It is difficult to wrap our minds around it. Until we earn the recognition, we do not feel that something is real. We need to announce it on Facebook. We need those sweet words of others showered over us. We need that expensive piece of paper handed over. Rarely anymore do we measure ourselves by our own personal experiences. I am as guilty as anyone, but I try as often as possible to challenge my urge to measure myself. One of those moments is upon me, as I graduate from college on Saturday. I know what I have accomplished, experienced, and ultimately overcome in order to get to Saturday; but oddly enough, until I get that expensive piece of paper and share with everyone what it means, it feels like these experiences lack an appropriate cap. 

What my trip will roughly look like in Bergen, Norway. Roughly. Very very rough. 


I am truly able to measure my time here at Iowa State as all but finished; and while that is all well and good, this moment of "completion" by no means marks my moment of "conclusion." In fact this last year has provided me with my greatest growth within my values of design. As the video I posted in my previous entry suggests, I was really unsure of what I wanted to do within Urban Design for a while. Experiences, good or bad, have truly been a gift. 

One of the most valuable experiences that I have acquired in my time was the urban design studio in Las Vegas. We just concluded this past Wednesday, and though we might not have accomplished every little objective that we wanted in full within our ambitious proposal, I can say with confidence that our project turned out stronger than ever anticipated. 

Our objectives read as such: 

  • Rehabilitate the Victory Hotel
  • Create and Art Center for Business Professionals
  • Make a Well Used Alleyway
  • Make Our Site Net-Zero
  • Have a Local Community Focus

Looking at these now, almost a week later, and understanding the time provided, I believe that we pushed these objectives to an admirable point. The unfortunate thing about the design degree, is that in most cases it is impossible to be able to fully measure your success. It is subjective and speculative until realized and utilized. But, what I can measure is the amount of work I have done, and the amount of knowledge/experience I have accrued. Below are some of the images of our final presentation. 

Some of the most consistent points of improvement brought up involved the consistency of the streetscape, the demographics intended for, and the need to fit within the larger scope of Downtown Las Vegas. These are all valid points, and ones that need to be considered moving forward within all of our design careers. 

This studio helped me to cultivate my interest in alleyways and adaptive reuse, and also provided me with a platform to express myself. I cannot understate the importance that this experience as well as other experiences this semester has played within my development as a designer. 

In another moment of gauging success, I have recently received official word that my proposal The Adaptation of Alleyways has been accepted for the Barbara King Scholarship. 

What This Means

  1. I will be spending three weeks this summer studying alleyways primarily in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, and Bergen. 
  2. I will be reading the book Tight Urbanism by Daniel Toole, which chronicles Daniels journey to Australia, Japan, and the Pacific Northwest of the United States to better understand alleyways. 
  3. I will continue to update this blog per my own discoveries travels related to alleyways. 
  4. I will present my findings, make valuable connections within this narrow design world, and continue to grow within this niche. 

Tight Urbanism by Daniel Toole

The interesting part of all of this silly measurement talk is that the more I sit and ponder it, the more I recognize the value in measurements. If we are unable to recognize what we have accomplished, then what is the point in accomplishing them in the first place? Sure, there are more graceful ways of doing it than others. Within the buzz of the constant grind, it is important to take these moments of recognition in order to break up the monotony. With that said, as Saturday approaches, I am going to sit back, crack open a cold one, and enjoy this. As my favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, once penned: "I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." 


News and Notes

  • Word is that the Victory Hotel site was just sold, and has plans to become another container park. After having gained such a fondness for that little hotel, I am really going to miss it. But hey, at least it is going out like this.
  • My family is going to be in town (including my little sister) and I cannot wait to share some stories, celebration, and many Martin smiles with them. 
  • Currently listening to...Measurements by James Blake. The sultry (yes sultry) tone of his voice always sounds nostalgic. And this tune only amplifies that nostalgia. Kudos to anyone who watches the entire video.