Tuesday, September 12, 2006


The alcohol stung sharply as it made contact with the deep laceration on my thumb. Earlier in the evening, two friends and I were enthusiastically hiking the trails of the north Georgia mountains in search of adventure. If adventure was what we were after, the camping trip was a success, but clearly our ability to survive in the wilderness was not…
A thin layer of snow speckled the ground, and the sun had set by the time we arrived at the trail’s entrance. The temperature was near freezing. We came prepared with multiple layers of synthetic cold-weather clothing, waterproof boots, battery-powered headlamps, and a handful of Bic lighters. After hiking through the wooded trail for a few miles, we found an ideal campsite and began to make preparations for the cold night ahead.
One important component of braving cold nights in the wilderness is building a warm fire. The three of us had been camping together before and we were confident in our fire-building skills; however, we Georgia-boys did NOT have the experience of building a fire on the wet, snow-covered ground. We struggled for hours trying to ignite wet leaves and twigs. As an Eagle Scout, I remembered some tricks to employ should starting a fire prove difficult. None of the tactics worked, and I gave my thumb a pretty nasty cut in the process (which I disinfected by cleaning with an alcohol-soaked, individually wrapped, moist-wipe purchased at a department store earlier that day).
Everything was wet, and we were feeling discouraged. In a last-ditch effort, we pulled lint out of the pockets of our jeans and balled it up inside a few paper towels. Miraculously, it worked. We rejoiced as we added more twigs and branches to fuel what we started. Slowly, and seemingly reluctantly, the fire grew larger.
As I slept, warmly curled up in my synthetic-down sleeping bag, sheltered from the elements inside our tent (a combination of nylon, plastic, and metal), I pondered the idea of how a human being, or any organism for that matter, could survive in such a harsh environment. I thought of the luxuries we took for granted during our excursion; battery-powered artificial light, butane lighters, rubber-soled boots, etc. I fell asleep wondering: “How the hell has mankind distanced itself so far from mother-nature? And why?”…

The preponderance of technology in design is responsible for the decay of mankind’s relationship with the natural environment. This receding relationship between man and mother-nature has influenced mankind to ignore his role within the cycles and systems of the natural world and her inhabitants, resulting in a decline of awareness, appreciation, and implementation of the natural environment’s intrinsic design perfection. A heightened awareness of these cycles and systems, with the aid of technology as a tool (rather than allowing technology to dictate a design), may unveil valuable lessons necessary in designing a built environment that is beautiful, culturally reverent, sustainable, timeless, and meaningful.

Every region of our planet, stretching from the Tundra to Death Valley and even deep into the frigid enigmatic depths of the ocean, has been declared “home” by one of earth’s wide-ranging variety of organisms. The organisms existing on earth today have evolved over thousands, even millions of years in order to thrive in their respective environments. These inhabitants and their adaptations manifest the vast array of beautiful and exciting design modifications perfected to successfully challenge the tests of time and mother-nature. Even human beings, having developed large bulbous craniums to store our large brains, eventually discovered the means necessary to inhabit some of earth’s most extreme environments. Remarkably, with the aid of technological advancements, destinations outside of earth’s atmosphere have even been reached. Up until the early 1900’s, the majority of human beings were traveling by means of horse-and-buggy; a centuries-old technology. Suddenly on July 20th, 1969, man walked on the moon. Without argument, the technological advancements of the 19th and 20th century have been profound. In retrospect, I raise the question: “Have the sudden advancements in technology, and the rash implementation thereof, become detrimental to the well-being of humanity, our earthly neighbors, and the ecosystem?”

