Sunday, January 12, 2014

The final blogger post - site is moving, update your links and rss feeds!

For those of you who typically get to this blog site from a bookmark or rss feed we have moved our blog to another service in order for it to flow more "smoothly" with the overall TOIstudio website.

You can find the page here: TOIstudio/blog

We will be working hard to finish the migration to the new website and make it look clean and easy to navigate so please bear with me a bit while we work the kinks out.

Thanks and see you on the other side!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

W2S 2015 Call for Artists deadline approaching - Jan. 12th, 2014

Please join The Sculpture Center's mailing list on the home page at the Free Stamp to receive news of future calls.

The Sculpture Center is seeking applicants for its 2015 WINDOW TO SCULPTURE EMERGING ARTIST SERIES with an open Call for Artists. Through the W2S Series, begun in 1991, The Sculpture Center fosters and promotes the careers of exceptional sculptors during the first ten years of their profession. Sculpture, installation and expanded media artists are chosen annually for one-person exhibitions in either the Main or Euclid Avenue Gallery with a full color brochure.
Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania (the western half of the state), western New York (Rochester and west) and Ontario, Canada
The sculpture, installation or expanded media artist must have a connection to the region by birth, residency or schooling, but does not need to be currently residing in the region. By the application deadline (January 12, 2014), the sculptor must have completed his/her schooling, apprenticeship or period of equivalent self-taught experience and be no more than ten years into h/her career. Submitted images should be of sculpture, installation or other expanded media that indicates current work and may include a specific proposal for the W2S exhibition. The W2S artworks or installations may not have been previously exhibited in northeastern Ohio. The creation of a new or further developed body of work for the W2S series is encouraged and preferable.
THE APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS: Click here. Note application fee of $35.
THE DEADLINE: Sunday, January 12, 2014 @ midnight - notification by mid-February
Email or call Ann Albano at 216.229.6527. Artists are welcomed to visit The Sculpture Center before applying.

2012 W2S artist Sarah Paul's installation, Little Miss Cleveland and the Flaming Sunset

Through an occasional open call for artists, The Sculpture Center invites sculpture, installation and expanded media artists from our region (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, western New York and Ontario, Canada) to submit work for a juried exhibition of smaller sculpture. The next iteration of After the Pedestal has not been scheduled.
Past curators for After the Pedestal have been Second Generation Ab Ex sculptor Richard Hunt (2005), designer and artist Viktor Schrekengost (2006), sculptor and urban activist Don Harvey (2007), painter and Chair of the Visual Arts Division, Columbia University, New York, Gregory Amenoff (2008), the Cleveland Museum of Art's Curator of Contemporary Art Paola Morsiani (2009), Executive Director of Carnegie Mellon University's Miller Gallery Astria Suparak (2010), and Judd Foundation (New York and Texas) Executive Director Barbara Hunt McClanahan (2011). Images from past exhibitions can be found in the Exhibition section of our website.

Friday, November 22, 2013

TOIstudio becomes a company

In the past month or so I have taken steps to launch TOIstudio as an Architecture, Planning, Design Research and Fabrication Firm. Hitting up the social media campaign (facebook, google+, etc.) is all new world for me. The many hats of trying to start up an Architecture office means wearing many hats, sometimes simultaneously and I am not entirely sure my skull is the proper shape for that. I admit, I have been really lucky in that I have had the privilege of working under some very strong mentors and with some extremely talented people.

The reasoning for the schism of trying to run my own shop it not a reflection upon the firms I have worked with or for but rather my desire to pursue a different sort of client or project than typically offered at these more traditional firms. I have to admit, I also miss the collaborative studio environment that I trained for Architecture in and believe that the model could be applied to the professional sphere.

With that in mind TOIstudio (the name reflects an appreciation of the surrealist movement made most palpable by Rene Margritte's painting "The Treachery of Images") has hung out the shingle so to speak and I will be documenting and sharing what is occurring in a multitude of ways.

First off, the blog will become a place for longer and hopefully more thoughtful diatribes upon the running of a business, architecture or design in general. There will be some project postmortem's, a bit of discussion of what is going on in the office or the shop and general responses to design culture as a whole.

