Author Archive

Opryland Hotel- Interior Atriums

September 19, 2009

My upcoming thesis will be the adaptive reuse of a big box building into a public school that will embody sustainable elements in order to foster and strengthen the children’s learning. In doing so, I will have the sustainable attributes and systems exposed, colored, and tangible for the children. Numerous studies show that evolving the senses help people to learn and retain knowledge. With these principals in mind I decided to choose the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TX as a space that I would like to emulate for my thesis because it embodies all the senses while being in a completely enclosed by a man made structure.

A stroll through the halls of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel is like no other that I have experienced. You enter the hotel through a typical lobby that is lit by artificial light and has low ceilings. At first this is nothing impressive, but just a typical hotel. As you walk through the lobby and open up the glass doors at the other end, the compressed and stale space gives way to a immense and naturally lit space that is filled with sounds of falling water, people talking, and the smells of food and plants wafting by. Inside this hotel there are a series of large garden atrium spaces that are public places for the guests to eat, relax, converse, and play. Each atrium is themed along with the experience. One space may have a dense landscaped space filled with lush green plants and a babbling brook, while another has an immense water fall with a dazzling light display at the base. The Delta space has an artificial water canal, which holds live fish, that you can take a boat ride through admiring the artificial landscape and the architecture of the hotel.

This place is a feast for the senses by combining the inside with the outside. The sound of people walking, water moving, leaves rustling, and lively conversation at the restraints within the garden spaces is music to the ears. The sight of the diverse collection of plants, colorful flowers, natural elements such as rocks and dirt, and architecture of the protruding guest room balconies are invigorating to the eyes. The occasional sweet fragrance from the blooming flowers, the tucked away pastry shop, chocolate shop, cafés, and restaurants throughout the space emit subtle smells that will enhance the experience if not make you hungry.  The many used of textures in both visual and tangible surfaces are well thought out and are adequately placed and changed in order to give each space a particular appeal. The Opryland Hotel does such a good job at creating an experience that many locals visit the hotel just to stroll through and take it all in. I intend to add a small portion of this type of manmade nature space into my upcoming thesis tucked around the public spaces to provide a distinct change from the typical learning environments.


The Hal Box Studio

September 12, 2009

Names can be deceiving. After spending night and day in the Hal Box Studio in Goldsmith Hall for an entire semester I presumed that the studio was actually a square box shape. It was not until this assignment that I put two and two together and realized that the term “Box” was actually Hal’s last name and NOT a reference to the shape of a space. That subtle name did alter my view on the space and even thought the space is truly a rectangle I never thought twice about it.

Inside the space I remembered it being dark in the center with light around the edges of the room coming from the windows. There were desks, people, ants, and supplies everywhere which made for the space to feel cramped and chaotic. The temperature of the room was comfortable at first, but after a while it becomes either too hot or too cold due to the lack of shading and insulation. Most often in the space the artificial lights are turned off and each desk has a lamp that they prefer to use. The atmosphere during class is solemn and respectful for others working to the extent that people talk at a mere whisper when needed. During class time the space is busy with people talking, walking through, eating, and working. The overhead lights are sometimes on during this time and the space has a much livelier feel to it.

Now visiting the space after not being inside for about a year I realize many differences and similarities to my memory of the Hal Box studio. The mural and colors are just as strange now as they were then. When walking inside I notice that the lights are once again off and the dark space has a cave-like feel. I obtain a light reading of 6 foot candles at the center desks, 15 foot candles at the back desks, and 48 foot candles near a window on this cloudy day. With the large florescent overhead lights on there is an equal amount of 65 foot candles at each desk. The room is silent and some turn their head to hear my footsteps in the room. There are fewer desks in the space this semester with less people and supplies as when I was present (and no ants). This makes the studio feel more open and puts me at ease. There were not as many windows in the space as what I remembered and my idea of the location of the overhead lights were completely different. The space has a unique quality of being completely flexible. Having movable desks, chairs, and no walls within this spaces makes it unique to each semester. Each use, time of day, time of year, and person within puts their personal touches on the space allowing it to change with the times. Due to this factor the space, the emotion, the smell, and the feel of the space will only be how I remember it and each time I visit it will be completely different.