Sadly, the answer to the question above seems to be “yes.” Along with the incredible technological advancements made during the Industrial Revolution came extremely destructive systems of production. According to the authors of Cradle to Cradle, written by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, the systems of production during the Industrial Revolution committed the following abominations:
- put billions of pounds of toxic material into the air, water, and soil every year
- produce some materials so dangerous they will require constant vigilance by future generations
- result in gigantic amounts of waste
- put valuable materials in holes all over the planet, where they can never be retrieved
- require thousands of complex regulations – not to keep people and natural systems safe, but rather to keep them from being poisoned too quickly
- measure productivity by how few people are working
- create prosperity by digging up or cutting down natural resources and then burying them or burning them
- erode the diversity of species and cultural practices

Many would agree the industrial leaders of the age never maliciously meant to cause the harmful byproducts resulting from the Industrial Revolution. In defense of those responsible for the unfavorable side-effects, McDonough and Braungart state:

“Of course, the industrialists, engineers, inventors, and other minds behind the Industrial Revolution never intended such consequences. In fact, the Industrial Revolution as a whole was not really designed. It took shape gradually, as industrialists, engineers, and designers tried to solve problems and to take immediate advantage of what they considered to be opportunities in an unprecedented period of massive and rapid change.” (18-19)

Regardless, the culprits’ lack of control and foresight concerning the power of industry is evident – and it appears as though none of them cared enough to make any significant operational changes for fear of falling behind their competitors. One would think witnessing the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution would command drastic changes in the operations of modern-day industry. On the contrary, it seems little has been learned as the world consumes and spends increasing amounts of natural resources, particularly within the building industry; by far the largest industry in America. (Cole’s notes 1).

For example, compare two typical suburban houses built in the United States. One being built in the desert of Arizona, the other on the shores of the Great Lakes in Minnesota. Instead of responding to the natural characteristics of the drastically different environments, the two houses have probably been built with nearly identical building materials and construction techniques. The only significant difference between the two residences might be the season in which their respective HVAC systems reach peak usage (not to mention the lack of regional expression in the aesthetics).

What about the animals living in the environments mentioned above? What about the plants? What lessons can be learned through in-depth observations of the adaptations of these organisms, and inside the actual organisms themselves? They don’t use electrically fueled air conditioning or heating/cooling, and they seem to be fine. Granted, evolution has gifted those organisms with some advantages over human beings for living in the wild, but what about our very own human ancestors who once thrived without such “necessities?” Are we really as smart as we like to think we are? If so, why do we perpetuate a lifestyle that is detrimental to the future of mankind, the earth’s wildlife, and its natural resources? Does mankind need to invent new solutions or strategies for living more responsibly, or are the answers right before our very eyes hidden within the cycles and systems of the natural environment?

The need for a new way of thinking is evident; a method of observation and learning that promotes looking at our surroundings from a different perspective. This “new school” should challenge, and eventually change, the way in which the natural environment is viewed, treated, and interacted with by our modern societies. This new way of thinking should connect mankind back to his mother land, the planet earth, and all of her inhabitants. Yet at the same time, the agenda should not prohibit or hinder advancements in technology and progress, but rather promote them simultaneously with responsibility and sensitivity. To change the lifestyles and perspectives of enough people to actually make a difference is indeed a mammoth task. What can be done to spur on such a change? Where does one start, and is the idea realistic or impossible? In retort, the answer is: one must start at the beginning! In other words, nothing will ever change if no effort toward a new direction is initiated. Just like an obese person’s first day starting a new workout regime; change will be slow, arduous and at times clumsy -- but possible, nevertheless…therefore:
In order to initiate the first step toward a more conscious society, to live and learn within a symbiotic relationship with ALL of nature’s organisms, to eliminate any imposing relationships between mankind, nature, and technology, I propose to establish a school of higher thinking; The School of Symbiotic Design.

Research Rationale:
In order to achieve a successful outcome from The School of Symbiotic Design (SSD), the students must be submerged into a new learning environment and introduced to the new curriculum at the appropriate time. A proposal to begin such a program would be around the age of 12 or 13 years of age, similar to the age of the typical high school freshman. In defense of this notion Saul Kassin, author of Psychology: The Second Edition, states:

Paralleling the physical growth spurt brought on by puberty is what we might be called a cognitive growth spurt. Adolescents who mature early get slightly higher scores on tests of intelligence than those who mature later. And you may recall Piaget’s observation that adolescents are capable of logic, abstract thought, and hypothetical reasoning---hallmarks of the formal operational stage of cognitive development. This capacity for abstraction spurs teenagers to think critically, to challenge parents and society, and to contemplate possibilities. Eliot Turiel found that at the age of twelve or thirteen, adolescents begin to see various social conventions---for example, appropriate clothing, hairstyle, or the proper way to address a teacher---as arbitrary and unreasonable (408).