The TOIstudio facebook page will be for taken quick snapshots of projects and process and will work as fodder for more cogent posting here. It is easy to post to and add a quick photo with caption so I will use it for it strengths. More importantly as a social media engine it allows me to share who I am also collaborating with very quickly. I am working under the assumption of "a rising tide lifts all boats" mentality. I work with enough hardworking and creative people that I feel that sharing accolades and exposure is a good for them as well as myself.

So I appreciate you taking the time to read this and join me on this journey. Here's to seeing how it pans out.

For those of you wondering what sort of projects TOIstudio works on, I enjoy practically any sort of project in which the client has a vested interest and is willing to take part in the design process. It is a lot of work, but I prefer jobs when everyone has some skin (meant in this definition as effort) in the project. That way success is more personal and we can move past the egos and personal opinions a bit quicker and figure out what the real problem is that we are trying to solve. Again, more on that eventually as well.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

COLDscapes written up in Cleveland Magazine

There was a brief yet very nice write up about the COLDscapes project and installation in a recent pressing of Cleveland Magazine where I have a really stupid line at the end. Oh well, any press is good press I suppose.

Cold Comforts (the article) via Cleveland Magazine.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cleveland Artist Spotlight

Super nice write up about my artistic endeavors, if such actions could be called such things, via Creative Compass (supported by the Community Patnership for Arts and Culture). I would like to thank them (Creative Workforce) a ton more and I don't properly know how to do so. The work they do has really been extremely helpful to myself. For once in my life I feel more in control and more in step with what I want to accomplish as an architect, as a researcher and as a designer than I ever did working in any of the firms I had spent time in previously (not that they were bad places, but I rarely got the opportunity to spend efforts on worthwhile endeavors).

Believe it or not, I truly understand how lucky I am to be able to spend my time doing things that I find worthy of expending my time upon and how fantastically lucky I am to be given these opportunities, working with the people I am working with, doing/making the things I am doing/making and being a part of a city that I truly love. It is all hearts and stars from here on out (to some extent).

I wish I could tell folks it was all hard work or what not, but really, it was the determination and vision of people with more tenacity than myself who make the opportunity for me doing what I want/need to to do possible. I want to thank the folks at Cuyahoga Arts & Culture for this chance to do something so much bigger than myself, whether working with people who couldn't really afford an architect/builder or just giving me a chance to donate my time and vision to a community, I thank you.

And so begins the first year with TOIstudio as a "for profit" organization. With my first client being a property owner that needs an architect who is willing to help tear off a roof, in a community that needs a bit of help forming an identity in a city that wants to come back swingin'. Nothing would make me happier than being an underdog in a leaky/cold studio to someone who makes it actually work. It has been a long time since purpose has truly fired this heart up, I can't wait to tackle the next obstacle that wants to bring me down.

Picking up a new mallet on the morrow. A bigger hammer usually gets the job done.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

COLDscapes Exhibit Opening & Book Release - 2013.11.15

So while we have been organizing the shop/gearing up for assembly of the COLDscapes pavilion (and trying to make the shop leak less in this incredible wet fall/winter transition) the good folks at the CUDC have been busy putting together the Opening Reception and it is now official.

COLDscapes Opening Reception
Nov. 15, 2013

Where you can see the winners of the 2013 COLDscapes Competition and get your very own copy of the new Urban Infill book.

See you folks there!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

COLDscapes underway

Yesterday the first shipment of materials for the COLDscapes installation arrived at the shop from the mill.

We are gearing up for the installation. Pasquale and Derek from the CUDC dropped by to check out the newly arrived parts.

Date of the opening reception is November 15th, 2013 in Star Plaza. Keep the date open.

Monday, October 07, 2013

I'm not a huge fan of demolition work...

There, I've said it. Maybe I don't like the "clutter" and the way that things constantly end up getting stacked right in the way of where you will probably want to move the scaffolding next and all that, maybe it is because when you are up on a roof you KNOW the decking below is soft you start thinking how it isn't really the 14' fall that is going to hurt, it is going to be when you land on the pile of debris (probably mostly broken nails below) that is what will potentially bring the pain. It is definitely easier when you are with a capable crew.

