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VRC e-newsletter January 2016

The Visual Resources Collection's (VRC) e-newsletter highlights donors and their recent image contributions. Images of featured projects can be accessed by UT faculty, students, and staff via the VRC's online image collection
Haley Fitzpatrick is pursuing a Master of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. She traveled to Iceland in August 2015 to research the complexities of Iceland's tourist-based economy, urban development, and national identity. She documented the ecotourism present in urban and remote areas of the country. Haley's research and documentation was funded in part by the Boone Powell Prize in Urban Design. Her photographs are available to university faculty, students and staff through the UTSOA VRC's online image collection.

Donor Highlight

Haley Fitzpatrick

M.ARCH, expected May 2017
What motivates you to document/photograph the architecture/sites you visit?
Lately, I have been trying to be selective in what I choose to photograph. I was frustrated, in particular when observing tourists in Iceland, at how often and quickly images of highly complex landscapes, street life or incredible infrastructure feats were taken and distributed online without the user really attempting to understand and appreciate what she or he is photographing. As a result, I attempt to critically document specific places or moments that I hope to capture and remember for a long time. 
 
Any special interests in photography or equipment? Do you find the buildings/landscapes more exciting or the photography?
I grew up with a background in drawing and painting; however, it was not until undergraduate that I began to understand the need to document my architectural work and, subsequently, dove into the world of photography. Since investing in a quality camera, I have enjoyed experimenting with composition, symbolism, and contradiction to elicit something reality cannot. However, I certainly have more of a fascination with experiencing and drawing architecture and landscapes than taking photographs. 

How do you use the images you shoot? Do they influence your design thinking? How does photographing architecture inform your thinking?
Depends on the image! I really enjoy taking photos of odd patterns or overlapping scales, printing them out and then cutting them up to make paper collages. Photographing architecture has evolved quite a bit for me. It has become a way to structure my personal experiences as a self-teaching tool; sometimes I know exactly why I am documenting a timber connection or an innovative drainage system. Other times, I look at images that I created years ago and ask myself questions like why was that moment and space important to me? Do I still find it important? Was I interested in certain colors or materials at the time? What was I feeling then that is not present in this photograph? It has become an important tool for figuring out the psychology of how I design, why I make certain decisions over time, and what stays consistent over time. 
 
Where's your next destination? Are you searching out locations with a particular theme, or region?
The Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico! I'm excited to be participating in UTSOA's Studio Mexico this semester because I am very interested in the convergence of Mesoamerican and contemporary Mexican architecture. I'm also itching to explore more of the Arctic. I am fascinated by how the incredible climate and biophysical structures of northern countries, such as Canada, Norway, and Russia, have such an impact on the culture, economy, and urban/non-urban systems that govern life.
To browse all images donated by Haley, visit the VRC's online image collection. Log in using your EID and select the "Advanced Search" option.  Search for "Haley Fitzpatrick" in the Source Name field. 

Research Project Focus

Tourism and Urbanization in Iceland

Photographs by Haley Fitzpatrick

What did your research in Iceland focus on?
The aim of my research was to study the intersection of tourism, resource consumption, national identity, and urbanization of coastal settlements within Iceland. Due to the physical size of the island, I knew that I would have a good chance of gaining a fairly holistic understanding of the cultural, economic, and environmental nuances of the nation within the short time frame of 19 days. I came away with a great respect for Iceland and island nations facing the challenges of sustainable growth and environmental justice. The trip triggered many unanswered questions about how architecture can help with these challenges, which has become something I hope to pursue in the future. I completed my travels by giving a Goldsmith Talk on my research, through photography, writing and drawing, and a formal presentation to the Boone Powell Family, the award donors.

What prompted your visit to Iceland? Did you travel there to document this project, or was it an incidental discovery?
Exploring Iceland has been a dream since childhood, and a series of recent events opened up an intriguing platform for the discussion of architecture and urbanization. The nation's financial collapse in 2008 and volcanic explosion in 2010 instigated the largest growth in tourism the island has seen yet, with over 1 million visitors in the summer of 2014, compared to the population of approximately 300,000 permanent citizens. So, this poses important questions on capacity, consumption and carefully planned growth for such a small island sitting at the tip of the Arctic Circle. When I was nominated for the Boone Powell Family Prize in Urban Design, I began questioning how Icelandic architecture and design would evolve along with or against the island's environmental and economic transformations. I was very honored to be selected to pursue this investigation last August. 
 
What was your overall impression of ecotourism in Iceland and what were you expecting to find? Did it exceed your expectations? Fall short?
The tourism in Iceland was truly astounding. It really highlighted both the perceptual and physical importance of scale, space, and time. There were many times I felt the absence of people within emptied landscapes, but I also witnessed the mass presence of non-Icelanders introducing an exotic demand for vacation experiences. How Icelanders determine their strategy for managing this tourism boom will play a large role in their economy, energy, and transportation use. The strategy also directs how the nation is advertised within global media, in terms of what is chosen to be portrayed and what is genuinely Icelandic. I think eco-tourism will become the most controversial aspect moving into the future, since everyone is quickly realizing that more infrastructure, hotels, cars or—hopefully—a nation-wide public transportation system, must be implemented at the expense of the profound glacial and volcanic wilderness that makes Iceland so treasured. It was inspiring to see a collective effort from many different types of professionals, including designers, biologists, planners, and politicians, working together to create multi-functioning, multi-scalar solutions, like the self-sufficient community of Sólheimar. The self-proclaimed "eco-village" grows and raises all food consumed, a contrast to the typical importation of goods, employs people with disabilities and chronically homeless individuals, and locally generates 100% renewable energy. 

What site in Iceland did you find most interesting?
I was amazed by the three hour drive from the east Iceland coast along the edge of the Highlands to Mývatn. The empty landscapes changed by the minute and I ended up in a bizarre and fantastical setting of immense geothermal activity, Martian-like rust-colored dunes, power plants, hotels and one of the most biodiverse wetland/lake system in the world. Mývatn appears to be more like an outpost than a town, but it certainly was an ecosystem fueled by the pace of tourism. It was quite other-worldly swimming in milky-blue geothermal baths next to people swinging around selfie-sticks with 2,300 year old volcanoes and craters in the background cast immense shadows on the surrounding valley.
To browse all images donated by Haley, visit the VRC's online image collection. Log in using your EID and select the "Advanced Search" option.  Search for "Haley Fitzpatrick" in the Source Name field. 
Haley Fitzpatrick
Iceberg
Jokulsarlon, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3746
Hotel Under Construction
Vatnakokulspjodgardur, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3745
Rural Greenhouse
Solheímer, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3753
Geothermal Surface Activity
Mytvan, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3735
Snaefellsstofa Visitor Center
Valpjofsstadir, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3734
Mytvan Nature Baths
Mytvan, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3749
Fishing Boat
Reykjavík, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3742
Downtown Akureyri
Akureyri, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3737
Downton Akureyri
Akureyri, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3736
Halgrimskirkja
Reykjavíc, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3733
Fishing Storage Tanks
Seysfjordur, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3748
Rural Hot Pot
Solheímer, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3752
Food Trucks
Stykkishólmur, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3751
Glacier
Eyajfiordur, Iceland
Accession # 2015-3738
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Copyright © 2016 UTSOA Visual Resources Collection, All rights reserved.
v. 7, no. 1 (January 2016)

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