The biological makeup of every living organism consists of a series of systems. Each one of these systems serves a specific function of the organism. All of the systems are efficiently coordinated; performing specific and separate tasks simultaneously. In fact, the systems are reliant upon each other in order to sustain the life and health of the organism for which they are indentured. Can the parallels of this coordination of systems be applied to both architecture and urban planning? Can the coordination of systems of an organism, which has evolved over thousands of years to thrive under the conditions of its particular environment, offer the architect (or designer) a new insight on how to design architecture that will respond sustainably, efficiently, and cost-effectively in a similar or different environment? For example, examine the following scenario:
- reptiles are cold-blooded
- reptiles rely upon the conduction of heat through their skin to survive
- the heat source is provided by the sun
- reptiles, therefore, bask in the sun
- the efficiency of this process is increased when the reptile basks in a particular fashion which maximizes the surface area of its skin against the sun’s rays
- therefore, a building that requires heating (efficiently of course), should rest on its site in such a way to maximize its surface area against the sun’s rays

Although a simple example, the process is clear. Ponder the following questions: “Exactly how does the skin absorb the warmth? What color is the reptile’s skin, and what is its impact on efficiency, if any? What is the texture of the reptile’s skin? What is its chemical composition? During what hours does the reptile prefer to bask? How does the skin on the reptile’s dorsal side differ from the skin on its anterior side and why? What affect does it have on the organs and systems within the reptile?” Investigation into these inquiries may provide architects and designers with solutions to challenges they may face within their professional fields. Now consider the specific environment shared by the reptile and a given building. If the building is modeled after what the architect has learned through the observation of the biological adaptations of the reptile, could the result be the generation of a regional-aesthetic that is specific to the qualities of its natural environment?

The same logical process can be implemented in many ways. Broken down into its simplest form, the equation would read as follows:
- Identify the design challenges (context, altitude, sprawl, etc.)
- Identify an organism that faces parallel challenges (plants, animals, insects, human ancestors, etc.)
- Research how the organism selected overcomes its design challenges (physical adaptations, behavior, internal structure, etc.)
- If applicable, implement the research findings into the design of the architecture, product, infrastructure, or system.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Design Problem

Pollution, toxic waste, global warming, resource and ozone depletion, and deforestation due to humanity have over time strained the earth of its natural elements. Sustainable architecture is needed more now than ever before in history. For years humans have cut down vital forest and replaced them with energy consuming buildings and a serious square footage of asphalt that reflects the sun’s heat and aids in higher temperatures. “Buildings have a significant impact on the environment, accounting for one-sixth of the world’s freshwater withdrawals, one-quarter of its wood harvest, and two fifths of its material and energy flows”


I would like to propose a project that would take architecture to the next level. The building would be a sustainable architecture museum and a hotel with the concept of the four elements; earth, wind, water, and fire. The museum would enlighten the public on the importance of taking care of the environment. It would make the link between ancient building technologies, mainly the Mississippian Native American Culture, and today’s green building methods and the future direction we are heading towards. The museum will also have a research department which would continue to study the evolving techniques of sustainable architecture along with the current and future environment conditions. The hotel accommodations would educate the guest on how the methods taught in the museum can be implemented it their everyday life. The hotel would serve as practical application. Both the hotel and the museum will employ energy efficient technologies by taking advantage of the renewable resources such as solar heat, wind, and recyclable water. I believe every society’s basic existence is base on the four elements. The Mississippian Village was certainly no exception. They used the earth to build mounds and houses. They caught food in the river and also used the river as their main source of transportation. They had a cooking pit where fire was used to cook the food. They took the direction of the wind into consideration when organizing their site.

