Monday, November 30, 2009

Every college campus is a city of sorts in itself. As we looked at UNCG at the beginning of the semester, I looked at Greensboro College's campus to find out how they compared and what I could conclude from simply walking around on my own. I found that not having a tour guide left me with a few unanswered questions right then, but I turned to research to gain the knowledge on my own. This project was a challenge for me to show what I have learned, to go into an area we did not go into deep discussion about and figure out what that built environment had to tell me. This is what I heard as I walked along the brick walkways on the campus...
Pictured below I have the fronts, beats, centers, students, campus boundaries, and student centers. I will discuss these in my presentation on Thursday. I will go further in detail about the specifics of the populations and demographics of each school. I will talk about the physical buildings at Greensboro College and what they told me, along with what the lay out of the campus had to say. I will discuss the international students and programs along with the off campus things each academy has to offer.

The Greensboro Project

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Splendid Saturday- Coming Full Circle

This semester we, as a class, have walked all over the City of Greensboro. I have enjoyed getting to know the people in our class, our little trips, and all that I have learned about the way I observe my surroundings. I always considered myself a somewhat observant person, but this class has made me realize that there is a whole other level of observation I have been oblivious to most of my life. I noticed buildings and the could generally tell you the estimated income level of an area, but there are things I never even saw that would have told me in so much more detail the story of the environment. I was a very superficial and surface observer. I never thought of things past the value of the house, never getting around or taking the time to think about how that house got there and what kind of person lived there. I look forward to using the skills I have picked up in this class to understand my surroundings the rest of my life. I also look forward to sharing the techniques I have learned with others.
For my project I am thinking about literally bringing things full circle and coming back to UNCG. I want to look at the campus of UNCG after finishing the class and seeing it from my new perspective. With my new viewpoint of what the campus can tell me I want to compare the campus of Greensboro College. The main contrast will be the size of the student body and the campus itself. I am interested to see what information I find on my own!

Splendid Saturday- Open Spaces

Our last stop of the day was Battleground Park. Similar to our trip to the YMCA and the new public library downtown I have spotted memories in this park; a field trip in elementary school and maybe a bike ride with my dad. As I wandered around looking at the monuments they did not have a revolutionary feel to them. I wanted to think they were built and put up soon after the war ended but they are huge and do not look that old. This site reminded me of my trip to Verdun, France where I visited the bunkers from the first World War. The land was not flat from the bombs that went off displacing the dirt. The site of that battle is protected from development because the importance of those events needs to be remembered and memorialized. I believe the city of Greensboro was not founded on the battle site for this same reason. This battle was a turning point toward America's victory. I liked the presentation of the main statue with the horse, but the rest seemed a little to scattered for my taste. I liked the layout for a basic green space park for lounging around or reading a book, but I thought the statues and memorials needed to have more structure in having a specific path that took you from one monument to the next in a specific order. I also found it interesting that parts of the park were open fields, but other parts were paved paths through wooded areas. Is this because that is how the battle site was in 1781, or has some of the space been cleared for the memorial purposes? I remember as a child picturing the formal fighting happening in the open field and the Native American style fighting the settlers picked up being in the woods.

Splendid Saturday- Residential

We visited two specific residential neighborhoods, White Oak Village and Irving Park. First we visited the White Oak Village, the housing provided by the Cone Mills for the workers. The houses are small, simple, and modest with a decent amount of yard space. The village has a road grid of its own. In the picture to the left you can see the street in front of us was 12th St. The roads in town were not like that, just the ones within the "Village" which did comprise a small town within itself. As we walked down one of the streets we noticed there were no sidewalks; what does this tell us? I am not sure. I would think it means that community and friendship was not a strong value the mill wanted to promote, but the good sized yards kind of contradict that. Maybe the workers from the mill worked so hard during the day that sidewalks were not seen necessary because residents would just be resting, but sidewalks are not just for exercise.
The second residential neighborhood we visited was Irving Park for lunch. Honestly, as we were driving in I was focused on getting to eat lunch and may not have been the most observant student. Although I may not have been on my A game, I do not think there was anything to catch my attention until we pulled up to Edward Lowentstein's work. The houses were average middle class homes similar to my neighborhood in Boone. The Levy family invited us over to their house, an Edward Lowenstein original, for lunch. We pulled up and the artwork in their yard immediately caught my eye. We walked around to the front of the house, down the driveway, past the garage and pool, up to the front door where we were welcomed to their outgoing dog and warm smiles. The house does not feel or look like a huge house, but as we walked around the inside it just kept going. All of the beautiful bedrooms and bathrooms and storage space was enchanting. In the living room the slanted wall were most evident, and the open windows looked out at the artwork in the yard. The huge pearl necklace, and the airplane parts sculpture caught your attention first, but as you keep looking you notice more. Irving Park is a wealthier neighborhood, but not an overly showy neighborhood.

