About Blinn College
Established in 1883, Blinn College is a two-year academic institution based in Brenham, Texas. With about 20,000 students, Blinn boasts the highest transfer rate in the state of Texas, sending students to institutions such as Texas A&M University, Sam Houston State University, Texas State University, the University of Texas and the University of Houston. The Blinn College District Architecture Program focuses on design as the fundamental element of the architectural discipline and teaches solid fundamentals through design, drawing, history and related courses. Students learn to blend creativity and practicality for increased proficiency in design, engineering, and project management. Courses are designed for a two-year Associate of Arts in architecture that allows students to enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year university to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, Bachelor of Arts History, or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The Blinn College District is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (www.sacscoc.org) to award associate degrees.
ARCH 1308 - Architectural Graphics II - Spring 2019
I had the pleasure of working with some of our most talented students this term. By the end of the course, their AutoCAD, Sketchup and Photoshop skills were well-developed, they each built their own website and created their own business cards!
Students' Mid-term Portfolios
Students' Business Cards
ARCH 1301 - Architectural History I & ARCH 1302 - Architectural History II - Spring 2019
Each of my 70 theory of architecture students, created a research poster or a photo-essay that illustrated the history of a building in historic downtown Bryan. This was in collaboration with Bryan's History Center - Carnegie Library - and help of the lovely oral historian, Ms. Anne Preston. This was a significant learning experience for students who had no previous experience with essay writing, architectural photography, research and presentation.
Blinn College TEDx Event - May 2019 - Play Here!
Iran International TV Interview
On July 17/2019 I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr Sadaegh Saba - the celebrated Iranian journalist and political theorist, and former head of the BBC Persian Television - at the Iran International TV studio in London, where I talked about the differences between the Persian colored glass windows and the medieval European stained glass windows. This conversation was complemented with a visit to Ely Cathedral and its beautiful stained glass museum in Cambridge, England.
We have just started our classes and students began to find themselves a project-partner through speed-dating! This method - initially an ice-breaker invented by our colleague Mr. Guy Wade - does magic! It brings the class to life, people start talking and before you know it, everyone has the perfect partner. Can't wait to see their final projects in less then three months from now!
Architectural History I, II (ARCH 1301/1302) & Introduction to Architecture (ARCH 1311) Final Projects - Fall 2019
In the Fall of 2019, 180 students from seven architecture courses completed a clay-model project in groups of two/three. The students had no previous experience in working with clay and were not provided with training or special equipment. They were required to experiment with polymer-clay and to create either a building/monument or a decorative element of architecture. The outcome of this project included the following structures/elements: gargoyle & grotesque, stained-glass windows, adobe houses, Olmec masques, Rose windows, Igloos, Aztec temples, Chinese Pagodas, Roman elements and monuments, Totem poles, Pyramids, mosques, etc.
I was proud to have been given the opportunity and the space to display some of my photographs from Ely Cathedral in Cambridge, England.
ARCH 1301 - Architectural History I & ARCH 1302 - Architectural History II - Fall 2019
The ever changing interior temperature in our building, necessitated the need to refresh the 'photo-essay project wall' from last semester. We are happy with the new display but we had a hard-time letting go of the beautiful blue backdrop that simply fell off!
A Wall-display for Professor Jeffrey
I proudly created a wall-display for my colleague Professor Jeffrey, whose students drew beautiful perspective drawings for the course of ARCH 1309 or Architectural Design I.
Since beginning the beautification project here at Blinn, we have displayed many of our students' projects on our many - otherwise - bare walls. This has also provided me with the opportunity to display some of my photographs, collected over many years of traveling in Europe.
We are all looking forward to a great semester ahead, and we started it off by participating in Spring 2020 faculty convocation here at Blinn College in Bryan. We were offered more than 15 different workshops and seminars, which we took advantage of as best as time allowed!
Spring 2020 and the Curse of Coronavirus, COVID-19
The highest point of each semester, for me as the instructor, is when students turn-in their architectural models. I can then see how my many hours of instruction - verbally and electronically - have guided the students to create a small but significant artwork. This is not an ordinary project; for many of my students, this is the first time they are completing a group-project, seeing and touching a piece of modeling clay and researching a historical building and learning about a specific architectural element such as gargoyles or Rose windows. Being finally able to see these individual artworks at the end of each semester is something that my colleagues and I are all looking forward to.
This semester, the Coronavirus pandemic signaled a different ending. Following our return from spring-break, and over a period of 7 days, all instructors worked as hard as humanly possible to transition over 2000 face-to-face classes online and to have them ready and running by March 23rd; this required many instructors to learn how to design an operate classes in an online platform (D2L), while assisting students with learning and adapting to the new format, in a very short period of time.
The indefinite closure of the campus also indicated that I will not be receiving the clay-models this semester. Meanwhile, we continue to teach our classes fully online and hope that everyone is well, safe and sound wherever they are.
Architectural History I, II (ARCH 1301/1302) & Introduction to Architecture (ARCH 1311) Final Projects - Spring 2020
In Spring of 2020, 180 students from six architecture courses completed a clay-model project in groups of four. The students had no previous experience in working with clay and were not provided with training or special equipment. They were required to experiment with polymer-clay and to create an architectural model inspired by a real life stained glass window tracery. Despite the fact that - due to the Coronavirus pandemic - I wasn't able to collect the actual models, photographs submitted by the students proved that the outcome of this project - which included an essay based on historical research of the site and the clay model - was a pleasant surprise, as always.
Despite the fact that Spring 2020 was an extraordinary and difficult time for us and the students, some took the time to provide me with feedback, which I will forever appreciate.
June 18: In quarantine and with the ongoing lock-down due to COVID 19, I had the opportunity to attend several great webinars from all over the world this summer. The webinar 'Luftwerk on Mies van der Rohe: Reinterpreting Space Through Light and Color' (June 18/2020) was an interesting and beautiful display of light installations accompanied by artists' input. 'Organized by the Goethe-Institut Chicago in collaboration with the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, Elmhurst Art Museum/McCormick House, Farnsworth House, and MAS Context, Luftwerk - the artistic collaboration of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero - discussed the interventions in buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe that they have done throughout the years. The following images were shared during the webinar:
Barcelona Pavilion, 1929
Farnsworth House, 1951
July 2: Another interesting webinar took place in London on 2nd of July and was given by David McKinstry, who 'works as a freelance urban design and conservation professional within local government. He is completing a DPhil on metropolitan Italianate architecture at the University of Oxford and teaches the history of design at Imperial College London'.
July 14: The Medieval Academy of America put together an interesting discussion panel titled 'Thinking and Teaching Online: Best-Practices and Inspired Learning at a Distance'. The webinar focused on approaches to teaching the Middle Ages for online learning, which I, as a a new online instructor found very helpful.
July 15: This year, the Stained Glass Museum's annual lecture was live online, and the creative director Helen Whittaker gave her lecture as a webinar! 'The Stained Glass Museum in Ely, is the only museum dedicated to stained glass in the UK. Its collections span over 800 years from the medieval period to the present day. The museum holds an annual lecture each year, and this is the first time that this event will be held online, making it open to global audiences'. I had the pleasure of interviewing Helen some years ago and also visited her beautiful studio in lovely and picturesque York, England.
July 21: 'Native Knowledge 360°: Foundations for Teaching and Learning about Native Americans' was the tiled of a fascinating webinar/workshop organized by the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, which I, as a a lecturer in Native American architecture enjoyed tremendously.
August 2020: This semester is like nothing I've ever experienced before. All I can say is that I'm grateful to my smart and bright students, who chose not to come in and decided to participate in classes via Zoom.