Field Report (Unofficial)

On Friday the Construction I class went on a field trip to a local mason(as in brick layer, tile workers, stone workers) training facilitiy. Here we were instructed on how to build a basic brick and concrete block cavity wall. We were then allowed to practice what we were taught on small practice walls. The efficiency of some groups and the craft of others was interesting to see. Certainly it looks easy and inuitive to build a brick or concrete wall but there are many elements, such as the amount of mortar to place or how to ‘butter’ a brick, which are practiced and become second nature to the masons which didn’t come naturally to many of us.

It is also easier to understand how mistakes can be made in construction, particularly if someone is not to aware of all the details or the standard it should replicate. As well it’s important to be aware that each person has their own style, preference, and history of successful completion which needs to be taken into account when deciding who to work with.  Understanding and working with all of your construction crew, whatever their speciality, is really important!

Above is a photo of the classroom set up, the reference wall built for instruction, and two walls made by different groups which show different stages of progress.

Cooking Breaks!

I know school can get really busy and sometimes meals take a back seat in terms of preparation. However a nice home cooked meal every now and then makes a big difference. I notice that I feel happier, in part because of the accomplishment of cooking and in part because of the food I’m eating. This particular cooking break was choreographed by Abuela, who gave me tips on cooking the pasta sauce from scratch. While not ideal, I’d have liked the sauce to be thicker, the sauce tasted great and went nicely with the pasta. What is even cooler is that it didn’t take that long to make, maximum 15 minutes.


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After talking with some studio friends about how they approach meals I feel like meal planning, more than before, is an appealing option which can make these kinds of mental breaks more feasible. The goal is not to make every meal something new. Out of 7 meals make 4 meals you already know how to prepare, 2 can be newer meals which require a little more time to cook out, and 1 can be a spin on something you already make. This kind of planning also takes into account that you will have leftovers for these meals so you won’t need to remake lunch. Then your breakfast routine is the only meal still left to be decided on.

Halloween Happy Hour

Of the many Happy Hours hosted on Friday’s by PennDesign Student Government, this one was spooktacular.

There were drinks, alcoholic and non, doughnuts, and pizza. A lively game of toss’n’score (commonly played at football games tailgates) going on right next to a large group of mingling students. Music in the background helped set the halloween feel as students chatted amongts the glow in the dark portraits and cobwebs. Sadly I missed the pumpkin carving and the costume contest. However I did see many of the costumes being set up in studio and the ingenuity was refreshing. Of all the happy hours this is one not to miss! Next year I will assuredly be there. 




Rittenhouse Square Farmer’s Market

This past weekend I visited the Rittenhouse Square Farmers Market. A little more expensive than the Clark Park Farmer’s Market, this one features some unique stands. One such stand was a pickle stand. While you’d typically think of pickles being the sweet or sour cucumbers in brine solution, there were a variety of pickled foods. Some of the pickles included artichoke, sundried tomatoes, onions, peppers, olives, and of course the standard cucumber. As well this market had a plant stand, not the usual flower stand, but actual potted plants of many varieties. If you are in search of small potted plants for an indoor garden this has a nice range of potentials.

If the farmer’s market isn’t quite what you were hoping for in terms of weekend outings, this market’s location in downtown makes it a great starting point for a weekend downtown. Just a few blocks north of the market, on Chestnut, there are several outlet stores all in a row. These outlet stores are just the start to a long row of shopping stores on both sides of the street. If you’re looking to update you’re fall fashion or prep for winter this is a great place to start.

There is one place I didn’t have the chance to stop and check out, but hope to soon. For those Mac’n’Cheese lover’s there appears to be a cafe dedicated to Mac’n’Cheese in downtown Philadelphia.

City Views


When you’re phone gets full and you have to clear up space you find little gems. These photos are just a few taken on my walks to and from studio looking towards downtown Philadelphia.

Each of these views came with very different weather patterns. Some look deceptively cold while others warm but in reality the look of the sky has almost nothing to do in relation with the temperature. Best to dress as if it’s warm and then carry a few extra layers to pile on as you venture out.

Amish Country

Discover Lancaster:

Amish country is beautiful, and probably a lot more fun on any day other than Sunday. I mistakenly decided to go out with a friend to tour Amish country, hoping to shop a little and see the farms, on a Sunday. Now several people had warned me that Sunday’s are probably not the best day, since it is the Amish’s day of rest. Despite the warnings, my friend and I ventured out. The countryside was beautiful and open, just about the only thing that was. After a long afternoon spent driving around, my friend and I settled for a very late lunch at the Miller’s Smorgasbord. With stomachs full, headaches slowly fading, and having happily taken in as much scenery as possible we began our way back to our respective homes. The drive to Philadelphia, about an hour long, was uneventful. Traffic did pick up a bit, getting heavier the closer I came to the city.

Overall I hope to try again, maybe on a Saturday, to visit Amish country, stroll through a few stores, a market, see a farm, maybe.

(As the driver for this outing I have no photographs to share of the lovely drive. You, as the reader, will just have to take my word for it that the countryside is really quite lovely and worth the drive.)

