Wednesday, June 03, 2015

my three favorite [hardest] words

[chairs][stairs] and [squares]

years ago, during my college internship, i was sitting at my desk very frustrated.  i was trying to get a set of stairs to beautifully fit into a space as well as reach the second level.  my principle came over and laughed.  as i looked up he said,

"chairs, stairs and squares..."

confused i said,

"what?"

to which he responded,

"the hardest things to design, chairs, stairs and public squares."

he left me pondering as he walked away laughing.

i'm not sure if this is an original quote of his, but over the years i haven't been able to find the person who may have coined this phrase.  it's been 10 years since he told me the phrase and over that time i've realized how true it is.  they may be the hardest thing to design but they are also some of the most beautiful objects to view when done right.  to this day i find myself admiring chairs, stairs and squares.

why exactly are they so hard to design?  i've come to decide they each have their own individual frustrations, but the main reason is because they are so experiential to the user.  all three interact with you on a very personal level, so personal in fact that when done wrong, they become almost unbearable to be in, on or use it.






chairs are incredibly personal.  they must be ergonomic.  they need to "feel" right.  you can have the most beautiful chair in the world, but if no one is comfortable sitting in it, it fails.  reversing that, you can have the most comfortable couch in the world, but if it's ugly as sin, no one, or at least no architect would ever place it in their house.  however, when beauty and ergonomics come together you'll find yourself with a celebrated chair. so much in fact your name will become synonymous with it, see eames, le corbusier, nelson, mies or jacobsen.












stairs are also incredibly experiential.  your whole body is engaged when using stairs.  while stairs must also "feel" right, the hardest thing in my opinion is creating beauty along with following all the codes associated with stairs. codes are not to be dismissed, they are their to keep us safe.  i feel the beauty in stairs is when you see a flight gracefully and thoughtfully ascending down, detail after detail, all the while following the necessary codes.  stairs are incredibly sculptural, and become more intriguing when you see all constraints surrounding them.










public squares or plaza's are a whole other beast entirely.  whole classes in college are devoted to understanding them. professionals have spent entire careers trying to figure them out.  it still comes down though to does it "feel" right.  does it make you feel safe? is there a focal point? is it too wide? is it to long? is it elevated or sunken? is it landscaped? is there a variety of seating options? are there public and private realms? is there activity nearby? is there circulation?  thousands of tiny little questions and answers come together to make or break an open public area.  if done wrong, plazas can be empty spaces that breed crime and other harmful activities. however when done well, they can be a thriving node of a city; a place where the city feels alive.








although they can be difficult to design [chairs][stairs] and [squares] are three of my favorite words in design. they also happen to be three of my favorite things to photograph. i get extra giddy when two or more appear in a photo!




please follow the links to other architects talking about their three favorite words in this months architalks.

Enoch Sears - Business of Architecture
@businessofarch
3 Words To Get Started


Bob Borson - Life of An Architect
@bobborson
3 Words: Are. Blogs. Important.


Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture
@FiELD9arch
3 Words


Marica McKeel - Studio MM
@ArchitectMM
Never Give Up


Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet
@Jeff_Echols
What's Your Story - My Three (or Four) Favorite Words


Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect
@LeeCalisti
i make art


Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC
@L2DesignLLC
#ArchiTalks: I love it!


Andrew Hawkins, AIA - Hawkins Architecture, Inc.
@hawkinsarch
Three Favorite Architectural Words


Jes Stafford - Modus Operandi Design
@modarchitect
I Am Listening


Cindy Black - Rick & Cindy Black Architects
Spirit of Optimism (my three favorite words)

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect
@mghottel
architalk#9: my three favorite words


Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC
@MeghanaIRA
My Three Favorite Words


Amy Kalar - ArchiMom
@AmyKalar
My Three Favorite Words (Architalks #9)



-->Michael Riscica - Young Architect
@YoungArchitxPDX
How’s it going… Finishing The Architect Exam?!??

Stephen Ramos - BUILDINGS ARE COOL
@sramos_BAC
My Three Favorite Words


Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect
@bpaletz
I am in


Jonathan Brown - Proto-Architecture
@mondo_tiki_man
The Big Idea



-->Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture
@rogue_architect
three little words: #architalks

Thursday, May 28, 2015

call me [griswold]

this past memorial day weekend found me visiting a route 66 icon.


while visiting tulsa, wandering in and out of gift shops i discovered we were very close to one of route 66's most famous icon's, the blue whale of catoosa.  being a fan of the famous highway, i had to see it!  the trip would not be complete until i had stared into the eye of this fictional beast.

after starting the morning enjoying an amazing breakfast, we set out.  although it was a short trip we encountered several mishaps.  not only was weather a factor, but i had a slight freak out at a gas station, thinking i had put the wrong type of fuel in.  there was also a few choice words spoken to the gps after it took us in circles.  frustrated, i stopped the car.

"this was no longer a vacation. it was a quest. a quest for fun."

like some strange mix of clark griswold and captain ahab, i was bound and determined to find this fictional creature. thankfully for all involved, i.e. my girlfriend, the destination was just around the corner, and what a sight it was!  i giant aqua colored artifact from another time; a reliquary of roadside kitsch!  i spent the better part of an hour climbing around it, taking pictures and chatting with the other tourists who had made the pilgrimage to see this marvelous man-made mammal.

having spent most of the weekend enjoying the comforts of the digital age, this whale was a giant reminder of days gone by, back to a time where sites like this were the only salvation from squabbling siblings sardined in the sweltering back seat of a station wagon and possibly the only entertainment for miles.  although it was tricky to find, it was worth it.

