Greek Life & the Architecture Major: Neighbors

via Disney Dreaming

I just came back from watching the movie Neighbors at my local theatre and IMO it was very good and hilarious!  The movie was about a young family adjusting to their new life with the birth of their daughter and the wild frat that just moved next door.

And later in the movie it was revealed that frat boy Pete (played by Dave Franco) was an architecture major! 

Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) via Pinterest

At one point in the movie, Pete uses a 3D printer to make a model of his genitals!

Architecture majors know where the party is.

Haha, personally I have yet to meet an architecture major involved in Greek life.  Both activities require much dedication and time, but it’s fun to see that the media thinks Greek life and architecture make an interesting combination!

After the movie, my friends and I grabbed dinner at a Japanese cafe:

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Their special unagi (eel) with rice

Later, we went to the mall, and grabbed desserts at a cute boutique bakery:

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Green Tea Tiramisu



6 Life Tips for the Starting Architecture Student



Is there a life outside of school?  I think so.  I think there should be, because life is about balance and not all about school or work.

#1 Keep your eye on the prize

Today one of my classmates was surprised because she found a note on her desk.  It was a very upbeat positive note, “Keep your eye on the prize.”

I think this summarizes the frustrations I’m having with architecture as a first year student.

Studio professors are teaching us process work, indicating that the process is more important than the final answer.  Regarding this I have to agree because art is a much more abstract concept with many, many different answers (compared to a more technical subject like mathematics), and therefore college education should be training you how to think, not what to think..


If there’s one catch phrase for GRIT, it’s this.

Rather than getting nervous about the future, learn to anticipate it but don’t get frustrated over it.  Life’s too short for a million worries anyway.

Keep your eye on the prize.

#2 In some ways, your non-architecture high school friends are just as important as your architecture friends

Wanna know why?  Kelly Williams Brown says it perfectly in her Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps:

There is a very finite number of people in the world with whom you can honestly say you’ve been best friends forever, so that small handful of people is tremendously valuable.

Her whole section on Friendship is nothing short of awesome.  Actually her whole book is awesome and I totally recommend it wholeheartedly for people learning to come in terms with their college and young adult-becoming-an-adult phase of life.

#3 Stop consuming, start creating

There is a balance between consuming information and learning to create your own.  A lot of my classmates use sites like pinterest and Tumblr as sources of inspiration. However, I find after a while of looking through the images I become paralyzed at what I want to do.  I get overloaded by trying to emulate the existing projects rather than creating something that is exactly my own.  I’m still working at trying to develop a balance between the two (ie, should you look for examples before or after you’ve come up with your concept?) but I’ve come to realize that finding your own voice is inescapably important.


#4. Respect yourself and your body

Get 7-8 hours of sleep.  Drink lots of water; keep your body hydrated.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  See the world with a wide-eyes sense of wonder, the glass as half-full kind of optimism.

#5. Live well

Learn to reflect on the past, but not to beat ourselves over it.  Use the past as a springboard for the future, not as a source of anguish and punishment for ourselves.

So, that’s all I have for now!  Not an exhaustive list, but like other things with life, it’s important to get started 🙂


Spring 2014 Final: Architecture Crit



Sadly I don’t have much to show for this semester because I wasn’t very organized in storing and cataloging assignments.   One thing I learned this semester: be more meticulous with recording your work.

Final crits for our arch school are one week before the school wide finals, so this means we just completed our architecture classes.

Officially, finals are next week (which gives us a nice break to rest up before our remaining finals) and after that is the summer.  The weather this week has been in the high 70s- low 80s with an average humidity of 75-80% which means the summer air has been relentless here.

The other day we had our final Spring 2014 architecture studio crits.

Crits, or critiques, are occasions where you as the student present your work in front of your professor, your peers,  and in most cases, guest critics your professor invites.  Sometimes the guest critics maybe people from the community and sometimes they may be other professors within the architecture department.  Last semester as well as this semester, our guest critics also included professors from the art department.

Crits are open,  meaning students from other classes can stop by, sit in on a crit, and look around at the projects done.  This is to encourage a mingle among all arch students, regardless whether you are a 1st year or a grad student.

Our professors have taught us that crits should be around 5 minutes, less than 10, and the shorter the better, if you can present your project well within the shorter time frame.  After your presentation, the critics will ask you some questions they had about your project such as, “Why did you use this material?” or “Why did you do it like this?”  From what I noticed, it’s always good to start by telling the story behind your work.

Also our professor told us that how we do in our crits would not be factored in our grades, which did relieve some of the pressure.

The objective of our final project, which we worked on for about a month, was to construct a city with a narrative, only not just by using words, but also with drawings and models.  Specifications included:

  • 3 section perspective drawings with ambiance and buildings/forms
  • buildings/forms were to be derived from a cityscape of ordinary objects on a 1:1 scale
  • models were to be built off cut sections
  • 3 frames to hold drawings
  • constructing a sequence of “path(s)” to simulate a journey through the city

The models, our professor required, were to be “2.5 D models.”  At first I had to search that up on Google because I didn’t understand what that meant, but I couldn’t find any relevant matches.  It turns out that “2.5D” models were really half models where the model would be vertically sliced in half.

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Cityscape pics taken as an environmental study.

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Crit time also happens to be snack time. Yumm.









There were a number of projects on post-apocalyptic society, a fair enough number for the critics remarked that our class was quite “pessimistic.”  LOL.  I think second most popular theme to the post-apocalypse would be on the futuristic, sustainable city.


