Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’

Starting School – Again, Plus a New Job and a Possible New Laptop

I just started reading my first computer textbook today. I don’t know should I be happy or sad that I find the first chapter basic. Granted, this is a 101 course, but the class fee… even if it’s a first week of class, I want to help jump right to HTM instead of browsers 101- and I am not even suppose to start on the book this week.
A quick update on my life. I completed my airline agent training, but they have been taking a long time in deciding to hire me or not, and the paper work took a while too, so I am not sure what’s going on any more. Meanwhile, I was hired to help with the Print Center at Office Depot, which I am please in that the work’s at least slightly related to architecture. Plus, I was thinking about expanding my professional skill to graphic or web design before I learned of my new job. I already volunteered at as graphic designer at SF Botanical Garden, but a more comprehensive knowledge and a certificate would be nice. So now I am officially starting my first computer course at CCSF, which can lead to a website development or web programming certificate. Plus, I am also taking a Revit class! If all goes well, I would develop more advanced drafting skills, plus a computer science skill. Of course, I have to see how I like the 101 – more correctly the CNIT 131 – course first.
Talking about Revit, I decided to work on my homework today on campus. To my surprise, the lab was empty! Not a single window blind or computer was opened. I know it is the first week, but the lab is probably not going in the weekends, and we have the Martin Luther King’s Day right afterward! Sure there’s the possibility of working at home with a laptop, but the screen would be no where as a desktop, and it is always better to work away from home in my experience. I was really hoping to meet some classmates too. It feels strange to be in an architecture class where I don’t know my classmates at all for once. Eventually a girl did came in, but she wasn’t in my class. Not that I got to stay long – I think I arrived at 3 pm. Someone came in a while later to let us know that the lab is closing early today. Turned out he was the Architecture Department Head, and the other girl is taking Studio Max – Studio Max! I would love to give that a try. Not only that, he also let know that the school computer has Rhino, and it seems like universities’, or at least CP’s, focus in design but not computer skill teachings are quite well-known. Not only that, the CCSF’s architecture department uses Cloud for turning in assignment. I am quite surprise, as CP still uses CDs and occasionally emails. It used to drive me nuts because my Macbook DVD driver dies easy, and I don’t really wants to think about CD covers and running to computer labs when there’s deadline. Ah, the advantage of city schools.
He also mentioned tutors, which is nice bonus. Although unlike CP labs, their labs don’t open late or weekend, which is extremely inconvenience. With my daytime job, the only way I can do my assignments is with my dad’s old desktop computer. My Macbook now only holds 2 GB – one of my memory card slot is damage, and somehow my computer can’t do bootcamp because of the damaged card slot. Sure I could send in for a new memory card slot, but with the state of my computer and the cost for the fix, I would be better off buying a new laptop. Using duo-platform would probably tax my computer too much and bring it to an early grave. I think I will be fine with mostly working at home though. I know that people talk about learning curve differences, but I am a quick learner when it comes to visual programs. Besides, Revit seems pretty close to ArchiCad that.  All BIM ultimately comes from the same reason and goal anyway. But I would love more time to play with the program, and my dad’s computer is just like that – dad’s computer.
Since a new laptop is needed for the imminent demise of my loved but aging MacBook, I will probably do a posting on laptops that I am considering – a few years ago I would have automatically go for another Apple laptop, but with the repair-unfriendly Macbook Pro and the discontinuation of the more cost-efficient and repair-friendly Macbook Core 2 Duo (namely, the famous White MacBook), Apple laptop is no longer anywhere on my purchase list – top or bottom. Maybe if I will consider iPad if want to get a netbook, but one where I can’t even change the battery? I don’t know…
I will probably also do a posting on how my Print Center jobs is like later as well. For now though, I think I will stop for the day and get some rest – my CNIT class is an online course, but we have an optional orientation tomorrow. I look forward to it!


San Francisco – the New Cauldron of Tech and Real Esate

When people think about a city known for technology in California, the first thought stop tends to be San Jose. Its quite logical, considerating that it is the largest city within SIlicon Valley, housing some of the most major tech HQs – Adobe, Cisco, Ebay, HP, and IBM… and those are just some of the major names there.

