Happy New Year!!

Wishing you a happy year 2015! A lot of changes coming ahead and I am optimistic.

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Goalsetting for 2015. Ambitious or feasible?

Maybe it is too early to set goals for the coming year 2015, but it’s never too early to think about it.

Like Mark Zuckerberg who sets his once a year goal to achieve something new, I’m going to do the same: discover a new building/place every day for the year 2015. It means that I would not go back to the “same old, same old” – instead, explore something new every day. This will give me more opportunity to see more buildings/places, taste different kinds of food, and potentially meet more people.

It might mean walking one block longer to try a new place instead of going to my favorite lunch place, or (gasp!) switching my coffee routine, not to mention trying out a new bike route every weekend.

What do you think – good idea?

Lecture on sustainability 4/7/2014

My school is having this lecture on sustainability and how architecture can relate to it. I don’t think I can stay all the way, but am glad for the fact that the turnout for this talk is great. There seems to be great interest in how we should practice and make more of an impact through design.
Right up my alley, and here are some of the organizations mentioned:

– The 1% Program (architects to donate pro bono design time to communities)
– Code for America (to make code more streamlined and sustainable for the built environment)
– Architecture for Humanity (of course)
– SPUR (they have a branch in San Jose, CA to address the urban design issues in that area… Much needed)
– ADPSR (this one is new. Have to check it out).

All in all; I feel there is so much needed to be done, and architects really need to talk to engineers, urban thinkers, social engineers, and politicians and achieve better design. Architecture is not about forms…. It has to encompass core human values to be sustainable.

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Quarterly Review

My husband and I do this thing called the quarterly review. It’s one of the best things we ever do for our sanity, marriage, just keep tabs of everything. I thought I’ll share with you just in case you’re interested.

Every three months, we sit down and have a session to review how we’re doing these four categories:

1. Mental
2. Physical
3 financial
4. Spiritual

Mental is defined by our mental well-being, how we feel about our work, family, and other aspects of life, etc.

In Physical, we talk about our health, weight goals, and how well we feel physically overall.

We review Financial health and make decisions on if we are going change things in the near future.

Spiritual examines our existence, our roles in this society, and our connectivity to others emotionally and spiritually.

We find these sessions extremely useful in examining our current situation, and make adjustments and set goals moving forward.

I will have to say that we have been doing this years (my husband started it), and it has served us well in focusing on life’s goals and challenges.

Happy new year + hopes for 2014 and beyond

As the new year is rolling in, I am making a number of resolutions that I intend to keep. One aspect is how to commit deeply into my philosophy of sustainability and educating others about it. The university where I teach is a good platform to influence the future generation of professionals to be responsible and sensible to what they design and build, but it is such an overbearing task to most students as they are trying learn about the fundamental skills of architectural design, technical aspects of building science, social and economic factors of building, and preparing to enter the profession.

Most students see sustainability as an “optional” issue and “will get to it if they can”. That kind of attitude is not acceptable anymore as our world’s population continues to grow and natural resources (especially water) keep becoming more scarce.

While I believe green building rating systems such as LEED is a good framework for developing buildings that are less taxing to the environment, I think the fundamental problem is the attitude toward development in general. China is a good example of looking into the American model of development and has failed in many fronts, in terms of environmental and social responsibility. That kind of “build it first, and they will come” attitude in disregard of the true organic development of a working city is prevalent as we see overbuilt, speculative developments being deserted in the outer skirts while existing cities are chronically overpopulated and under-housed.

So, really my plan to help bring the message to my many students who go on and (no doubt) do big things in the future: DO NOT PROPAGATE BAD DEVELOPMENT. If you work for a developer or architect who do shitty work, QUIT and go elsewhere. My hope is that there will more good people working on good architecture and eventually the overall physical built environment will take on a more holistic, responsible approach.

Solar Decathlon 2013 takeaway

So, my school where I teach sent me to the solar decathlon this year. I just got back from the trip. My verdict: while the intent of this competition is good, I am questioning the public outreach and market permeability of these wonderful architectural and engineering ideas to the mass market. The irony is also the fact that event was situated in Irvine, California, where many, many suburban development projects are ongoing and vast tracts of land will be occupied by monster suburban homes. How many of these homes will actually be inspired by the homes from the solar decathlon and achieve excellence in design and engineering?

The European teams, Austria and the Czech Republic knocked almost everyone else’s socks off. The level of sophistication and craftsmenship is unparalleled by the crass construction of typical American homes. A surprising win is actually from UN Las Vegas, who took a second place home.

Now, it is a matter of convincing my school to spend a few hundred thousand dollars to do this in the upcoming cycle so they could get their international exposure up and earn prestige among the international design community.

Check out all the homes here: http://www.the-xpo.org/