Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Minecraft Block Storage Cube

This Christmas I really wanted to get my son some Minecraft storage blocks for his room. If your family is like mine, the last year or so has been a running show of your kid playing Minecraft (solo or with friends via Skype), watching videos of people playing Minecraft, and digging holes in your yard to play "Minecraft in Real Life". It can be overwhelming but as they say, sometimes you have to meet the ones you love where they are.

Which brings us back to the Minecraft storage block. We looked all over the web for Minecraft related stuff, but here's the thing, they are expensive! ...and we couldn't actually find what we wanted.

The solution...MAKE ONE!!
(for just $17/cube)

Here's some step by step photos, tips, and lessons learned:

Step 1: Build a wooden box. I used 1/2" MDF. I cut a 4'x8' sheet lengthwise in 16" strips so I could make 3 storage cubes with one sheet. These are slightly under half scale for 'real life' Minecraft (3'x3').

Tip: cut each side 1/2" shorter or they won't fit on the 16" square base.

I assembled using 1" finish nails. 4 at each corner.

Tip: place end nails at least 1" from end to avoid splitting the MDF

Step 2: Prime the outside surface of the cube with a latex primer

Step 3: Map out a rough plan lightly in pencil. Apply base coat.

Tip: this is my biggest lesson learned which cost a day of extra painting. I began with orange because it covered the most area. It was gratifying to paint such a large area, but difficult painting Yellow over it...Start with your lightest color. (It took 8 coats!)

Step 4: Mask your color area and paint (see the yellow over orange issue)

Step 5: Mask your second color area

Tip: I used 1" and 2" masking tape so they could also serve as effective spacers for making pixels

Step 6: Begin to layer in tertiary pixel areas.

Tip: to save money, I mixed my own colors from here on out from the base paint colors
More layers!
Even more layers!
Mixing paints!

Step 7: Admire your work

and the final step...
Last step: Make a kid smile!

Tip: clean your living room before taking photos
Tip 2: deal with it, it's Christmas and you made a Lava Block!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In support of indigenous landscape architecture

In our current economic malaise, should lawns be illegal. They come at a terrible cost to productivity. Assuming $3/gallon in gas, 1 gallon gas/month/lawn, 1 hr/week/lawn, $24/hr average US wage, 1 lawn/3 Americans, 250 gallons water/lawn/week, our annual costs for 100,000,000 lawns are:
$124,800,000,000 in lost productivity
$3,600,000,000 in fuel cost
1,200,000,000 gallons of wasted fuel
1,300,000,000,000 gallons of water wasted

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 educating students architectural thinking

I'm quite fond of saying that Architecture is the design of structures in response to humanist requirements. Those structures are traditionally thought of as buildings, but they could be cities, businesses, societies, or any multitude of other things as well.

To fully apply this methodology, it's structure itself that must be defined. A structure is the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex.

Architecture requires not just understanding the complexity of arrangements and relations, but using those relations to inspire and influence human emotion and behaviors. Therefore to be successful, an architect must be competent in engineering and legal systems, human psychology, project management, geometry, philosophy, and design/composition aesthetic principles. proposes that common architectural thinking principles are applied across any all fields. To be effective however, the systems that a given structure relies upon must be learned on a case by case basis in order develop maximize the possible solutions available within that system's given constraints.

With this understanding, architectural education can be applied to many fields outside of traditional building construction that rely on human interactions, such as business, technology, education, and politics to improve the societal interactions and outcomes of those fields.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Deciding whether to use Flat Design

As an architect, I'll say flat design, like other modernist movements,  is essential to keep design ornament in check. Left to its own devices, ornament can create delight and texture, but without underlying meaning or intent can quickly become an extraneous taste driven design liability. 

Flat design is a rebellion against the inherent subjectivity in design response. There will be many elegantly beautiful examples of its use, but ultimately, the human need for tactile relationships with their environment, and flat design's stress of logic over emotional response will limit its lasting mass appeal. 

Flat design's underlying ethos of functional clarity will forever distinguish good design from bad in any field. The best examples of it can be considered high art. However, the fashion appeal towards embracing flat design will inherently lead towards a design homogeny and countless designs that lack any appeal towards emotional response.

But let's be honest, every design language ultimately gets corrupted by fashion.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Building a Sustainable Augusta

Should we build local businesses that can finance a downtown revitalization or restore buildings to attract outside companies to move in? As an architect, this may be a surprising answer. Being integrally tied to the construction industry, our profession must develop a deep understanding of boom and bust economic cycles, and in particular recognize that real estate and construction is a support sector of the economy, not an economy unto itself.

It is clear that over the long term, our currently emerging strategy is flawed in that it will perpetuate the outflow of capital from the CSRA. Businesses, for all their flaws, build what they need. Governments build what they think businesses need. If we want to create a sustainable vibrant local economy, we must focus our efforts on supporting local startup businesses that will hire local people and return profits to the local economy. Governments can encourage this development through tax incentives for local investment and grants to support small businesses and research.

If we do this, we will create a lasting prosperity to sustain the long term revitalization of our area and mitigate the extreme cyclical nature of the real estate and construction industries.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Innovation Architect

How do you start a post that is intended to be a summary explanation of a philosophical transformation of your approach to work? Undoubtedly anything you write will seem pompous, and even more so you are sure to be longwinded and a potential bore to your readers. So in short, I think most of what we celebrate in the architectural world is bullshit. We celebrate the ability to spend money, and we celebrate it so much so that people spend inordinate amounts on projects they inherently know are temporary. What makes this absurd is the push over the last decade to celebrate the 'industrial' look. It absolutely pains me to explain to clients that in order to achieve an effective 'warehouse' aesthetic they will need to spend 3 times the amount of money to use rigid spiral ducting so they don't see cheap flex ducts. That instead of just running power and cabling from point a to b, they need to install cable trays and conduit to give it a more orderly appearance. Imagine a client's lack of enthusiasm when told how many thousands they need to spend to spray encapsulate fireproofing so that it doesn't flake off on their desktops over time and can then be painted so that it doesn't look like hideous spray on fireproofing anymore. That industrial stainless look in a kitchen or breakroom...absolutely the most expensive way to go, and most if it isn't even industrial grade. Want to save money and have cubicles in an open office, that's great, but cubicles cost 3-5 times more than a desk. We're talking about millions of dollars wasted here, all because people are sold on a style and the false impression that its cheaper. The simple fact is that you can have a kick ass space and not spend a fortune on it, but you have to accept that raw means just that. $15 can buy all the materials you need for an awesome desk made of dimensional lumber and exposed bolt heads. It's up to you to find someone who will assemble it with thought and care.