Building Program

The buildings will be type IV, heavy timber, construction. The museum will fall under the type A-4 occupancy category while the hotel will fall under the R-1 occupancy category according to the 2000 International Building Code.
Hotel September 12, 2006
Cartersville, Georgia Preliminary Space Program

Room No. Size Notes/ Comments
Lobby 1 600 s.f.
Check In/ Reception Desk 1 300 s.f.
Four Administration Offices 1 900 s.f.
Kitchen 1 300 s.f.
Dining Area 1 400 s.f.
Gym Area 1 350 s.f.
Conference Room 1 600 s.f.
Toilet Room 6 860 s.f. Three women’s’ and three
men’s’ toilet rooms
Janitor’s Closet/ Storage 1 225 s.f.
Mechanical Room 1 144 s.f.
Electrical Room 1 144 s.f.
Hotel Rooms 100 40,000s.f. One hundred rooms
averaging 400 s.f. each
Pool Area 1 1000 s.f.
Total Projected Area: 45,823 s.f.
Museum September 12, 2006
Cartersville, Georgia Preliminary Space Program
Room No. Size Notes/ Comments
Lobby 1 600 s.f.
Reception Desk/ Tickets 1 300 s.f.
Conference Room 1 600 s.f.
Toilet Rooms 6 860 s.f. Three women’s’ and three
men’s’ toilet rooms
Administration Offices 1 900 s.f.
Exhibition Area 1 6,000 s.f.
Store 1 400 s.f.
Theater 1 1200 s.f.
Mechanical 1 144 s.f.
Electrical 1 144 s.f.
Janitor’s Closet/ Storage 1 225 s.f.
Research Department
Office 3
Break Room 1
Lab 3
Library 1
Administration 1
Fax, Copy Room 1
Storage 1
Conference Room 1
Total Projected Area: 11,373 s.f.

Site Description

I have chosen a historical site that has a strong significance in the Native American Culture because I wanted to connect the present to the past and show how earth conservation and preservation can still be implemented over time. The Etowah Indian Mounds State Park is located in Cartersville, Georgia. The site is 54 acres and includes seven mounds; borrow pits, portions of the original village, and a plaza along with a museum concentrating on Native American Heritage. The mound builders began arriving at the site as early as 950 A.D. They were known for their advanced agricultural techniques, forms of lineal government, religion, and commerce. I find their simple yet sophisticated lifestyle to be very enlightening. With handmade tools and little imported goods, the culture managed to sustain their way of life and thrive using only the earth’s natural resources yet at the same time not polluting or harming the surrounding environment .

Research Question/ Statement

How can ancient and modern technology be combined to enhance and nurture the environment back to health in which we live today? In my research I would hope to cover several important factors which would lead to my better understanding and application of this project. Since my focus is on sustainability and the major concern of how global warming affects us, I constituted a list of questions which will aid in the beginning of my research.

Research Questions
˛ By definition what is sustainable architecture?
˛ How can the concept of sustainable architecture aid in the fight against global warming?
˛ What are the techniques Native Americans use to build their dwellings?
˛ Is the ideology behind the Native Americans building design considered to be sustainable architecture by today’s standards?
˛ What are today’s current sustainable technology trends and where will they take us in the future?
˛ How does global warming effect society today?
˛ How has global warming changed over the history of time?
˛ What factors contributes mostly to global warming and how can they be slowed down or stopped?
˛ How can the concept of sustainable architecture aid in the fight against global warming?

Research Rationale

I wish to use several precedents which have conducted research on the sustainability concern and today’s architecture. John Farmer has performed an investigation of how architecture has evolved from earlier primitive buildings to today’s modernism. In his book, Green Shift, he looks at how over time the attitudes about architecture have evolved and thus affecting the earth’s fragile resources. Malcolm Wells also states a viable argument for going green in his book Gentle Architecture. Through out the course of his life and after winning several awards, he comes to the conclusion that the beautiful architecture which society appraises is only killing the land which is keeping us, humans, alive. He explores different techniques and theories for building structures that have the smallest amount of impact on the earth. In the end he is sold on the concept of building underground.

