Rebuilding south florida by learning
Posted on October 12, 2022
In an ideal world, like school, I’d have an answer for every question whirling about in my head right now. Instead, what feels like a million vague answers to these questions about how to rebuild after Hurricane Ian float about. My heart aches for my hometown of Fort Myers. This past week I have been debating about how to express my heartache, my desire to help, and how to apply the various skills I have. As a result, I am starting by posting out all my questions, all my ideal solutions, and all my hopes for the future. From there I intend to research and share my learnings with all of you readers. Hopefully, this helps rebuild a more resilient, environmentally connected, flourishing South Florida community.
- Of the areas impacted by storm surge – for the buildings and plants that remained standing what are their stats? How old are they? What code do they adhere to? What standards were they built/planted to? Where are they located? How are they grouped? What damage did they sustain if any?
- Can landscape help buffer the effects of such strong storms?
- Can trees be planted to strategically redirect and buffer winds to reduce damage that may be caused on the other side of them? Wind patterns leading to planting vs wind patterns after passing through planting
- Can trees/landscape be used to absorb enough water to limit flood damage or minimize it? How long does this effect take?
- Can landscape be used to redirect water or to slow water preventing/reducing damage behind it? Not considering grading of soils but actual planting and groupings of plants (bushes, grasses, trees)
- Can landscape and architecture work together to create combined strategies to protect property from damage? What is the ideal placement of trees around a building (combined wind studies)?
- What does a florida friendly/native landscape that can hurricane prep a property look like? How old is it? How much care does it require?
- Are there urban landscapes that can perform the tasks of wind/water mitigators and pleasant garden/roadside landscaping?
- How did the canals fare during the storm? Is there room for landscape or an engineered solution to prevent them becoming flood channels into the city?
- What does the natural coastline of South Florida look like? How does it handle storm events? What can we learn from it to improve our development standards and protect our home?
- What do the inner lands of South Florida look like? How does it handle storm events? What can we learn from it to improve our development standards and protect our home?
- Is there a Florida native or friendly design palette that can storm proof your home? How about the public spaces the connect home and entertainment/work?
- How do I build small mock models for wind/water testing that will accurately represent landscape? Architecture examples exist.
- Can the wind/water analysis be developed into a grasshopper script to develop the best design options or studies for future development? Does such a script already exist?
- Create integrated dunes and elevated architecture along beachfronts to make a semi natural/semi constructed wall that would redirect water towards a less damaging path or at least slow it’s incoming to prevent extreme damage
- Encourage elevated architecture rebuilds along coastlines both creating room for parking and for flood waters below – additionally creating public space with continuous view of the water above – also raising businesses out of harm’s way to allow for quicker return
- Encourage the growth of mangroves and tree canopy along rivers side to hold ground and filter/slow water spreading up from river
- Encourage the use of riverside as park space so that any flooding does not impact homes/businesses
- A better understanding of existing wind studies for landscapes and urban canopies
- A better understanding of flooding, storm surge, and landscapes impact
- A better understanding of how wind and water respond to obstacles and the rippling effects of that response
- A florida friendly/native plant palette that can protect an area from extensive storm damage
- A kit of parts for landscapes and architecture that work together to minimize the impacts of wind/water damage due to storms
I have a vague knowledge of the above topics and hope to get much greater knowledge of them through careful study of others research. In studying wind, water, tree canopy, South Florida landscapes, and storm preparedness/response I hope to develop a sense of Best Management Practices related to Landscape and Architecture Design for Hurricanes. I look forward to the research ahead and the opportunity to apply what I learn in my work moving forward.
If you have research or reading suggestions feel free to send them along my way!
Fools and Floors
Posted on May 13, 2022
I had a choice: click in place wood flooring or look like wood porcelain tile. Naturally I picked the tile. The hardest, longest flooring to put in and which I have the least experience in. Oh boy have I learned a lesson.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the flooring! I am just not as in love with the process of getting it done “by myself” (AKA boyfriend in lead, me in tow, scrambling around a makeshift home construction site).
Bad enough we removed carpet, we soon moved on to demoing tile. And the amount of dust is simply astonishing! From the tile and the dry mortar to the unsealed concrete, at least I have plenty of KN-95s from covid to cover me on this.
