Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Living in the Brownfield - Lunch and Learn

We're in the middle of an exciting experiment, more will be revealed shortly, but for now lets just say it involves using mobile technology as a supplement to our usual way of documenting our projects.  The following two images were shot over lunch at The Academy of the New Church in Bryn Athyn, PA.  Hope you like veggies.
Image credits to be revealed in a future blog, just a small taste test of some architectural iphoneography work in progress for now.  Let's lunch again soon.

ps. hint - we just learned that the work of the commisioned photographer was featured here

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

SFA News - Movies at the Mill 2012

Spillman Farmer Architects is proud to be a sponsor of the 2012 “Movies at the Mill,” happening Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 6pm.  We’ll also be providing support to the event, so come out and say hello. I’m curious to see the movie by Paul A. Levin. Image and information from the website below – enjoy the show!  You can find out more at: http://moviesatthemill.com/ 

“ Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, two of the most revered screen legends of all time, were both born in 1929. They spun in the same Hollywood and New York orbits simultaneously. And, they both exuded a kind of other worldly elegance addictive to audiences. But they’ve never been on the same screen… until now.”   http://moviesatthemill.com/

Spillman conceived the master plan for Simon Silk Mill and is now in the process of coordinating the first phase of that plan.  Renderings and information on the Simon Silk Mill will be available at the event, so come check it out.  We’d like to thank the honorable Mayor Panto, the Easton Redevelopment Authority and VM Development Group for providing great vision and leading the project into the first phases of development.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SFA News - Millersville Performing Arts

The Visual and Performing Arts Center at Millersville University has been designed to foster interdisciplinary engagement in the arts for the campus and the community.
The new building is a performing arts center for the University's Music Department, a new 310-seat concert hall, a new art gallery for Millersville’s Art Department, and a new theater for drama and musical theater within a renovated 50s-era auditorium. The project emphasizes the teaching environment and exploits teaching opportunities and interdisciplinary activities throughout the building. Every space, from the theater catwalk and lighting control room to a hallway lounge, was recognized as a potential classroom or performance venue and was designed to meet this vision.
The Center also holds a grand, two-story entrance lobby and a 310-seat concert hall.
Multi-use rehearsal and recital halls and an art gallery round out the project’s multidisciplinary approach. A monumental stair connects the first level to a mezzanine lounge and the building’s second level, which will feature faculty studios, classrooms, a piano lab, music library, and Music Department administrative offices. The 60-year-old  existing auditorium, which has been fully renovated into a 700-seat theater-auditorium, is the largest seated venue on Millersville’s campus.
Congrats to the Spillman team for a job well done, and for completing another incredible performing arts venue.  Photography/Copyright by Matt Wargo.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Material Process Product - Keeping It In Perspective

 Architectural Representation-Keeping It In Perspective

The computer has become a powerful tool which enables us to sell vision with greater clarity, speed and accuracy. This capability allows us to see what we want to see. However, not necessarily what we need to see. Beneath the glossy reflectivity and seductive qualities produced by digital representation lies the fourth dimension often overlooked - the human experience.


Making a successful environment which embodies the human experience strikes a balance between the speed of digital representation and the traditional 2D representation. 2D representation is a slower, abstract and more contemplative approach. It enables the designer to clearly focus on the fundamentals of proportion, human scale, rhythm, hierarchy, mass/void relationship and detail. The art of placemaking becomes a carefully choreographed dance between mind/hand/pencil and mind/hand/mouse, coupled with a keen understanding of building material and system assembly.

Building systems, materials and their methods of assembly have always played a critical role in our practice. For us, designing a building is not about how it looks but how it works. Moreover, how it ages. Material choices and their methods of assembly can bestow a building with a richness and lasting aesthetic thus transcending the tool (digital imagery) utilized to sell the original vision. Herewith, you will find a unique perspective from Spillman Farmer Intern, Pat Ruggiero. Pat shares his experience with architectural representation as it relates to his internship in our office. Pat has been with us since High School and will soon be graduating from Syracuse University. He has spent time learning the discipline of hand drawing at The Barnstone Studios and also spent time interning with EFGH NY and Rick Joy Architect.

Towards a Process - Software Dirt
"The power of speculative drawing lies in the fact that it is open to interpretation, both prior to and after the built construct."  James Corner, Field Operations

Rendering, 3ds Max + Photoshop. Spillman Farmer Architects, 2012

Social media and applications of the computer have commoditized work-of-art images. Today, someone with little artistic background can apply preset filters to a photograph taken with an iPhone and produce something with artistic merit. The image can be shown to a vast audience and consumed instantaneously. This commoditization has led to architectural practice's emerging from a time of tension between when computer generated images were a novelty and a time when hand-produced drawings were a dying art.

Farnsworth House, Rendering, 3ds max. Peter Guthrie, 2009
German Pavilion, Interior perspective, Graphite illustration on board. Mies van der Rohe, 1929

With phenomena like Instagram and an increased media presence fueling our visual culture's appetite, there is a growing market and expectation for stunning imagery to represent architectural design. And while these types of images are immersive in atmosphere and depiction, they fail to offer any speculative ideas in the design process.

Rendering, 3ds Max + Photoshop, Herzog & de Meuron, 2012

The desire for these images has split the design process into two parallels; stunning imagery output and speculative interpretation through hand drawings.

Sketch, graphite on trace, Spillman Farmer Architects, 2012
Rendering, 3ds Max + Photoshop, Spillman Farmer Architects, 2012
This methodology is a departure from a similar demand for architectural representation in the seventies and eighties, when an economic recession limited architectural work to the practice of "paper" (or non-built) architecture.
Crawford Residence, Conceptual Drawing, Ink on paper, Morphosis, 1988
Because actual buildings were not expected, drawing became an alternative form of the practice. They collapsed the distinction between representation and the represented, using a single artifact to interpret and reflect the design, but also to communicate its purpose and intent. The resulting strain of architecture was able to both see and act to reconsidered spatial and sociological relationships.

Plug-in City, Ink and gouache on photomechanical print, Peter Cook & Archigram, 1964

The use of computer has completely expanded the relationship between represented and representation. Buildings exist digitally as full scale sets of data - a proxy for the actual built work.
Interface, 3ds max, Spillman Farmer Architects, 2012

Software manipulates this data and converts it to two dimensional representation of the building.

Interface, 3ds max, Spillman Farmer Architects, 2012

 Thus, software is the new graphite and erasers; tools for manipulating design. The key is how to use them to skew the absolute precision of the computer to produce speculative results.

Output, Sketchup, Spillman Farmer Architects, 2012

The process of the "innovation" project was an opportunity to experiment with how to exploit computer generated artifacts for design speculation, thus seeing the software, itself as a material to mold and craft. By exploiting computer flaws computer output was leveraged to establish the accuracies and givens of the design situation, but also see possibilities and relationships unable to be comprehended by only hand drawings. When necessary, the same program can produce polished imagery.

Rendering, 3ds Max + Photoshop, Spillman Farmer Architects, 2012

The result is reconsidering the process as not a means of one drawing (paper architecture) or a dichotomy of sketching vs. rendering, but of acting in the middle with software to produce unexpected results and more comprehensive layers of design.
Rendering, 3ds Max + Photoshop, Spillman Farmer Architects, 2012