San Francisco is catching up though, and I was once again reminded of that as I read this little article by SF Gate:

Tech firms seek perfect space in S.F.

With new industry, comes new demands and needs. It is no wonder that the advancement of tech industry will directly influence commercial design, architecture planning, urban structure.

Notes from HEED workshop

Hmm… I have a few fun, summary notes from the PEC class I attended, but I almost forgot to post it. Well, here it is!

Designing High Performance Homes with HEED

  • It will not beat the accuracy of hand-calculation, but it is good for getting a quick insight. It is sort of like SketchUp for architects. You can make the shape and even a presentable perspective, but it can’t really make presentable floor plan or detail section.
  • If you work in the build/construct/energy industry & don’t have Climate Consultant or HEED, download it anyway just for fun. I will admit the graphic is not the most attractive or flexible, but that’s what photoshop does.
  • There’s a few bugs, but they are small things to smile about – just a bunch of instruction pop up. In fact, Pablo jokes about it, blunting inviting those of us in the room to send a massive group complaint to his friend in a single day. Considering that there are only 4 UCLA guys working on the program for free, the bug is understandable. In fact, it is already down right amazing.
  • Love the Vintage Home option that they are working with, especially since my prep day volunteer at Rebuilding Together and my water audit class at PEC reminded me the importance of building age.
  • Climate Consultant is as I remember it. Maybe a bit clearer in term of graphics. It also have the climate files preloaded now – no more going online to look for the right file. I did, however, learn how to twit the psychrometric chart to see how different recommendation changes the graphics. It’s pretty neat.

Volunteering for Rebuilding Day

National Rebuilding Day, hosted by Rebuilding Together (previously named Christmas in April), is approaching fast. For the last two months, I have just been helping with calling and translating, but the Rebuilding Day… oh, that’s how my attention was initially caught. Needless to say, I have been looking forward to it.

Finally, yesterday, Prep Day started, and I signed up to helping as soon as I learned. Mostly, our group did a lot of clutter removal. We even have professional organizers! I have read a bit about it when I got a free book from Amazon about organizing houses, but its different to see it in person. One would think it is just all about making things pretty. But like interior designer and architects… Oh no, it’s a professional work. Before she arrived, we were running around trying to see what item the owner wanted to get rid off. There was a reason the garage was in a clutter in the first place – it is painful to get rid things for everyone. But once she arrived and started talking to the owner, things get chucked out at twice the speed we were going at. Some of the volunteers and I went upstairs for a moment (we went up to help the captain to clean out space for painting at the actual Rebuilding Day). By the time we came down, the 1/3 of the garage was emptied out.

It was like magic. *Jaws dropped*

By the later half of the day, I was mostly upstairs helping with moving things (for painting space later on) and sponging with a liquid call TSP. Another magical item, which whips the grease from the kitchen ceiling and wall with ease after some nice scrubbing. According to Amazon, TSP is a: “The all purpose cleaner used by professionals prior to painting exterior surfaces. It removes mold and mildew. Also de glosses surfaces that are oil base painted. Ideal for cleaning garage or basement floors. May be used to restore dried, used paintbrushes. “ Amazing stuff. The captain got it in liquid form, which was green. It smelled quite nice and non-chemical even though it’s a pretty strong cleaner. We had a running joke that it probably taste delicious.

Oh, I got to go on the ladder for a while for ceiling cleaning, which is always fun. Since I am petite, people tends to worry when I do anything that require me to go high above ground, but I actually have a strange love for height and defying gravity movements, a leftover from my gymnastic and ice skating days – plus, I get to feel taller, and that’s a good enough reason.

Through out the day, I got to chat with some of the volunteers, and I soon found out that they were mostly from the same company. There are some exceptions, which was lucky in my case, as one of the volunteers mentioned that one year she was in a group where everyone was in the same company except for her. To my own surprise though, none of the volunteers are in the ACE industry – they are actually mostly from the software industry, and some of them are quite knowledgeable in the home building field. By lunch time, our captain decided to order us some food, and we started talking while eating pizza on upside-down bucket sits. It was a nice sunny day, and while it did tired me out, it was the nice kind where you feel like you really got some good work done in a day. The much cleaner garage and kitchen definitely helped. I am going to be volunteering on Friday again, which I am definitely looking forward to.


