Leveraging Tech for Public Infrastructure



 

As an urbanist and designer native to San Francisco, I am watching this city turn inside out, literally. The city is spending millions to replace and prepare our immense networks of gas, electricity, waste water, auxiliary water, potable water, and communication threads in order to withstand drastic changes and seismic collapse. The funding for most of this has been leveraged from innovative, well funded tech companies who have embedded their brain trust and coding power into the heart of the city and simultaneously into the surrounding neighborhoods. With this rapid influx of new residents contributing to a newborn industry of micro-technologies, our day to day awareness has been distracted from the very systems of infrastructure that support our livelihood. In fact, the exact technologies that we are developing depend on electricity, our most vulnerable utility network. Can virtual environments be better integrated into our awareness of our physical condition? Better yet, how can our physical urban condition become the new platform for technical innovation moving forward? How can we begin to rebuild our neighborhoods as real, permanent residents? How can we do this in real time with respect to future and past generations? How can tech become a component of long term resilience?


Landscape architects, urbanists, ecologists, architects, and engineers, are grappling with this shifting social and utility network. They are charged with designing new support systems for civic health, and urban fitness in the face of aging and failing infrastructure with very real and pressing threats of natural disaster and climate change. They are working from the scale of the aqueduct to the scale park bench. The street light to the turbine. However, there remains a harsh divide between these physical confrontations and our virtual escapes. Why is tech not our watershed? Why is tech not our power generation? Why is tech not our park system? Why is tech not street? The emerging partnerships between private "tech" and public infrastructure is more necessary than ever and bridging the design of the micro devices and their applications and the macro systems and their distribution. It is crucial for resilient growth, maintenance, disaster preparedness and disaster recovery. Air, water, and electricity are our lifelines and in a city like San Francisco, in a Region like the Bay Area, we as designers and entrepreneurs are faced with creating new working platforms to find the middle ground that can serve the scale of the neighborhood, localize our resources, and profit from our true social capital through all generations, young and old. It would be a shame to think architects and urban designers have been relegated to the fancy facade of innovation. Instead our community needs to assume responsibility for civic innovation and our collective participation. This is culture.


And as always, be prepared. http://www.sf72.org/home

Whats the Weather

We live in a society of huge constructions. The verticality is dizzying and the network vast. Its sometimes hard to imagine the natural alternative while living in the heart of San Francisco. However, we are constantly reminded of the power of earth. We receive news of earthquakes and we appreciate the fragility of earths crust. We receive news of landslide and we appreciate the content of the watershed. We receive news of hurricane, and we appreciate the splendors of the Coriolis effect. 

I was asked once to define weather in my own words. I said, "Weather is the interplay of energy at all scales; from the pressure of the a salted cell to the magnetism of the universe, weather is the balancing act of life." I believe that nothing is static and that everything is always changing. The only way to have a sense of truth is to observe the long term patterns, often beyond the reach of a single life. Now, with history forgotten, and attention spans shorter than ever, our addiction to the next second may prevent our ability to understand weather.

Tribes in the thick of the amazon and the vastness of the Mohave seek alternative depictions of the current state. They use chemicals to induce a hyper sensitivity so they can see, hear, and feel what may be approaching. The shaman would be trusted to know when the next herd was coming due to a water-cycle, a rain storm, a crop cycle. They could sense the future based on the intense combination of factors. Its hard to say where science and spirituality become one in the same, but the state of the art will always be relevant. 

Now, as I work with the Urban Risk as toward disaster preparedness strategies, my main goal is sensitivity and awareness. Teaching environmental awareness is kind of like adapting a 3rd grade curriculum to the everyday adult. Earth Science can be forgotten as we are obsessed with 2d images as media junkies. Very often are we stopping to smell, to feel, to taste, to listen, to sense. Preparing for a disaster is practicing to sense the changing weather constantly. Is it art that we are using to communicate science? 

Folklore, storytelling, theater, books, illustrations, paintings, and poems are all methods to continue to tell the story of the past. How do we tell the story of where we are today? What pieces are held secret? What bridges are necessary to access the true narrative? How can we be prepared for what has always been happening and see way beyond our lifetime both backward and forward continuously. Preparedness is to be conditioned to the environment, always adapting and not falling back on old habits. The future is now. The future was yesterday. The future will be tomorrow. And I like rainbows. Aren't they beautiful?

And we are Back

I will suppose there is an audience and this audience I care for very much. This audience includes me two dimensionally and three dimensionally. It includes those that listen and those that talk over others. It includes the past and present. It includes those that read this word now.

This is an exercise that I will use now to project outward as my world may begin to narrow into a focus of the maritime, rising tides, and the urbanism of naval architecture. In hopes not to drown, or at least not panic when I find myself entirely surrounded by water, I will leave this trail of clues. At times I may be diagramming the paths and routes of ships, the structural capacities of geometry, the mechanics of the dock, the barnacles eating lead, the long life of decay, oyster harvesting, evacuation strategies, and emergency. In summation it is the space shaped by the network of aquatic processes, natural, and man made and the history and perception of the flood.

