UVa | A R C H 2013

Archive for September, 2011

McIntire Park and its habitats

Since I have been a student at UVa, the city of Charlottesville has been debating the development of McIntire park.  McIntire park is one of the largest parks in Charlottesville, divided by a road into two parts.  One part, which includes a golf course, a wading pool, and softball fields, isn’t as utilized as much and there have plans made to develop it into a YMCA, a botanical garden, and park of a parkway.  Not only would this disintegrate the habitats of the wildlife living in the park, but it would also have an effect on the quality of life of the residents living in Charlottesville.  The park would no longer be open to public, and what is left to enjoy would only be offered to members of the facilities.  We simply cannot hand over park lands to be developed by private companies because once it is developed it is something the city can never get back and be returned to its original state.

source: http://www.readthehook.com/83594/cover-save-mcintire-what

Permeable patches of UVA grounds

In discussion yesterday, we talked about how the grounds of UVA are continually reaching out into the surrounding areas of Charlottesville.  But is the University simply moving outwards? Or is the city of Charlottesville also moving in?  I feel that one of the great things about UVA is the relationship we have with the surrounding community and the partnerships we have with its several institutions.  Not only does the community offer us many resources (churches, markets, restaurants, etc.), but the University also gives a lot to our neighbors (the art museum, concerts, sporting events, festivals).  I think the fact that UVA isn’t a closed campus and does have “fingers” stretching out into Charlottesville extends the relationship we have with the city, when compared with gated or closed campuses.  By simply allowing the flow between the two systems, there is naturally a desire to collaborate and connect with each other.

Solar Diagram of Arts Grounds

The primary solar window of this area is from February to November between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm. I would use this knowledge as an architect by realizing that this area gets a lot of direct sun and warms up very easily (which is probably also due to the brick surface). This means that I would need a find a way to divert the sunlight from entering my spaces to prevent it from becoming too hot in the summer months. During the winter months, however, I would want to use this sunlight to warm the spaces.

Retail Systems

One Summer, I worked at the mall. That summer, I didn’t just accumulate way too many clothes and spend all of my earnings, but I actually learned about the complex system of running a profitable store. Instead of looking at how much the store sold in a day, we had to meet a certain goal each “segment” or a certain time of the day. The goals of each segment were dependent on several variables, the time of day, the day of the week, the time of the year, if any promotions were going on, if we had new merchandise in the store, and were also based off of our past performance and the performance of other stores in the company. For example, a Monday morning segment might have a goal of $600, while a Saturday morning segment might have a goal of $1500. What these segments do not take into account is the weather, which can have a huge effect on the amount of traffic the store would see. Another variable that is not calculated into the goal, is the people who are working in the store that day. The ability for a sales associate to sell more product is a feedback loop, however, because the manager bases our performance off of the amount of segments met. The more segments an associate meets, the more hours they will get in a week. A store’s ranking in the company is also based off of the amount of segments met, rather than the gross profit of the store, and a high ranking will be rewarded in bonuses for the store’s employees. By focusing on segments, this allows stores in small malls in the midwest to compete with flagship stores in New York City. It also directs associates to strive to sell during their shift and not feel as if their performance is hurt by other associates.

Recycling or Downcycling?

William McDonough’s book, Cradle to Cradle,  discusses our world’s struggle with not necessarily consuming resources, but with the production of waste.  For example, when most people recycle a plastic bottle, they believe that their bottle is part of a continuous loop that looks like this:

In this system, the raw material is harvested and becomes the bottle, the bottle is used, and then is “recycled” and brought back to the same raw material.  However this is not the case.  The “recycling” of plastic is actually an extended cradle to grave system.  Each time plastic is “downcycled” it becomes a different, less desirable plastic, until it is eventually unusable.  The system looks more like this:


I believe that we need to reexamine our recycling systems and develop more of the cradle to cradle systems that McDonough discusses.  For example, companies could design their products so that they can constantly recycle and reuse new materials.  McDonough envisions a person buying a TV from a company and instead of throwing it away and exiting the system, he or she returns the TV to the company and returns it into the system.  This way, not as many raw materials are flowing into the system and there is little to no waste flowing out of the system.