With the tile partially demo-ed we moved on to bring up all the tile, mortar, grout, tile cutters (electric and hand) and trowels, towels and buckets (never enough buckets!!). The beautiful screened porch is now home to all the tools. Quite a messy home…
Once settled we began the task of picking the tile pattern. It’s in rows of three staggered by halves/quarters. Once settled the tiles were measured and laid out. Unfortunately the walls aren’t straight and enough distance between tile lines and wall resulted in many recut tiles.
If the walls weren’t straight you can bet the floor wasn’t level. Plenty of odd dips made the mortar and tile leveling no small task.
We started in the living room and worked our way across the entry, down the hall, and into both bedrooms.
The hardest part to tile was the hallway. So many intricate cuts and recuts. Transition strips were considered and selected. Moving was difficult as well. Tile too far and you can’t get out. Lots of hopping about!
And once the tile is down and dried it’s grouting time. We made use of a car squeegee to mop the grout across the floor and after a little waiting cleaned up with sponges, scrapers, and mops.
The grout was a tad disappointing. I had wanted a grout darker, closer in color to the tile. This one has come out very light. It doesn’t look bad, just not what I expected.
After weeks of start -stop tiling we are one room and a kitchen away from finished!! At that point it’ll be time to seriously start furniture shopping and getting things out of boxes and into their proper place.
Can’t wait to share some finished spaces with you all next time!
Posted on May 6, 2022
With the majority of the demo done it was time for some pretty progress. I had spent weeks pouring over paint palettes considering how to style the condo. I love color! Bright, vibrant and lively colors. I really don’t shy from stronger colors. However I do want to be able to sell the condo without having to put too much work into it. I also want flexibility to change décor as the mood strikes me which can be hard when a color palette is set.
I have settled on the majority of the condo living spaces being a neutral tone. Either a beige, a white, or a light gray tone. The bedrooms and corresponding bathrooms I decided would each have a separate color theme. The guest room will be in green tones while the master bedroom will be in blue tones.
How did I finally decide on colors for each room? I took 5-6 color swatches and taped them to the wall with the least direct sunlight. I then closed all the blinds and selected colors I thought I liked in almost complete darkness. All the unselected swatches were removed from the wall and the preferred swatches were lined up again. The second round selection I opened up all the blinds and judged the colors in full light. From this selection I took the preferred swatches and held them in direct light. I did this a few times to be sure the colors I picked were really the ones.
Once the paint was purchased there was no going back. Each room had a feature wall which had the boldest color painted on. The remaining walls were painted in a lighter support color. The trim, doors, and ceiling were painted/kept a light, semi-glossy white color.
While the majority of the condo will be accented in silver colored accents (door knobs, handles, fixtures, curtain rods, etc) the guestroom green is complemented nicely with a gold/brass color. I intend to mix metals throughout the condo with the mixing metals as focal points, accents.
Honestly it seems trivial but it is absolutely impressive how much paint changes a space. After painting the condo seemed brighter, cleaner, and more inviting. It started to feel complete even though the work has only just begun!
Posted on April 29, 2022
The first step in the condo project is to demo it. Basically tear it down to the bare essentials to truly have a base from which to build up my vision of it.
I couldn’t have done this without the help of my family and boyfriend. The extra hands really helped in tearing things up and carrying them out.
We started with the doors, blinds, and wall paper. The blinds I tried to sell but had no luck with. The doors we determined could be reused with some paint and a change of knobs. In a few places I decided I no longer wanted closet doors and so these were removed completely (tracks and all). The wall paper is another struggle entirely
I did a bit of research and decided that between steaming off the paper (the more expensive option) or using a scoring device and a chemical applicant (the cheaper option) I’d try the latter first. This worked excellently on the wallpaper in the master bedroom. It did not work so well in the bathroom. I tried hard for a few days and then abandoned the project for more fruitful pursuits in the condo.
Only recently have I concocted this crazy idea. I would score all the walls. Then I would “take” a hot steaming shower, with the bathroom door closed, to steam the room completely. Immediately after I would begin scrapping the walls. I am not sure if I would spray any chemical prior to the steaming or post the steaming. I suppose I will have to try it both ways and see what removes the stubborn wallpaper best.
