Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Unique LA" Day!: A day to celebrate the very idea of "Quirk"


Location: Downtown Los Angeles, California, USA

Time: Sunday, 4th of December, 2011. All day, but pretty much between 2pm and 6pm in Downtown LA

Players: Anna Knaus, older sister and partner in Modern Luxe Events[], John Malapit [younger brother], Mary Vu [John's fiance], Lesley Ann Malapit [yeah, that's me].

Dear Reader,

Last Sunday I guess we informally and unknowingly deemed it as "Unique LA Day", as we spent the majority of it trekking through Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and LA County being quirky for all that it's worth. This pretty much included finding all that is new, innovative, unusual, and inspiring which can be incorporated into our daily lives and stored in our creative visual vocabularies. You see, we're all creative folk and we're visual pack-rats.

It started off in Santa Monica in hopes of finding the Farmer's Market, but unfortunately we were a day late (I thought it was on a Sunday, but rather it was on a Saturday...sorry! The website said differently. Oh well =) ). After a satisfying vegan lunch at Interim Cafe [], we jet out to Unique LA in the Fashion/Jewelry District of Downtown Los Angeles.

Unique LA [] is like a crafts fair on steroids, and perhaps multiple doses of the NZT Clear Pill (ref to Limitless the movie, booyah!). It was loaded with all sorts of quirky, fun, and artisan/ home made goodies, all of which for some awesome cosmic reason made sense. Some of the brilliant minds which struck home were:

Se_arch+resQ [] with their fun handcrafted, laser-cut home accessories and furniture with a conscience. I suppose as an architectural designer, laser-cut wood and recycled materials gets my mind spinning into a creative frenzy. It brings back memories in the wood shop trying to laser cut pieces of my design projects, and raster images onto the recycled card stock of my portfolio. The smell brings me back too. Love love love lasers.

Love Nail Tree [] and their compassion towards the forgotten stories of today's underdogs, as noted in their website:


I would say "yes, I'm an underdog", but when I hear stories about domestic violence and divorce, I can't help but think that maybe humanity has to turn awry before turning right. I'm thinking Love Nail Tree sees this pattern and is taking a step up to vocalize it. Let's swing back and turn it right. Thank you.

Oh! SNAP Studios [], with their oh-so-quirky photo booths. The concept? It's simple, be "Unique"! Just be yourself. The very theme of the day.

The four of us found ourselves behaving like children in the frame, which was quite the idea! John was Mickey Mouse in a picture frame threatening to strike my sister with a ukelele as she aimed a rifle at my clone Lesley Ann the Aviator's Crow minion (and his friend Owl). You see?? Even Mickey Mouse knows it's not right to kill animals. While all of this is happening, Mary the Viking Queen snuggled up with a blanket by the fireplace, daydreaming of the real Mickey.

Yes, much grinning was had. =)

Other types of uniqueness happened thereafter, such as the crafting of our awesome DIY bow pins.
Left: Bow pins made by someone else, but still looks cool.

I decided I wanted to be different and make an ugly monster fabric doll, but due to much distraction and mismanagement of time, I didn't finish it....SO, I, along with my brother, decided to be accessory models for the pieces Mary and Ate Anya made.

Left: Me and my sisters cute stripey pink [ok, ok, it's SALMON!] bow pin.


Mary's plaid and ultimate neon yellow bow, worn by her fiance, and my brother, John

As we finished the last 2 hours at the Unique LA convention, we spotted a few jewels and interesting concepts such as wooden men's ties, button collars (not collar buttons), and a crowd that wanted to be there to speak out, to live, eat and be part of the scene.

To me, we were there to scream:

"No, we refuse to NOT have fun!" and....

"Yes, we decided to get off our @$$es to burn some calories because there's some cool stuff to see in the REAL world too; and besides, it would make us feel less guilty for eating these yummy mini-cupcakes! Om nom nom!"

The "Food Court"

"Lesley, did you see that? That person just pooped on the ground!"

Mary, who found you were with mini-cupcake goggles.