It is even better when you are with the building owner.

Spent yesterday with a client doing quite a bit of exploratory demolition of a very large building he is taking over. This meant we were mostly concerned with roof issues and buttoning up the building nice and tight to make it through the fast arriving winter. Like any good problem solvers we immediately attacked the worst portion which is slated for patching this week, but I learned quite a bit.

1) I never bring enough water.
2) Working with an owner and walking them through not only the issues of the building but also re-prioritizing the project as a whole to align with the clients overall needs is key.
3) Having a client who is vested in their building and community can be ridiculously rewarding. Not only because they understand the long term value of doing things correctly but when they get their own hands dirty and start peeling away 50 years of band aids they understand exactly why the patch it and forget it technique doesn't work. Besides having some leak issues we are now potentially facing some structural issues due to water infiltration at the parapets. However, this particular client isn't flinching at the numbers, he is more concerned about getting it fixed the right way to the building can be activated and contribute to the community instead of being a foreboding dark monster holding court at the entry to the neighborhood.
4) Flat roofs without a maintenance plan in place are the worst ideas in the world. Flat roofs look nice, they create buildings with nice profiles and allow the maximum occupied height to be attained within a zoning envelope but if you don't have someone regularly checking your flashing at the parapets, roof penetrations (because you have them) and general condition (due to Man's natural enemy, the Sun) you are going to have problems. If you let these problems "go" you are in for a world of hurt as flat roofs generally allow leaks to migrated horizontally through the decking/sub structure as water finds the easiest path down, sometimes right through your walls. And that's when your lintels start to go.
5) It is really easy to feel overwhelmed. The trick is small manageable goals. If that means throwing a clean out party to de-clutter a space, then lets order some cheap pizza, get a dumpster and glove up. Afterwards we can pop a cold one, sit in the newly cleaned space and go, "Yup, we got this handled" as we brainstorm on the best way to use a newly reclaimed giant chunk of building.

Regardless, a new client is on the boards. A very large commercial building, probably going to be on the radar for the next 10 years as we tackle bit by bit and actually will probably continually pull my back on this guy for a while as we clean it out and fix it up. Which is great, because if I had to deal with this building as a project in the space of a year (design to Construction Documents) I wouldn't be able to do it properly. The building sits in what I consider, a very prominent location, in a cute little inner-ring suburb with some great neighbors and harbors some fantastic potential, if only because the owner sees the value in the dang thing.

Plus we can see the Cleveland skyline from the roof, framed fantastically by the surrounding buildings and trees.

I'm excited. Sore as heck today, but excited.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Hang on, website is going through some cha cha cha cha cha changes.

We are currently undergoing some big changes including an attempt to update the clunky website we have been using for a while. Reasons are varied, mostly because we are undergoing a rebranding effort as TOIstudio has entered the professional Architecture foray.

So buckle up. We will be trying a whole new mess of options with the new site so things will be popping up and being taken down and I am sure a ton of links will be broken so please hang tight.

We are working towards cleaner, simpler and more engaging. Lots of buzzwords there that will require some iterations to get right.

Designers are their own worst clients, I am sure.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

TOIstudio gearing up for fabrication of COLDstudio Snowball Pavilion for 2013 Winter deployment

Lots of things have been happening at the ol' TOIstudio homestead translating to the recent all quiet on the social media front.

The Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative has hired TOIstudio as design/fabrication consultant for the installation of the COLDstudio Competition Display Pavilion (We have been calling it COLDscapes). What began as graduate studio project has evolved into an actual physical and deployable structure.

The intent of the COLD Competition was to explore ideas to improve "livability" in cold weather cities. Ideas from protective structures to events and techniques to activate public space were explored resulting in over 80 international entries, and 3 selected winners.  The COLDstudio graduate program (of which I was an invited juror) explored creating temporary display pavilions that would illustrate cold weather living. The idea is to promote active urbanism even in inclement weather.

The selected pavilion design to display the selected competition entries is based on the design by KSU CUDC graduate student's Pasquale Esposito and Timothy Larke's "Snowball Pavilion" for the COLDstudio semester project.