Wallpaper aside the most troublesome demo so far has been the floor. The carpet was nailed in some places and glued in others. With razors the carpet was cut into manageable strips. Crow bars and hammers were then used to pry up the wooden nail strips and the nails in the concrete. Naturally the concrete below the carpet and underlayment is completely unfinished, uneven, and spotted with paint/glue. The dust produced daily is a nightmare. Soon that won’t be a problem though as new flooring makes it’s way across the condo!
That’s it for demo, for now. The new flooring will take priority til another round of demo/remodel can be afforded.
Posted on March 31, 2022
Every life has it’s milestones, one of which is making your first place your own. Whether it’s a room or a whole villa the project of making your first place your own is a challenge. At first it seems so straight forward but then one decision creates six questions and soon enough there’s more to the project than you’d ever envisioned. Having focused on design, what feels like my whole life, this is both a thrilling and daunting moment. I have always dreamed of owning my own place. Finally I own a condo!
The condo is about 900 square feet. With a combined living dining area open to the kitchen, a small hall with a laundry closet, a bathroom off the hall, a guest room, and a master bedroom with bathroom inside. The bathrooms are exactly the same size and layout. The bedrooms roughly the same plus-minus a private hallway segment.
The appliances are older with the fridge appearing almost original. Almost immediately upon moving in I have had to repair the washing machine (really my mom working her magic) and call repair people for the 20 year old A/C system. The only lights in the condo are in the entryway, hallway, bathrooms, and kitchen. All other spaces appear to have been lit up by lamplight.
The walls are a dirty white yellow color, the popcorn ceiling less so. The floors a stained, rough gray carpet. The finishes all around need cleaning. The “professional cleaning” the realtor claimed had been ordered seems to have never occurred. Worse yet I can’t image what the condo looked like prior to a “professional cleaning” if this is the result of said cleaning.
I have attached a few before photos. I am excited to share my plans and progress on the condo with you all. I hope my mistakes will help you stay one step ahead for your own projects to come!
2021 in review
Posted on January 13, 2022
Where have I been you ask? Here, there, and everywhere it seems! I know I dropped off the radar a bit in 2021. I needed to sort out life and it’s nearly sorted! But before I get ahead of myself let’s start where I last left off. Here’s 2021 in review:
I had plenty of time to reflect on my choice to attend the University of Pennsylvania. It was particularly bittersweet as my last semester of graduate school came to a crashing end. My computer just about died by the end of the semester resulting in the purchase of a fabulous new laptop! One I can’t wait to really utilize to it’s maximum to produce art, videos, blog posts, and maybe a little design work on the side. Not so bittersweet was goodbye to Apartment 301 and the last flood I hope to ever deal with.
While in school I was applying for work and taking interviews. Right out of school I had two offers and a trial run week long internship. While these were certainly great options, I wouldn’t have applied if I didn’t want them, I ultimately decided not to accept. I then took about two months to teach Canoeing and Kayaking at the Ocala Outdoor Adventure Camp. (I know not quite in theme right? Masters in design to summer camp?)
Well summer camp was amazing! I became lifeguard certified (eeek!!) and loved being on the water teaching others how to canoe, kayak, and rescue themselves. When not chasing after kids, cleaning up camp, or helping instruct I enjoyed learning more about Florida plants and wildlife. I sketched a bit, listened to stories of the camp and how the area grew, and just explored. Soon after I took the course and exam to get my boating license. I am super excited to learn how to operate a boat, particularly to learn to sail! More on this as it comes…
When summer camp finished I was still searching for that perfect design job. I had interviewed with a few places but no luck landing anything till I interviewed with Marquis Latimer + Halback (ML+H). I was excited as I knew a few of the employees from my time at the University of Florida. The firm was solid having projects ranging from private residential to urban parks and city planning. Best of all they focused in Landscape Architecture!
I had several conversations with Jeremy (Marquis), Fremont (Latimer), and Laura (Marquis). Each one lovelier than the last. Andrew, my UF contact, was also great for inside perspective. I had finally found a firm that I could grow in, where I could use my skills from school and gain experience quickly. No CAD monkeying for me here!
