7.22.2017

dancing with architecture: Sonoma, California


Was out in Sonoma County for a water meeting a few weeks ago. Didn't have time to get out and gawk at too much, but I did go on a field trip to googoo eye watery things.

First stop was the UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab to learn about ocean monitoring and climate, especially related to the El Nino Southern Oscillation and atmospheric rivers (climatic fire hoses that stretch across the Pacific to dowse the West Coast with intense rainfall). Bodega Bay, the nearby town, is where Alfred Hitchcock filmed "The Birds".




Ocean temperature buoy

The facility was Brutalist a la Louis Khan.

Another ocean temperature device that can survey at depth.





Atmospheric river monitoring station


High-resolution vertical radar. Thing sounded like an enormous theremin when activated. 



Time to release a weather balloon!






Next, we headed off to talk about flooding and sea lions at the mouth of the Russian River:





After that, we gawked at a part of the Russian River where an inflatable dam diverts water to nearby infiltration basins to recharge the local aquifer. Because of spawning fish, the whole set-up has a fish run that allows spawners to swim upstream and bypass the dam. During high flows, the dam is deflated to prevent damage.





Lunch!





Now off to the Russian River Reservoir!








And to end the day, Dry Creek Vineyards to check out river restoration and (ahem) the local enhanced water.









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7.19.2017

Modern won't work so well after the apocalypse

Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House

When thinking about building a cabin in the distant mountains, we sometimes wonder about designing a post-apocalyptic retreat. Yeah, yeah: sounds crazy. But have you been watching the news lately? One concern is an upper atmospheric nuclear blast full of gamma rays, the type that would wipe out all electronics on the continental United States. Have you imagined what life would be like with years of no communication, no transportation, no power, and no wifi? No? Fortunately, you don't have to because the US Department of Defence has: 85 percent of us would be dead within five years. Yikes! The only people left are going to be farmers, inner city gangs, and Mormons with machine guns!

I'm sure you've read about North Korea developing nukes (scary), but they are also trying to put a nuclear-armed satellite in orbit over the central part of the US. If Korea doesn't scare you, there are other potential calamities: hackers or terrorists bringing down the electrical grid (both could cause damage that would require years to fix), a gamma-filled solar flare, or a super-volcano belching death into the sky. And where will you be when Hawking's aliens arrive?

I mention all this to note that Modern might not work so well after the apocalypse. Bringing the outside in is a great idea before the Great Calamity, but when the folks outside want to eat you, all that glass suddenly becomes a liability (go read/see Cormac McCarthy's The Road for a yummy tutorial on post-apocalyptic cannibalism).

Imagine sitting in Mies's Farnsworth House (pictured above) when the big one hits. Five weeks later, when a starving horde of well-armed inner-city Mormon farmers wanders by looking for someone to eat, there you are, sitting in your living room like a day-old croissant behind the glass at Starbucks. Not only can the hungry hordes see you, but they can also see your kitchen. How convenient: dinner is served!  You're going to want the outside out, not in, in the post-apocalypse.

I know, I know: not all Modern would be terrible after the big one hits. Many of those introverted Japanese houses might be a good place to hole up for a few years:

Only one way in for the death zombies, and no way for them to know that brains!! BRAINS!!! are inside.

Some of that Brutalist architecture might also be a good, stable place to hole up in. Or perhaps one of Kundig's cabins with a massive sliding panel of steel that allows you to decide when to bring the outside in and when to leave it where it belongs (see below).

But most Modern? Consider yourself on the menu.