The Plant - Architecture Installation

About two weeks ago I helped my studio professor, Mary Pat Mattson, setup an installation at The Plant. The Plant is a former pork processing plant on the edge of the Chicago Stockyards and served as the site for our project. The whole place is overbuilt - 2 1/2' thick columns, stainless steel, solid brick floors, and cork insulation throughout. Pretty cool.

We hung 3/32" stainless cable on 1/2" embedded anchors; to go with the overbuilt theme. The lower end is held in tension by a brick, there are more than a few laying around this place. Lighting is accomplished with simple clamp lights. I anchored some conduit to the ceiling with pipe clamps and tapcons for the lights to secure to.

I should have brought a bigger tripod and a note saying "yes it's a camera, please move along." I need to re-edit this too...

Pre-public arrival.

Jason talking to the documentary film maker. He's been following John Edel around for a few years and says he's going to make something in 20. Should be interesting. John is a really cool guy. He manages his pie in the sky thoughts with a down to earth attitude that's impossible not to admire.
Nice and blurry, just the way I like me. Photo Credit: Vija.

Brain Vomit

This is just a mild recap of my past few weeks. Where to begin...

As I was leaving for NC I got off my elevator (it was roughly 1 AM) and saw all the food collection boxes for donation to the needy. I peered over the edges and saw a bunch of free canned and boxed food. I have no idea how I restrained myself. Grad school is a bummer like that.

Speaking of which. There's a professor at my school from Germany named Werner Sobek. He first got PhD in structural engineering... in Germany none the less. So what happens when you have a PhD in structural engineering, are German, and hold the title of Mies van der Rohe professor at IIT? Well you're a bad ass, and you design a vacation home for yourself called R 128 that is entirely recyclable (the design uses mortise-and-tenon joints), all the building elements utilized are standard lengths so there is absolutely no wasted materials, because of this the materials are simply shipped to the site and assembled (further aided by mortise-and-tenon), the building produces all its own energy, and is totally off grid. O, did I mention that every item in the house is computer controlled? Here it is on Sobek's website, which is really worth looking at.

On the way to NC we (my mum, dad, and I) got stuck about 20 miles from our exit due to a blizzard. It was the worst they've had in a decade. Even if they did have plows no one knows how to drive in the snow there so they just kept getting stuck and running into one another, so we sat for about 10-12 hours. Luckily we had grapes and Evan's home brewed beer.

The cabin at night.

Night sledding!

I've been making several versions of this recently. It's an open faced sandwich on wheat bread topped with giadiniera (which literally translates to "female gardener" in Italian) covered by pepper jack cheese and onions, broiled, then covered with oregano and tomatoes.

My basil garden (this is right after I trimmed it) has become a bonsai garden of sorts. They're almost a year old and never get much over 18" tall. As a result of all the trimming their main stems are practically wood.

This was this weeks harvest.

This was the resulting pesto. For some reason you have to let it sit for a few days before it gets really good.

Reading from Wired

Cool British guy makes vertical hydroponic-type vertical gardens that cover buildings. Really pretty; not sure if it has an advantage over ivy. More water transpiration maybe?

Two budding conflict photojournalists talk about one anothers work (there's even mention of the format I shoot in, medium format).

Monkey music. Must read/hear.

Craigslist kicks everyones ass. This article explains how and why; basically just very simple yet counter intuitive business thinking.

... and Paul Krugman on debt now versus WWII. Really short.

Hydroponics Update #2

So remember that lettuce and basil garden I was working on? The lettuce has finally taken off and it's growing pretty fast. I think the basil is a week or two behind. I still have some modifications to do to the whole setup too.

These pictures are taken 25 hours apart:

Notice the new set of leaves on the basil in the upper-left hand corner.

And that's three posts about food in a row...

Soilless Basil/Lettuce Garden

Here's a project I finally completed yesterday. On the left you can see my 2' square hydroponic basil and lettuce garden. It's pretty simple. Water is pumped from the 15 gallon reservoir (that black Rubbermaid container) into that white ebb and flow tray for about 15 minutes every hour. Lighting is provided by my north facing window (weakest light of any direction, boo) and a 2' strip of high output T5 florescents for 18 hours a day. I also set up some white construction board to help with light reflectivity.

Here you can see the plants in their growing medium which is called hydroton. It's basically just lightweight baked clay; expanded terracotta sort of. The green stuff is rockwool (fiberglass insulation without the flame retardant) that I used to start the seedlings. I'm growing: Italian large leaf basil, summer long basil, purple ruffles basil, spicy saber basil, little caesar lettuce, butter crunch lettuce, and burgundy ice lettuce.

This is the plant's food. It's supposedly the same stuff NASA uses in all their hydroponic research.

This is one of my purple basil plants. This is the plant I'm most excited for.