Things are getting Sketchy

Here is a compilation of a few sketches that my partner and I are conjuring up for our design studio.  We are exploring nature's systems to find a helpful comparison for our mega structure's integration.  


One City Block - A Wooden Toy

One City Block is a building and design opportunity neatly tucked away in a wooden cube.  The toy is designed for two fun experiences: exercising creativity by constructing a city block with various sized wooden pieces, and also completing a 3-dimensional cube puzzle. 

 Fifty-five custom-made wooden blocks fit perfectly within a 5x5 inch finger-joint cube.  The sides of the cube unfold to become the "city" construction grid.  The finger joints and building blocks are each proportional to a half-inch cube, allowing infinite design opportunities.  

The cube's outer walls were created by laser etching a single piece of half-inch thick maple on both sides (not an easy task) then using a custom jig, cutting half-inch finger joints with a dado blade.  The building blocks were made from scrap pieces of other toys in production, allowing for a wide color, weight, and texture variation for the city's architecture.  Some wooden blocks are made of maple, cherry, purple heart, and the richly dense epi wood, each holding a little spirit of other toys.

The hand-made wooden toy was custom designed and built for my older brother and his bride-to-be as a wedding gift. I wanted them to enjoy the same creativity and fun that I have experienced through architectural design.

Now they and their future children can be architects too.  


Let the eraser flow

       Drawing with a pen or pencil implies an idea exists and one is manifesting it on paper.  Subtractive "drawing" is a great technique to create space without having a preconceived idea of the form.  Below are photos of my conceptual subtractive section of my studio project, a center for sleep disorders.  The act of erasing creates a nice after effect on the paper and helps flush out spatial ideas and building circulation.    

Click on the first photo to cycle through them 

“An architect's most useful tools are an eraser at the drafting board, and a wrecking bar at the site.”

- Frank Lloyd Wright


Detail Section

         In studio this week we were asked to produce accurate section details that also convey an idea of the spatial occupation.  The images below show the main corridor to the sleep institution and the occupants sleeping quarters.  These quick sections details were a combination of technical hand drawings, Autocad drawings, and textured images combined in photoshop. 


Naef Toy Competition

Naef is a Swiss Toy making company that specializes in extremely high quality wooden toys.  This year they are hosting a competition to design a high quality wooden toy.  I submitted one entry titled "Disko".  Disko is a fun stacking and snapping toy for all ages.  The column of wooden disks not only acts as a challenging vertical puzzle but can also be assembled in an infinite number of ways.  The proportions of the disk allow them to snap and slide with each other, allowing beautiful and fun creations to form.  Disko was designed to be a challenging vertical puzzle, combining orthogonal and circular shapes to perfectly fit in the palm of one's hand.   Here are photos of my process and final toy prototype.  


   I enjoyed working with my hands and designing something with an air of playfulness. 
Below is the final board submitted to the competition.  

The toy shown above was designed and built by James Catalano.  All rights Reserved.  


Planning your Plans

Below are images I am currently using for my studio project, a small sleep-study center in Alexandria,VA.  The objective was to draw plans and RCPs inverted with each other.  These drawings were drawn with pencil and modified in Photoshop.  The images layered on the drawings help distinguish spaces while giving a hint to the use or feeling of the space.  Playing with the curves then inverting pencil drawings can create a nice background texture.  The white drawings are not true RCPs but convey what the occupant would actually view while lying down and looking up at the ceiling.  These are process plans and serve as a starting point for the building’s programatic layout.  


US Capital - Washington DC

The photo below is a beautiful view of Washington DC during the construction of the US Capital.  A friend sent this to me in an e-mail so I don’t have a date or source for the photo.  Construction of the US Capital started in September of 1793, but this photo appears to show the construction of the new dome, which means this was captured around 1858.    


My portfolio has been recently updated and can be viewed Here.  

Issuu.com is a digital publication site and is great place for posting magazines, books, and portfolios.  

LuLu.com is another great place to publish digital media but here you can print your publications and even make it available for others to purchase!


    For those following my page and are not surrounded by a daily does of design, here is a great site for getting a daily sample of architecture.  
     Arch Daily
    It has multiple new post a day and is a great source of current design around the world.  Here are some other design sites I also visit daily: 
      Daily Tonic
      Archi Lovers
    There are literally hundred out there on the internet but those listed above are up to date and easy to comprehend.  
    Other architectural blogs by students are also a great source of daily tips and tricks.  Alex Hogrefe is a must for blog bookmarks. 



A place for Night Owls - Little Nemo

My new studio project here at the Washington Alexandria Architecture Center is a sleep center for patients suffering from insomnia.   Using drawings from the famous comic story Little Nemo, (a dark, surreal, and violent story about a boy, Nemo, and his vivid dreams), I have constructed a diagrammatic section to help define space and spark some initial concepts.  This specific drawing was conjured from Nemo’s travels in Befuddle Hall.  Here things have a tendency to be distorted, out of scale, and inverted.  This conceptual diagram revolves around the inversion of space in relation to the real and dream world.