After four hours of snapping away at pictures and gorging on free samples of artisan food and visual candy for the idea boxes in our minds, we decided to have dinner at Veggie Grill [] at the Grove. It was delicious, deeelish! I'm sorry I don't have any detailed food photos, so we'll have to skip to the next shop we went to which was the World Market. It was our way of burning off some of the food we ate while being, yes you can guess, a motley crew taking illegal pictures of merchandise. I have no guilt, and I'm seriously contemplating buying the "No Worries" girl, which somehow found her way out of a dastardly evil piece of porcelain! She will be our mascot for future urban treks.

Fiiinally we ended the night at AU79 Teahouse in Arcadia [] to satisfy our need for some bubble tea and some crisp California winter air.

My brother gave his coat to Mary like how good boyfriends should be [yes, my sister and I trained him well], so to reward him for his good conduct, we gave him our scarves....aaand to top off the night he turned himself into a pink ninja. He blended perfectly into the night. Well done John! =)

So there you go. Are we mad for demonstrating how we like to spend our time?? Yes, we certainly are!! We refuse to let go of beautiful moments like spending it with family, or at least I refuse to. How mad is that? "It's not mad, then.", you say? Well, then what are we?

"Unique!" many times can I say it?

Yes, THANK YOU! We are, and we celebrate this. We, like every family, appreciate our own ways of having fun and enjoying life: being creative, reflecting on it, and letting it add richness to our lives and the work we do. Thank you if you agree, and thank you Unique LA for bringing this blog to the surface.

Although some of the items shown today may not be new or innovative to some, I do believe it's the courage and energy spent to just get it out there that makes one stand out. Maybe in the end it's not a matter of being the most creative. Quite possibly something like, say a bow tie pin, has already been done before; but maybe it's more important to bring those ideas to the table, because like members in any family, we are charmed by our own heterogeneity, and our tastes cannot be duplicated.

Have a Unique Day,
Lesley Ann Malapit

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Modern Luxe Events Interview and Photoshoot

Dear Reader,

Last week I did a wee photoshoot at my sister and her business partner's shop, Modern Luxe Events [], and today I finally finished editing the photos, YAY! Please no judging, I'm an amateur photographer (if I am even labeled a photographer hahah!). The following images are shown to document the event. In future blogs, I'll be posting "Before and After" photos to show you a hint of my shooting and editing method. To be honest it's more of a hobby than something I see as a full-time profession. Nonetheless, it was loads of fun and would absolutely love to do it again.

To describe the shoot, quite simply it was a shoot of an interview she had with GeoBeats, who contacted her a while back to do a video interview. I recieved a text from my sister, Anna (Ate Anya), the night before to drop by the next morning to document the event, and of course I said "Yes"! Memories of shoots I had with my other photography friends flooded my mind: what they would do to mentally prepare themselves, what method to take to shoot the event, how they would pick the right angles and lighting to avoid spending hours editing photos. I guess there was really no sure way of mentally preparing for a shoot. Perhaps experience and learning from mistakes was one of the better ways of being "Prepared". It turned out I ended up having to edit the photos a lot anyway, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to try; and like I said before, I'm looking forward to any future projects I take on. Enjoy the show!

Love and Treats,
Lesley Ann

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Finding a Voice, "And So The Tower Falls..."

Dear Reader,

I would first like to say "Thank You" for the events of this past weekend which have led me to reflect on the life which I had been given. Certainly this may sound cliche, but to be honest I'm not writing to be original, nor to please the cynical. It doesn't come naturally to me either, and sometimes I strain myself to write down whatever it is I need to say; if only to frame the thoughts which would otherwise cause me headaches and more social awkwardness. You understand right? So here I am, writing a letter saying "Thank You" for my voice. As insignificant, humble, erratic, and human as it is, it exists because of You.

