New Camera

Posted on by Drew Gingrich

I recently bought a new camera, a Sony Cyber Shot HX300 to be exact.  I have only had it one day, and I have already been playing around with long exposure shots.

I have a strange obsession with light drawings. If you've never seen one before, Darren Pearson is one of my favorite light painting photographers. Check out his Flickr.

Last night, I got inspired and did a simple light painting myself. Hopefully this is the first of many more to come.  


2013 Schmidt Associates Chili Cook Off for Second Helpings Inc.

Posted on by Drew Gingrich

Recently, Schmidt Associates had their annual chili cook off! This was my second year to partake in the cook off, and this time I was asked to help organize and make it happen! 

Every year, a charity or organization is chosen to benefit from the cook off, and this year we decided to raise money for Second Helpings Inc. I was given the recommendation from a neighbor who knew a contact there. I contacted Second Helpings and they were more than happy to invite us over for lunch and a tour of their facilities. I was incredibly impressed how clean, efficient, and organized their facilities were. 

I had always thought of Second Helpings as a food pantry or soup kitchen. They are much more than that. I had no idea the extent of their operations. They have three major efforts; eliminating hunger, empowering people, and rescuing food. Their Mission: Transforming Lives through the power of food. 

Eliminating Hunger - Every day, Second Helpings provides food to more than 60 organizations that feed the hungry. Their staff and volunteers help to provide 50,000 meals every month from over 100,000 pounds of rescued food. 

Empowering People - Second Helpings has an amazing culinary job training program that gives the unemployed or underemployed a second chance to become a trained culinary professional. Their program is extensive enough to earn college credit! 

Food Rescue -  Lets face it, Americans are wasteful. What food normally gets thrown away, Second Helpings rescues from their partners in the food service industry. They collect food that is deemed to be safe and edible and serve it to those that would otherwise not have a meal. 

It was a no-brainer that this organization would be a perfect choice for our chili cook off. This year we had 14 cooks donate their special batches of chili. With over 100 participants, at $5 a bowl and several jean days, we were able to raise over $1,700. With a few more silent donations expected, we hope to have a final total somewhere between $2,000-2,500. Not bad for a fun little fundraiser. 

14 little chili's sitting in a row...

I was incredibly fortunate to work with the most fantastic people at Second Helpings for this event. They deserve every penny raised. By the way, did you know it only takes $1.11 to feed someone? Me either.  

If you would like to learn more about Second Helpings, volunteer opportunities, or how you can help their organization grow, go to their website


ArtPrize 2012

Posted on by Drew Gingrich

Grand Rapids, Michigan.

This year marks the 4th year for ArtPrize, an international art competition. ArtPrize is a relatively young event. An idea brought into reality a couple years ago, ArtPrize has evolved and matured into what I would consider one of the most unique competitions in the world. This year, over $560,000 in prize money was distributed to top placing artists. There was a popular vote as well as judged categories.

In the beginning, ArtPrize was structured in a way that the winners were judged entirely by a popular vote. Under the scrutiny of  many art critics, the first year of the competition revealed that there were quite a few holes in terms of "fairness." One issue that soon became apparent, was that some venues (businesses hosting art pieces) did not have consistent operating hours during the length of the competition, thus, allowing some of the art pieces in these venues more or less exposure than others.  Another issue arose from art critics who were questioning the judgement of the "artistically ignorant" public. The public vote entirely determined who would get awarded the prize money and the top placing art pieces were typically large, outdoor,  or flamboyant installations easily viewable by the public. Many of these would not necessarily be what most artistically inclined individuals would deem worthy of 100k or 250k.

In more recent years, ArtPrize rules and regulations have evolved, settling issues like exposure time and fair judging. Venues wishing to participate in ArtPrize would now have to remain open for a pre-determined time period during the competition (most of which were after typical business hours). This year, also included a whole new category of winners and awards that were judged by a panel of art critics. This allowed many works of art that may not have been appreciated by the general public to be recognized by the "art savvy" judges.

I had the opportunity to talk with one of the artists, Jeffery Gauss, who was excited by the constant stream of attention his MicroDoodle was getting. His venue, the B.O.B. (Big Old Building), is a very popular and centrally located space.  While chatting with the artist, he seemed very excited by the mass appreciation and exposure his art was getting.

In any case, while some disgruntled artists my find unfairness in the competition, I think you will find an overwhelming approval for the event as a whole. Many artists join the competition full well knowing they may not win the grand prize, but free exposure is valuable thing.

Congratuations to this year's winner of the Grand Prize $200,000, Adonna Khare. Cant wait for next year! 


This is done in pencil. Amazing.

2012 CANstruction

Posted on by Drew Gingrich

This year, I held a larger role in our company’s involvement with the annual “food drive” competition, cleverly named, CANstruction. This year, the theme was “Year of the Dairy Cow,” with the tagline “Celebrating the Hoosier Spirit.” It is always encouraged to try and incorporate this into the design if possible, but not necessarily mandatory.

This year, in our brainstorm session, we tried thinking along the lines of the “Got Milk?” slogan. A few minutes later and we are talking about the 2012 Olympics. Sure, we switched to something that was current right away, but let’s be honest, that’s usually what wins. Besides, athletes drink milk, so we are totally keeping with the theme.

There are several different awards to win, but it’s really the “people’s choice” that is the coveted prize.

