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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Case Study: Vizcaya

Subject of Study: Vizcaya was built in the early 1900s but was designed to look like it was an Italian estate that had been there for 400 years. The residence was a winter home in the Miami area for James Deering, vice president of International Harvester Company, from 1916-1925 when he died. He heirs inherited the house and the extensive art collection inside. In 1933 it was restored by the original architect, Paul Chalfin, after major hurricane damage. In 1955 Dade County made it and its gardens a permanent museum, which need to be maintained regularly and restored more times than you would think.

I will study the flows or air and people from the house to the gardens. I will also look into the design considerations for circulation within the complex and how the space has been used through history and if the system works well for human behavior and climate conditions.

Significance of topic: Vizcaya is a preserved historically significant piece of architecture. It is the embodiment of the American affinity in the early 20th century for earlier Italian Renaissance architecture.  It was built specifically for the site and is a reflection of Miami’s early development. The house and grounds are the greatest work of Chalfin and associates. Over 1000 people were employed in the construction of the house and gardens.

Method of research and intended final product: In my study of Vizcaya I plan to diagram its history, susceptibility to hurricanes, restoration plans after major storms, and the organization of the grounds in general. I would like to make an animation or physical model.

– Rybczynski, “Vizcaya:An American Villa and Its Makers (Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture).”

-Littlefield, “Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Miami, Florida.”

-Wharton, “The Decoration of Houses.”{read by Chalfin for his training}

-Stewart, “Historic Homes of Florida.”


A day in the life: A 4 hour time span

I come home from the University over Thanksgiving breaks to Vienna, Virginia and every year my breaks are the same. I spend Thanksgiving Day with family but the other days are packed with doing things with my best friends such as running errands, eating, playing, and just doing whatever there is to do.
Around noon I would meet up with half of them and we would get lunch (Chipotle), watch tv, and wait until 2 until everyone else has woken up and we have to go pick them up. Then we would play soccer outside until we get hungry again. We pack in a lot of activity in a short amount of time.

The most energy used is from Electricity, Natural Gas for heating, and Oil in a day in the life. The electricity and oil needed to transport, store, and mass produce burritos is more than the energy cost of making burritos at home. A different kind of energy, metabolic energy and calorie outputs, would be spent if all 9 of us try to make burritos in the same kitchen. It would get pretty hot in there. Also, the fact that there are 9 of us means that more body heat is being radiated in the room and therefore we could probably turn down the heat when we watch tv. Another idea would be to watch less tv in the 4 hour period and play more soccer. If we played board games instead of computer games, that would conserve even more energy. Looking at ways to conserve energy, it really is about a life style choice. Personal changes can expand to my family, my neighborhood, and then the town itself if many people got involved. On the other hand, if there was a higher demand to go green then corporations would have to take initiative. Something I noticed about my diagram would be that there are very clear inputs and outputs that follow a path. If there was a way to utilize the waste and relate it back to the resource then there would also be less energy waste.

Over Heating of the Earth and where is comes from


Thats the textbook answer to the global climate change happening. Many scientist and environmentalist know there is more to it than that. Sulphates, Nitrogen, and oxidized iron contaminate water. Freshwater is especially a problem. Rice and Herman (Envi Sci professors at the University of Virginia) wrote on the relation of global heating to the acidification of water in their newly released scientific publication titled “Acidification of Earth: An assessment across mechanisms and scales” relating to applied geochemistry.Rice and Herman Acidification of Earth 2011 Applied Geochemistry .  In it they  explain that acidification of water a large source of atmospheric toxins. The United States the China are the biggest contributors to acid drainage. Acid drainage from the production of coal and reduction of metal ores also works its way into soils and affects farm land. They talk about nitrogen overload from fertilizers as well, from which I remembered the effects of the Bay Game.  Right now the most populated countries are the greatest contributors to earth’s acidification and pollution. Yet countries in the middle east, some of the largest producers of energy, are expected to raise their population and will soon contribute to earth’s acidification. The more troubling thing is that there in no universal plan yet for making healthy damaged soils and waters except time. However, we can all actively cut back on our consumption to help the health of the planet using carbon “neutral” design techniques.