So mid September, after a quick trip to shadow my sister at her job in New Mexico, I started with ML+H. The first few days in person got me all set up to work flexibly. Some days in the office, some days at my parents place, some days in my boyfriends, some days at my sisters (and Gator football games), and some days at a hotel. Basically work anywhere live anywhere. Well, almost.
I knew I couldn’t sustain the driving to and from work and my parents place, frankly I can barely do it from my sisters place. I had agreed to move to St. Augustine by the end of the 2021. I sincerely wanted to. I am tired and feel like I’m in a million places none of which have any of my stuff (reference books for landscape, who needs those?? Are the book boxes even in the state???). So with rent being more than a mortgage I decided to buy!
Now this couldn’t happen without the support of my family. So after months of searching and saving and panicking I am, all fingers and toes crossed, going to close on a place soon! It’s no castle but it’s, please please please!!!, MY tiny project so very close to work and a lot more sleep.
This quick review of 2021 barely covers where I’ve been and what I’ve experienced, but I hope it gives you, my readers, a sense of what’s to come. I’ll be back on a regular posting schedule in the next month, if all pans out, and can’t wait to share with you all my journey!
Why I Chose Penn
Posted on April 28, 2021
I was recently asked to reflect on why I chose the Weitzman School of Design for my graduate education for the Why Weitzman Wednesday section of the Graduate Admissions blog.
When considering graduate school, I looked for degrees in both Architecture and Landscape Architecture. I considered dual degree options, certificates, or electives that could be taken in other schools(ie landscape schools). I had looked into University of Virginia, Louisiana State University, University of Tennessee, University of Washington, and University of Pennsylvania. The Weitzman School of Design gave me the opportunity to study both Architecture and Landscape Architecture as Master’s degrees in a 4-year time span.
In addition to the degrees specifically (courses, curriculum schedule, electives, etc), I was interested in a school that would challenge my digital skill set. The curriculum at the Weitzman School of Design was well integrated between degrees and had a series of digital courses. My undergraduate education had really developed my hand drawing and physical modeling skills. From looking at the curriculum and work marketed by the Weitzman School it was clear to me that digital skill sets were really challenged to create the work. Balancing my physical and digital skill sets would be in my best interest and the Weitzman School would certainly do that.
In addition, after speaking with students, it was clear that the professors were able to understand and assist students who might be struggling with the digital programs needed to produce the work. I wouldn’t have selected Penn if I thought that digital skills were required but no assistance would be provided. I am very happy that is not the case! I can now say confidently that I know how to work in and between Rhino, Grasshopper, Revit, GIS, and Adobe Creative Cloud Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Premiere, and After Effects. I’ve even learned to 3D print, CNC mill, laser cut, and generate digital models for walk thru.
As a bonus the Weitzman School is in Philadelphia. I really wanted to live in a city as I thought it would influence my design skills through exposure. Philadelphia is a wonderful city to live in and explore! Its proximity to New York City, Boston, Baltimore, and Washington DC make it an excellent starting point to explore cities in the North Eastern US.
At the Weitzman School I have met incredible people, learned not just a skillset or program but a method of analysis, and have come to a place where I am excited to take on any design challenge given to me!
If you want to know more about my experiences at the Weitzman School of Design check out my University of Pennsylvania section or reach out! I am always happy to answer questions and help others decide if the Weitzman School of Design is the school for them.
To see the specific excerpt on the Weitzman Blog: https://www.design.upenn.edu/graduate-admissions/post/why-weitzman-wednesdays-5
Zoom Study Rooms
Posted on March 30, 2021
In design there is always studio. In studio, a single room in which each student is given personal desk space to work, classes are taught and homework is done. This space drifts between communal and private. Studio has a lot of the attributes people who love study groups look for.
For one in studio you can just stay at your desk and complete all the work you have for the day. If you need to leave your computer running, you can. If you need to leave modeling materials out or something to glue, you can. Everyone understands that your desk is personal and “private”. Private in so much as if it’s in a drawer or a locked box no one will touch it, it may be borrowed if out in the open. Now while you can work totally “alone”, the person next you, and across from you, and diagonal to you are also working “alone”.
So when you are finally stumped on a problem or just need a break and want to chat there’s a room full of people working “alone” at their desks. This proximity of people working creatively on their own problems generates exciting ideas and conversations. As a result Zoom, in combatting Covid’s work at home alone trend, becomes both our enemy and friend.