Splendid Saturday- Roadways

One of our other focuses on our weekend adventure was roadways in Greensboro that we experienced as we traveled from one site to the next. The bigger roads we traversed were Wendover and Interstate 40. Pictured to the left is a section of Wendover and a few of the many car dealerships that line the road. That is what stood out to me the most about this road was just how many car dealerships there are. We also passed a few nicer, newer looking shopping centers along with some gas stations and chain restaurants. The biggest difference between Wendover and Elm St. is the fact that Elm St is meant to be walked. That fact is a result or indication of many differences, like the size of the roads, the stores present along the roads, and the purposes of the roadways.
Battleground feels more like a small interstate highway. The road has exits instead of intersections. There are big billboards as advertisements for different businesses in the area that are basically the only things around the road other than trees. The traffic going in different directions is separated by a median.
The other roadway we observed was Interstate 40 between the mall and the Wendover exit. I believe the presence of the interstate contributes to Greensboro's title as the 'Gate City', providing another connection to many other cities and places. Many billboard advertisements are found along this road along with limited visuals of the businesses themselves when at the right point. As in, when you are driving along the interstate you can see some of the businesses because they have developed along the interstate for convenience to the customers, similarly to towns being formed around water sources because of the convenience there.

Splendid Saturday- Retail

Last Saturday the class decided to meet in order to knock out a few areas of town in one day. We started our weekend field trip at Friendly Shopping Center, an older strip mall off of Friendly Ave. This shopping center is comprised of many smaller stores focused toward middle class families. The anchor stores are Macy's and Belk with other stores like Limited, Justice, Accesories & More, Banana Republic, Gymboree, and Toys & Company. Some businesses we found that I did not expect to see and thought seemed out of place were the Mexican restaurant and bar, Len's Crafters, and Carolina Bank along with RBC Centura. The stores were situated in a rough square surrounding the main parking area. The parking lot in the middle seemed improportional to the shops because the opposite sides were so far apart. Maybe if the store fronts had been bigger or taller I would not have felt this way, but it just looks like a really long, simple outdoor shopping center. There is a walkway down the middle of the parking lot at two separate locations for pedestrians which are nice. Along the winding walkways are tables with umbrellas for people to rest under.
Another retail center we visited was the Four Seasons Town Center, or the Greensboro mall. The shops offered at this location seem to be higher end. The target market for these stores is all over the charts; there is a store for everyone. This location is much more easily located from the interstate and seems to be a place where individuals can waste time more than Friendly Center.

Monday, November 2, 2009

On the Other Side of the Tracks

This week the class ventured back to the downtown area where we looked at the lots on South Elm Street. We were supplied with documents showing the properties and business names along this street from 1925, 1975, and 2000 and we were then asked to go out and collected the same information for today. As I reflect on the data the first, most obvious thing I see is all the vacant or unlisted lots on the 400 block. In 1925 almost all of the lots were occupied by a businesses, but as time has progressed the listing for the lots have dropped off the directories. Today these lots are parking lots or roads. I assume this is because of the increasing need for parking as the decades have passed. I noticed while recording the types of stores over the years that there were at one point many hardware stores. I would think this is because all the services provided by specialists today were not around, leaving residents with the responsibility of doing all repairs to their property themselves. Multiple antique, consignment, and thrift stores are located in this area today and for a few years. This is just a characteristic of this part of town, known for the artsy feel of things. Some residential spaces were listed, but by no means is this or was this area mostly used for living. I like this part of the city, and enjoyed looking back through time for this assignment.