The America Cup-Inspired Transportation Revolution

My first encounter with the America Cup Competition and Village was in the summer of 2010. The Golden Gate Yachut Club had yet to win, but my summer studio professor was looking forward to the event. My school, Cal Poly, made an exception that year after a fellow classmate’s campaign for a summer studio, allowing my teacher James Doeflour to open a summer architecture class.

Jim set our class project to the America Cup Village, and my class logically took a class field trip to my home city, San Francusco. We first visited the Oracle HQ, then we visited the Golden Gate Yachut Club. Both time, my professor managed to contact someone from the company to introduce to us to their role in the competition. Finally, we visited our project site – China Basin. As the project and site studies continued, I was awed by how a competition could possibly change the entire planning of a city. My class team came up with a revised version of the China Basin masterplan, then we individually used a combination of Revit and Rhino to create a laser-cut sculptural model for the site. Eventually, we finished the final project of that class – a landmark building on the China Basin Pier.

Two years later, I have returned to San Francisco, and the transformation brought by the America Cup is now going full force. The energy is high, and I see the name everywhere. Of course, my information network tends to gear toward the city planning aspect, what with my engagement in the sustainability community and being a Bicycle Coalition intern. As a result, yesterday I met with a group of professionals at a networking session, and is it any wonder how the conversation turned toward AIA when I am an architectural professional and another member in the session is a Sustainability Coordinator? Anyhow, I learned from her that AIA is hosting a presentation about the America Cup!

Thanks to my internship, I learned quite a bit about the role of bicycle in the America Cup, but a view from the AIA point? I was surprised (though I shouldn’t be, now that I think about it) that people are already gearing up to purchase or renovate their buildings to accommodate the crowd that America Cup will bring. Several of the visitors will actually be staying in the city for a few months because of their company business – instead of just the few days that the competition will be held. The competition site, along with the changing architecture and cityscape, goes from the Fisherman’s Wharf to as far as the China Basin, wrapping itself across the west side of the city. The presenter noted that on a architecture level, the ones most influenced would be the Hotel business, in addition to the retail business that the Competition will bring.

The information that excited me most included:

  1. New Muni line and Bikeshare!
  2. This year America Cup has aimed to be the most sustainable Village so far, placing priority on zero waste, bay health, and ocean health.

For number one: While I already own a bike, bikeshare means more people bicycling. How many times have I heard “Safety in Number” when it comes to bicycling? Besides, while I love biking, going all the way from Bayview to Downtown and then back… takes just too much energy for me to do anything else – what’s the point of riding to downtown if I tired myself out first? I would much rather take the T-Muni downtown, then rent a bike there. And Muni line? How can not be happy about more of it? The change in transportation system in 2013 will directly and indirectly change the cityscape, as evident now by the People Plan approved by SFMTA Board Directors (which will affect the bike and bus system around the Waterfront), not to mention the re-pavement in 2015 (AKA, The Better Market Street). I laughed when the presenter say that the message is Do Not Drive to North Bay. When it comes to San Francisco, driving is not really the best option no matter what time of the year. The America Cup will certainly test the transportation system in this jam-pack city.

For number two: Considering that America Cup will cover a significant region of San Francisco, its goal to be sustainable will be a strong influence to the city design and business, and will probably inspire relevant industries (transportation, city planning, real estate, public art, advertising, … architecture) to match the same theme in their design and work. I recall that my class team paid a good amount of focus on the open space aspect of the masterplan redesign in our project, and on how to incorporate greenscape and transportation system.

I am strangely looking forward to watching the race despite my lack of yacht knowledge, and I certainly look forward to how the Competition will redesign the city itself. San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has been doing City Rides to introduce people to the current proposals. Sadly, my schedule has been conflicting every ride. The next one is coming up on May 26, which will introduce the North part of the Bay Trail, but the date conflicts with Homestead Skillshare Festival, which I will be attending and volunteering (The festival itself will have workshops on water catchment, place-making, cohousing, urban gardening, disaster preparation, community work, activist communication skills… and Solar Ovens?). Fortunately, SFBC is doing one last bike ride – introducing the South bike trail – in June, and I have every plan to attend.

