Tag archives for | Spain

Tag archives for: Spain

It’s All About Gaudi…


As you are climbing uphill; what seems like a continuous climb throughout the many hills of Parc Guell, you bravely steel a glance or two downwards and think that this is it.  This must be one of the more beautiful experiences of your life.  Gingerly you take each step with your camera in hand, careful not to drop the camera or anything else as you find yourself looking at, well, everything.  It’s an overwhelming experience, and in a good way.  Earlier in the year, my dad passed away, thereby making this my first vacation in a decade where I did not suffer from any family distractions.  No worries, but did I ever miss him!  I still do.  But it was one less thing to ponder as I was transversing uneven stone steps with nary a handrail in sight.  But I was just starting to speak of the beauty about this park, a must-see for anyone who travels to Barcelona, when I hit a few detours.  Count Guell was a prominent businessman in Barcelona at the early part of the last century.  He engaged a prominent architect, Antoni Gaudi, to design a garden city with sixty houses on a hill called Montana Pelada.  The venture was not successful and only two houses were built.  But an unsuccessful venture led way to one of the more beautiful parks you will ever see.  At the entrance, you will find the main staircase with a dragon fountain made of broken bits of glazed ceramic tile, a signature style for Gaudi.  This leads to the Salon of a Hundred Columns which really number eighty-four, but who cares?  The ceiling of the salon has more tiled mosaics.  In fact, they’re everywhere in sight.  The on-site museum contains splendid furniture that Gaudi designed.  And so it goes; you’ve walked for three hours, and have a big smile on your face.  You can’t wait to tell the story to all you know.

You’ve planned a week in Barcelona because you are wise and know that you will not be bored for a second.  You will want to come back.  As you continue drinking in the various Gaudi shrines throughout this beautiful city, you get to understand a bit more about the architect with each building.  Casa Batllo is truly amazing and I would suggest to go early in the day to avoid crowds.  The details on the doorknobs and locks; the center court and other means of ventilation were ahead of their time.  The rooftop dragon is not to be believed.  Next up is Casa Mila, his iconic monument to the Modernist movement.  It does not seem very livable, but once again, it’s all in the details.  The Sagrada Familia is no problem for anyone familiar with waiting on lines at Disney.  Wear comfortable shoes!  If you are able to go to the top of the towers, then you are lucky for you will view this beautiful city in the most unique way and it is breathtaking.

Okay, I lied.  It’s not all about Gaudi.  It’s also about the food.  As I’m re-reading my diary, the secondary descriptions that do constant battle with architecture are of the fantastic food.  As I read about the various meals of fish, meats and risotto, my mouth waters and I desire to savor them all over again.  Since we are incapable of dining at 10:00 PM, we chose instead to have our main meals of the day at lunch and have a more casual al fresco experience in the evening.

I lied some more.  It’s all about the walk.  Ever since I was twenty and I traveled to San Francisco with friends, I have always made note of how compatible I am with the place I am visiting.  San Francisco was fine but I quickly realized I couldn’t live with Californians.  In Barcelona, at some point we stopped and thought, “could I live here?”  Yes was the answer.  It is walkable; it is friendly; it is safe and clean; it is modern; it is old.  Barcelona is ideal.  The week was brimming over with a travelogue of lists consisting of everywhere we ambled and places we didn’t quite get to at this time.  Maybe, next time?  Because there was so much good stuff that really good architects had the sense to design and get built all in walking distance of each other.  More Gaudi, so much to see in the Gothic Quarter as you walk past what is left of a Roman aqueduct, the Picasso Museum and the Palau de la Musica Catalana (a music hall with a gorgeous stained glass ceiling).  And then there’s Gehry’s Fish.  Barcelona’s golden fish sculpture sits in Port Olimpic at the base of one of the tallest buildings in the city.  Frank Gehry was commissioned to build the piece for the 1992 Summer Olympics and brought the city to the attention of the world!  Wow!

Barceloneta -Gehry fish10

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Computers are great tools for architects, but don’t let CAD go wild

Designing using CAD

As an AEC staffing expert and someone who has sold, supported and trained in CAD products for years, I would love to know your thoughts on this article.  For example, why is BIM below the radar? 