"What happened this weekend which inspired her to write this?". A birdie (my sister) texted me a picture of a piece of scratch paper on which were bullet points of blog topics. Some words stood out like, "Scotland, Architecture, Traveling, Landscape, Party....". One peculiar thing hit home: "Must fit writing voice". I have a voice? Sure, I suppose it's important to have one, but I haven't developed an awareness until now. How does one speak without being judged as some self-absorbed, media and money-driven, power maniac? On the other hand, how does one speak without being seen as an underdog- reaching out to the world, shouting personal truths, and sharing his/her life as proof of existence? I care to be neither, and I'm certain there are other non-labeled voices out there. After all this, I almost wanted to pacify myself- that no matter what I said, none of it mattered and no one wanted to hear it. The human side of me said otherwise. To find a balance- first to be thankful I have one, and the other to say that if I do have a style, let others decide what it is for themselves (at least for now until I figure it out).

I suppose what really tipped me over was being able to surf on John's couch in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The heart of, what some would call, the "Hipster Zip Code", where freedom of expression is (more or less) a way of life. How earnestly the locals wanted to express themselves was made clear in the murals layered on warehouses, rusty corrugated fences, and the army of white Apple laptops crunching binary at the Swallow Cafe. I then watched Breaking Dawn this evening, and felt the tears welling up. The book of the movie was written by a woman who put her very life and personal beliefs into it. She risked all of these things, and for what? So she could be heard, and to sustain her way of life with a constant flow of zesty paychecks? Quite possibly so. In result she positively and negatively inspired her audiences and critics. No matter how many ways we could argue for or against this, maybe we're forgetting that this is part of what we call our own "Culture".

"Culture: The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively". Yeah, I Googled it.

Is "Culture" then what encourages us to find our voices? To feel Life again, to love, to validate that we're not crazy, to salve our headaches and social awkwardness by a simple act of creative expression? Is it to find confidence, and place ourselves in history? Raoul Bunschoten, an architect, cybernetician, author, and theorist who used to teach at the Architectural Association in London once said to me,

"When we (him and his family) go to Venice (for the Biennale), we're going to look at 'Culture'. We're going to attend an opera, see some cathedrals; and for some reason my son doesn't seem so excited about this." -Raoul Bunschoten

He was paying homage to the years of pain, dirty politics, love, and history that unfolded as Venice evolved it's culture. The city, I suppose in a way, was like a "Blog", if you could see it as a space or a platform for creative expression. In this way, he understood exactly what it meant to appreciate You for allowing him to exist, witness this "Venetian Blog", and prolong humanity's cultural cycle as an architect. It then makes me wonder: if none of us could communicate our thoughts; if these said cathedrals were never built, how quickly would we die from Your neglect dear Reader?

Before I finish this post, I've pasted an old Myspace entry dated August 17, 2007. I guess my voice already existed because at the time, I was struggling to stay alive. Life happened, and I bottled everything up until I found Myspace, an outlet, a tool for cultural expression made by You. If we all rely on each other to survive, please remember dear Reader, that I thank you for giving me my voice and allowing me to be here.

For the love of Life, Architecture, Arts, and Landscapes,
Lesley Ann


And So The Tower Falls...


You've been building a tower for seven years out of stone and mortar. Each stone you place, you secure it with caution, sensitivity, and careful planning. You work on it on the hour, every hour, and every day either through your thoughts or labor. It becomes the tower of your dreams.

One day, you fall in love with this tower. You become best friends, kindred spirits. Every morning when the sun rises, it shines its beautiful stones on you, and warms your face. You no longer feel cold in its presence. It loves you back. It lets you sit on its stairs as you read books to it. You trace your fingers on each stone and feel its coarse texture, and you are thankful for its strength. Through its echos it laughs with you when you're happy.

You bring your family to see the wonderful relationship you have together. It is a pillar of strength. Each accomplishment is celebrated. You know each other's secrets and desires and you can read each other like a book.

Six years and 9 months have passed. On the 9th month, the tower feels the urge to become a castle. It wants to become a castle so it could take better care of you, shelter you, and raise a family in a proper home. It wants to grow up. You trust the tower's decision, and he contacts another architect in a far away land who specializes in castles. In order to be properly built, he must be moved to another location where there is a stronger foundation. You are sad, but you know it's for the best. The tower reassures you that nothing will happen, that in one year, the two of you will be reunited. You trust him.