Systems fail. Objects become obsolete. Architects are now faced with inhabiting modern infrastructure that has grown so big, it requires an entire overhaul. This drastic shift can happen incrementally planned, or it can happen through force. The perception of man's control of nature has shifted and now, as an architect and urban designer I look to translate the lessons of the sea to that of land. The littoral zone will include the basements, the sewers, the sidewalks, the piers, the roads, and the cars. What will float? What will anchor? What will last? How can the transformation of the Maritime adapt to and support these circumstances?

This is an image by John Baldessari. It is called "Boat, with man sitting" It hangs on my wall and I see it when I wake up. I seems like the proper notion of loneliness and support, simplicity and solidarity for the journey through the end of the thesis. Dreaming of the life boat, the cluster oasis, or the dry-dock hospital. 

xo-

John Baldessari "Boat with Man Sitting"

John Baldessari "Boat with Man Sitting"

MONA Network Culture

Site Speculation for a group of MIT students who are working with the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania for an arts and music festival. The project is currently in its infancy and will be framed around ecological tourism and industrial zinc manufacturing. We are developing a small site selector script to establish a physical narrative of site after which we will juxtapose our intervention and program. It is going to get messy. 

More soon. 

Museum of New And Old Art

Museum of New And Old Art

Tidal Flats

Tidal Flats

Seed Bank  

Seed Bank

 

SF2080

We are a group of 11 from 7 countries. We met with the: ExplOratorium, ABAG [Association of Bay Area Governments], Lundberg Design, Charles Phan, Loretta Keller, Bionic, Lennar Urban, STAR, The Point Artist Community, Cissie Swig, Chuck Collins, Gina Forman, David Spurgeon, SF Emergency PreparednessSPUR, Berkeley Fire, Joe Slusky, RallyPad, Global Glimpse, while traversing this great Bay Area.

We will be compiling our research to report back to and tie these agencies together in to one platform to allow them to see the parallels, tangencies, and potential partnerships in this amazing city. 

I have shot film during my time here and will post once the shots have been developed. All in all, there is a lot of heart the Bay Area, and we look forward to find the design potentials in this grand process of top down and bottom up programming for healthy, vibrant cities. 

My heart goes out to all and praise and thanks to all that have spent their valuable time speaking with answering and asking important questions.

xosf2080

Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Revealing the Process

A day in the life. I life in the day. How can the larger context to which our ideas exist be realized in a representation. Nothing is original. It is a translation, a moment in time where the proximity to other energies or developments make it new again. A rebirth in a sense. How can this rebirth be visualized.

Right now, is it an image of my fingers typing across a plastic keyboard? Is it the murmur of my thesis prep coach defining and refining how to frame a problem? The sun light draping across the floor and reflecting off of the projection screen in competition with the plasma.

For me, I will try to translate this in a blog. A web log. I want to have a metacognition about how I think, how I can break myself down while building myself up. The in and out of bounds of my own reason will have to be rooted in my own experience. I don't mean for this to be a diary, but in fact the laboratory of vocabulary, rhetoric; architecture. 

This psychological component will show up intermittently  My mood will inevitably be translated as a component of my conditioning. A script. A drama. The atmosphere. 

So here I am now.

11:27 am feb 15 how do we talk about progress?

11:27 am feb 15 how do we talk about progress?

Black Box vs the Gizmo

The gizmo should also be distinguished from the conventional renovation of precedent that many black box theses depend upon.  The gizmo does not take up an object or event as a precedent to be modified and offered as a renewed object or event. It carries out a very particular kind of modification, which is the condensing of a prior system of dependencies—an object and its context—into the confines of the gizmo.  This absorption of the systematic relationships of which practices are composed forestalls the reproduction of prior practices. Instead, the gizmo identifies and overcomes the limitations of those practices to render them obsolete or at least no longer indispensable.   Unlike a black box thesis, the gizmo thesis would not aim to reiterate the ineffable as a demonstration of knowledge, but rather to translate the ineffable into a knowable and operable form.

The architecture thesis is in the making. A sliver of neo-capital assemblage in relation to MIT military academic complex through various projects has allowed me to look forward and backward. This semester, with the pleasure guides Ana Miljacki and Antonio Furgiuele, we will walk all the way around a problem, tethering our variables, dismissing convention, seeing onbeyond. The issue of consolidating a thread of methodology to achieve a gizmo thesis is the impetus of what I think our MIT design education is about. The old guard passed about 6 years ago. I am not saying that we do not learn from the history of knowledge, but qualifying the honest truth about what was produced versus the mystery of the black box that produced it. My question now in forming a GIZMO, how does creativity, trade, community and manufacturing of knowledge and culture interface with water? Is there an estuarial gizmo? This is an art and a science. 