Anticipated Findings and Design Contribution

During the course of my research, I anticipate that I will find that the concept of building in a form that doesn’t harm the environment has always been the same between the two cultures, Native American and today’s green architecture. But the material method has changed through out time. This concept was not referred to as sustainable architecture during the ancient times either. It was just accepted as the only way to construct structures. I believe that these findings could help the current research industry today. Along with looking for new creative and innovative ways we can rely on the previous existing cultures for answers. Either way, the findings and application will help to cure some of the global environmental concerns plaguing us today.

Research Methodology

In the course of my research I intend to gather informative reading material that will help answer some of my previous questions and conduct interviews. I will use the collection of material listed in my bibliography as a starting point for research. I also plan to visit several libraries including Emory, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State and research under the following broad headings; global warming, sustainable architecture methodology, and Native American Culture building techniques. I plan to visit several Indian Mound Parks in order to better understand the scope of the project. I have already visited the Etowah Indian Mounds site in which I’m in the process of conducting detailed research on it. My overall objective is to see the link between Native American building techniques and today’s sustainability concerns. I want to incorporate ancient methodology with today’s technology and create a new ideology of building. I am trying to prove that global warming and the current environmental issues affect and harm the earth. Sustainable architecture is one way to conserve. In the end this knowledge will help lead to a healthier tomorrow.


Farmer, John. Green Shift Towards a Green Sensibility in Architecture.
Linacre House, Jordan Hill. Oxford. 1996
Gauzin-Müller, Dominque. Sustainable Architecture and Urbanism.
Birkhauser Basel. 2002.
King, Adam. Etowah: The Political History of a Chiefdom Capital. The
University of Alabama Press. Tuscaloosa & London. 2003.
Pitts, Adrian. Planning and Design Strategies for Sustainability and Profit.
Architectural Press. Armsterdam. 2004.
Melet, Ed. Sustainable Architecture Towards a Diverse Built Environment.
NAI Publishers. Rotterdam. 1999.
Mendler, Sandra & William, Odell. The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design. John
Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York. 2000.
Shelton, Stacey. “Going Green Reaches New Heights.” Atlanta Journal Constitution.
C3. Sunday August 27, 2006.
Wells, Malcom. . Gentle Architecture. McGraw-Hill Book Company. New York. 1981.

Fall Schedule for Final Year Design Project

Due Dates Final Year Design Milestones to be achieved, Fall 2006

September 12, 2006 Final Design Proposal due not later than 4:00 pm

September 18, 2006 1st Mandatory Pinup, Progress and Prospects (Site and Native American Culture)

September 19-24, 2006 Concentrate research on Precedents Study

September 22, 2006 Submission of the 1st signed written Progress Report of each thesis advisee by Thesis Advisory Committees to the Architectural Program office

September 25- Oct. 1 Concentrate research on current sustainable techniques

October 9-15, 2006 Concentrate research on Native American building techniques

October 16-22, 2006 Concentrate research on Native American building techniques

October 23, 2006 2nd Mandatory Pinup, Progress and Prospects (Focus on comparing the two techniques)

October 27, 2006 Submission of the 2nd signed written Progress Report of each thesis advisee by Thesis Advisory Committees to the Architectural Program office

October 30-Nov. 5, 2006 Site Development

November 6- 12, 2006 Site Development

November 13- 19, 2006 Building program and building form development

November 22-26, 2006 Holiday

November 27, 2006 2nd Mandatory Pinup, Progress and Prospects (Focus on site development and building program implementation)

December 1, 2006 Submission of the 3rd signed written Progress Report of each thesis advisee by Thesis Advisory Committees to the Architectural Program office

December 2- 10, 2006 Prepare presentation

December 11, 2006 Final Arch 5015 Design Juries

December 12, 2006 Final Arch 5015 Design Juries

December 13, 2006 Final Arch 5015 Design Juries

December 15, 2006 Submission of Final Grade Recommendations to the Architecture Program with a written and signed report by each member of the Design Advisory Committee on each advisee’s design progress, problems and prospects to continue into Arch 5999

Friday, September 08, 2006

M. Tuthill: thesis

The Atlanta Cultural History Center

Final Design Proposal is presented to the Faculty of the Department of Architecture School of Architecture, CET and Construction