The two of you share a final farewell, a hug and a kiss....

Two months pass....

The tower falls in love with that other architect, but doesn't tell her that he has someone special back at home. The architect decides that their relationship has potential, so she decides to date him, and remove the stones you have carefully placed, and replace them with new ones. In a month, he looks different, behaves differently, thinks differently. His silhouette has changed. He wants other architects to touch him, to remove his stones and place new ones in. He wants to be different, to be wild. He never thought independence was so sweet, but guilt lingered in his halls.

Close to your seven-year anniversary, you decide it would be nice to pay your tower a visit, and perhaps find a home closeby so you can see each other more often. The tower tells you on the phone several times not to come by, that he's busy and doesn't want to be bothered. You decide to come anyway, because you also want to learn how to build castles.

When you get there, you see your tower. He's different, he's emotionally unresponsive to your love. He has different stones in him. He's crumbling, but he doesn't care. He doesn't let you sit on his stairs and read books. He doesn't even shine in the morning for you. He's stoic, and you get suspicious. The next day, he tells you that he's been seeing other people. He wants to be different. He says he doesn't need you anymore. He says that since you've been gone, he's found out that he can survive on his own, that he's better. He wants to be independent......but he still loves you.......and he doesn't want to break your heart......

He says he still wants to become a castle............

What do you do?

Let's just pretend that nothing's broken,
Lesley Ann

Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Oldie But Goodie: "Morning Eyeliner, Havok's Written Word, and Los Angeles: The Concrete Jungle"

Hello All,

Since I've moved back to the States from my 2-year post-graduate school trek in Edinburgh, Scotland, I've been brewing up a wealth of new articles which I'm proud to say are well in production. I'll have one up later this week which will get you up to speed with my transition back to New York. In the meantime, here's an extremely old "post-of-a-post-of-a-post" from my MySpace blog dated 2 Dec 2006. Since then, my understanding of the world, especially urban and landscape contexts, have changed...maybe dramatically. I suppose however that I've decided to post this because I find it quite interesting that almost 6 years ago I was traveling to and back from a long-term stay in Europe. The story is the same today, only I'm hoping I'm much wiser, and maybe a better writer (haha).

Maybe there's another layer of analysis to this: If the world truly runs on time, seasons, and planetary alignment, will I be having another blog such as this? A blog about change, transformation, and understanding? I'll keep an eye out. In 2018, if I'm still alive, I'll write a blog about it, and maybe, maybe, I'll live long enough to write the next one. How about you? What were you doing 6 years ago, and has your life come full-circle?

As always, please no judging or non-constructive criticism on my article and other people's comments. I would like to maintain an open and healthy dialogue amongst us readers. A humble request from an amateur blogger. =)

Love, Lesley Ann

"Morning Eyeliner, Havok's Written Word, and Los Angeles: The Concrete Jungle"

I've just discovered this morning, as I sojourned to Mom's bedroom to use le toilet , (John was using the shower in the other bathroom) that I have a grandmother who is an English Phd and has written a book about Mom's father's side of the family tree.....sooo, we'll be taking some family photographs in the backyard this afternoon to place in her book. Mom spoke enthusiastically about this as she applied her eyeliner. You can tell she's excited when she raises her pitch while she dotes on her plans for the day.'s almost as if she's yelling at you down a hallway...but that's Mom, and that's why I love her.

Speaking of writing, I woke up around 6:45 am today and couldn't get back to sleep. I suppose I'm still in work-schedule mode- 6:45 am: wake, 7:00 am: go back to sleep, 7:30 am: shower, 8:00 am: get my ass to work pronto! Since I couldn't go back to sleep, I decided to dip into some of Davey Havok's tasty blog literature (yes, I know, I'm hooked on MySpace....ooh the agony. Blame Han ^_~). For the more 'seasoned' writers, it may not be your cup of tea. I'll leave it up to you to decide....

