Be Popular, Play Pop

The College of Design at Iowa State is a place where cultures collide, conclusions clash, and concepts convene. There is a sense of collective independence here. Here, a feeling of autonomy thrives, but this place is at its best when these feelings of autonomy pair together. This exact concept was illustrated by the recent social experiment done by students of the Toys Option Studio at Iowa State. Last Wednesday students crowded in the first floor of the open-aired atrium at the College of Design for a balloon drop. 

The Balloon Drop. Courtesy of the Make It Rain Facebook Page. 

The concept was as follows: There were hundreds of balloons piled in a net hanging above the five floors of the College of Design, some empty, some filled with monetary prizes, some filled with shuddering facts about student debt. At 11:50 am on Wednesday (with the balloon drop scheduled for noon) myself and hundreds of others pooled on the ground floor. Anyone that took the time to survey the atrium noticed few consistencies amongst the gathering of people. Rural kids, city kids, athletes, hipsters, and others that were far from categorizable. The consistencies were obvious, though. We all wanted a couple of bucks, the energy of others, and that striking Instagram photo. So while we all strive to be individuals, sometimes 'pop' levels the field; and we cannot help but participate. (Note the deliberate use of a balloon pun). 

Now, how does that relate to Las Vegas and our most recent review on Friday? Simple: keep it simple. We have had fantastic success in developing our proposal for the Victory Hotel site thus far. We have worked so hard at innovating that we overlooked the obvious. We have been so focused on the interior of the block that we almost entirely left the site context out. Simple stuff, right? Street trees, cross walks, paving options, etc. This does not mean we have not addressed the surrounding sites, it is just that we completely lacked representation of this fact. So while we would look at our boards with the context in mind, our reviewers were left out of this conversation (or lack of conversation). It is fun to have these ideas for ourselves, but boy does it get better when you can share them with the general public. 

The images above illustrate some of the spaces we have been working at developing. The alleyway, social club, and potential for food trucks are coming along fantastically. But until we can illustrate the context of place, how can people even arrive at these places? This place is not an island, and neither are design students. Eventually we all have to acknowledge our outside contexts. Without it, we lose touch with what makes our place, and ourselves, so real & so rich. 


News and Notes

  • I have finally finished my Mapleton project along with my three group mates this past Sunday(pending ASLA submissions). After a semester and a half of working with the residents of Mapleton in order set forth implementation plans for a Campground and a more Walkable 6th Street I am happy to be able to look back with great pride on what we were able to accomplish. 
  • Spring break is next week. I plan on spending time soaking up the Illinois sun. Nothing says break like home cookin' from your mom and a wet kiss from your dog. 
  • Currently listening to: Belle & Sebastian. These guys, despite unconventional measures, have had some staying power in the music industry...