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Off Campus Design Walk September 2, 2009

Posted by smidget08 in Uncategorized.
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I decided that since I commute, what better place to look at design than my very own hometown? The main point of the design behind Main Street in Sweetwater is to preserve and restore history. “Historic Downtown Sweetwater” is part of Antique Alley, so every store on Main St. reflects the antique styling related inside most of the shops. Fountain in Town

The main focal point and point of emphasis is the fountain area, which includes memorials to World War II and the Korean War. The fountain area is lined in flags, which really emphasizes that as the exact center of town. The fountain “park” actually has an almost “perfect” radial balance, which is shown by flower-lined pathways leading to the fountain. The city actually has a design team and a planned group of gardeners and painters to help achieve that sense of the “days of old”. Every plant, tree, flower garden, and lamp post is designed exactly the same up the entire street, for purposes of uniformity and line. Everything has to work together, from the colored awnings on the buildings (which we will discuss later) to the signs businesses post. If everything is not uniformly designed to achieve the desired look, Main St. does not have effective gestalt. Since the focus of Main St. is the antique stores, all of the antique buildings have been left exactly as they were (with maybe a coat of paint). Many of the buildings have been restored, but none have been rebuilt. All of the antique stores in particular (vs. restaurants, cafes, and galleries) have a very dark brown/red brick, which is a somewhat distinguishing factor. The only things that  do not work with the otherwise effective gestalt of Historic Downtown Sweetwater are the hardware store on the corner (a staple in our town) and the town bar (best burger you will ever have! 🙂 ) These buildings do not reflect the antique styling of signs, lamp posts, or even the colored awnings we have all grown so fond of.  Pretty much every store on Main St. has these same colored awnings, reflecting the look of the past. The fountain which I spoke of stands in front of a train car from years ago! This stands in rememberance of the Old Sweetwater Train Depot, which was originally the center of town. This is also a great emphasis point in town, because it is bright silver, and you really cannot miss it. The town is based on an Asymmetrical yet Radial Balance because everything in the Historic district revolves around the train car/fountain area, but is somewhat lopsided to one side of the street. There is also a giant gazebo in the middle of town beside the train car, strategically placed there to be the end of the parade route for Veteran’s Day and 4th of July parades, and is the basis for many concerts, gatherings, and the town Christmas tree.  Even the center fountain has a radial balance, using flower lined pathways to lead to the very center. Another thing that I noticed is that there are at least two other shops in between each antique store. Also, I found out something from one of our local shop owners. There is apparently one person that does most of the window displays in town, just to make them look well together, but to vary them and make each one unique, yet in the same antique design. While I sat downtown taking notes and pictures, there were photographers taking memory cards full of pictures. The town must be very aesthectically pleasing and have effective gestalt to have such popularity with photographers.


Objects in Context August 30, 2009

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The object I chose to represent in different contexts was a bell. When they ring, they mean a multitude of different things, usually all wanting you to do something. For example, let’s choose four of these bells. First, we have the service bell. Every store you enter has this small rounded bell with the one simple purpose of summoning someone to assist you. Whether or not they do that is up to them, but the bell’s one purpose is to ring loud and clearly that you need help with something.

Secondly, we have the Liberty Bell. This bell was originally used to call the Pennsylvania Assembly to meetings, and was soon adopted by many different ethnic groups and groups that were deprived of certain rights as a symbol of freedom. In this context, the bell is not necessarily to demand help, but to coax people to meet or it can stand as a symbol of an entire country.

Next up is the wedding bell. When people hear this bell, it rings of a joyous occasion. You think of love, kindness, cherishment, and kisses. You know that a couple has made a great promise to one another, and I don’t know about you, but just the sound of that bell makes me think about the future, and all of the promises people will make to each other.

Last, but not least, let us remember our childhoods and talk about the sleigh bell. This bell represents all that is magical and youthful to many children every year across the world. Thought of as one of the symbols of the modernized picture of Santa Claus, many children revel in the sound of this bell as a reminder of Christmas time, Santa, winter, and snow. We think of hot chocolate and sleigh rides, and having that merry feeling that we get each year.

I think that bells can have many different meanings including those I mentioned. In different contexts, they can evoke different feelings, make you do different things, and can hopefully make you think about different things.

Campus Design Walk August 30, 2009

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I was looking for unexpected things as well as very obvious design techinques on our campus, and after two thorough searches, I came out with an entirely new perspective on the campus. I liked the comment in class about the brick on both entrances representing prestige and stability, and how the brick is reflected throughout campus, perhaps showing stability in education? The color of the brick is also important, showing that most of the brick is dark with light highlights, while only Anderson and Thaw Hall are white. This may be to emphasize the fact that both are academic buildings, or that both are prestigious on campus. Also, this could show that Anderson is a major part of our identity. I also noticed emphasis on things like the main entrance and Anderson bell-tower, which is pretty much the identity of the school. SKETCH2I noticed how all of the sidewalks lead to the covenant stone; one of the more important things on our campus, and also how the quad is designed with many varying textures and places built in for people to socialize. I noted how most of the athletic fields were reasonably out of view and to the outskirts of campus which might be purposeful, showing that we focus more on education, since all of the academic buildings are in the exact middle of campus. Thaw Hall was also emphasized, with columns and large staircases, showing that we still want students to study there and that it is one of the main prestigious academic buildings on campus. There is not much color outside of the beige/white/tan/brown range noticably out on campus, but walking into a few of the buildings would suggest otherwise. The Center for Campus Ministry is also an emphasized point on campus, but has a hidden color treasure trove in the form of “Buff Jesus”.

Stained glass in the CCM.  My hidden color trove.

Stained glass in the CCM. My hidden color trove.

 The white dome on the outside of the CCM shows the same emphasis as the white color represented on Thaw and Anderson halls. Also, the use of arches on campus is liberal, except for two buildings: Sutton and Cooper. These buildings (science and gym) are more for functionality than anything, so being pretty was probably not part of the plan when designing these buildings. They needed the equipment and the most effective use of space they could get. They have the related dark brick with all of the other buildings on campus, but not necessarily the arches, columns, shaped windows, or other special features we would associate with buildings such as Thaw or Anderson or even the newer buildings like Bartlett and Fayerweather.  Spacially, I think campus is balanced. Some things are in close proximity; some related, some not. For instance, Gamble and Davis halls are in close proximity. Copeland is almost an exact replica of the two freshman dorms, but since it is not in close proximity with the other two, visitors would not necessarily relate the three of them. Lloyd and Gibson halls are in very close proximity, and are exact mirror opposites of each other, so usually most people do see them as related. I would say overall, our campus does have effective gestalt, except for the Clayton Center as of right now. We do have a very aesthetically pleasing campus, and as a whole, I would say that the design has accomplished a good balance of texture, color, meaning behind building placement, and functionality.