In retrospect, it's a charm to read his work, and I honestly believe that if he committed some time to write a novel (a biography would be splendid), it would be just as insatiable as his music. Albeit, I'm not an English major, a psychology major, nor anyone worthy of being a critic, I must say that the way he writes has an easy flow to the prose. Somehow, there's a transparency that maintains a sense of mystery and reserve that is elegantly appropriate for his position as a popular singer, lyricist, psychologist, and writer (ok, maybe more like a renaissance man)....It's a good feeling to know that he (and I'm sure for many as well) is aware of how psychologically theraputic writing is, and therefore indulges on pixelating his thoughts on the monitor...Indeed, a creative spirit. For, I believe if someone like himself were to abstain from writing, it would be like Hiroshima in the brain.

I have further resolved that, being an architect, I must follow his example and write a little of what I know in my career. I have acquiesced to Michael's suggestion to save my architectural creative energy for my portfolio (which I AM going to work on today) and take an excerpt from one of my previous Deviant Art journal entries.

If you're so inclined to learn a little bit about architecture and urbanism (actually, it's quite long) then please read the (un-edited) February 19,2006 entry below. As I leave you today, I promise I'll make an effort to be more visually restorative and post some pictures online:

DeviantArt Journal Entry
Sunday: February 19, 2006
"Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."

Dear Reader,

I'm just going to speak from the depths of my tangled mind. I don't know where to begin, nor do I know how to make this journal entry pretty. Here goes......It's been almost half a year since I've been to Deviant Art. Months traveling around Europe has been an exciting experience as well as excrutiating (as I was separated from my love for 4 months), but seeing as it may, I've survived and now I'm back in the United States....hopefully a little wiser, and with greater understanding of my built environment. For those living in Europe, I'd say you've got yourself a sweet deal for living in a country that encourages public transporation.

Los Angeles is a very pedestrian unfriendly city (as well as much of America), and using a car as a basic means of getting yourself from Point A to Point B very much segregates you from your own world and reality....I don't like it one bit. I think this keeps you away from experiencing diversity, and in some ways can encourage racism and prejudice that cities like Los Angeles suffers from on a daily basis. For example, you're stuck in your car on the 5 South during rush hour in the sweltering heat. It's been 45 minutes since you've gotten out of work and you're still stuck in your steel prison. You think it's ridiculous that you could probably get home faster by walking if the traffic keeps up. Then, an old asian female driver cuts in front of you and you break abruptly. What upsets you even more is that damn stereotype that old asian female drivers are just "naturally horrible at driving". Could it be that your anger from the traffic jam is escalated by being cut off by a minority with a stereotype that's been engrained in your mind from daily living? Should you be angry at asian drivers, or should you be angry for their actions? Could these actions be avoided if you lived closer to home? If not, then what's wrong with the urban structure of cities like Los Angeles that has caused us to work, shop, and dine so far away from home? What would the quality of our lives be like if we could choose to spend those extra hours in any way we please?

If you were in a pedestrian friendly city, where chunks of the city are like smaller more dense neighborhoods where work is just a 10 minute walk away, or at most a 10 minute train ride away, don't you think that would give you more time to enjoy the better things in life? Being an architect and an emerging urban designer, I realize these urban qualities, especially after analyzing the urban models of cities like Paris, Berlin, and Barcelona. The reason why these historical cities are so successful and have unfathonable perseverence is because of the density. They have their own ways of avoiding 'Sprawl', a term that cities like Los Angeles suffers from, because instead of growing vertically, it grows horizontally, feeding into the suburbian soils of the Valleys. Life in Europe, to me, seems to be a bit more enlightened because the average urban European spends more time outside of the vehicle walking from Point A to Point B. These individuals can enjoy the open air and burn those extra calories instead of sitting idol inhaling the exhaust and simmering heat of a traffic jam. This aspect of pedestrian transportation in the European life I greatly admire and I would like to aim towards if I ever become an urban planner or a liscened architect.