Our first pre-thesis research meeting was cancelled due to a state of emergency in Massachusetts. In other words, its a  SNOW DAY! My roommate is doing his thesis now on Snow. So we will be conduction some research today. The physics of balling, projectiles, community participation etc... watch out.

First Studio Meeting

Today, we commence to discuss how our research group will break up or down the issue or resilience. We have building technologists, urbanists, energy specialists, pirates, and designers. I am excited to mix the minds and learn about data, the past and the future and clear and powerful ways to visualize and communicate our findings and vision.

We are breaking down Risk with the variables of Hazard and Vulnerability. We will be mapping events over time relative to scale and effectiveness. In this case, the effect of an event is only a hazard in terms of habitation, and health with respect to humans. We are looking at Seismic, Flood, Heat, and Environmental Hazards. There will be overlap between soil type, liquefaction, demographics, topography and surface material in relation to heat. It will be a fun data mining for SF in particular to the HP shipyard. 

We also re-organized our studio. We have a work zone and a play zone. The work zone is 2 parallel rows of desks that we call the pit where laptops and musical chairs inform the collaborative. The fun zone is where we have coffee, fine spirits, a projector for sharing and theorizing and making sure we are all having fun. Serious Fun.

Also, I was turned onto this vision today from Bonobo. Have a looksee.

Pre-Thesis (Demo-lish)

Yesterday we had options architecture and urbanism research topic presented by an array of MIT faculty and visiting practitioners. I had conceived a project specific to my thesis while back in the good old bay. I was referring to it as Ballast Media, a remediation of aquamarine buoyant trades at the Hunters Point Shipyard. Yesterday, the 5th presentation and second concerning San Francisco, Miho Mezereeuw who is working on the forthcoming book, Preemptive Design: Disaster and Urban Development along the Pacific Ring of Fire presented the Hunters Point Shipyard as the focus of a joint urbanism, architecture, and building technology studio with 10 positions. It sounds like things will be quite in depth and the yearlong thesis now has the front end of 10 brilliant minds. I look forward to our studio trip this spring. Home is where the heart is.

Following is my set up consisting of 5 images and 2 questions.

Title:

BALLAST MEDIA_A case theory of in estruarian habitat and mercantile revitalization.

What is buoyancy?

Aren't we all just pirates?

Aerial View of War Ship construction during war time. 1942

Aerial View of War Ship construction during war time. 1942

The Emergency Shipbuilding Program (late 1940-September 1945) was a United States government effort to quickly build simple cargo ships to carry troops and materiel to allies and foreign theatres duringWorld War II. Run by the U.S. Maritime Commission, the program built almost 6,000 ships

The Emergency Shipbuilding Program (late 1940-September 1945) was a United States government effort to quickly build simple cargo ships to carry troops and materiel to allies and foreign theatres duringWorld War II. Run by the U.S. Maritime Commission, the program built almost 6,000 ships

Decommissioned Navy Fleets

Decommissioned Navy Fleets

That is a lot of floating steel. Can the recycling of this industry provide a stimulus for the vision of a future of micro-manufacturing and ballast media? How do we digest war? How do we remediate habitat? How does water and industry overlap to produce a new hybrid typology of buoyant forces? Lets Float.

That is a lot of floating steel. Can the recycling of this industry provide a stimulus for the vision of a future of micro-manufacturing and ballast media? How do we digest war? How do we remediate habitat? How does water and industry overlap to produce a new hybrid typology of buoyant forces? Lets Float.

Marine ship wrecking in Chittagong, Banglades.

Marine ship wrecking in Chittagong, Banglades.


Quake by the late and forever great Lebbeus Woods proposes a intervention within the friction line fault that is San Francisco

Quake by the late and forever great Lebbeus Woods proposes a intervention within the friction line fault that is San Francisco

Fragmented buoyant vessels. A cartography of capitalism.

Fragmented buoyant vessels. A cartography of capitalism.

Hunters Point Ship Yard. Yes, the crane in the distance build to remove gun turrets. The 4 legged beast is now a historical monument on a radio-active site in South East San Francisco. A mid point between the Markets Street Terminus and Ferry Building and Silicon Valley. 

Hunters Point Ship Yard. Yes, the crane in the distance build to remove gun turrets. The 4 legged beast is now a historical monument on a radio-active site in South East San Francisco. A mid point between the Markets Street Terminus and Ferry Building and Silicon Valley. 

this is the first day of the rest of your life

traversing the land is the best way to understand scale. yesterday i rode a bike to Chango, a car to Union Station, a bus to LAX, a plane to SFO, a train to Golden Gate Ferry, a boat to Larkspur Landing, a car to Fairfax, and my own two legs through the door of my loving parents house. if I only had a skateboard, cross country skis, and a parachute! mobility on demand at its finest!