architecture randomness (tbt)

160505

Back when I was at Columbia I used to sit in on a lot of the lectures hosted by GSAPP, and attended one that I made a note of. I shall now share:

Date: April 04, 2013
Setting: Wood Auditorium, Columbia University, New York
Event: “Converse” – Conversation between Mark Wigley and Wang Shu

Wigley was TORTURING this conversation about hard versus soft for what seemed to be forever. I was over it, I’m sure most of the audience was over it, and maybe even Wang Shu was over it (or at least he seemed kind of confused). Wang had brought up that he practices calligraphy in the morning before he begins pencil sketching his designs … and Wigley took off from there, trying to conceptualize Wang’s process. Then Wang mentioned that the first thing is actually making tea, which comes before the calligraphy, which Wigley took as the ultimate soft (id est, the liquid) that transitioned to the semi-soft (ink and brush) and then to the hard (pencil). In other words, this was a really weird conceptual sort of conversation and this particular topic went on much longer than it should have. But then:

Wigley: How hard is your pencil?

Wang: 1H.

[Laughter from Audience]

Maybe you had to be there? I think it was funny because of the literalness and simple specificity with which Wang Shu answered compared to Wigley’s all over the place hard-soft monologue. And the fact that an H pencil isn’t all that hard. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wigley … but this was not one of his finest moments.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why this post started with a picture of an alpaca/llama, it’s because it’s also random and somewhat Columbia/architecture-related. It was a Saturday, I was stressed and sleep deprived because the end of the year was nearing, and I was on my way to studio to work on my thesis. And then I ran into an alpaca/llama. Well, not literally ran into it. About a block from campus there was a street festival with bouncy castles and the alpaca/llama and I basically froze in shock. Because, seriously? How much more random can you get than seeing an alpaca/llama on your way to school? Or well, I actually have no idea if it was a llama or alpaca because I can’t tell the difference and didn’t stay long enough to ask. Anyone know for sure?

Advertisements

i climbed a mountain – go me! (tbt)

160331

I’m not much of an outdoorsy person, but growing up in Texas, going camping, and taking weekend trips to state parks made me really appreciate fresh air and nature. Plus, sometimes I just need to get out because otherwise it’s too depressing to have carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists at my age from typing too much like the sad indoor grunt that I am. Now I’m in a city among cities, but last year, before leaving China and Shanghai (another city among cities), I climbed a mountain!

My friend &C had gotten involved in one of Shanghai’s many hiking/meetup groups, so I joined her on a group trip to Anhui Province’s Tiejiang Mountain and Wuyue Ancient Path. It was a Golden Week holiday, I had nothing planned, and I was itching to get out of the city. The description said “easy hiking,” but golly gosh if that’s what you’d call easy, then I’d say you’re reading from the wrong dictionary. On the first day I just about died – from exhaustion, my legs giving out, slipping on wet rocks, and half-falling into a river. But I survived (obviously), albeit with a waterlogged camera and legs absolutely covered in bruises, and had a great time!

On the last day before heading back to Shanghai, we took a break by a lake and despite all the trash, it was just so great. All those endorphins, ya know? And ya know what? I had climbed a mountain! I was pretty darn proud of myself for doing all of that. Now I’m back to spending the majority of my day sitting at a white desk, staring at a computer screen. And my go-to footwear are black pointy-toed flats that are merely marginally comfortable. Eh, it ain’t fresh air and it may seem stuffy, but I still like it. When the weather warms up I really need to visit Central Park and Calvary Cemetery though.

eating ice, busan in winter (tbt)

Of all the countries I’ve visited (excluding China and the US where I’ve lived), I’ve visited Korea the most – three times. That being said, I haven’t actually seen much of Korea because all of my trips were more for visiting people than exploring or adventuring. So when my sister and I took a short trip to Busan in January 2015, we went to the beach and ate ice. Yeah, we’re all about contradictions like that. But it was good. And it had mango. Yum.