The CUDC team, headed by David Jurca with graduate students Pasquale Esposito and Derek Behm, in collaboration with TOIstudio are currently finessing the design to be installed for 29 days starting November 15th, 2013 in Star Plaza (1302 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH). The updated design remains honest to the original intent and thoughts of the team's initial proposal with some minor tweaking to increase success of functionality, constructability and deployment.

The new pavilion is being modeled in Rhino by the students and will be fabricated from CNC milled plywood mechanically fastened together for create the pavilion shell and is being studied via drawing and 3d modeling (because it is a design project). We hope to be pre-assembling the structure in the new (and undergoing renovation) Shop that TOIstudio will be moving fabrication into (more on that whole project/process later).

Assembled test model - lets us sort out which connections we still need to figure out
TOIstudio's role so far has been limited to lightly finessing the design in response to the site/use (the student team is doing all the heavy lifting) and sorting out construction issues/details in preparation for creating mill cutsheets and assembly/fabrication. We hope to preassemble the structure into "components" (you can call them "chunks") which will be delivered to the site for final assembly, almost like a large puzzle with van sized portions already figured out with the end goal of deploying the entire pavilion on site in one day. Currently we have the pavilion designed to be assembled into 12 components (which should easily fit in a van or on a trailer) and optimism remains high.  Best case scenario is that it will snow the day after the pavilion goes up.

More news on this project as it continues. So far it has been a blast and I am really excited with the process and cannot wait to start putting the full sized structure together.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Roadtrip! - Taubman College Fall '13 Lecture Series

Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Fall 2013 Lecture Series

Lecture Series

All lectures are free and open to the public, unless noted. All lectures will be held in the Art + Architecture Auditorium, 6:00 PM unless otherwise noted.
Recordings of past lectures are published to Vimeo. Prior to Fall 2010, lectures are available via iTunes U, which are being relocated to Vimeo. Videos are posted usually within two weeks from the date of the lecture.
September 27
Michele Oka Doner
October 4
Karen Fairbanks
Founding Partner, Marble Fairbanks
2013 Distinguished Alumna
October 10
Mohamed El-Sioufi
Coordinator, Housing and Slum Upgrading Branch; Coordinator, Global Housing Strategy, UN-HABITAT
October 18
Lane Kendig
Kendig Keast Collaborative
October 18
6 pm
Marshall Brown
Marshall Brown Projects, Inc.
"The Speculative City"
October 25
Regina Myer
President, Brooklyn Bridge Park
October 25
6 pm
Sarah Dunn
November 1
Julie Snow
Julie Snow Architects, Inc.
November 4
Georgeen Theodore
Interboro Partners, Inc.
November 5
Michael Dear
University of California, Berkeley
November 15
Shohei Shigematsu
November 22
Fernando Romero
Fernando Romero Enterprise
For more on these events, visit

Event Supporters

Benard L. Maas Foundation, Guido A. Binda Lecture and Exhibition Fund, John Dinkeloo Memorial Lecture Fund, Raoul Wallenberg Lecture Fund, Frances and Gilbert P. Schafer Visiting Professionals Fund, J. Robert Swanson Fund, Taubman College Enrichment Fund, Taubman College Lecture Fund

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Roadtrip! - Knowlton School of Architecture Fall '13 Lecture Series

 Knowlton School of Architecture Fall 2013 Lecture Series has been posted.


September 4
Ken Smith / WORKSHOP (Ken Smith Landscape Architect):
Larger Landscapes

September 11
Tridib Banerjee  / University of Southern California, Price School of Public Policy:
Public Space, Urban Commons, and Urban Design: A Comparative Perspective
September 18
Peter Trummer / University of Innsbruck

September 25
Steven Holl / Steven Holl Architects


October 2
Doug Graf / Knowlton School

October 9
Laura Kurgan / Columbia University, Spatial Information Design Lab

October 16
Sylvia Lavin / University of California, Los Angeles

October 30
Mark Lee / Johnston Marklee


November 6
Daniel Libeskind / Studio Daniel Libeskind

November 8
Mosé Ricci / Ricci Spaini Architetti Associati SrL, Rome:
Situating Food Symposium Keynote

November 13
Sebastian Schmaling / Johnsen Schmaling Architects:
AIA-Columbus Design Awards