I'd rather prefer walking to the outdoor neighborhood market and go shopping down boulevards like Friedrichstrasse (Berlin), Las Ramblas (Barcelona), and Champs du Elissees (Paris), than getting stuck in block-like complexes such as shopping malls, parking structures, and K Marts. I understand that these elements can form the American way of life, and our history has made life here the way it is....It's unavoidable, and I know that it can be insulting for anyone to say that this makes American life dull, for who am I to be so biased? Coming from Los Angeles suburbia, I can see the advantages of American commercialism- Strip Malls, Grocery Store chains, and fast food restaurants- for they are important resources for society and a way of (and to make a) living.

I think there's hope for suburbia yet in terms of growth and development. Areas of densification are happening in portions of Los Angles (and LA County) such as Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade, Colorado Boulevard- Old Town Pasadena, and smaller establishments such as The Village- Claremont. In these dense areas, there's life happening both in the day and at night and the spaces are highly desireable to just stroll and enjoy the urban fabric because it's safe. I believe that Downtown Los Angeles does not fall into this category because there is an unbalance between work and living spaces. There are more office/ work buildings than there are residential buildings on ground level, there are no grocery stores, sparce open green space (like parks), and the shopping areas and restaurants are not as successful as expected for a structurally dense area such a Downtown LA. Why is this? This is because the buildings are mostly occupied by workers outside of the city (such as the Inland Empire and Orange County areas where land is more affordable), and the people who do live in the city are the upper-working-class who retreat in sky scraper like buildings. At night, the city is deserted sans the homeless and the random vehicles that zoom down the empty streets at dangerous speeds.

If one were to look at Downtown in a different perspective, the area is so dense with empty sky scrapers that during the evening, the ground floor transforms into a hazardous zone because the pedestrian level in Los Angeles is known to be home for those can't afford to live in expensive apartments and own vehicles- that which physically segregates the upper working class and impoverished. In that sense, "No one walks in LA." As for the upper-working-class, they spend their evenings either at home entertained with their desktops and/or cable televisions, or they're out in their vehicles stuck in evening traffic trying to get to places that ARE safer at night such as Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Pasadena, area where there is more safety in large numbers.

Taking this into perspective, the American model of an urban environment versus the European model is quite underdeveloped. Europe obviously has had more time to develop and densify itself over the last thousands of years with history to back up its culture, as opposed to America where we've only had the last 200 years to really have an opportunity to become the power we are today (with Los Angeles in particular, that's only had the last 100 years to develop into what it is now). Taking this into account that I am an architect and an aspiring urban planner, I could see there is much work to be done for the identity of America as being the country of the future. How can architects, urban planners, and engineers lead America to becoming better than it is now? What are their responsibilities? What are potential solutions to some of our vehicle/pedestrian issues? How do we make the average American walk again? One thing is for sure, I am not going to overlook these issues and design a building just so that it looks cool and is a self-actualization of my ego. That is selfish and unrealistic, for no building can be successful if it's designed because I simply "...wanted it to look that way.", "Bigger is better", and because "I think it's better that way." I am going to design according to sustainability, and that which will persevere throughout history and give a sense of identity in the community it connects itself with. Traveling abroad has taught me these values- that going back to the historical lands of civilization will teach us where humanity has made mistakes and where humanity has been successful. Then, we must take it back to America as a second chance to improve and create that balance we all strive for.

Thank you and much love,
Lesley Ann

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Is this what I LOVE?


"It's like breathing underwater", she said to herself as she curled up in the sunny corner of the room. The timber floorboards radiated heat, and it felt like being enveloped in the palm of someone's hand. She felt small. The space swam with people, and scents; the yellow beams cut through the tall, breezy clerestory windows. It was a wedding reception. All was a blur and nothing concrete can be said about the laughter and the stories which passed that day. She was in her own mind; it was warm. She was happy to be long as she was there.