160121

We went to a place called Binguru just across the street from the Gwangalli Beach, and although there are many, many places in Korea that sell shaved ice, it’s definitely more popular in the summer. I was told that this was Taiwanese shaved ice (baobing) rather than the very similar Korean version (bingsu), but honestly I’m not too sure what differentiates them … I think they’re basically the same. Both use a fluffy form of shaved ice and are served either with red bean topping or sweet with fruit.

In contrast, the good ol’ American snow cone is ground-up ice with syrup for flavor … totally paling in comparison to the fluffy and fresh Asian ices. However, as good as baobing and bingsu are, I could totally go for a snow cone right now.

indian food, oh how i crave it (tbt)

Ah, it’s been such a while since I last posted! Shame shame on me. I’m currently up to my eyeballs in work, and am at this moment sitting on a hotel bed in Hong Kong taking advantage of the fact that I don’t have to use a VPN to access WordPress. Hurrah for no GFW!

Anyways, here’s a throwback post from my last trip to India in 2013. The best part of India? Indian food. Ah yes. Haven’t had Indian food since I’ve been in China. Sigh.

150312 a

150312 b

I went to India for the first time in 2012, and it was way outside my comfort zone and all-in-all a valuable experience, but I gotta say, I never thought I’d go back. That time around we were traveling around Delhi and Agra (North India), and we mostly ate vegetarian curries … which I got super sick of after a while.

Then I went back to India in 2013 with some work/school colleagues, and again, I thought it would be the last time. It was an all-around better experience because we went to Mumbai, which was safer and cleaner, and we went in January as opposed to July. And the food! Much more varied. Egg bhurji, chicken lollipops, oh so much naan, and lots of masala chai. And now I kind of want to go again. It’d be nice to explore more, especially cities where you can still see the old colonial influence like Kolkata or Chennai, but I’d definitely stay in the developed areas and travel with a group given all the recent news.

Basically I think I’m getting a bit sick of China and Chinese food and want some adventure. I’m currently in Hong Kong, but still. Starting to get super restless, ya know?

chandeliers in treehouses (tbt)

141030 a

Toshihiro Oki Architect P.C. with Toshihiro Oki, Jen Wood, and Jared Diganci, “tree wood,” 2013

This was a pretty cool project, and one that I almost didn’t see. The last summer I was in New York, I was living in Astoria, but didn’t explore much of my neighborhood until the last few weeks I was there. It was July (2013), and it was hot, but it was also so green and beautiful. Ah, how I miss TREES in Shanghai! Anyhow, it was my first time to the Socrates Sculpture Park, and for the most part I found the park to be just so-so – nothing wildly impressive, but a nice stroll.

This particular project “tree wood” was pretty cool, although it blended in so well with the trees I almost completely walked past it. Socrates is a sculpture park, but this was more along the lines of installation art or temporary architecture than sculpture. Basically it was a tree house structure of sorts, framed with two-by-four studs, with a chandelier, which just won the whole thing. With the streaming sunlight and the quiet tranquility of the park and the sheltering of all those leaves and branches, the project had a really interesting quality to it, natural yet manufactured, unfinished yet refined, public yet secluded.

Not sure if this is still up since it’s been over a year since I visited, but regardless, I love the idea of the project.

141030 b

141030 c

And whaddaya know, the project was designed by architects … I wonder if that’s why I appreciate it so much. I think it’s true that there’s no such thing as a ‘former architect,’ because even though there are many of us who have moved on to other fields, I feel like there’s some sort of weird bond/understanding between architects (past or present) where we just ‘get’ each other. I was talking to a jewelry designer whose pieces I admired, and whaddaya know, she was trained as an architect. Maybe it’s suffering all those hours in studio that gains one entry into the imagined community of architects.

the petrified forest (tbt)

It’s been a while since I posted, so here’s a Throwback Thursday from 2012! Located in Arizona, the Petrified Forest National Park is absolutely amazing because it’s wood … but it’s stone. Trippy. It was a great place to scamper around, and it was on the way as we were driving to the Grand Canyon anyway. Although, after a while it’s all kind of the same. What’s over there? Petrified wood. And there? Oh, more petrified wood. Here too. Hm, yep. Got it.