Friday, August 23, 2013

"Priorities for Street Design" aka "60 years of Misguided Intent"

From the window in the TOIstudio office there is an intersection in Lakewood, Ohio on Detroit Ave. that ODOT required the removal of a traffic light. The intersection in question connects two aged residential towers to bus stops and the local full service grocery store. It also connects a Northern portion of the neighborhood to the local public high school (the only one) as well as marks an end of what is considered the Downtown Business District (as noticeable by adjacent wayfinding). The removal of the traffic light means that there is over 1/3 a mile between signaled cross walks which, in such proximity to assisted care living, can be quite a distance and burden. To counter the loss of pedestrian crossing signals the city installed flashing lights on adjacent telephone poles and a metal "break-away" sign in the middle of the street informing automotive drivers of the law (that they probably should be aware of in the first place) that they must yield to pedestrians crossing the street. Throughout the day I get to watch drivers ignore their responsibilities in operating their motorized vehicles almost plowing over children, the elderly and other law-abiding citizens. It is summed up quite nicely in a video report.

In 2010 I worked with the CUDC (a local non-profit planning organization) on a public charrette entitled "Connecting Downtown Cleveland - Beyond the Burnham Plan (here is the pdf report) that studied quite a few of the questions being raised by the planning on impending construction of the new Cleveland Convention Center. My group concentrated on Public Square and connection Tower City to the Mall. Our design, based up a sinkhole created in Public Square which shut down the interior intersection for a couple month some years prior, leaving the perimeter open to traffic, reflected on how grand Public Square felt and the ease to traverse it when the main intersection at Ontario St. and Superior Avenue were removed. Despite opinion that this was impossible it now seems that the city of Cleveland is on the verge of implementing complete streets plans and using a redesign of Public Square as the linchpin. During a presentation I was trying to explain the following article to public member with the familiarity of dealing with an unnamed municipal planning organization. After the presentation I began the long look for the following article and here it is, after 3 years or so of non-deliberate looking:

A while back I stumbled up a blog post by former municipal civil engineer tasked with infrastructure planning and design (roads, sewer pipe, water pipe, stormwater) and who states that "A fair percentage of my time was spent convincing people that, when it came to their road, I knew more than they did.".

This was not only due to this fellows education and position, but most importantly, his job consisted of following sets of established standards;

"In the engineering profession's version of defensive medicine, we can't recommend standards that are not in the manual. We can't use logic to vary from a standard that gives us 60 mph design speeds on roads with intersections every 200 feet. We can't question why two cars would need to travel at high speed in opposite directions on a city block, let alone why we would want them to. We can yield to public pressure and post a speed limit -- itself a hazard -- but we can't recommend a road section that is not in the highway manual. 
When the public and politicians tell engineers that their top priorities are safety and then cost, the engineer's brain hears something completely different. The engineer hears, "Once you set a design speed and handle the projected volume of traffic, safety is the top priority. Do what it takes to make the road safe, but do it as cheaply as you can." This is why engineers return projects with asinine "safety" features, like pedestrian bridges and tunnels that nobody will ever use, and costs that are astronomical. 
An engineer designing a street or road prioritizes the world in this way, no matter how they are instructed: 
  1. Traffic speed
  2. Traffic volume
  3. Safety
  4. Cost
The rest of the world generally would prioritize things differently, as follows: 
  1. Safety
  2. Cost
  3. Traffic volume
  4. Traffic speed
In other words, the engineer first assumes that all traffic must travel at speed. Given that speed, all roads and streets are then designed to handle a projected volume. Once those parameters are set, only then does an engineer look at mitigating for safety and, finally, how to reduce the overall cost (which at that point is nearly always ridiculously expensive)."
And while this reliance on extremely old standards are no longer accepted practice the problem remains that those in charge of municipal departments most likely studied under the old model and are therefore more apt to reinforce these outdated and disproven techniques that recent (early 90's) ACSE and APA guidelines have attempted to confront. 