Being small was part of her life. She did this every day, pulling sleighs to and from the fishing docks. Every load felt heavier and as each day went on, her team mates would pull less...always less. It was her nature to do more, and always more. She felt obligated to, like there was no other way; because she knew that it had to get done. How else would her masters eat? How would her family eat? "Do it for everyone else", they said. She was raised this way- to swallow every emotion which came to surface- because if it came through she would get whipped. It was always this way. Get angry and get punished. So she kept working, never stopping...always pleasing.

Last winter, the harbor edges froze and the boats arrived in large waves. The steady flow of shipments soon became congested, and loads of cargo had to be pulled in sprints by all the teams. At times they would wait for hours, and for others they had to pull large shipments without stopping. There was always more to do. Their feet dragged through the darkness, and they lost themselves a little more each trip.

It was on the 28th haul that her breathing became shallow; like trying to breathe underwater. Why couldn't she will herself to move? Why was there a sharp pain in her chest?

"Just a little more, a little further...I love you, you're almost there. Then you can rest", she said to herself. Something released in her, like an explosion in her chest; and something warm poured inside. That night she was dragged the rest of the way.

Maybe she wasn't meant for this life. But if she had a choice, where would she go, and what would she do? She served her time and she fought for those who depended on her. Though nothing was given back, she still loved them. With everything she had, she still loved them....and despite this, she didn't want to give up. She wanted to live, but for what? For whom?

Time is healing...

The space was warm with the spring air which carried the scent of jasmine, lavendar, and burning candles. It was crowded with tables filled with guests and a course of entrees, carefully selected by the bride. There was joy, atmosphere, and relief from the passing winter. A bright light pierced through the clerestory windows and pushed onto the floorboards under the sleeping animal at the corner of the room. No one saw her there, and in their hearts she didn't exist. But in hers she remembered everyone. She waited paitiently to be called, while resting in the palm of the sunlight which filled that space.

Lesley Ann

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In Progress....

Dear Reader,
Among many things, here's something I'm currently working on- a painting/collage for my Major Design Project.

In this I'm having a dry run with textures, toning, settings, etc...I'm adding more layers, and there definitely will be people, birds, plants, more textures, text, leaders, and accreting mud. The painting is meant to portray the layering of systems which are existing and proposed on the project Site, which I'm still struggling to name (maybe "Lea Valley Gateway Park, or the Lea Valley Regional Park Junction...).

The existing elements are the overpasses, the canalized river, the mud, the pylons, cranes, and railway tracks. My intervention is the idea of "stitching" these systems horizontally in the site using boardwalks; it is to re-connect the pedestrian paths on both sides of the river. It's also vertically "stitching" the layers, using the structural supports of the boardwalks which are equipped with light pylons. The vertical structures function in two other ways. They act as agents, encouraging the growth and regeneration of the salt marsh habitat which existed prior to the River Lea's canalization. The pylons are also equipped with audio, video, motion sensors, and free wireless internet for security and research purposes. As part of the package, there are outlets and frames on which experimental interactive technology can be attached and plugged in. The site exists within the Thames Digital Gateway (like the Silicon Valley), as well as the Green Enterprise District (where renewable energy research is encouraged). Therefore, these two other systems (IT and renewable energy) can work simultaneously on site.
When all of these systems interact with each other, there is a richness of transportation and pedestrian movement, biodiversity, and information transfer. Since the site is well integrated in the urban context, which is promised for continued growth, the Site will become what Bill Hillier (professor and researcher of urban morphology in Cambridge) calls a 'Multiplier Effect'. It will also become a data landscape where information can be extracted for research and improvement of planning and building industries. The ultimate goal is for digital/green technology to advance to the point where researchers can develop a method to communicate with Nature (literally). If this is possible, there is certain to be a bounty of information which can be extracted from the Earth.

In the end, it is a platform on which all these stories can take place. It will become prototype for a new type of landscape.

So that's my brief, so far. I'm re-writing it so that it's easier to understand; there definitely be more maps and diagrams to accompany it. I'm quite slow at doing my work because this is something new for me. I'll have more for you later. Take care!

