‘Food Miles’ by MAKE Collaboration

November 6th, 2011 : : : : Tag Words: ,

MAKE Collaboration have focused their banner on the topic of local ‘food miles’ – a term becoming more and more common in conversation, referring to the distance food travels from production to consumer. Given the two banner topics: Lands Use, Food, Agriculture, and Transport(ation), this is an appropriate and poignant merging of them both. They began by asking the question: What is Omaha’s role in global, domestic and local transportation of goods, and more specifically food? Their findings were shocking, yet not surprising: goods that are part of a local movement are transported an average of 56 food miles before they reach their consumer while goods that are not, travel 1,494 food miles (96 percent farther than the former, 4 percent of the latter) (Cited via Checking the food odometer).

In order to depict this phenomenon, MAKE utilizes a slice of Omaha from the 2005 Nebraska Land Use Map analysis, represented by circles, as the graphical backbone of their banner image.  Only four percent of the circles are highlighted in color to graphically display this outrageous comparison. Simple and direct, this image is both stunningly beautiful and appropriately concerning about our local food system. In addition to addressing ‘food miles’, MAKE also sets an example of ‘bag miles’ with their image. Designed within the banner are tote bag cut-lines to guide the reuse of the banner for local bags. These bags will eventually make a statement by traveling 56 or less ‘bag miles’ to transport their goods.

MAKE Collaboration works with a philosophy of bringing to fruition the moments of insight that cause the mind to begin to tick. One of their operating priorities is to always function as a whole; “We are not a firm, we are a collaboration.” This sets up an opportunity to break the conventional hierarchy commonly associated with design agendas. Their approach to this Stored Potential submission is an example of how utilizing diverse data sets leads to a new understanding of the situation at hand. There is always another way to look at the problem. MAKE has made a splash on Kickstarter these past few weeks nearing their goal with only 14 days to go. Check out their PROP product design (and banner submission on the wall in the background) here.

Team:  Erin Brouillette [architect-in-training, Encompass Architects, P.C.], Justin Brouillette [UNL M.Arch thesis student], Nicholas Pajerski [Princeton University M.Arch student]


‘A Friendly Reminder’ by Ashley Byars and Bill DeRoin

October 8th, 2011 : : : : Tag Words: ,

‘A Friendly Reminder’ by architectural designers Ashley Byars and Bill DeRoin seeks to graphically illustrate the gasoline consumption of an average daily Omaha commute. The purpose of the banner is not to incite or inflame, but to make visible something not typical seen. As suggested by the common phase “A picture is worth 1000 words”, seeing a statistic graphically can be more profound then reading it. Bill and Ashley hope the illustration encourages discussion about fuel consumption, commuting, and transportation in Omaha.

The idea for the banner began with the site itself. Rather than treating the grain elevator as merely a gallery wall, Bill and Ashley wanted the physical characteristics to inform their idea. The iconic structures have long served the important role of storage, and given the topic Transport(ation), Bill and Ashley began to wonder how the structure might once again embody energy storage, and even perhaps connect the contemporary use of corn as the fuel powering much of our transportation. These observations led Bill and Ashley to ask the question: “How much of a silo would be filled with all the gas used in Omaha’s typical daily commute?”

The quickest place to start was determining the volume capacity of a single grain elevator. For the sake of simplicity, the silos were perceived as perfectly hollow cylinders with thin exterior walls and an average dimension of 12.5’ radius and 101’ height. With these dimensions the volume (V=[pi]R^2 x H) was calculated to be 49,553 cubic feet.

The next (and more difficult) calculation to find was a quantifiable value for how much gasoline Omaha commuters use on a daily basis.  Employing various methods including online resources and actually driving typical commute routes, the following criteria was determined:

No. of Omaha Passenger Vehicle Commuters             =            273,936 (1)

Average Passenger Vehicle Fuel Efficiency              =             21 mpg (2)

Average Omaha Commuting Time                        =            17.3 Minutes (3)

Average Omaha Commuting Distance                        =            13.3 miles

273,936 commuters x 13.3miles / 21 mpg and reached the value of 172,188 gallons, or 23,018 cubic feet.  This volume was placed into the elevator volume capacity, and resulted in a final value of the daily gasoline consumption equaling roughly 46.5% capacity of a typical silo.

