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
Where Do You Like To Go When You Aren't Working?

Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture
Ruby Slippers

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

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect
favorite place

Evan Troxel - Archispeak Podcast / TRXL
My Favorite Place

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC
ArchiTalks meets #ThisOldHouse

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

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

Michael Riscica - Young Architect
A Favorite Place

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect
Favorite Place(s)

Cormac Phalen - Cormac Phalen

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

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect
favorite place

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

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

Jonathan Brown - Proto-Architecture
Favorite Place

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

the spicy [pickle] of life

i'm dating a girl who in many ways is very similar to me, and in many ways very different. she is classy; i'm not.  i enjoy thrift store jackets and hoodies; she enjoys the latest fashion and shoes with names. what seems to make our relationship work is keeping an open mind in the other ones interest. not only does this take us both out of our 'norm' but it exposes us both to new sights, sounds, and this case, taste.

several months ago, i was talking to an older gentlemen at a williams sonoma cooking class (her idea), upon hearing we had a long distance relationship between topeka and wichita, he informed me of a deli in topeka we needed try named porubsky's. he informed me it was a total dive in operation since 1947 and was famous for their hot pickles.  needles to say i was fully intrigued.

for a month i wouldn't stop talking about it, and couldn't wait to try this place out. a few weeks ago, we finally went.  pulling into the parking lot, i could tell my girlfriend was hesitant, as it looked exactly what we were told, a dive from 1947. i'll admit, even i was a tad nervous. entering the establishment, however, we were greeted by the nicest people.  we took our seats and ordered our food. waiting on our order i looked around and found myself grinning from ear to ear.  the place was filled with ol'boys watching andy griffith reruns on a tv from the 80's. it was small, dark and looks like it hadn't been touched since world war 2 ended. in other words it was perfect! the waitress sat our plates down and we both starred at the infamous pickles.  i went first. the heat was intense. however just when i thought i couldn't handle it, the heat subsided.  "not that bad" is what i told my girlfriend. hesitantly she took a bite. she then proceeded to make the worst face i've ever seen. this was followed by coughing and then crying.  the ol' boys turned away from their show to laugh at the spectacle, one of them yelling out, "in her defense it is a strong batch!"

after a few sips of diet coke she was fine,  like she always does, she took it in stride, and eventually made conversation with the owners, retelling and laughing at the experience.

as much entertainment as it provided me, it meant the world to me that she tried it.  i love that she's always down for anything i want to try, and is always looking new adventures to take me on...much like when she made me a surprise pedicure appointment.

getting out of your normal routine and experiencing new things is the spice of life; or in this case, the spicy pickle of life.

Monday, March 30, 2015

arts and [crafty]

architects are, and should be, crafty.

crafty in the sense that they should be clever in achieving their aims by indirect, or possibly even deceitful, methods.  now, deceitful might be going a bit far, but i love the idea of accomplishing goals indirectly.

the world needs architects, and not just in a stamped a set of drawings in get a permit kind of way.  the world needs architects so buildings are more than just four walls and a ceiling, but rather they start to take on a sense of space and become something more. a quality, which turns locations into places and boring into beautiful.  however with budgets, code requirements, zoning restrictions, short time lines and crazy deadlines sometimes beauty can be hard to achieve.  thankfully, as i mentioned, architects are crafty.  in my limited experience, i feel there are three main ways in which architects can be crafty and achieve the goal of beauty.  below are examples of craftiness in my personal life as well as professional.

using simple materials in creative ways

at my desk i would accumulate various sizes and shapes of scratch paper. hating to toss them into the recycle bin, i started practicing origami. weirdly enough, the few simple pieces i had made, inspired our office-cleaning guy to get into the game as well. soon after, i started finding better examples of origami on my desk, which i gladly kept.  i love the idea of how paper, which could have easily been tossed aside becomes something beautiful. i keep them at my desk to remind me of this.

similarly, the eames house by ray and charles eames used this idea. they used off the shelf steel parts for the structure of their house and created an icon of modern architecture. an extremely creative use of simple materials to create beauty.


growing up, my mom would save the uneaten heels of bread in our freezer.  when enough of these frozen bags had accumulated, she would take the heels and make amazing bread pudding. not only that, but the unused bags would then become my lunch bags.  as a punk 12-year-old kid i hated this, as i had to constantly answer questions from classmates on why i had brought bread for lunch. luckily as an adult i realize my mom was simply reusing the bags because it was easy, simple and saved money. oddly enough i still find myself saving these bags and heels even though i don’t make bread pudding nor take my lunch in the bags.

the house of dance of feathers was a project i worked on after college.  we rebuilt a backyard museum in the lower ninth ward, which had been destroyed by hurricane katrina.  we had a tiny budget and had to scavenge for nearly every material we used. we gathered donations from companies, salvaged old parts and equipment and reused building scrapes. we saved and used everything. we were desperate, without the luxury of a budget. we had no choice but to be crafty.