Like a Bowl of Oranges,
Lesley Ann

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Getting Up To Speed With "Now"

Dear Reader,

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've also set my myspace profile on Private, so only my friends can read it; sorry about that as well. But if you'd like to read, please just add me as a friend yea? ;)

To get you guys up to speed since my last post- I've finally selected a site for my Major Design Project. It's in London at the Lower Lea Valley in Bow Creek. The Site currently has plans for construction by SOM, but as far as I know they've haulted the project due to lack of funds....the recession, I guess? How IS the economy back at home by the way? I've been so disconnected, living the university world, that the real world seems miles away....

To get back on my MDP, I've decided to take this project on because it's a flood zone and is a gateway to and from the Lea Valley Regional Park. Hence, it will become a park/flood mitigation zone- a point along the River Lea which is distinguished by its meander. In my project, I'm proposing to de-canalize the river and let the landscape evolve naturally, while adding a "pedestrian" layer of boardwalks, stitching the context.

Here's a portion of my Site near the Eco-Park

And another view from Canning Town Tube Station.

In SOM's design, they proposed to build several high-rise residential towers and mixed-use services on podium level. This doesn't seem appropriate to me. Why build high-rises within a flood zone right? Also, why build high rises in a context which has too many unsuccessful projects. To be fair, I know my project would never get built. It requires a long consultation and planning approval process; but it's a paper landscape after all. One is allowed to post a scenario where canalized edges are viable lol! It gets more involved than this, but I'll spare you the details and move forward.

I've been working on this project since last January and so far it's developed well; but I suppose like many designers, I don't feel like I've developed it enough to feel safe. I've got another Crit in less than 2 weeks, and I've got to pick myself up and design like a mad woman! Down to the details no less....which means I'll have to thoroughly figure out my master plan and timescale maps.... I've never done a timescale map before, so I'm a little hesitant to get into it. I know I should be brave and jump into the water, so I've cornered myself by scheduling a photoshoot with Agnes next weekend hahah! I must be insane. It will be fun and refreshing though, because it will be outdoors at the Botanic Gardens. A surreal "Alice" shoot to be exact. I'm totally looking forward to it. Maybe "winging" it in front of the camera will get me to be more confident about "jumping" into my timescale map. That's it! I feel much better about it now. =)

I suppose to make things a bit more interesting, I'm also planning on entering this project into the Forgotten Spaces competition in London. The registration deadline is the 30th of this month, so I've got to get myself moving along. The submission deadline is the 12th of May, which is shortly after our MDP Hand-In. It's going to be an intense next few months. I'd better be ready to do a lot of jumping lol!

Progress in other facets of my career have somewhat gone forward as well. I've been thinking about extending my stay here in the UK, perhaps working for Chora in London for a year. I'm not too sure how it will work out. I've tried contacting Raoul several times whenever I go to London for site visits, but our timetables are like passing ships. We go sailing by silently in a fog hahah! That said, I have several plans- A) work in London or Edinburgh, B) work in Zurich for Gunther Vogt, C) move back to NYC and apply for a job with Terraform ONE or Diana Balmori...maybe even be a teaching assistant at Columbia Uni, D) move back to Cali, apply for work with the government or work with David Fletcher in Northern Cali. I've got too many options, I know; but that's where I stand right now.

I've also been thinking about freelancing again- improving my website, learning Dreamweaver and Flash- and getting gigs especially for Set Design and graphic design..It will just be for little things here and there. Why not right? =) For modeling, I don't know if there's much potential by way of it becoming a major cash flow. It's more like a hobby really; a different form of creative expression which I don't get from architecture to be honest. I'm glad I have both though. They keep me level-headed.

That's all the vital things I have to write about for now. I'll have more to write about as the week goes by. I'm sure I'll have a lot to reflect on as my project develops...maybe I'll even have some sexy graphics to show! How exciting will THAT be? Until then, stay warm, wherever you are; all the best on your endeavours.

Swing low dear chariot,
Lesley Ann

ps: Some inspiration for my design concept. =)