To graphically represent these findings as a 20’ x 80’ banner, tick marks were established on the vertical edge of graphic, much like the respective markings on a car’s fuel gauge. Since the banners only cover the top 80’ of the 100’ structure, the bottom tick mark actually represents 1/5 full. Likewise, the fill level of the liquid being shown on the image, though it is in the bottom third of the 80’ banner, will actually represent much more closely to 46.5% full level on the actual site. Other elements include a silhouetted Omaha skyline, providing a visual reference to the subject city. The gas pump nozzle clearly illustrates gasoline but hopefully leaves some mystery,  inspiring further investigation by the 76,000/day passerby-by viewers. Since the statistics used include neither commercial vehicles, nor out-of-town daily commuters, the amount represented is likely underestimated, but nonetheless offers commuters a new perspective of resource consumption.

Ashley Byars is an architectural designer at Min|Day Architects and 2010 graduate from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln with a Masters of Architecture degree.  Co-designer, and husband, Bill DeRoin, works for HDR Architecture in Omaha, and also earned a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 2007.


(1)  – http://www.city-data.com/city/Omaha-Nebraska.html

(2)  – 19th Ed. “Transportation Energy Data Book,” by the U.S. Department of Energy

(3)  – 2005 US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey


‘This Blows’ by Henry (Hank) Novak

September 25th, 2011 : : : : Tag Words: ,

After last years truly gorgeous crayon drawing of tomatoes, by then 10-year old grain elevator neighbor Tinca Joyner, we received a greater number of submissions from younger entrants this year.  And like Tinca’s ‘Tomatoes’, one of these submissions blew the jury away both in visual and conceptual content, truly expressing imagination on the topic Transport(ation).  ‘This Blows’ by 12-year old Omaha native Hank Novak is a simple pen drawing of a dandelion on a vibrant yellow background. Cropped perfectly to interact with the gap in the silos, thus sending the seeds blowing into the Omaha horizon, the image was furthermore a strong jury selection because of Hanks explanatory poem about the innovative movement of dandelion seeds:


Dandelion seeds
Flying everywhere,
Helicopters and airplanes
Racing in the air.

I see car commercials
Almost all the time,
Their MPG’s are a revolution
But sometimes I wonder what
Transportation would be like
If we did not have evolution.

Henry Alois Novak is an artist living and working in Omaha, Nebraska. His chosen medium is a black pen and a blank piece of paper.  Hank has created and drawn many characters, most notably Chap Clapper, Cube Cat,  Octo-Pig, Cock-a-Doodle-Doofus, and The Bean Series.  Hank is a 6th grader and is currently working on unlocking the third galaxy in the seventh world of Super Mario Galaxy Two. Hanks parents, Nancy and Paul Novak, are now regretting a dollar for dollar match they have promised Hank and his twin brother for anything they earn on their own, encouraging them to be entrepreneurial.  It seems Hank’s artist stipend will be going much farther than the other artists.


‘Omaha Underground’ by Geoff DeOld

September 7th, 2011 : : : : Tag Words: ,

As the City of Omaha works toward completing a new Transportation Master Plan by the end of 2011, “Omaha Underground” imagines a mass transit alternative to the existing automobile dominated transportation infrastructure shaping much of the Omaha landscape, with an underground metro often found in larger metropolitan areas such as London, Beijing, or New York. The proposed layout of distinct subway lines mimics several of the existing transportation corridors servicing the Omaha area, with an emphasis on providing greater connectivity to the first and second rings of suburbs where existing mass transit opportunities are in greater need.

Oriented east-west top to bottom with the Missouri River and Council Bluffs at the top of the map, the graphics are contorted, sublimating proportional accuracy for the sake of fitting the banner format and emphasizing Omaha’s east-west direction of growth.  Although a subway system is somewhat of a fantastical transit dream for a city the size of Omaha, the notion addresses edges and peripheries and the WHOLE metro region as an interconnected system, as subways often do.

Red Line – Dodge Street Corridor Stations and Cross Streets: North Main Street (Council Bluffs), North 35th Street (Council Bluffs), 13th Street, Joslyn, Midtown Crossing, UNMC/Saddlecreek Road, 50th Street, Dundee, Memorial Park, 72nd Street, Children’s Hospital, 90th Street, Westroads, 120th Street, 168th Street

Pink Line – Cuming Street Corridor and Loop Stations and Cross Streets: North Downtown, Creighton, Dundee, Western Avenue, Creighton Prep, Blondo Street, Underwood Hills, 96th Street, Westroads, Happy Hollow, Town Park, 84th Street, St. Mary, Crossroads

Cyan Line – Leavenworth / Pacific Line Stations and Cross Streets: 13th/Leavenworth, 36th Street, 42nd Street, 50th Street, 60th Street, Elmwood Park, 84th Street, 90th Street, Happy Hollow Country Club

Blue Line – 13th Street Corridor Stations and Cross Streets: North Omaha, Eppley Airfield, Gallup Campus, North Downtown, 13th Street, Old Market, 13th/Leavenworth, Henry Doorly Zoo