But still! It’s totally worth visiting. And I can’t believe it’s already been two years since I was there. Look at those blue skies, the open space! Ah, the things I miss while living in China!

141016 a

141016 b

141016 c

141016 d

‘the equinox’ at moma (tbt)

From last summer at MoMA: seven sculptures grouped together in an installation called The Equinox by Swiss-born American artist Carol Bove. Technically The Equinox is an arrangement rather than an installation (id est, an exhibition rather than a work in itself). When I first walked into the room and saw it I was like … what am I looking at?  The sculptures aren’t impressive ‘wow’ kind of pieces, but there were a serene, beautiful kind of harmony. And I’m a sucker for modernism.

140904 a

140904 b

Carol Bove, The Equinox (installation view and detail), 2013

hong kong food (tbt)

Throwback Thursday! Back in December I went to Hong Kong for a two-day visa run. Here’s some of what I ate. Because when one travels, one eats. And since I’d been to Hong Kong previously, I had already seen the sights so I didn’t do much except wander around the art galleries and do some shopping while waiting for my expedited work visa to come through.

And you know what? There’s only one place on the list (Ebeneezer’s, which was really great) that I can’t get in Shanghai. The others (Café de Coral, Delifrance, Toast Box, and Starbucks) all have locations in Shanghai, and instant noodles are, well … everywhere.

In my defense of this rather depressing list, I was on a tight budget. I did have one good meal in a nice Cantonese restaurant … but there’s no photo of the delicious seafood stew I had because I was too starving to think about photos first. I’ve never been to any of the places’ Shanghai locations (other than Starbucks of course), but I will definitely have to visit Toast Box again. I’ll pass on Café de Coral though … there were eggshells in my eggs.

mumbai’s dhobi ghat (tbt)

Ah Mumbai, that was great fun. I was in Mumbai with some classmates last January and one of my classmates who had lived in Mumbai was showing us the sights. And probably one of the coolest things was Dhobi Ghat, a large open-air laundromat. All you could do was overlook and take some pictures, but it was still really neat because … where else do you find a giant open-air laundromat?

140821

remembering 5 pointz (tbt)

I was off on vacation for a while, but now I’m back in Shanghai and it’s Thursday! Which means that it’s time for a throwback. And my choice for today is … (drumroll, please) … 5 Pointz in LIC! This place was SO COOL. Unfortunately, emphasis is on the past tense.

5 Pointz as I knew it no longer exists, and soon it’ll be completely gone. Sad but true. So join me in remembrance of this truly amazing building.

140807 a

5 Pointz was one of the stops on my whirlwind “must see everything before I leave New York” tour back in July 2013. In November its awe-inspiring graffiti was whitewashed, and I just heard that the building itself will soon be demolished to make room for *gasp* condos (ah gentrification, that dirtiest of words).

140807 c

Basically the building was one giant canvas. It was an ever-changing art studio, an exhibition space, a piece of artwork in itself. It was amazing. I had heard of this building before, but never gave it much thought while I was living in Manhattan, because gosh darn LIC (Long Island City) in Queens is annoying to get to from upper Manhattan. But during my last two months in New York, I was subletting a place in Astoria … and wow. Breathtaking. The scale, the talent, the variety, the “holy crap, you can do that with spray paint?”

New York City has great public art, whether it’s ‘official’ or not, and there are a lot of darn talented New Yorkers. Much of the ‘graffiti’ seen around the city is more along the lines of street art than vandalism and 5 Pointz was by no means standard graffiti. 5 Pointz was graffiti in the best sense of the word. It wasn’t spiteful vandalism, it was public art in its truest form. It was out there for people to see, to wonder at. It was bold, it was unapologetic, it was part of the city, and it was oh so New York. And it will be sorely missed. Goodbye 5 Pointz, you were amazing.

140807 g

Oh, and 5 Pointz’s appearance in the film Now You See Me (2013) made me smile so hard.