Until then, Ciao!

Internship and Volunteerism

I have been slowly updating on events I went to or things I observed in San Francisco in this blog for last few weeks. It’s been a very fulfilling few weeks, which unfortunately slowed down my writing quite a bit. The most exciting event of all is… I started an internship! Unpaid, but I am enjoying the learning opportunity.

As of this month, I have officially started as an Advocacy Outreach Intern at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. I have always love architecture history and its effect on community development and cultural changes, which why I eventually decided to pursue the Art History minor and almost got the Anthropology minor (realize I wouldn’t get enough classes in time…). When I got to San Francisco and tried to continue bicycling in SF, I notice how much transportation plays into the role of community planning in the city. For one thing, bicycle commuting in the Bayview district is notoriously dangerous. When I look into tips on how to bicycle in SF, I learned about the Coalition. In the last few months, I have attended several events and had really enjoyed them. At the same time, through those events and my membership at SPUR (the local urban planning organization), I really got into the urban revolution that is going on in the city, which was charaterized by the combination of America Cup and the new campus of UCSF. Living in the Bayview, an area that is also going through rapid re-development, allows me to experience that change even more. So when I learn about the internship… I joined.

Of course, that was one of several things that has been going on. I have also started helping at Rebuilding Together – in term of making calls to Cantonese-speaking clients – and Water Conservation Showcase – in term of prepping materials. I have been looking forward to the National Rebuilding Day in April and the Water Conservation Showcase this coming Tuesday. I attended the Showcase last year, and it had been a blast. This year, they will have GBCI CEU credits to boot! I had fun meeting other people in the sustainability field while prepping materials, so I have a feeling I will have a great time volunteering during the actual event as well. For Rebuilding Together, to my own surprise, translation has taught and intrigued me more than I expected. I found myself enjoying being able to help others. I learned some new words as well. I am looking forward to working with the tools during the National Rebuilding Day though – learn by doing is the saying of my college, after all.

I have been attending events at SPUR and PEC as usual, but I have also started attending a series of free WordPress workshops. One of the most recent tool I learned is Buddypress. I probably wouldn’t be using it now since this is an individual blog, but I can see that it will be a real power tool in an office environment.

I have also been dipping into my own hobbies by volunteering and attending at events like Sunday Street, Orchid Expo, and Green Film Festival. Wouldn’t go into detail about those – I plan to write a blog post about them. Teaser: My volunteer position at Sunday Street was “Route Rabbit” and the Orchid Expo has Golden Gate as theme this year. Photos though, can now be seen in my Flickr account!

Yes, I have also set up my Flickr account and started posting photos on there.

Like I say, its been some busy weeks. I think things are settling again though, so I will start posting updates about the events.

Architecture and the History of a Neighborhood

“Um… You know, the theater thingie. The one that looks like it will collapse. Look, just keep looking to the right of the bus window and you wouldn’t miss it. Its yellow and has a giant theater banner sticking out. I will meet you there?”

Why do certain building stand out in people’s mind? How well do you know the history of your neighborhood? I like to think that I know a bit more than most people, since I do have a fascination for architecture history. But there are so many neighborhood in San Francisco, and they all have such rich history. With my family’s tendency to move from one house to another, I ends up knowing a little about everything, but not an expert on any. Still, I know very early on that each neighborhood has something distinguish, something that people use to direct and navigate, some sort of structure that – whether loved or hated – is the landmark of that place.

A few weeks ago, I returned to the cultural hub of Richmond, which I once frequented when I live in the Sunset District as an high school student. A few buildings is always memorable, even though they are not exactly the symbol of architectural beauty and tend to be a bit rundown. As a young student, I didn’t really understand why it left such a mental mark. In fact, I didn’t even realized they had became a landmark in my mind until I attended the Rec Ride on Reid Brothers Architects in February. San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has started to host several bike ride again as the sun came back (well, not now. It’s pouring this weeks). They even had a class on how to host a bike ride for its member. The Reid Brothers ride is one of the old classics, hosted by the Coalition’s very own program director.

The building described at the start of this post is the Alexandria Theater. It’s been there forever in my memory. I always did wonder if anyone actually use it. It’s the third building we saw, so let me jump back to the beginning.