Matthew W. Tuthill

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree
Bachelor of Architecture

Southern Polytechnic State University
Marietta, Georgia
Fall, 2006
I. Research Statement
Atlanta is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. With the large private sector of fortune 500 companies located here business attracts many people and provides many jobs in and around the Atlanta Metro area. Atlanta has also welcomed growth over the past thirty years by implementing means of public transportation for easy movement through the city and surrounding metro area. Marta, Gwinnett Transit, and many private bus and taxi systems are located all around the Atlanta area. Atlanta also has the nation’s busiest airport. The above mentions factors that contribute to urban growth that has sprawled out of control, here in the metro area. Atlanta, once known as "a city built in a forest," is becoming a concrete jungle as its trees disappear to make way for shopping malls, houses and highways along with other man made construction eliminating the natural surroundings. Although Atlanta has endless amenities through the City and surrounding metro area, I feel there is one major issue that is not addressed in its on going expansion.
The proposal of a large scale “Atlanta Cultural History Center project for the city of Atlanta,” is important in educating Atlanta’s residences about the cities history, and future, along with providing a Cultural hub for all to come together and enhance the
richness of the cities diverse population. This can be achieved by choosing a site that can enhance the local people and also link other areas of Atlanta creating a Cultural melting pot. Located in the city of Doraville, such a site resides, at 3900 Motors Industrial Way, Doraville Ga. Currently the General Motors plant that will be shut down early 2008, according to local sources. The site is a transportation artery linking business street Peachtree Industrial, and access to I-285 and Buford Hwy. The site also connects too many residential secondary streets. Besides the endless motor vehicle routes Marta has the Doraville train station directly on the site linking it to many important parts of Atlanta.

II. Related Precedence
There are many local and National projects that have tackled the issue of urban re-development. Recently we have seen a popular trend in Mixed-use development projects throughout inner cities, to save valuable space and allow for better use of existing space. An example locally is the Atlantic Station project, a highly mixed use development that revitalized an existing industrial site. There are many projects that do the same for example the Brownfield projects. One example is the Abandoned Airport in Denver. The Airport was abandoned in 1995 after significant contamination to the site after years of fuel and other chemical run off. Today one of the largest developed Brownfield projects exists, revamping an urban Industrial Ruin for the local residences. The same approach can be applied to the GM site in Doraville.

III. Methodology
The Atlanta Cultural History Center, or (A.C.H.C.), will introduce another kind of Brownfield project to the local area. Through research of Atlanta’s past, on going efforts by local development groups, such as City of Doraville’s planning review board. I can develop a starting point of the project. Local census findings will help with defining the existing and future population, allowing for development of cultural background of the area. Multiple site visits and analysis will develop research for accurate planning for the A.C.H.C. project. I will be able to define the reason for its success as an important Transportation link for the city. Mapping the primary and secondary streets will allow for site order by meshing the project into the pre-existing flow of the surrounding site.

IV. Anticipated findings
In the end, I expect my research will confirm my research statement and give meaning to the comprehensive design. The project should evoke opportunities for future growth to the area, that relate to understanding the importance of defining our culture here in Atlanta. I hope to find that I can promote the idea of expanding the existing Marta infrastructure. The idea of bringing the diverse population together in a positive, controlled, learning environment, are key elements to the projects success.
I anticipate that there may be certain things that could interrupt the process for such a development such as, redeveloping an existing site which had existing jobs for local residences, the idea of unifying a design that would tie the diverse cultural influence together. In the end I feel the impact of the Atlanta Cultural History Center, will create a positive patch to the local urban structure by enhancing the surrounding areas to the site, promoting the use and importance of Marta and other mass-transit projects, and bringing Atlanta residences together as one.

V. Bibliography
Burgess, Ernest. The Growth of the City. University of Chicago Press. Chicago, 1925.

MARTA. Inner Core Feasibility Wrap-Up Report. March 2005

U.S. Census Bureau. 2000 Census Demographic Report. for the City of Atlanta.

U.S. Census Bureau. 2005 American Community Survey for the City of Atlanta.

Thursday, September 07, 2006