"it is not down in any map; true places never are." - herman melville 











































Wednesday, May 27, 2015

the [new] old fashioned way to travel

now, more than ever, i'm convinced smaller cities must embrace technology to compete in the tourist game.

that...and city pride.

memorial day weekend, my girlfriend and i, traveled to tulsa, oklahoma for a little trip. we started out finding a great deal online on a great downtown hotel; from there we left the weekend to chance...well chance...and social media...and iphone apps.

upon arriving in tulsa, lunch was chosen using yelp.  while at the restaurant, we decided to visit a local brewery i follow on twitter.  as we tried the many samples of amazing beer, we got back on yelp to locate a place for dinner that night, easily finding which restaurants included gluten free items.  minutes after checking into our hotel we added the hotel's wifi password onto our iphones.  we got our bags settled and changed for dinner.  not knowing exactly where we might need to park for dinner, we checked to see if uber was available; it was.  while on the elevator we set our location and a minute after reaching the lobby, our driver was there.  ironically during the uber ride, technology took a back seat as our driver told us other locations to try near our destination.

the rest of the weekend followed suit.  finding places to eat, drink and visit using facebook, twitter or yelp and uber-ing our way there.  however once at those places, conversations we had with bartenders, waiters and drivers led to other great places to visit around town.

it's easy to know where to go in larger cities. anyone could name off several places they'd visit in new york, la, chicago and paris, however i'm not sure the same could be said about cities like tulsa, lincoln or wichita. it's harder to know where to go, but thankfully technology changes that, but it's not everything.

tulsa was a fantastic weekend getaway, in large part because of the information we had available at our fingertips.  even with technology helping us find the little jewels of the city; the people encountered at those places let us know why those jewels shine and help make tulsa a great place to visit.







































































Wednesday, May 13, 2015

[rouge][rouge] wine

life can't always be filled with dive bars and spicy pickles...sometimes you have to class it up a bit; and april turned out to be pretty classy. i was also able to mark a couple items off my wichita bucket list.

the first event was the wichita art museum's annual [color] party.  i'm still not sure how but i was lucky enough to be on the planning committee for this wonderful event.  the past 5 months were filled with brainstorming, planning, donations and calls.  not only did it turn out to be a completely wonderful event, but i loved seeing it go from a hand written word [rouge] on a piece of paper to a full fledged party covered with the color.  i also met some wonderful new people in the process i'm now lucky enough to call friends.

a few weeks later the gf and i also attended wichita's annual wine fest.  on the way walking to the event we ran into our new friends from the color party!  we decided to conquer the festival with them.  the evening was spent sampling various wines, snacking on hors d'oeures and fostering new friendships.

i wasn't able to capture as many pictures as i would have like, mainly because both events found me with a drink in my hand most of the night, but i hope you enjoy a few snaps of these [classy] events.




 photo by wam






















































 photo by cf








photo by cf











Wednesday, April 29, 2015

my [first] favorite place



as architects, its only natural we have many places we admire, so much so, that to narrow it down and call one a favorite is a bit of a challenge.  to make it easier, i've decided to write about my first favorite place, the kimbell art museum by louis kahn.

i realize that to say a building which is regarded as one of the most impressive works of architecture in modern times seems a bit of a cop-out, but to me this building houses so much more than impressive light washed spaces and priceless works of art; it houses some of my best memories.

after spending three years in college and not accomplishing much, i found my love; architecture.  i was opened up to a world of history and design i had never known and i loved every minute of it.  one of our first assignments was to learn the different spatial organizations buildings could have.  as elementary as this sounds, i remember being blown away at looking at buildings like this.  along with our basic history classes, i remember learning about building orientation, day lighting and sectional value.  all simple concepts, but very new to a second year student.

during that year, a few classmates and i, decided to take a long and quick road trip to dallas to visit a few buildings we had studied, one of them being the kimbell.

i remember stepping in the entrance and being in total awe. it was the first time i had been in a building i had studied, allowing me to see it in a whole new way.  i wanted to see the barrel vaults, i wanted to see how the texas sun was diffused into perfect museum quality light, i wanted to see how the concrete represented the structure while the travertine was used as fill in, and how they interacted with each other. hell, i even wanted to see the handrail! everything i studied was right in front of me and i took it in.  i'm not even sure if i looked at any of the art, i was too busy looking at concrete. it was the first time i had looked at a building through "architectural glasses" and it was love at first sight.

the trip we took that year created several stories retold during late studio nights over the years, but to me the best one was visiting the kimbell.  i've visited it several more times during the years, always with a sense of wonder.  which, in my opinion, is a quality any place you call your [favorite] should do.


































be sure to check out the other architalk blogs:


Enoch Sears - Business of Architecture
@businessofarch
Where Do You Like To Go When You Aren't Working?


Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture
@FiELD9arch
Ruby Slippers


Marica McKeel - Studio MM
@ArchitectMM
Do You Have a Favorite Place?



Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect
@LeeCalisti
favorite place


Evan Troxel - Archispeak Podcast / TRXL
@etroxel
My Favorite Place


Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC
@L2DesignLLC
ArchiTalks meets #ThisOldHouse


Andrew Hawkins, AIA - Hawkins Architecture, Inc.
@hawkinsarch
My Favorite Placein the Wild


Jes Stafford - Modus Operandi Design
@modarchitect
Making Space and the Favorite Place


Michael Riscica - Young Architect
@YoungArchitxPDX
A Favorite Place


Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect
@bpaletz
Favorite Place(s)


Cormac Phalen - Cormac Phalen
@archy_type
Baltimore


Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC
@MeghanaIRA
Oh, The Places You’ll Go!


Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect
@mghottel
favorite place


Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture
@rogue_architect
favorite place: #architalks 5th edition


Tara Imani - Tara Imani Designs, LLC
@Parthenon1
Favorite Place - Architalks 8




Jonathan Brown - Proto-Architecture
@mondo_tiki_man
Favorite Place