First, we gathered at the Velo Rouge Cafe. It is a good place for bicyclist, as not only do they have a lot of bike racks, they give 10% discount to SF Bicycle Coalition member. They have a pretty good street corner there for gathering, and by the time I got there, a huge crowd had gathered. My jaws dropped at the number – How the heck are we going to do a ride with this big number of people!?

But the Coalition managed. Before the ride start, we were given some papers with information on which building we were going and news articles on some of the buildings.  There were a few Coalition veteran members, whom later stayed at the end of the line to make sure no one get lost. I ran out of steam later, so that system really helped me in the end. Turned out I was not adjusting well to the weird system of gears of my newly-brought bike, and one of the veteran members kindly helped me figure it out.

The tour leader was Andy Thornley, and he started by telling us about how he got interested in Reid Brothers even though he didn’t know much about architecture at first. It is quite hilarious how he just kept coming across the Reid Brothers’ architecture. I would write more about his story, but I found out he wrote an article that does a better job than I can, so I will just direct you to it.

The buildings we viewed are: Marshall Hale House, Coliseum Theater, Alexandria Theater, Balboa Theater, Caretaker’s Cottage beside the Murphy windmill, Polo Field Stadium (incomplete), Cliff House, and Spreckels Temple of Music between Deyoung and Academy of Science.

I recently finally started my Flickr account, so I will direct you there:

The truth is, I never heard about the Reid Brothers before this tour. Yet, I remember them quite clearly. If someone shows a Reid building photo to me, I can point out exactly where they are even before this ride. Yet strangely, I never thought about who designed it. It is not like the Federal Building or the De Young. They didn’t have a modern giant architect, or some sort of revolutionary design. In fact, according to Andy, Reid Brothers build whatever their client commissioned – Egyptian, Greek, Classical, etc. For those who are Ayn Rand fans or modern purist, their methods are probably nightmare come true. And in the modern era of consumption culture, something so aged tends to get ignored as old and outdated. Its like what I wrote in the beginning of this post – it is going to be commented as “that old thingie that looks like it will collapse” and not “that beautiful glass structure”. Yet as I listened to Andy, the brothers really reflected the San Francisco culture and politics of the time. They were in the middle of that struggle, of that time when the city is redeveloping and recovering from the Earthquake. Why had they played such a big role?

I think the willingness to build any style is part of their professionalism, and their charm to navigate between different client needs are their strength. Client’s need and style are only part of architecture. Style can be interpreted so many ways, and its not like the Reid Brothers just rebuild the ancient Egyptian pyramid and temples. No,  the building contains modern content and modern structure. In addition, architecture is not just visual or stand alone. They have technical, historical, cultural, and functional factors. Will the building be able to convert to other usage? How strong is it? Does it blend into its neighborhood? Does it works with its initial usage? What is its role in the community?

One thing Andy mentioned is that Reid Brothers’ architecture are often reuse for other purposes. That is the thing: their buildings are stylized with historical elements and scales that makes it stands out a bit more than the surrounding neighborhood, just something that says “No, I am not just a house.”, but simple and mellow enough that it doesn’t scream “I am the famous theater by xyz.” Its easy to remember them, and its easy to recognize that its from the Richmond district. It didn’t popped out, but it will last. It is not going to be the building that people dream about going or living in, but it stands out in the mind as some place special.

Well, that’s the reflection of my ride that day. Its amazing how architecture can be learn everywhere. I like how Andy learned so much about the Reid Brothers though a series of coincidence. But then, there is the famous Japanese saying that ” Nothing is coincidence in the world; There is only Hitsuzen (destiny, fate)”. I have been bumping into David Baker’s building and Salesforce news constantly for the last few months. Maybe I should do some research on that myself!

2012 PG&E Class and CES Credits

Finally, the 2012 class list for PG&E center is here. I got both their mailed calender and email alert. I have took Daylighting Fundamental when the Lighting Expo was hosted at Cuesta College, but I have been curious about their Lighting Fundamental class for a while, ever since I took their Lighting Software class in December (It was a 7-hour class on the Visual software, which sounds a bit gruesome but worth it. The computer effect is amazing, and it is pretty intuitive in its use. Sadly, it’s designed for Mac. I used PG&E’s PC laptop for the class). Naturally, the first thing I did was to sign up for the earliest Lighting Fundamental class. I also signed up for “Designing High Performance Homes with HEED” in May, since I have wanted to learn more about HEED ever since I heard about it in the college classes on environmental design.

PG&E also have a SketchUp class in March, which is not open for registration yet, but I have put it on my calender since I am fully prepare to register the moments it’s up. I found SketchUp’s ability to do lighting studies very useful in projects, so the more I learn about it the better. The class is intended for intermediate practitioner, but since I had used SU for lighting studies and knows the basic Solar Geometry from my classes, I think I should be fine. Mostly, I just to remember my computer adapter and hope that my 5-year old MacBook don’t  freeze on me (Yes, my MacBook do actually freeze now – it’s been with me since I was Freshman, and it is getting tired… *pets computer and sighs*)

Since I have time, taking class at places at PG&E let me stay in touch with the industry, and it lets me fulfill my AIA CES credit in the mean time.

So far, I took Daylighting Fundamental, Lighting Design & Software for Outdoor Calculations, Energy Fundamental, and Smart Grid Fundamentals. With the Lighting Fundamental class, I would get 6 HSW. The HEED class will give me another 3.5 HSW credit, and Energy Fundamentals already gave me 2.75 HSW. All together,  I will have 12.25 out of 8 required HSW credits – hmm, I actually went past the requirement without realizing it.

The Lighting Software for Outdoor Calculation class gave me 6 CES credits. Counting the HSW-qualified credits, I have 18.5 CES completed out of the required… 18 credits.

Ah, that feels good! I may still be looking for work, but at least I got (or will get) my CES credits out of the way!

Yerba Mate Mixer… I Mean Mingling with Yerba Mate in Hand

Hmm… I thought I published this, but it is still in my draft box. A bit later, but here it goes:

Just attended the SF Bay Bridge Branch New Member Mixer at Herman Miller Showroom. I wasn’t sure I can go initially because I wasn’t sure I can get a ride, so I didn’t attempt to rsvp until Tuesday night. It turned out that the rsvp ended already, but the event was free with ticket available at the door, so I decided to go.

I arrived right on time. USGBC printed out name tag stickers for everyone who registered. Since I didn’t register beforehand, I just wrote my name on my tag sticker.

As title suggested, I grabbed a bottle of Yerba Mate for my drink of choice at the entrance. The mixer itself seems to be mostly wine in terms of drinks. But since I rarely drink alcoholic drinks, I decided to play safe and grabbed the Mate. Besides, Guayaki Yerba Mate is actually the result of a Cal Poly senior project. Since I am a Cal Poly graduate, what better way to bring a little bit of Mustang spirits? Considering that probably 99% of the people going to the events are people that I have never met, a bit of Mustang spirit would be a good thing to have. (In the end, it was 100%. Which was nice in a way, since I get to meet a lot of new people!)

Once I walked pass the entrance, I was… slightly lost. Where’s the back? I wandered around a bit before I found the back, where the food is. But no one had touched them yet. In fact, no one was there yet. So I stepped out of the backroom and wandered around a bit.

The location is quite nice – the Herman Miller Showroom. The walls and furniture are artistically playful, which made them fun to talk about. Of course, the food was an interesting selection as well – no pretzel and chips here, as it was real cooked food. So yes, many of the topics started with wall features, furniture, and food – the conversations are very normal yet very architectural now that I think about it…

The group though, composed of people from different occupations. I only met a few architects, and there are people from construction, engineering, real estate, and more.

Some time in, the USGBC branch members gathered people together to give their speech. It consisted mostly of welcoming everyone – especially new members – and the different events and volunteering works that are coming. Greenbuild was brought up in the talk, since it will be host at San Francisco this year. Last year, it was Toronto, and as a new grad in the mist of moving back to the bay area and working on my job portfolio, I only got to read the twitters and articles about the event. I can’t wait until November when I can finally attend it in person! I would love to go the LEED certified coffeehouse at Toronto. Why don’t San Francisco have a LEED certified coffeehouse? That would be a heaven for a coffeeholic (namely me).

