The Sky Dome

This week we learned how to apply a vertical sun path diagram to the  panoramic picture of a potential site.  I’ve seen, but never used a sun path diagram before.  It appeared to be a pretty standard diagram using a graph with coordinate values and a curved line corresponding to specific coordinates.  On a second look, I actually had no idea how I was going to incorporate it into a panorama picture.  Luckily, Professor Sherman included a diagram showing the method for creating a sun path diagram.  This was critical to my understanding and therefore, application of the sun path diagram.

I think the translation of projecting points on a dome orthogonally onto a two dimensional plane is fascinating.  It’s really an ingenious method of mapping the sun’s path through a three dimensional space.  What I thought was a confusing diagram, was revealed to be an almost literal representation.

Anyways, the reason why I am bringing up the sky dome (besides it simply being fascinating) is because it sparked a connection to the project I am working on in my CAD class.  For this project I am analyzing the geometries, particularly transformations of symmetry, incorporated into the Pantheon.

Thinking about the Pantheon this afternoon I imagined myself standing under the dome wondering where the sun was in the sky.  This spurred my imagination.  If I had x-ray vision I could mark a point on the dome where the sun was.  Over the course of the day, marking the suns movements on the inside of the dome with my x-ray vision might yield a sun path diagram.  Could the Pantheon’s dome work like the sky dome used to create sun path diagrams?

Furthermore, I fell upon a post by re-posting a previous post because of a resent NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day.

In the original post was an interview with Walter Murch.  He “superimposed Copernicus’s drawing [of the planetary orbits] over an image of the Pantheon’s dome – and found that the ratios of the circles in his drawing and the ratios of the circles of the Pantheon line up almost exactly.”

While Murch was interested with the alignment of the dome’s concentric rings to the planetary orbits, I saw another possible connection between the Pantheon’s dome and the sky dome.  The concentric rings resemble the altitude lines.  In addition, the radially expanding coffers resemble azimuth lines.  Was the Pantheon’s designed to be a map of the planetary orbits, or the sky dome of a vertical sun path diagram, or both?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

South Terrace

What times of year and times of day make up the primary solar window?

The primary solar window for the South Terrace is in the summer from approximately 7 am to 6 pm for a total of 11 hours.  Although the sun rises around 6 am, W.G.’s East Addition blocks sunlight to the terrace until 7 am.  The site receives such a large amount of sunlight hours because for the most part the topography and buildings to the south are at the same altitude as the terrace and a-school.

During the winter, the solar window is reduced to approximately 6 hours from 9 am until 3 pm.  The sun rises above the Art Museum which is level with the surrounding tree canopy.  During midday the sun passes behind a large tree for an hour until it continues its descent into the tree canopy.

How might you respond to this as an architect with respect to the siting and orientation of your meeting place?

The South Terrace is highly exposed, sitting at a topographic peak and receiving consistent sunlight throughout the day due a lack of obstructive buildings or trees to the south.

As a result, the site has very favorable conditions for outdoor occupation.  It’s topographic altitude causes the water to drain away from the site and encourages air circulation.  In addition, the solar conditions promote a dry, well lit space.

With these site conditions in mind the South Terrace has been designed for outdoor gatherings, viewing the landscape, and garden meanders.  On a daily basis the South Terrace is used by individuals and groups from the lower “outdoor classroom” to the upper plateau.

Although the middle courtyard can receive a harsh amount of sunlight in comparison to the lower classroom or upper plateau, which are shaded by penetration into the ground and an allele of trees, respectively, it is a desirable space because it is often used by students for photographing models without obstruction.  In general, the design of the South Terrace successfully addresses the solar conditions of the site.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

dishes in the sink//to be revisited as “space” in the sink

I live in a house with five other “college guys”.  We were friends before moving into a house together, but we’ve never set up firm ground rules, cleaning schedules, or tasks assigned to individual people.  Consequently, the condition of the house is usually fluctuating, being cleaned or getting messy, and sometimes settling at temporary equilibrium’s.

The most prominent measure of house condition is the cleanliness of the kitchen.  The dishes in the sink and on the counter-top, garbage in the trashcan, and cans in the recycling bin are the stocks of systems.

This is the most simplified system diagram of the dishes in the kitchen sink.  The flows consist of dish usage from cooking, and dish cleaning.  Dish usage is the inflow, and dish cleaning is the outflow.  The rate of both flows are affected inversely by the amount of dishes in the sink.  At the two equilibrium’s, no dishes in the sink and all dishes in the sink, the flows are maximized and minimized, respectively.   When there are no dishes in the sink, house residents have incentive to utilize the kitchen for cooking but their messes are also more isolated and therefore likely to be cleaned up.  On the other hand, if all the dishes are in the sink then residents are inclined not to use the kitchen and new dishes are not washed because the sink is too difficult to use when full.

I believe the posted diagram depicts the system at equilibrium’s, however once the system is pushed out of equilibrium I think the diagram changes.  Once the sink begins to accumulate dishes personal responsibility and dish cleaning decreases, creating a reinforcing feedback loop (like the overuse of a resource) resulting in an equilibrium point at all all dishes in the sink (no profit = no use).  Eventually the inability of residents to utilize the kitchen (like a market resource)  stimulates a “cleaning movement” (comparable to a resource regeneration rate) moving the stock level back to the minimum equilibrium.

Looking back on the initial diagram I drew, I think that I oversimplified the system.  In reality, the system acts much more like the market resource systems described in the “Two-Stock Systems” Meadows reading.  Thinking of “space in the kitchen sink” as a resource, similar behaviors become apparent.  There is a renewable resource that can be indefinitely used and replenished.  The system can experience a reinforcing feedback loop that depletes the resource.  And the over-use of the resource to depletion decreases the rate of resource consumption, allowing for some sort of resource regeneration behavior.  At times the resource, sink space, can be brought to such a low level that no regeneration occurs (nobody is willing to clean the whole kitchen).

I intend to revisit this system looking at “space in the kitchen sink” as the resource stock.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I found the building thermostat system example in the reading to be really interesting.   The dynamic relationship between the temperature control and building heat loss was a compelling example of a complex system.  In contrast to a system in which the temperature changes at a constant rate, the rate of heat loss in the building was dependent on the difference between indoor and outdoor temperature which then affected the ability of the system to control temperature effectively. This system was particularly interesting because it was unclear what would happen when the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures was an extreme.

In addition, I really like the contrast between the inflow, temperature control, which was a balancing feedback loop, and the outflow, heat loss, which was a linear flow.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hello world!

Welcome to After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can always preview any post or edit it before you share it to the world.
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment