Architect Jan. 2003: 14-19.

Lubow, Arthur. “The Anti-Olmsted” New York Times Magazine May 2004: 46-53.

Image Sources

Landschaftspark Photograph:
Red River College Photograph: personal photograph.
Red River College Sketch: personal interpretive sketch.

Friday, June 6, 2008

It seems as though this is as good a time as any to make an additional entry to my blog. A dreary day has left us painters enjoying a lazy Friday afternoon inside cleaning airbrush tips and searching parts up on the internet and such. A painter's life for me.

And before long I will rush into my bathroom, shower, brush my teeth, and transform into a grocery worker extraordinaire! Arrive at Extra Foods just in time to bag groceries for the five o'clock rush and then get the daily briefing from my manic management staff and set out a plan for the evening work. Perhaps I will be cleaning up another messy shelving unit. Maybe I will try to stay at the front end all night long and bag groceries. Maybe there will be a pile of stock to be put on the shelves. It doesn't sound that exciting, but by comparison to painting, it is quite a rush. It seems to me that there is a far greater range of work to be completed than when I am painting. I can't really complain about either of my jobs. Each one is nearly full time when it comes down to it. (about 35 hours each job per week...) So 70 hours of mostly manual labour takes a lot out of you. I find that I have been falling asleep very easily at night. Although, I usually don't finish work until ten or eleven. It's hard to find time for yourself with a schedule like that. But then, in Swan River it's hard to find much of anything to do to fill your time.

I would like to take more photographs. I would like to put my new camera to some use! It would be nice to enter some prints into the rodeo competition this year. I think I could have a chance, I don't really know if there is anyone else who really enters... I am sure there are a few. Likely the professional photographers will enter and slaughter my snapshots. We'll see. It's one of those things I will likely never do. Maybe my summer resolution is to just do things that I always think I should do, but never do. Perhaps I should just do... more. That's probably a good idea! Maybe I already do too much!?

The summer is passing quickly, yet... the days pass slowly. Work is not challenging. I feel like I am not being utilized for my skills. I am a thinker, not a manual labourer. I'm not a terrible worker. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty... (but I always wash them before bagging your groceries!) But I just feel as though I should be doing something exciting. I have worked hard my whole life, and I still work at Extra Foods... and I haven't gotten a raise in 4 years! (I have been there for 7) Painting is a profitable endeavor, since my father pays me well, but I can't say it's very intriguing. The most exciting thing is analyzing siding for moisture content and having a twenty second conversation with my dad about vapour barrier that doesn't involve him yelling at me. He is a grouch. I hope I am not as grouchy as him when I am his age. I better not be, because by that age I want to be teaching. And a grouchy design teacher is the worst thing ever.

We work to pay bills. My bills include: Phone bill, Food for consumption, Gasoline, Chicago Trip Payments... and frivilous spending, which I have yet to do this summer! I must save my money for other bills which will attack me in the coming months. Travel expenses, tuition, parking, residence (which my parents will likely help out with, for the FINAL year, I am assured by them). So, money comes and goes, and I am left with very filled days of working for the MAN. Well, two men, actually. I am getting dual-pwned.

My father insists that it's not going to rain and that I should busy myself with mowing the lawn. I think I'll strap on my iPod complete with "The Cab: Whisper War". Should be a decent time, all around.

Until the next time, remember to cross your t's and dot your i's.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

This could be the beginning of something EPIC.


I find one of the most astonishing things about modern society is that we have technology which allows us to keep record of everything, yet... we lose so much. I find that it's difficult to remember things that happen. Am I getting old? Senile? Or just victim to the fact that I don't have a constant recording device watching me eternally? Perhaps that's not so far off? I mean, everyone is into Facebook and blogging, and knowing everything about everything and everyone... but no one can even use the words YOUR and YOU'RE correctly. People are dependent on technology, yet they take it for granted. The internet is a powerful tool. But in the hands of fools, it is exploited and even wasted. I have strong opinions. I have an ability to type at a decent pace. I spend time each day at my computer. Therefore, I think that I am eligible to have a blog. Maybe this is one of those things that will soon be forgotten, but I'm hoping not. I am also hoping to be able to voice opinions to the public that won't get me shunned or hated by anyone who happens to be reading. I want to be able to keep my memories saved somewhere, so that I can go back and laugh at myself for whatever I did. My mother used the phrase "Hindsight is 20/20" today... referring to... I cannot recall, actually, but it's very true. I think that I will look back on this someday and laugh at myself, but I think it will at very least give me a vision as to what I was thinking, who I was, and how far I have come as a person. There will be goals, dreams, thoughts, opinions, rants... it will be all about dealing with life, and what it seems to throw at me. I have been through a bit so far. Life, love, work, work, work, some more love, and some more life. And what else is there? Life is about spending. We make money. We spend it. We make time. We spend it. We have to budget time and money. Time towards making money, time towards people, money towards time? Money towards people? Ok. This blog will likely not make further reference to prostitution. But it is all about living life for those that you love. Whatever you believe about our existence on earth, it is certain that we are only here for a short time. In that time it is important that we make some sort of impact. I often see young people today that don't seem to care to make an impact. This saddens me more than the lack of a decent font on this blog program. (I mean, Arial is ok... but it will only get you so far!) But back to making a difference... It seems like there are few people in our generation that are prepared to do that. I can't really say I've made much of a difference with my life. So far I am at a stand-still. I am waiting for my chance to do something. I am a student. I want to learn everything. I want to have the knowledge. I think I have more ambition than intelligence. But I like it that way. I have a bit of intelligence. Enough to get me by in design school, I guess. Not enough for Engineering, however, that could be attributed to a lack of maturity at the time.

Life passes by so quickly that we can't seem to save enough of it. Recent years have blown by, and I can't help but feel like I am left with nothing. Does it sometimes feel like we have nothing? Perhaps it gets better with a family and a mortgage, etc. Maybe that puts things into perspective, puts you into your "place" in the world. Do we have a place, though? Are we meant for a specific task? No. I don't think so. We are put on this earth with different skills, abilities, and initial differentials. But our experiences ultimately determine where we fit. Things change. People change. We change with everything else around us. It is an exciting change, and yet... frightening at times, and hurtful. Sometimes we want to hold onto things the way that they are. Sometimes we just get scared of moving on. It's time to live life. And sometimes you just have to keep on truckin', as they say. Life can only move forward. Sometimes we have things from the past that come back, but they become new items with different qualities. Time doesn't stop or stand still or pause. It is a perpetual motion machine of the ages. It ticks away our lifeblood and has no sympathy, nor remorse.

I am young. There is much life that is ripe for the picking. So it's important to seize what you can. It's important to keep going when things are hard... get through to live to another better day. When it comes down to it, friends are irreplaceable, but friends fall and fail, and move apart. People grow apart. Remember all the people you used to talk to when you were younger? Why did you lose touch? We have crazy new technology that is so simply bringing people together (cough... facebook...cough) Yet, I still feel as though I don't know anyone anymore. Maybe it's just me? Maybe I have been isolating due to my ambitions to try to learn everything. Maybe it is dedication to other facets of life that cost us everything in our social lives. As an Environmental Design student, I know that I am part of an extreme breed of... machines? Well, if the fuel is coffee and nachos... then a robot is me. (the coffee comment is actually only applicable to Dan, but I enjoy a large plate of nachos 2-3 times per week during finals)

I think that I need to take a break from philosophical ranting. The point here is that there is more to life than we can ever imagine. There is too much to take in, too much to remember, and it's extremely difficult to know what is right and what is wrong all of the time. I think the important part is being able to say that you did the best you could, considering the situation. Just.... try. That's all you can do... and sometimes we don't. Sometimes we don't try to be the best people we can be. But we should. It's not as simple as that, but that's a big part.

I think we are all searching for the answers. The unfortunate thing about life is that they are different for everyone, so when your friend finds them, he can't just write them on a cheat sheet for you. Your answers may come much further into life. And you always live with the knowledge that, the only thing certain is that you will never be certain.

The world is a billion shades of gray.

Goodnight World.