By the way,  jones | haydu completed a coffee bar project at Mission. Definitely bringing my camera when I finally visit there…

Anyhow. *cough*

After that, the event was ending. I stayed a bit longer to finish my drink. I went over to the chair display at the front, where they have labels depicting each chair’s history. After reading them, I started looking around the room to try out the actual chairs (they have them on display and scattered around the room). I wished I had been there back when I was getting ready for the Vellum Furniture Competition.

It’s my first time attending an architecture-specific networking event, and I have to say I really like it. It was a bit awkward at first, but starting conversations gets easier each time I try, and it is fun getting to know different people. With experiment comes experience, and so, I shall keep moving forward in my quest to explore the city!

But for now… I am going to sleep.

Sushi, Sand, Surprise, & Seminar: the IESVE Event Day Adventure

On August 22, I caught wind about a free training events to learn about a sustainability plugin for Sketchup. I was sitting at one of my favorite spot – SLO Donut Co –  in San Luis Obispo when I got an email from from one of my green build email subscription (I believe it was

I wasn’t back in San Francisco, but I know I will be, and I know I wanted to really explore all the different events in the city. September was a busy month for architecture thought, with the annual Architecture & City Festival hosted by AIA.

IES (Integrated Environmental Solutions) though, caught my eyes. It was a new program to me. Naturally, when I realize it was a new sustainiability plugin for SketchUp, my curiousity spike. I signed up for the free seminar.

Now, back then I thought the month of September would a slow month where I would have nothing to do because I wouldn’t have a job yet. If you have been keeping up with my blog, you would be laughing now.

Naturally, fate decided that it would an unusual day on September 13. It was, however, a day of pleasant surprises. The day before, I learned that my cousin from Oakland is now interning in San Francisco just a few blocks from the seminar’s place. And so, we decided to have lunch together on the 13th. After we both returned home, we decided over email to meet at Sawaii Sushi. Excited about the seminar and lunch, I joined the events page for the IESVE seminar on Facebook and posted to my friends that I will be there. The next morning before I left home, to my pleasant surprise, I noticed that my best friend posted on Facebook that we should meet up. Even more happy, I decided that I will send a reply as soon as I get back home. And so, the day begins.


‘Sushi with… cream cheese?’

Ah, got to love San Francisco. It was the first thing – other than the cute store icon – that caught my attention when I first found Sawaii Sushi. Philadelphia Sushi sounds absolutely strange and unhealthy (salmon, avocado, and cream cheese), but there have to a reason that they put it as a store special on the board display on the street.


Before you ask, no, I did not ate cream cheese sushi that day. I was hungry, and according my cousin, a 6 piece roll isn’t very much. I ended up ordering a bento set with salmon and California roll. We went over to Crocker Galleria to eat because it has a beautiful atmosphere and a farmer’s market going on. Though the store interior wasn’t too bad.

Sawaii Sushi was a small store with cleanly white design and good lighting. Light enters through the full-glass front entrance and the side-window at the chief’s workplace/bar area, then bounced back by the smooth white interior. White table and wood (or was it bamboo?) chair lined up at the right side neatly. The wall are mostly white, and a few small Asian arts are hung on the wall. Despite the size of the room and its placement at a financial district, the place felt open and airy. I suppose the white color and the spare amount of furnitures help. I can get drink or ready-made food from a fridge box and display case. Visitors can grab small cups of water, too, which is a nice touch. The lady there was very patient and nice – I wanted to wait for my cousin before I order, and so I had step in and outside the store for a few moment.

The food was good. It came with miso, rice, and salad. I am not a big fan of salad, but I am satisfied with what they gave. The sauce wasn’t overly strong, oily, or salty – a frequent complaint I have with salad (“I am trying to eat the vegetables, not a bottle of sauce!”). It was just a light touch of sweet saucing with bite-size leaves. Miso was just soup with little squares of tofu and seaweed. Salmon was more toward the dry size – but it’s not exactly dry. I like the sweet sauce that go with it. For about $7, it was very well-done.


