DEC // Happy Holidays


Bi-weekly my butt! And just like that it’s the holidays. So here’s a December update – thoughts, things I’ve read, and finally…not a test! But Happy Holidays from CAT! Hopefully a test 008 very soon, over the holidays.

A couple weeks ago, a good friend of mine wrote up an interesting article on the current state of architecture schools. I know…these articles are all over the internet. What Nicolas collects are a great number of thoughts from prominent educators in the leading architecture schools of America. The focus of the article is in the revitalization of the PoMo movement in student work, and the question of whether that’s a bad thing or not. At the end of the day, I am not for or against any style in particular, so my opinion could be rather moot. I did however enjoy this quote by Michael Young –

Young, however, still offered a little opposition: “We have to understand one of our strongest political positions is within aesthetics. It is what we do. We alter the background of what people assume to be the way the world looks.”

I don’t know that I would agree that architects are moving more towards just making ‘images’ now, because I’m strongly of the opinion that useful and beautifully designed built physical space is what brings value to an architect. The ‘image’ that we add on top is icing on top of an already deeply multi-coloured cake.

If it hasn’t been evident already, I am really very keen to get into the whole smart city world of Sidewalk Labs. As an architect, I’m not particularly useful to them just yet, as they already have a lineup of architectural consultants (re. heavy timber design..etc.). But since I am very interested in the idea of a virtual (AR) overlay on a city, I would love to get into the R&D or innovation side of things, to see if my idea could be of any use in a smart city. In any case, this article really pinpoints the fact that technology is a driver for design. Maybe many traditionalists would argue that technology is just a tool, but the reality is that if you don’t use the tools properly and effectively, they will eventually move past you and become the drivers.

“If our built spaces can be designed with an awareness of how to design with technological elements, the relevance of architecture will begin to shift. “

So taking a very different turn, I’ve been reading a lot of ‘how this’, ‘how that’ articles that have to do with living a better life, being more productive, yada yada. There was a phase where I was reading a lot of them to help justify the things I decided to do or accomplish, but I have since gotten over it. I find my time is better placed elsewhere, whether it’s winding down with some doodling, taking a break and actually enjoying some video games, or in other more fruitful readings. In any case, one of the latest articles I came across on medium was this. Persuasion is a very useful skill. Not just to get what you want or purely for your own self-interest, but also to help others figure out what it is that they want and thereby making them better decision makers. This doesn’t come without some underlying tactics to be a more effective negotiator though, and so I think out of many of the writings I’ve read about the topic, this one summarizes the tactics pretty concisely:

To persuade someone, we need to prove we are worth listening to.
Some ways to do this:

Tell stories about yourself.Good stories require empathy, and empathy leads the reader to trust the storyteller (you).

Present your credentials. Show you are qualified, but do not brag.

Show your connections with others.Mention your relations with someone who is trustworthy, and you suddenly appear trustworthy too.

Similar to the previous ‘self-help’ type of reading, I found this short article on how to get things done. The solution is easy – ask how a lazy person would do it. Given that you ask a very smart lazy person, I think this is an excellent idea, and it makes a lot of sense. Don’t get me wrong, I love effort. I tend to evaluate or judge people based on effort. But if they can show they can complete or approach something with the fastest solution possible without sacrificing quality, then I’m all for it.


Well that’s it from me. If I don’t see you before, then HAPPY NEW YEAR world!




I had the pleasure of creating some light-hearted illustrations to accompany the work of art historian Alex Stumm in his recent interview for Pulp #52 (Pulp Architecture). In his book “Architectural Concepts of Reconstruction” (translated from Architektonische Konzepte der Rekonstruktion), he discusses five categories of ‘Reconstruction’ and the different ways architects have approached renovation of, additions to, or for lack of better word, reconstructing a ruin. While I am still teetering between drawing a connection between the large urban scale to the micro detail scale, another spectrum of
thought came to light from this exercise. That spectrum being ‘time’, the scale of ruin to rebuild. There are a lot of things to explore not just in historical architecture still standing today, but also the added layer of the invisible ruin. But let me move forward a little bit and speak to the buildings that are still physically with us today. Rather, what piques my interest is how architects address the dichotomy of working with both new and old buildings.

New building + old building = ?

Downtown Toronto is ripe with reconstructions. UofT in particular, is quite special in that it has such a historically rich campus of old buildings yet also has an alarmingly large number of renovations and additions to said historical buildings. (A personal observation. It happens all over the city obviously, but I happen to notice it more within the university) It seems oddly fitting then, that my last post discussed the new School of Architecture at UofT as it is quite a fine example of some form of reconstruction. While the original home of Knox College and then the Connaught Laboratories, the new building at 1 Spadina Crescent which opened for the 2017-2018 school year has been transformed into the new home of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, with a bright new addition designed by architects Nader Tehrani and Katherine Faulkner of New York based firm NADAAA.

What are the design strategies, principals, approaches, etc. involved with additions or renovations, particularly with a historically significant building? What are the details that exist in that intersection between the old and the new?

Test 003 will explore this new spectrum to my AR/tifact collection

muse, test

a test 001

My thoughts have all just been mindlessly floating around in my brainspace without getting churned or developed to maturity – whether it’s is a mature dead end or a mature launching point. And so, this rolling journal is here to take on many forms and stages throughout the lifespan of the project.

At this nascent stage, this is an incubator for ideas. Thoughts; Challenges; SWOT analysis; Writing (but actually mostly in the form of the sketch below) As I learn, I will iterate. It is
highly possible the project will take many pivot points before reaching a state of stability, and even then, it has to grow. I want to also document any attempts at frontend development I may have. Further along, you may even see some working demos.

A bit more on ‘a test – 001’ (pretentious, implying I have 999 more exercises to attempt)

A test 001 —
1 UNIT: built space
OCCUPANCY: public/semi-private
TYPE(s): urban infrastructure, landscape, architecture
AR/TIFACT(s): 06


I start with one unit of built space the idea to take place. What if, wherever you are, let’s say you enter this unit of built space, you have access to a whole new layer of information and media. It is not quite physical space and it is not quite virtual space. It is both in my mind – that’s what makes AR so interesting. Have you ever used Waze when driving? I think that would be a neat experience, at the scale of a pedestrian, to interact with your surroundings and having access to a database of information about all the things that are constructed around you.

I have more ideas to expand here for sure. But something to think about for now.