In no way am I suggesting that street design is easy. There are a lot of complex issues that affect adjacent property owners, users and safety personnel, many with inherent contradictory needs. It becomes a question of balance and context, but most importantly it becomes an issue of having the ability to confront the status quo when it is quite obvious that accepted guidelines do not serve the community they are supposed to (I am allowing for the use of highways where appropriate, slicing through neighborhoods not being one of them). 

Another link to the referenced blog post:
Strong Towns "Confessions of a Recovering Engineer"

Which I rediscovered through this article:
Atlantic Cities "What Happens When a Town Puts People Before Cars"

Monday, August 19, 2013

Getting There

It is all about the process.

I was wandering through this blog a while back and realized that despite my very first post this thing has become primarily my day planner. Not for all the amazing events I go to and am a big deal at, but really for just the interesting things happening around town that I figured would be fun to go to if you were an art/environmental/design/food/beer nerd (eg me). Also, this thing got way less personal, albeit with brief moments of deeply personal bits and pieces left out there for really no reason.

I tried the whole "online community of rabble rousers" bit and found that mostly discouraging. Betwixt the undercurrents of racism/sexism/classism that is evident when every other statement is "I'm not _(biased)_ some of my best friends are _(some sort of distinguishable other group)_" or just blatant stupid/ignorant hatred (see most of the comments on, if you dare) one can get pretty fed up with the armchair quarterbacks bitching about their world view being threatened by people actually doing things. And the internet is great for that. For people who want to just sit back and bitch about things not going their way. You really don't need much, some vitriol, an internet connection and some way to transcribe your insanity into text and/or photographs. There is the path of least resistance and I dub thee "the internet".


So I am taking back this blog a big. No more daily planner for me (although I will probably mention some things coming up it should not be the bulk of the postings), not that anyone reads this, I think most of my traffic comes from Russian porn mirror sites or something stupid like that. Luckily I have reached a point in my life where taking back my voice is easy. I used to be slightly concerned with what the bosses or "powers that be" would think of my little windmill tilting. The Breuer Tower thing didn't exactly go over well at the old place, not that it was mentioned to my face, just conversations in passing. Can't bite the hand that feeds you, I guess, even if you are being fed poisoned oats (or at least the old moldy bits no one else wants).

Happily the new place of employ is giving me the power to be myself. Not that it is free reign to go out and say malicious and stupid things, but I suppose they sort of understand that the crazy guy in the corner is going to vent somewhere and you may as well let him attempt to curate it into some sort of solidified and slightly comprehensive statement of values instead of thinking he just has tourettes. So the office is giving me a day off a week (sans pay, which is fine as I keep my medical) to work on projects I deem interesting. They are mostly art installations or research or maybe even some sort of architecture/planning things that may turn into big enough projects to shepherd back into the office.

You may ask "Why? Why would anyone put up with your shit, Dru? Why would anyone let you work on side projects when you could be cranking away in the office full time, making your magic equate bonus billable hours galore?" 

"Because I am that awesome." would be my reply. Although what it really means is that some architecture firms find value in staff working on research/exploratory projects on the side and have found the perfect chance to exploit my personal ambition as a marketing tool with the low, low price of me just not being in the office one day a week.

So I get a 3 day weekend to work on things and the office gets me for 4 days relatively undistracted.


What this means is that my weekends should be pretty packed of me accomplishing great things. Which it isn't. I admit this weekend in particular I sat on my buttocks playing SimCity (sucks) watching some Rhino tutorial videos, sketching some quick connection details and fretting about my weight instead of actually doing much. I have also become completely freaked by the laser cutter sitting in my home office hoping to be assembled and have a home found for it. It takes up my whole side table and makes the office feel half as big.

I'm freaking out on the inside.

Regardless, things are looking up.
I have a laser cutter. Half the battle right there in making awesome stuff. Also the Creative Workforce Fellowship has given me some street cred maybe and oh yeah...

I passed my final ARE exam, meaning I am a full growed up architect. Check it.

I, Dru (andrew) McKeown, am an Architect (in the great state of Ohio)

The above could not legally have been stated aloud before. Not allowed to be aloud. Now, perfectly legal. I have stamps and bidness cards and all the accoutrement thereof. Not an intern, etc, an actual Architect. Huzzah.

So, I'm taking back the street. More inane ramblings to come.