After my cousin and I finished our lunch, we walked together to her office since my seminar doesn’t start for another hour. She ended up introducing me to a small local bakery store, Batter Bakery. The store is rather… unique in its presentation. Should definitely go back and sketch out the store. It is this little circular glass booth. Though small, it have place for 3 people. Little baskets and bags of pastries sits on displays of different height. The glass “walls” enclose the booth but also becomes attractive display for the store. Sitting at the corner of California Street, it was very noticeable.

Listening to the recommendation of the store-owner, I tried out their store-special, Sand Angel. Sand Angel is a sand-brown cookie with white powder. It have a light touch of ginger-cookie flavor and cinnamon to it. It was a delicious, well-flavored, mildly-sweet cookie with a light crusty surface and moist inside. It was soft, but also firm and not crumbly. Very nice.


I walked around for a while before I started walking back to the Crocker Galleria. To my surprise, I realized I had 2 missed calls – from my friend who posted on my Facebook!

I called back, and learn that she’s in the Galleria now! Turned out that she decided the seminar would offer a new perspective (she is in graphic design and digital marketing), and she meant for us to meet up at the seminar when she posted to me on Facebook! I hurried over to Galleria to found her.

The seminar was hosted in CompoClay. The products there was pretty cool. Here’s their description on Facebook:

CompoClay refers to the revolutionary, patent-pending, award-winning material which holds the unique properties of being green, safe, durable, and versatile for design.
CompoClay is MAS-Certified Green being Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emissions free; classified as a Class 0 non-combustible material per British Standards; and possesses outstanding weathering resistance per ASTM tests standards performed by SGS.
CompoClay serves as an environmentally sound alternative to existing counterparts made of gypsum, softwoods, rigid polyurethane foam, and resins which are proven to have negative consequences in regards to greenness, safety, and durability, within their product life cycle.
There were varies potteries, sculptures, and moldings in the store. While the material contains clay, it is no simple clay. They are all made of material composed of sustainable and nonhazardous contents. Yet, the product there looked as well-made and detail as regular clay. If I had not stepped into the store, I may not have realized their products were any different from other sculptures or moldings.
When I entered into the seminar area, I was immediately greeted by Erin, who was the coordinator of the events. After my registration, she had send in another welcome note, confirmation letter, and a reminder. Like I imagined, she was very friendly. The room was much more cozier than I thought. There were couches and snacks. There were 8 attendants from what I observed, and everyone can see everyone. Those were all important elements – those who read Twitter may recall that I mentioned how the seminar turned into a most fascinating discussion later, but I will go into that.
Integrated Environmental Solutions creates a VE (Virtual Environment) software for performance analysis in digital modelings. It works with not SketchUp, but also Revit and ArchiCad. The tools takes varies factors, ratings, and codes into account, including geographic, climate data, EPC, LEED, and ASHRAE. It will even do credit assessment for LEED. Even though LEED 2012 haven’t came up yet, the company is already looking into it. From what I observed, the graphics and data was easy-to-read and navigate. I immediately thought about how useful it would had been if I know about it when my class group was working on the program for the USGBC Natural Talents Competition.
There are total of 4 levels of VE program – VE-Ware, VE-Toolkits, Ve-Gaia, and VE-Pro. Each level gets more and more detail and in-depth with their analysis. For those whom are interested, I highly recommend going to their website and watching their YouTube video. Their software have too much features to explain it in one blog post. Of course, I am sure actually using the software would also offer a different perspective.
It would appears that at least half of the attendants have already been using the software. At the end, an interesting discussion started about the development in BIM and Sustainability Analysis software, as well as the importance of client-education. Since I am a recent graduate, it was fascinating to hear the experiences and thoughts of people whom are working in the industry, whom saw the wave of sustainable design and digital drafting & modeling program affect both professionals and clients. To those of us new in this generation, we grow up in the age of computer revolution and green culture. We have education in sustainability at young age, and we are used to Adobe and Apple coming up with new products on a yearly base. Everything, every digital advancement seems to be just around the corner. For those who’s been there though, they can see that it took years for those advancements to happen. Things have history – the history of building professionals went from drafting to computer graphics, from graphics to 2d drafting, from 2d drafting to modeling, from modeling to BIM, and now from BIM to performance analysis tools. Along with those revolution, the role of architects and clients both changed. With the advancement of digital performance analysis, I wonder how the jobs and roles of architects will change in line of history.