Lunar New Year Celebration

Congratulations to all those Year of the Dog people! While the Lunar New Year, sometimes Chinese New year (although other regions of Asia have a the holiday as well),  started a week ago PennDesign kicked off it’s celebrations last night. Friday’s Happy Hour greeted students with an impressive selection of chinese savory and dessert dishes, rumored to be from Sangkee Noodle House, and a Lion Dance for good fortune. The line wrapped around the lower level well out the door of the atrium in the design building. While I am sure that many, like myself, came for the food, the Lion Dance was the most amazing surprise and really captivated those gathered. A student group, I believe undergraduate, performed the dance and music live in the atrium and translated the significance of the ceremony’s many elements. The dance is a fight between the lion(s) and a poisonous spider, misfortune. The Lion kicks the legs away and then destroys the body of the spider. The body of the spider is composed of lettuce and oranges, a poor mans staples, which are thrown at the audience to cover them in good luck. My starstruck viewing of the dance meant very limited photographs and videos, of which I will share a few. This event is certainly one to look forward to next year!

Since I know so little of this tradition I researched it quikcly and have attached a few links which better explain the lunar new year, the lion dance, and the chinese zodiac.




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The Nap

This Wednesday and Thursday are mid reviews for studio. Naturally this becomes a high intensity work time that will include late nights even an all nighter or two. The nap is an impromptu response to the long work hours and can occur in studio or even in class (oops!). Those who nap may be photographed. The instagram account penndesignzzz, run by an unknown photographer amongst us, documents these impromptu naps.

This account is regularly checked by classmates and fosters a shared humorous bond as students giggle over the latest addition, surprised by who was caught sleeping. While it is held in a humorous light I think it highlights one of those dangerously overlooked aspects of architectural education: the 24 hour work culture or all-nighter(s).

Thankfully PennDesign attempts to combat that culture through a few measures. The first measure being printing account lock down. Midnight the night before mid and final reviews all student accounts are locked so students cannot update printers, send any material to print, and anything sent to print after midnight remains in the que till printing is unlocked in the morning. The second measure in place is to email/appear in person and remove students from studio. This second measure was not upheld. An email was sent saying pencils down at midnight however no one came in to shoo students away. Frankly this probably would not work anyway as students would likely take work home to complete.

I appreciate the concerted effort to combat the all nighter culture present in architecture. Having early deadlines really aids in ensuring work is completed on time and students are awake enough to actively engage in the reviews.

However that culture is a greater problem when present outside review deadlines in a less stressful class to class production week. What can be done to minimize this culture during a regular week? Better coordination between classes, build up deadlines so work is compiled over time rather than produced in the week before, and discuss work load and deadlines openly with students to better manage production. These strategies I have experienced separately in a few studios but feel if combined would really produce powerful results.

The fault for the culture is shared though so from a student side let’s address what could be done. Really learning to manage time is key. Skill building is also crucial and naturally as a student gains more proficiency in software and physical modeling etc managing work load becomes easier. As well students learn over time what deadlines matter and which can be stretched, what daily activities are important and which can be shuffled aiding in producing productive and positive students.

Every school will have a different degree of the all nighter work culture. Regardless of the degree to which it is present addressing it through scheduling, skill building, and communication can all aid in fostering better work and healthier happier students.



The Perfect Distraction

Online resources, a perfect distraction. I am not talking about facebook or pinterest, although those are fair competition, but rather

As a student at Penn you have free access to with your penn login. Naturally there are hundreds of programs that would be amazing to learn and no time in which to learn them. Or at least that is how I used to consider my schedule.

However, with the studio behind me producing short 6 minute films of site research and interviews with chartiable organizations I caught the bug for video editing. I had taken TV in elementary school and again in high school. While I can’t remember what program I was taught Adobe Premiere looks familar enough. So I have settled on taking my breaks from now on to watch Lynda tutorials in the hope that all my jumbled Eagles Superbowl celebration film can be put to good use. While I doubt it will be a five star film, it will certainly be an interesting start. From there who knows maybe architectural walk throughs as a video experience rather than a still image will be a newer trade mark of my work.

While I am being overly optimistic about my outcomes in film, the reality of this post is simply that while in school we are presented with an overabundance of resources, more than half of which go unused or unexplored because we never think we have enough time.

Yes the project for studio is important. Yeah turing in the BIM file/History Paper/Structures problems etc is neccessary. And each of those classes and assignments will give you certain skills. However to drown yourself in their importance and limit any outside learning is more debiltating than you may think.

While I really don’t think I have enough time to sleep, eat peacefully three times a day, exercise for an hour a day, go to class, finish all the assigned work in time, and still have some kind of “life”, reaching for that is better than settling for just school, or so I say admist the stress of midterms. So if I am to distract myself for a little while at least I can make use of my resources and gain an extra skill while doing so.

Below is a list of resources (to be updated a new sources are found):



Friday Nights on the Town

Friday is typically a good day to socialize. Naturally happy hour at PennDesign is the start to Friday nights out exploring the city. However this Friday happy hour appears to have been cancelled in favor of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Hurrah for those year of the Dog people, sadly not me. So in spirit of Friday and the holiday several classmates went out in search of food. We settled on Vetri Pizzeria. This pizzeria happened to be in Center City. Now at first this seemed like it would be a long way away and naturally require an uber. Being terribly optimistic and energetic we chose to walk. Surprisingly the walk was only a mile and really didn’t feel like it took all that long. Honestly it probably takes me longer to walk from my apartment to studio than from studio to pizza. The pizza was fine, between all our choices it seemed agreed that one particular pizza (Pizza Crudo) was the favorite of those we tried. The appetizer of olives seemed small, albeit very cute in it’s tea cup, but sufficed for the group of six. Overall it was a lovely dinner out and certainly a worthwhile start to a Friday night’s excursion.



Menu Previews

So for those of you looking for lunch options on campus, or just trying to decide what to eat before going all the way out to that one cafe someone mentioned, there is of course a website. To review cafes, hours, and menus on Penn Campus check out the following link:


Like, it’s interesting. Different. New.

How many times have you caught yourself saying something similar to explain the projects you are drawn to? This semester we have been challeneged to avoid using these three words, interesting, different, and new, to express our ideas or opinions. Much like in highschool debate classes where the word like was taboo, the new word challenge is posing a comical thread into the serious business of studio. At least now I am a little more aware of my means of expression and the need for something more substantial to qualify my statements.

So here’s a challenge for those reading: try out replacing like, interesting, different, and new with more descriptive words. Let’s see how much more colorful our langauge and expression can be when we really say what we think, rather than default on insubstantial and overused language.