By Milton Castro, BArch Candidate
In need of a change for a New Year’s Eve celebration, I decided to sign up for the AIAS Forum held by SCAD (Savanna College of Art and Design) in Savanna, Georgia. I was told by some people that my decision of attending to the Forum wasn’t smart because of my culture of celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends and family. Even though I was going against my tradition, I felt it was worth of giving it a shot. Attending the Forum was one of the most extraordinary experiences I ever had in my design education.
It started by taking a 19 hour road trip from Boston to Savannah, Georgia. It was exhausting, but during this journey I had the opportunity to know (at a glance) various cities of the east coast. As soon as we arrived, we could feel the good vibe of the city, excellent weather and great southern friendly people. Savannah is identified as a commercial port where many cargo ships full of containers arrive from all over the world which we could see right from the window of our hotel. The architecture in savannah brought my attention to how they managed their historic preservation - by limiting the height of the buildings, and by giving different skins to them, such as brick, concrete blocks, metal cladding and EIFS finishes. In other words, there was not a city block that had a single building material on their facades.
Besides the tours of the city of Savannah, AIAS Forum held many workshops, sessions, seminars and social events. I attended many of them, but the one that provided me a different way of thinking was the session of building a geodesic Dome. At first, we were introduced to the origins of it. Second, the instructor gave us a little introduction about how the dome is constructed and how the structure elements of it counter act the forces acting on them. Last, we were given a plan of the lay out of the structural elements. Our task was to build a 14 feet high dome in an hour and a half. It consisted in connecting three sizes of wood sticks with three different types of tubular plastic connectors as structural elements. Working as a team was an important factor in this session. The team was composed by around 12 people. All of us assigned ourselves different tasks such as reading the instruction sheet, putting the pieces together and assembling the dome. Our approach was to assemble the dome in two separate pieces; the base and the top the dome separately. After an hour of hard work, we had the two pieces done and it was time to assemble the dome. Surprisingly, the pieces did not fit together and we had 20 minutes left to finish it up. As a result everybody freaked out. It was time to for the team to work in a fast pace to finish it up. We carefully reviewed every single piece with the instruction sheet to find where the problem was. We found out there where few misplaced pieces on the base of the dome in order to fix them, we had to take apart most of the base and start all over again. As a team we quickly organize ourselves differently and finished the dome 5 minutes before the deadline.
After participating in this session, I realized the importance to work in a team by joining forces together to achieve a specific goal. This session also made me to associate with gateway projects at the B.A.C. Many of us might have been involved in some projects that we were not happy with or disagreed with the rest of the team or instructor, that we just felt dropping the project as it was in my case. What I learned from this session is that if everybody works together, communicates with each other to find the problem, and work hard to achieve the goal, the results are grandiosely fulfilling. Besides this session, there were many workshops of leadership, student development and social events for networking opportunities where I had the opportunity to meet a lot of architecture students with the same passion and same vision to make a difference in the design community and our society. It was definitely worth the experience to attend and will be worth it to return next year for Forum Chicago 2013.