Green Line – Saddle Creek Corridor Stations and Cross Streets: Adams Park, Bemis Park, Creighton Medical Center, Leavenworth, Field Club, MCC

Purple Line – 50th Street Corridor Stations and Cross Streets: NW Radial Hwy, Metcalfe Park, Underwood Avenue, Dodge Street, 50th Street, L Street

Orange Line – Midtown Loop Stations and Cross Streets: Ames Avenue, Western Avenue, Memorial Park, 60th Street, Holy Cross Field, Stinson Park, St. Mary, 84th Street, Country Side Village, West Dodge Road, Underwood Hills, Keystone Drive, North 72nd Street, Benson

Yellow Line – 72nd Street Corridor Stations and Cross Streets: Maple Street, Blondo Street, Crossroads, West Center Road

Geoff DeOld is a partner at DeOld Andersen Architecture (DAA), an architecture and design practice in Brooklyn, NY. He received his Master of Architecture from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and located to New York City in September of 2001. Prior to forming DAA with partner Emily Andersen, he was an Associate Principal at STUDIOS architecture in New York City where he contributed to several notable and award winning projects.

Geoff formed DAA with Emily Andersen after collaborating together on several projects addressing the suburban landscape and the role architecture and design might play in an otherwise generic environment. The firm is currently engaged in several projects including showrooms and offices for a fashion company in the Fashion District, and two streetscape / urban design projects in the Bedford Stuyvesant community of Brooklyn.


‘Ant Trails’ by Bethany Kalk

August 28th, 2011 : : : : Tag Words: ,

Our blog is fallow lately as Emerging Terrain is like a moving train requiring a brisk run to keep up with.  Last year Stored Potential was the only thing on our small organizational plate. A year later, installing 12 more banners on a grain elevator is one of many moving parts, along with another epic celebratory community event. We have given much consideration to what, when, where, why, and how to not replicate what was done before (dinner), but rather create another unique and memorable moment in place and time.

We are excited to announce an event with seasonal emphasis on Spring 2012, on a bridge over I-80 with full view of both sets of topically intertwined banners: Land Use, Agriculture, Food,and Transport(ation).  What kind of event could possibly merge these two topics? After brainstorming with many involved last year, we have landed on a type of mobile food party/parade where foodies will team up with artists/designers to create a moving structure related to land, food, and mobility, from which to feed people.  We hope this inspires beyond the food truck and into the imaginations of chefs, farmers, artists, and designers.  More details on how to submit an idea for consideration will be released in October.

Meanwhile, the banners will simultaneously be installed in May 2012. We have a few months to showcase them here on this blog, one of our favorite parts of the project because we learn about the amazing people discovered through the blind selection process. This year required more work between the jury and results as the images are more complex with the topicTransport(ation). Encouraging them to work together as a cohesive piece is more challenging with many representations of networks, both natural and constructed, at similar scales. Once again, we find ourselves amongst a truly talented group of individuals.

Banner Blog #1! We are pleased to have found painter, designer, and muralist Bethany Kalk. Although Bethany does not live in Omaha, she has made a big impact on the city as a founding partner of the Midtown Crossing collaborative Peerless. Bethany’s submission ‘Ant Trails’ caught the jury’s attention because of it’s multi-layered interpretation ofTransport(ation).  By intertwining the networks of constructed roadways in Omaha with ‘transport’ formations produced by insects – ant trails and bee honeycombs – the resulting image is a visualization of the similarity and interconnection between human and natural realms of movement. It is always interesting to find out how submission ideas come into being; while Bethany was pondering her entry, she was babysitting her nieces and took them on a walk.  They were overturning rocks on a hunt for insects to lessen their fear of “bugs.” Under many rocks were ant trails and the correlation became obvious; ants and humans transport food (and goods) with similar methods of networked systems.  The honeycomb form of ‘food storage’ layers yet another important process into the overall image and idea. All these networks represented here at the same scale blurs the hierarchy of our often competing worlds and renders them equal in importance.

Bethany grew up in Papua New Guinea and her art is indebted to oceanic pattern and methods of simplification. Her works are rooted in natural forms, usually as layered abstractions where elements mimic growth and decay. Imagery comes mostly from borrowing and combining shapes and textures from found objects such as rocks, vines, grasses, insects and other tangled forms.  She collects these sources for abstraction from her surroundings and as she travels or is invited to artist residencies from rugged coastlines of the Pacific northwest, Midwestern lakes, Eastern European hillsides to South American jungles. Each new place provides new elements to add to her visual vocabulary. She also teaches in the art and design department of Morehead State University in eastern KY.