This year, the awards are as follows:

· Best Meal
· Best Use of Labels
· Structural Ingenuity
· Juror’s Favorite
· People’s Choice
· Most Cans – New Award

Preliminary Design - Revit Model

Our design this year will include The American Flag, the Olympic Torch, and the Olympic Rings.

After sketching out some ideas on paper, we started modeling our project in Revit. I took on the bowl and rings while another team member designed the flag. At this point, we have no idea how this is going to work or be constructed, but we needed to start somewhere.

It took several long nights of diligent work to figure out how we were going to support our structure. The team decided that we would support certain layers of the model with a thin Masonite board. It took a lot of cutting and sanding with jig-saws to get each layer just right, in order so that they will not be seen, helping to support our can structure.

 Lora and Brandon working hard, cutting out the Masonite layers

Lora and Brandon working hard, cutting out the Masonite layers

When build day finally arrives, our volunteers/co-workers make their way to the Indiana State Fair, to the agriculture and horticulture building, where our firm has an allotted space (10′X10′X8′) to build our structure. Our fellow competitors are local architecture firms that are all arranged in a tight row on some uneven concrete flooring. It is important when stacking cans, to be very aware of your surroundings – If not for your own clumsiness…sabotage.

It’s important that while stacking cans, everyone is very aware of their surroundings, so no one accidentally bumps into the structure. It’s a little frustrating in the beginning to get things planned out, but once you have a good foundation, it’s pretty easy after that.

 Laying the foundation. Its very important that we figure out the bottom couple layers because they will be the starting point from which everything is resting on. It is especially difficult figuring out where the floor is most level to build on. 

Laying the foundation. Its very important that we figure out the bottom couple layers because they will be the starting point from which everything is resting on. It is especially difficult figuring out where the floor is most level to build on. 

 Stacking the first couple rows for the flag. In this photo, you can also see our first layer of structure to help steady the cans as we stack multiple layers on top of one another. 

Stacking the first couple rows for the flag. In this photo, you can also see our first layer of structure to help steady the cans as we stack multiple layers on top of one another. 

 The flag progresses. 

The flag progresses. 

Finished. Flag, Olympic rings, and Torch.

2011 CANstruction

Posted on by drewgingrich

It is close to that time of year again, when a team and I will be participating in an awesome event called CANstruction. As far as I know, this is a nationwide event normally reserved for architecture and design firms. Each firm registers with their local participating venue, ours being the Indiana State fair, and submits a design for something that will be constructed almost entirely out of aluminum food cans. Each year, there is a different theme in which some of the designs will stick very close to, however, there will also be rebels that will ignore the theme in order to gain favor among the audience, usually with some current pop-culture reference. The obvious intent of the competition to the designers is to win the competition with the wittiest, funniest, or amazingly constructed can structure! However, there are other objectives that motivate the design including: most number of cans, best use of labels, people’s choice award, best balanced meal, etc. Each team will likely fundraise and get support from sponsors to get the several thousand cans that each structure usually incorporates.

Last year, our firm decided to ignore the theme and go with a current trending topic – Indianapolis 2012 Super Bowl. It was what everyone was hyped about, so we made our design based on the stadium and trophy.

Best of all, the competition is actually a food drive for the local food pantries that will receive all the cans used in the competition.

Superbowl XLVI - Indianapolis

Posted on by drewgingrich

The Super Bowl is a large event that attracts a lot of spectators every year. Thousands of people with different economic and social backgrounds will flood into the hosting city where they will give a boost the local economy; but for how long? And with the event being hosted in a new city each year, it also brings along with it, a flurry of excitement and a range of environmental and economic impacts.  

The City of Indianapolis has been pouring a large amount of money into preparing the city to look its best for our Super bowl visitors. There have been numerous capital city improvements to roads, buildings, and parks, as well as clean-up efforts. Teams of people and artists have been putting either efforts into beautifying the city with murals, lights, graphics.  The city has been adding flashy lights to trees in order to highlight areas like trendy Mass Ave. with bars and restaurants. Georgia Street has been completely re-designed to host a “Super bowl Village.”  This will be a one-stop-shop for entertainment, shopping, and other festivities including a 70 foot high zip line through the air.

While this is all good and exciting, there are also a lot of unintended negative impacts that a hosting city will face. In a recent work e-mail, we were told to pay closer attention to our personal belongings because of suspected pick-pockets that will be visiting town just for Super Bowl. This seems to be a relatively minor and justifiable concern, but while a spike of crime has been seen in every hosting city around the time of the Super Bowl, the city of Indianapolis will still suffer the judgment from the victims of such crime.

Another concern with such a large event is the amount of trash generated, and I wonder what, if any strategies are currently in place to reduce and/or recycle our waste. I found one website claiming that the 4 days of Super Bowl events in 2004, generated nearly 428 tons of trash.

I think one of the most interesting things to think about is the end balance after calculating what has been invested into the city in preparation for this event, and how that relates to the long term costs associated with these investments after the quick spike in economic growth has passed. I wonder how many optimistic plans and investments will not be able to be sustained long term after the Super Bowl. I also wonder which investments (small or large) will pay off exponentially because of this Event. It’s hard to say for sure, but I think it’s important to be aware of the successes and failures of our investments and what they can tell us about either the hosting city, or the event itself.