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Remember every year in undergraduate school how it seemed that there was always one kid who gets the bright idea to create a ramping system, which serves as the major vertical circulation system in his design? And do you remember when that one kid is told during a critique that his design does not meet the requirements of the building codes? He is also told that ramp slopes cannot exceed 1:20, and that the maximum run without a 5 feet landing is 30 feet? Do you remember what happens after he stares blankly at his drawing and realizes that his design does not work? In case you forgot, he comes back the next week with a design that he claims fully satisfies the requirements of the building code.

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Rape space is a term that I first encountered while in attendance at the University of Cincinnati’s undergraduate architecture program.  The term rape space was spoken by faculty members with the same frequency as other designer-ly words such as form and hierarchy.  If you have not yet guessed, a rape space is a bad thing, and no student ever wants to be credited with creating a rape space or hearing that phrase during a critique.  The exact origin of this term remains unknown to me, and I am unsure if this term has populated the architectural vocabulary of other respected architectural education programs.

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DesignIntelligence proves every year that they are the architectural community’s greatest oxymoron with the publication of their highly suspect and highly controversial ranking of accredited undergraduate and graduate architectural programs in the country. If you have had any doubts about the credibility of DesignIntelligence’s yearly ranking of architectural programs, you are really going to love this. I received an email from a friend a couple of days ago regarding the announcement of the new 2009 Design Futures Council Fellows. I did not care at first, because I did not even know what the Design Futures Council was.

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Images of contemporary architecture do not necessarily come to mind when thinking about the architecture of Orlando.  While Orlando is not the architectural capital of the United States, there are actually a great number of buildings in the Orlando area that have been designed by architects of varying styles,  different eras, and degrees of fame. Although great examples of contemporary architecture do exist in Orlando, I did not think that I would find a high design contemporary structure at the mall, but that is exactly what I found shortly after moving to this city. 

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Glass block is a great building material; I believe that if Louis Kahn would have had the opportunity he would have made his arches out of glass block and not bricks. Don’t believe me check out his unbuilt design for the Memorial to Six Million Jewish Martyrs. When is the last time that you asked glass block, what do you want? Has anyone ever?  Glass block is one of those materials that have only had part of its potential exploited.  Before I die, I’ll have to build a glass archway as a tribute to the deceased master architect, but until then let’s look at some glass block details.

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If you live in the U.S. and have not heard of the company Soprema, don’t worry because you probably are not alone. Soprema is a European based company that was founded in 1908 and they have recently entered the U.S. market. Soprema is responsible for the production and manufacture of many great roofing products which offer great performance benefits available at competitive rates,  compared to traditional roofing products used in the U.S. The most innovative product that Soprema has developed is Soprasolar. Soprasolar offers an alternative ‘green’ roofing option for designers and architects seeking to integrate sustainable building strategies into the design of buildings with flat roofs.

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Disney World in Orlando, Florida is for many reasons worthy of architectural study. While walking through the parks one can study how the environment has been designed to handle large masses of people and apply these principles to plaza or park designs.  One could also study how the signage has been designed to communicate to anyone regardless of the language they speak, and apply these principles to way-finding design in hospitals.  Or one could simply appreciate the reality of fantasy that Disney has managed to create, which after all is very similar to the reality that we as architects attempt to create every single day.

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If you are an ARE candidate and have taken an ARE exam then you are somewhat familiar with the grading criteria or lack there of on the exams. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of studying and testing for these exams do not worry you will be trapped in The Matrix soon enough. The only difference is that there is no blue or red pill available for you to find the truth.  To think of it, NCARB has a lot in common with the blockbuster movie The Matrix.  This may make a fun spoof article, but that is for another time.

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These images are the result of a walking tour at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin resort hotel designed by Michael Graves.  Construction of this massive complex was completed in 1990 and is sited between two of Walt Disney World’s parks: Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios is inspired by the heydey of Hollywood from the 1930′s-1940′s.  The resorts are also adjacent to Disney’s BoardWalk Resort which is reminiscent of Coney Island circa 1890′s-1930′s.    Although Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened its doors on May 1st of 1989, almost a year before the Swan & Dolphin. 

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It's Not How Good You Are It's How Good You Want To BeFor those of you who have never heard of Paul Arden, he was an executive creative director for Saatchi & Satchi a powerhouse advertisement agency which handled many large accounts such as British Airways and Toyota. The image he developed for these companies is still a part of our popular culture today. Although he is not an architect, his insights into becoming successful within creative fields is invaluable. In It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, Arden identifies many of the pitfalls that creative professionals fall into, and these shortcomings eventually lead to a career which prevents one from reaching their full potential.

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