For my project, I decided to tell a story about a drunk mountain town…

There once were two great mountains—strong mountains, lush and green, displaying their vitality and strength through their sheer size.  They grew from the river that ran through them like a cleavage, and at the bottom of the mountains, a little town had flourished.  A group of nomads who once were sore from their tired feet and wanted a place to settle down and drink good beer founded this recluse town.  Because good beer was hard to find they decided to erect a tall to brew good beer of all varieties.  Everybody wanted to work in the brewery because that secretly meant good free beer, so it was usually overstaffed all year round. The beer tower was situated on the far south side of the town, right up to the river so its water wheel could convert the energy of the flowing water to run the brewery.  The brewery still managed to brew good brew though it was a wreck, with the failed livers and weak hearts and poor cognitive abilities of the alcoholics, it was a wonder how the brewery was yet to be in shambles.

A little further upstream was the government city hall, and with its rectangular shape and form, seemed odd in the mountain town but it served its intentional purposes nonetheless, with grandeur entrances and high ceilings and large windows.  Here the city officials started their day with a bottle of the good, ol’ fermented beer from the town brewery (of course!) and then sat on ‘meetings’ all day long, but these meetings were really about nothing of significance except the secrets of brewing good beer (the secret, as everyone knew for centuries already, was in the water, which the local stream was a grade A source).  These officials would talk about character, terroir, and essence with an air of arrogance because they believed their beer to be the best.  (Of which it obviously was, due to lack of competition from the lack of neighboring towns).  The government still managed to get by—with beer their main industry though it was a wreck, with the failed livers and weak hearts and poor cognitive abilities of the alcoholics, it was a wonder how the city was yet to be in shambles.

A little past the city hall, on the other side of the river, was a small inn that welcomed travelers.  The town hoped the inn would attract the same intelligent people like their fore fathers, who decided to start a beer town; however the inn was deserted most of the year.  Many of the wanderers came to the town hoping for little more than a glass of good beer, but most were not attracted to the drunken lifestyles of its inhabitants. Thus the inn survived with the few stones it made from travelers’ fees, but mostly through its bootlegging activities—not for alcohol, but for water.  The town’s water spring  was a precious source for the city’s precious beer, so any unauthorized use of the water resulted in a hefty fine from the government; however there was still a small sliver of hope for this drunken city, as small as the sliver of sober residents who preferred not good beer, but fresh water.



For more information about studio culture, I just saw Bob Borson, AIA did on his blog about some FAQs he has received regarding architectural studios.  I think this is pretty on the mark, definitely pretty cool!


Also, Bob makes this important point to take note of:

the physical work needs to reflect the mental work and the actual work needs to reflect them both.

Finally, this post is quite long enough, and hopefully it was interesting!  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  And good luck to anybody making the final stretch in the finals period!!!



Adventures in Paradise

This year has been quite amazing!  I met lots of new people and connected with some old friends 🙂 This post won’t be too much about arch school as I have another post planned for that in the coming weeks to wrap up my studio experience.  Rather, these are just some pictures I have in my phone from various social hangouts with my friends.  Warning: a lot of food porn.

My first acai bowl!
My first acai bowl!
I almost finished this delicious plate of ribs and mashed potatoes and then I remember, oh maybe I should take a picture! The baby back ribs were amazing and the coleslaw was super good and so were the mashed potatoes!
Class on V-Day! 😛
I forgot what type of salad this was but it was gooood! Nordstrom Cafe.
Ruby Tuesday’s is awesome! The one in our neighborhood has a welcoming atmosphere– the servers are extremely friendly and helpful– and the food is delicious!
I love food so much!!! A hot bowl of pho is always good. There’s an amazing little Vietnamese restaurant near my home, and I’ve been going there for about 5 years now. Good stuff.
This mushroom was huge! I snapped this pic sometime during the winter when it was raining quite a bit.
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Summer is finally here so I’ve been doing a bit of running… and was awarded with this view!

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This quaint little Japanese serves the best ramen at $9-10/bowl. Absolutely one of my favorites. Pic: Hokkaido Tan Tan Ramen


robotics and STEM! #frc2014 #aerialassist
robotics and STEM! #frc2014 #aerialassist

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During the week of March 27-29, I volunteered at the 2014 FIRST Regional Robotics Competition.  I did robotics in high school, and as an alumna of the program it is always nice to see the students’ diligence and cooperation.  The passion these kids have for technology is inspirational.

FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) is a program geared towards high schoolers to encourage them to pursue areas in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  Every year, they host a different game.  This year, it was Aerial Assist where the robots had to score balls in goals in 2.5 minutes.  The first 30 seconds of the match is the autonomous period where robots act according to preprogrammed instructions the  teams write themselves, followed by a 2 minute tele-operated mode when players can control their robots using controls.

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Coffee coffee coffee
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This was another plate of deliciousness. Chicken was really tender and moist. We went out to eat the night before we had a project due (which we weren’t finish with at the time of this pic) but everything turned out alright 🙂






To Find Your Calling, Think About What You Want to Get Good At, Not What You Are Good At

There is a mindset that needs a little fine tuning.  If you don’t know what you want to do in life especially when it comes to career choices, people try to be as helpful as they can, “What are you good at?” they probe.  “Well,” you think, “I think I’m good at procrastinating.  Oh, and sleeping.  And breathing– I’ve been doing that since I was born!”  Not that helpful…

“What about math?”

“I suck at math.”

“What about art?”

“I suck at art too.”

And so it goes… the point is, we were probably all bad at something in our lives and there is a very very very EXTREMELY small possibility that we were born with just an innate talent to do everything well.

So before we should think about whether or not we should give up, we need to think:

  1. Do I not like it because I am bad at it? or
  2. Do I not like it because I really don’t like it, and for NO OTHER REASON.

If we are giving up on something because of reason #1 it is not a good choice because that means we’re  probably not gritty enough to stick with something when it gets hard.

To figure out what you want to do in life, find out what you want to get good at, not what you already are good at.