New Deal Utopias

Images of New Deal Utopias, including Greenbelt MD, just down the road from College Park, are featured on this New York Times Blog.

A brief History of Greenbelt as told by guest blogger, Lucinda Philumalee.

As a historic preservation student at the University of Maryland, the nearby city of Greenbelt, Maryland is a local treasure.  Located just outside the Capital Beltway, Greenbelt is home to professors and students alike.  It serves as an example of early-to-mid 1900s cutting edge urban design.

The history of Greenbelt predates its actual establishment.  In response to the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt instituted the Emergency Relief Appropriations Act of 1935.  This provided five billion dollars in funding for public works projects, which supported the Resettlement Administration of 1935.  The Resettlement Administration was headed by Roosevelt’s advisor Rexford Guy Tugwell who developed the concept for Greenbelt, Maryland as well as its sister towns, Greendale, Wisconsin and Greenhills, Ohio.

The three planned cities were inspired by the Garden City Movement, which influenced American urban design in the early twentieth century. It was an approach to urban planning developed by Ebeneezer Howard in 1898.  Howard’s notion was to move the poor out to the countryside in order to reconnect with nature, while incorporating the use of green belts, agriculture, industry, housing, commercial and cultural places to spur the economy.

The Garden City Movement was applied to Greenbelt in several ways.  Topography was a factor in the site selection and design of Greenbelt in that the original city was formed by a crescent shaped piece of land with major roads on either side. Apartments and houses were constructed between the major roads.  Entrances to residences were comprised of one to a courtyard and one for vehicular access.  These concepts of walk-ability and courtyard living were popular because it provided a feeling of safety during a tumultuous period.

Items in the VRC: Video Cameras and tripods

Flip Cameras

Flip Cameras

The Flip Video (2.2 x 1.2 x 4.2 inches) records up to 120 minutes of video.  It uses two AA batteries and is simple to operate with a power button on the side and a red record button in the center.

Canon Video camera

Canon Video camera

The Canon Vixia HFM40 camcorder records video on a 8GB memory card.  Files can be downloaded onto a computer in a M4V format. The camera can run on rechargeable batteries for 125 minutes, or can be connected to an outlet with a power adapter. The camera has audio capability and features 1080p HD recording.  A tripod and external microphone can be used when necessary.

Tripod can be used with video cameras as well as the point-and-shoot cameras.

Tripod can be used with video cameras as well as the point-and-shoot cameras.

Several tripods are available in the VRC to help with stabilizing a camera or camcorder.  The tripods are adjustable and collapsible.

Items in the VRC: Cameras

The Visual Resources Collection in room 1107 has all kinds of equipment that students may borrow. You must sign out the equipment and then return it, either within a few hours or overnight.

Cameras that students may borrow.

Cameras that students may borrow.

Clockwise from top left: The 14.1 mega pixel black Panasonic Lumix ZS8 has 16x optical zoom, an 8gb memory card, and operates on a rechargeable battery.

The 12.1 mega pixel blue Panasonic Lumix FS15 has 5x optical zoom, a 4gb memory card, and operates on a rechargeable battery.

The 14.1 mega pixel Nikon Coolpix L120 has 21x optical zoom, an 8gb memory card, video recording, and operates with two AA batteries.

The 5.1 mega pixel Sony Cyber-Shot has 3x optical zoom, a 256mb memory card, and operates with two AA batteries.

All cameras have a cable to download images via USB to your computer.  The VRC also has memory card readers to borrow as well.

Resources in the Visual Resources Collection

The Visual Resources Collection has various items for student use, besides images. All of these items must be signed out, and should be returned in the same condition that you received them. All items can be borrowed by the hour or overnight. Future Blog posts will focus on individual items, with pictures!!

  • Point-and-Shoot Cameras. We have two Panasonics and one Nikon
  • Video Cameras.  We have two Canon Vixia digital video cameras
  • Flip Video Cameras. Two hour maximum recording time; often used as a voice recorder
  • Clear Plastic Sheets for scanning delicate drawings in the DOC scanner. Approx 22″ x 30″
  • Tripods
  • Dollies with Wheels.  Tripods may be put on these.
  • Photographic lights for model photography
  • Flat panel TVs connected to Macmini computers.  You may also connect your laptop to the TV
  • LCD Projectors that connect to Laptops
  • Laser Pointers
  • Powerpoint Remotes
  • Copystand with lights to photograph delicate drawings and very small models. Make an appointment to use this.

How to Photograph Architectural Models

It is important to photograph your models soon after you complete them.  Drawings generated digitally can always be saved – in multiple places – but models have a way of getting dusty, losing parts, or molding in your parents’ basement. Therefore you should photograph models pretty much immediately after finishing them.  Whites will be whiter, columns will be straighter, and windows less finger-printed now, as opposed to a few weeks from now. And, if you leave them in the School studio space, they will get thrown out!

Plan view of model photography set-up

Plan view of model photography set-up

Model Photography basics: Click on the link to download the PDF instructions.

How to photograph models 12_13_10

A few things to keep in mind:

You can use a point and shoot camera, you dont need an SLR (single lens reflex) camera.  Always use a tripod. This will give you sharper pictures than any handheld shots.

Use two lights; one is a direct light source, and the other will be indirect.  The direct light source acts like the sun, lighting your model from a particular direction.  The indirect light acts as atmospheric, reflected light, and keeps the shadows on your model from being too dark.

Light colored models will look best on a black background.  We have black cloths in the Visual Resources Center, that students may borrow. See the next blog post for other amenities that students may borrow!

What should I do with my old slides?

Here in the Visual Resources Collection we are taking an inventory of everything in the room.

We have LCD projectors, slide projectors, cameras, video cameras, light sets, some books and travel guides; even film cameras of the Nikon variety.

However, the slides, slides, slides, are what I have in the most quantity.  Now, slides are small, so it takes alot of them to take up any amount of space – we have at least 265 drawers full of slides. As part of the stocktaking, the Graduate Assistants are looking at boxes of slides, drawers of slides, scans of slides. We have your pink variety, your purply-orange variety, your overexposed and your really dark variety.  Then there are the fabulously colored Fujichrome and Kodachrome slides of trips from around the world that our professors and students have shared with us over the years.  Records of moments in time, a particularly sunny day, a freshly painted facade, a brand new structure or a really old structure.  Images that document not only an architecture, but a city, a style of car or hairdo, caught on the film chip.

Sidi-Bou-Said, Tunisia. Photo by Bill Bechhoefer

Sidi-Bou-Said, Tunisia. Photo by Bill Bechhoefer

The challenge for me and my student assistants is to decide what stays and what goes.  What is relevant to the School’s mission, and what is just taking up space. Is this slide primary source material or outdated copywork from a book that has been re-issued and updated umpteen times since that slide was taken? For slides that are going to go, here is a beautiful and useful project: Curtains. Or maybe a handbag would be nice.

I plan to post more lovely pictures as we continue with the collection assessment.