Architects can now design buildings without lifting a pencil, thanks to computer technology. In fact, digitally conceived architecture can be too complex to draw by hand or to develop using conventional drawings, even those printed by machine. Yet there may be risks in abandoning the pencil and relying so completely on the computer.

Drawing manually used to be an indispensable architectural skill, and not just for mechanical drafting. Drawing by hand was how historic architecture was documented and analyzed, and how incipient design ideas were recorded and explored graphically. For many architects, drawing by hand is both inherently pleasurable and integral to critical design thinking, a way to directly and creatively connect the eye, brain and hand. But today, computers enable architects to do little or no manual drawing, and drawing less by hand may tempt some architects to think less critically.

In architecture offices today, you rarely find a drafting board with a parallel bar, rolls of tracing paper, measuring scales, triangles, drawing templates or boxes of pencils and markers. Instead you see a workstation with a flat-screen monitor, keyboard and mouse. Many designers use computers for “drawing” everything: diagrams, preliminary design studies, three-dimensional views and construction documents. Produced on large-format printers, drawings can even be made to look like hand-drawn sketches.

Computer-aided-design (CAD) has transformed architectural design methodology, not because it eliminates manual drawing, but because it allows architects to compose stacks of drawings at every stage of design. Architects can show clients countless design variations, create realistic renderings and graphic simulations, and produce detailed construction documents.

Once preliminary design studies – site plan and massing studies, floor plan layouts, sections and elevations – are undertaken and a preliminary digital model is created, the architect can obtain three-dimensional views, including animated walk-throughs or fly-throughs. The designer also can modify any part of the project, whether a house or a high-rise, and CAD software can automatically edit and update all parts of the design affected by the modification.

CAD software can manage a vast amount of layered data, keeping track of and coordinating all digital model components and systems, such as the structural skeleton, windows, doors, interior partitions, floor finishes, ductwork and plumbing. These programs can alert the designer if components conflict geometrically and can instantly recompute dimensions, floor areas and material quantities.

It gets even better. When a design is finalized and fully defined in a three-dimensional digital model, CAD programs can print annotated, two-dimensional drawings for bidding, building permits and construction. For highly complex designs that cannot be adequately represented and interpreted using conventional documents, the digital model itself can become the primary documentation.

Architect Frank Gehry’s work epitomizes and necessitates this approach. His design concepts begin as sketchbook squiggles or crumpled paper and are ultimately transformed into volumetrically complicated, expressively curvaceous buildings impossible to draw. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Stata Center at M.I.T. and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park could not have been designed and constructed without using digital models.

Contractors for these projects directly accessed Gehry’s digital models, not conventional drawings. That was the only way they could calculate and price the enormous quantities of materials and labor necessary to fabricate and install the thousands of steel structural members and metal panels that make up the complex exterior skins of these buildings. Only with advanced computer technology could Gehry’s idiosyncratic approach to design have evolved and his projects been implemented.

Yet if every architect emulated Gehry’s expressive approach, a lot of bad architecture would result. This is because CAD can seductively induce “I can, therefore I shall” thinking. Because architects can digitally model almost any form they can dream up, CAD can lead to excessively complex, overwrought building designs – form for form’s sake. Such CAD-gone-wild buildings may be inappropriate for their sites, functionally inefficient, difficult to construct, way over budget and perhaps even ugly.

During the preliminary design phase, CAD programs also can yield machine-printed drawings that make a schematic design idea appear more precise, refined and resolved than it really is. Before CAD, concepts drawn by hand often were sketchy and loosely delineated with wavy or fuzzy lines laid down by soft pencils, felt-tip pens or charcoal. The art and technique of manual drawing ensured that schematic ideas looked schematic.

The computer is a powerful tool, but still just a tool that must be used properly. Designers who never draw manually still must engage in critical thinking and rational invention, as if they were drawing and designing by hand, even though their hand grasps a mouse instead of a pencil.

 Via Washington Post

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