September 6, 2009

Steven Reiss’ basic desire and motive of honor can dictate a particular relationship between the person and the physical, built environment through a connection of tradition and reverence to the past. The textbook definition of honor as a motive can be designing a new space that has elements or based upon architectural styles of the past such as Colonial, Greek Revival, or Western. When digging deeper into this motive I found three different distinctions and applications: tradition of social interaction, tradition of the home, and tradition of respect and duty.

Tradition of social interaction-

In older times, a porch on a southern home or on the front of an old world country store was used just as much for shade as it was for social interactions. Historically the porch was used for entertainment by being able to watch the happenings of the town and be a look out for any possible crime. People of all generations would sit, read, nap, or entertain on the porch in warm months. As time progressed and the entertainment moved to the inside of the home, the desire for a front porch still remains even though the use has changed dramatically. This desire reflects sentimentality for historical design and reverence for older traditions.

Tradition of the home-

From the beginning of time (cavemen included) the center of the village and the home was the fire. The fire pit, and later the fire place provided life sustaining heat, light, and cooked food for the people. Even though the fireplace has taken on a different role in modern society as decoration and comfort, its place within the home has remained the same. Generations of traditions revolve around having family get-togethers, holidays, and events in front of the fireplace are still common today. The reverence for the hearth of the home can be seen in shows such as Leave It To Beaver, Norman Rockwell paintings, and advertisements of the 1940’s. The fireplace will always have an honored place within any home, even if a person opts for a TV or computer screen saver depicting a crackling fireplace.

Tradition of respect and duty-

Another form of place that revolves around respect and duty of past traditions is a cemetery. These spaces are typically non-grandiose in order focus attention, respect, and honor on the deceased. Vast fields with similar headstones that all face East are derived from the Christian tradition of burying a body in preparation of the Lord’s second coming. Even though many do not follow those beliefs they honor the tradition and are still are buried the same way, which we have been doing for thousands of years.

Office Space

August 31, 2009

In the cult classic movie Office Space by Mike Judge, the environment plays a vital role in the support and detail of the characters. The movie takes place in anywhere America at a nondescript, but typical I.T. company. The premises of the movie is about and disgruntled worker that is fed up with the day-in and day-out workings of an over-managed, low paying, monotonous, and belittling job. Finally fed up with life he finally decided to rebel and “do nothing” at work in order to be happy.

A single set inside the office is where most of the movie takes place amongst a sea of densely populated cubicles, stacks of files, cluttered work spaces, and the lack of any visual connection to an outside world. Great detail is paid to include every aspect of a typical white collar office including the positivity banners, Hawaiian shirt Fridays, broken fax machine, little /no windows, dull paint colors, buzzing florescent overhead lights, slow computers, and of course the one door know that will always shock you when entering the office. The actor’s performance and emotions are enhanced by the chaos of this work space. The visual effectiveness of being swallowed up and disparaged within the set makes the storyline of hating one’s job and feeling miserable that much more realistic.

This movie set goes to great lengths, and does a good job, to remaining nondescript so that the viewer can associate their own work experience to the movie. The name of the town, city, or state is never mentioned along with any distinguishing landmarks. The cars and the clothes worn by the actors are common and are seen even today (ten years after the movie was released). The office cubicles are the standard metal and fabric cubicles that even I have worked within, and the supplies and interior decorations are common to any corporation of that time. By being vague with details the viewer can picture themselves within the work place or it can drudge up personal memories of similar work experience. The viewer’s personal association to the set as well as the movie has been extremely successful and often has said to be the cause for its prominence as a cult classic.