Somehow joining yet another Zoom class just drags me down a bit. There is no joy in watching your computer crash as you try to share a model or have your audio fail halfway through a 6 hour class. Yet there’s something freeing about the idea of joining a Zoom Study Room.
People from all around the world are coming together on Zoom solely to have someone else study “beside” them. My sister uses it to keep her focused on studying and completing her work. Per her story these rooms are forcibly muted and the chat is disabled. Communication is essentially prohibited in the Zoom Study Room. Those keen to make new friends in the room might include an Instagram handle or Twitter name in their Zoom name to encourage others to find them and start a chat. But for those who just want to keep on task this offers a large room of students hard at studying to motivate you.
Now the silent studying may fail occasionally. As she noted, one day the audio and chat functions were accidentally enabled and the entire room exploded in chaos. Everyone was exclaiming, saying hello, asking what others were studying. Though the initial exclamations were in many languages the entire room quickly switched to English.
I’ve been recommended to try out Study Stream (https://www.studystream.live/). I can only hope that when I try out these Zoom Study Rooms I can experience the accidental enabling of audio and chat. It’s sure to be remiscent of studio in a way a silent room of textbooks can’t ever be.
Have any of you tried Zoom Study Rooms? How else are you maintaining some normalcy to your studies during Covid?
A sketch for Tomorrow
Posted on March 21, 2021
The whole field of design is built on imaging the many futures awaiting us. JKRP, a Philadelphia firm, is currently hosting a student sketching competition looking at the future of Philadelphia. Interested, see the flyer below for competition brief:
There are soo many views in Philadelphia that perfectly showcase the past, present, and most current future in progress. Right in the foreground of those views is the open space that begs the question of future.
What if the new tower in rittenhouse square boasted enhanced community spaces for post covid gathering? Or if the many parking lots still in downtown becomes turnaround areas for autonomous vehicles with second and third floor greenspaces and community centers in the building? Or if new city guidelines seriously consider the shutdown of a network of streets creating completely pedestrian friendly paths that cover the whole city? Like a serious expansion of the idea of play streets and the new outdoor dining set ups that we all love so much. Or if a new parks initiative connects rooftop greenspaces with pedestrian bridges creating a new level of community space in an ever growing city?
I’m not sure what to enter for this competition. Even if I don’t enter a sketch I will certainly enjoy the prompt for consideration during my breaks from class to stroll the city.
What do you think the future holds?
A Redesign for the future
Posted on March 12, 2021
Welcome reader! If you’ve visited in the last few days or even in the last few years you’ve seen a number of changes. As I near graduation and step into the next part of my journey towards becoming a licensed professional designer I decided the take the blog along with me.
For those new and old, I have changed up the categories to reflect the upcoming shift. All my old posts, all 179 of them!!!, still exist and can be found under Education > University of Pennsylvania > (the original category). I have gone ahead and started to additionally tag posts that reflect some of the new categories and interests I want to further express.
I have also added social media not previously linked to the blog. Instagram will still be a space to share my teatimes and breaks from school or work. Twitter will host quotes from each new post to summarize or express the post as clearly and succinctly as possible. The upgraded website can now host video!! I have created a youtube channel to help host the videos and post more video heavy content where the blog may be support rather than central. My Linkedin is up to date and the best place to see my most recent resume and portfolio.
Speaking of which, I have finally added my portfolio! Currently I am showing my chronological portfolio with work from my first semester at University of Florida in 2013 to my most recent work at University of Pennsylvania in 2021. I have sprinkled in work from my externship/internship as well.
While I am by no means done working on the website most of the changes to come will be in the back end. I am excited to have updated and refreshed the blog! I can’t wait to continue to share my journey with all of you!
A note on design:
Photographer is the wordpress template I am currently using. Originally I used Snaps.
Subtle Freckles by Atle Mo is my current background. You can find lots of amazing free website backgrounds at https://www.toptal.com/designers/subtlepatterns/
Template: Photographer | Backgrond: CC BY-SA 3.0 – Subtle Patterns © Toptal Designers. (Subtle Freckles)
If you have comments, suggestions, or just want to reach out please do!