Student Health Services

Student Health Services Home:

If you’ve missed a few annual check ups or are looking for a doctor to take care of an uncertain illness (strep throat or pink eye or what-have-you) but didn’t really look up any permanent doctors before moving to Philly it’s okay! Student Health Services is the university’s doctors office. It’s really easy to set up appointments online or by calling. The appointments are quick and if you forgot to mention something, like you wanted a flu shot after your check up, they are very accommodating.

Student Health Services is located close to campus at 3535 Market Street, Suite 100. When you walk in the front door head for the elevators and go to the first floor. Your PennID will get you into the lobby of the office to check in for your appointment.  All charges will go to your student account so if you forgot cash or a check it is okay. They also have forms to help you file claims for your insurance provider if you’ve waived out of the university provided health insurance.

I would say try to get most routine work done before moving as it can be a little pricey. However if you do run into any surprise health concerns and need to stop by a doctor’s office this is a nice place to go. Everyone is really kind and they take care of you quickly!

Stay healthy!

Pavilion Mirage

Another project has come to a close. The review went very well with lots of positive feedback and potential ideas to carry forward from this project into the next project. Before I get too far though allow me to introduce the project, it’s parameters, and then the process followed to arrive at this final pavilion.

The pavilion project is a team project carried out by four classmates. Each class has a total of three different teams resulting in 21 overall teams this year. The general guidelines are similar to the container project. The pavilion must fit within a cairo grid this time sized 2’8” x 3’8” x 5’. The pavilion must somehow create span (overhead condition) as well as walls (exterior defining condition). It must stand on it’s own so each team must address structure on their own. Material choice is left entirely to the team. Generally each team is encouraged to begin designing the pavilion by taking some kind of geometry or idea from the containers produced in the last project.

Much as the artifact produced the container, the container is now producing the pavilion. My team, consisting of Ira Kapaj, Jihyun Kim , Timothy Wang, chose to focus on the curved forms created by each of our artifacts. We ultimately all became drawn to a particular triangular shape created by one of the artifacts which we found easily aggregated into a variety of forms. This triangle and its various aggregations and overall forms were edited several times prior to fabrication. While this process of editing was occurring digitally the team was also investigating potential materials and testing them at half scale. Overall this process of editing and testing was overseen by a theme of illusion. The team had settled on the idea of illusion, mirage, visual deception as the driver behind all our decisions. This project shifted away from surfaces and towards lines and the sense of a continuous line as an illusion in both design and construction.

Below are just a few photos of process and the final pavilion, along with some photos of other teams working towards the final. Also the school kindly provided coffee, tea, and snacks during the review! Thank you! 

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Portfolio Reviews



Though I did not participate in this event as it was targeted to graduating students, I found this really reassuring. The school is there to the very end to ensure your success. So long as you are putting forth the effort the school will be there to aid you in any way possible. Portfolio reviews are just one of the many ways in which the school puts its students ahead in the job search.

Treasures on Trial!

Treasures on Trial:

My fall break weekend did not leave behind the influences of illusion studied in the pavilion project. On my many runs to Home Depot, Lowes, and JoAnns for materials I heard a commercial for an exhibit at the Winterthur Gallery which peaked my interest. The exhibit titled “Treasures on Trial” exhibited a wide range of fakes and forgeries across all disciplines.

An hour long drive through the beautiful Pennsylvania country, broken up by suburbs and small towns, I arrived at Winterthur Gallery in Wilmington, Delaware. I am not completely sure what Winterthur is meant to be, however the grounds are immense and absolutely beautiful with rolling hills and forest. A quick ten minute walk through forest and gardens led me to the Main gallery. Up a lovely flight of stairs and I stood before the second floor display of “Treasures on Trial”. Inside I was met with a side by side comparison of many originals and their false counterparts. Each piece was accompanied with a brief history, an explanation of the trickery used to hide the fake, and an explanation of what has happened since its discovery.

Traditionally when someone mentions a fake or a forgery people think money and art. This exhibit also showcased clothing, bags, furniture, silver ornaments, plates, baseball memorabilia, stamps, weathervanes, photography, violins and wine. The range of forgeries was impressive. I had never really stopped to consider the potential of forged violins, whose sound clearly attests to its false creation when compared to the original, or wine, whose labels and sale records can quickly rule out its vintage date. Even with furniture there are many ways to tell a fake or forgery such as materials used (from wood to paint and coating ingredients), construction techniques, and wear and use patterns.

I really loved the fact that each artifact in the museum was given a detailed description of how it was a forged object and what methods were used to determine its falsehood. The techniques used at the time versus today are also really intriguing. Several of the mentioned techniques I recall hearing on shows such as Forensic Files to sample evidence from crime scenes to aid investigators in determining a suspect’s potential involvement. The range to which these technologies and tests can be used to solve puzzles is impressive.

At the end of the entire gallery a few unsolved fakes await your decision. Some of the tests provide inconclusive answers, some of the histories still to vague for experts to decide and so the decision is put to the test of popular vote. It’s a really nice way to tie in all the prior case studies and knowledge learned through the exhibit into an interactive test.

If you have a free weekend between now and January 7th and need something to do for a few hours I highly recommend going to the Winterthur Gallery to see “Treasures on Trial”.