i was told as an architecture student that good proportions don’t cost any money. when you factor in the cost of materials this might not be entirely true, but it’s close. getting the height and width of a building right is priceless.  there’s a feeling you get when you walk into a well-proportioned space that just feels right.  in my young experience i’m not sure i’ve ever designed a beautifully proportioned space, but it’s always a goal. it’s a crafty way to achieve beauty in the face of restrictions.

i also use good proportions in my personal life. at 5’-10” and 200lbs i’m a stocky guy. however i’ve discovered if i wear my redwing boots, i add just a bit more height, evening out my proportions. not only do they give they give me height, but the seem to be the hipster shoe of choice, keeping me fashionable as well. arguably not spending any more money than a good pair of dress shoes and great for the job site. using craftiness to achieve beauty….

well… maybe not beauty…but at least another inch.

simple materials in creative ways, reusing materials and good proportions.

stay crafty my friends.

other architects talking about being crafty.

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect
Architects are Crafty

Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture
On the Craft of Drafting: A Lament

Marica McKeel - Studio MM
Why I Love My Craft: Residential Architecture

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet
Master Your Craft - A Tale of Architecture and Beer

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect
panel craft

Mark R. LePage - Entrepreneur Architect
How to Craft an Effective Blog Post in 90 Minutes or Less

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC
Oh, you crafty!

Rosa Sheng - Equity by Design / The Missing 32% Project
Which Craft?

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect

Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC
Crafty-in Architecture as a Craft

Ghost Lab

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect
Underhanded Evil Schemes

Jonathan Brown - Proto-Architecture

Cindy Black - Rick & Cindy Black Architects
merging architecture and craftiness

Tara Imani, AIA, CSI - Indigo Architec
 Crafting A twitter Sabbatical

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

architects and dating - a pain in the butt[tress]

lately, there have been several articles written on how "sexy it is to be an architect", or "why you should date an architect."  that’s all fine and dandy, but there are a few issues that make us an absolute pain in the ass to date.  

i’ve narrowed it down to three main factors.


we’re always looking at options.  i don’t mean in the sense we’re looking for other people to be with, although frank and lou didn’t help our reputation on that issue.  rather our head is constantly looking at realistic possibilities to various situations. last weekend, my girlfriend and i, who i’ve been dating for a year and a half, had a very serious talk about the future.  during that discussion i may have said something to the effect of,

“well if we stay together, so and so will happen and if we break up, this could happen.”

to which she rightfully asked, “ you think about us breaking up?"

naturally, i don’t, but i told her it is an option to consider.

*this did little to get me out of the hole i was digging myself

through a little more conversation and another glass of wine, i was able to explain to her why i constantly look at options.  my whole job as an architect is to look at options.  nearly everything we do is looking at different possibilities and how we might deal with them. situations like, what if code won’t allow it?  what if the project needs to expand in the future?  what if the project is over budget?  what if the material specified is unavailable?  our whole day consists of looking at different options. unfortunately, i feel this trait follows me into my personal life.  i always have the overall goal of creating a great building, or in this case a long, healthy and beautiful relationship, but you have to be prepared for the worse, even the possibility of the project getting canceled.


a trait that quickly follows looking at lots of options is the stubbornness we have when we've come to a conclusion.  i’ve been told by multiple ex-girlfriends and several close friends i get very defensive when discussing ideas.

“you state everything as though it's the only right answer!” has been said to me more times than i’d like to admit.

i blame this on the profession as well, or more specifically our schooling.  most of architecture school is preparing projects for critiques, a situation where you must defend your thinking, rationalization and design against a barrage of questions. you prepare for every angle of attack, think of every possible detail they could discuss, and most importantly, you answer those questions confidently, even if you’re unsure.  it’s not hard to imagine how this training can make you appear like a jerk when involved with anyone who starts to question why you did something.  i know personally in arguments i’ll think to myself, 

“do you honestly think i didn’t think of that already! i've already looked at all the options!” 

not the best thought to have during a discussion but one i'm sure most designers have.  this can be a bad trait to have when things get heated with anyone, but ten times worse with a fellow architect.  if you ever happen to be in a situation where two architects are in a heated argument, get yourself some popcorn and a comfortable chair because it’s going to be a show.


i’m not sure how anyone, who isn’t an architect, vacations with us. honestly, my idea of a perfect vacation is simply walking around looking at buildings, going on building tours, admiring qualities of space, or sitting in a plaza sketching.  all incredibly wonderful to me; completely boring to most everyone else.  i once forced my parents to drive an hour out of our way to see a jewel box bank designed by louis sullivan in the middle of nowhere iowa.  i was enthralled, they sat in the car, waiting for me to stop taking pictures so we could drive the hour back to the interstate and continue on our way.  thankfully they’ve now figured out my vacation agenda and let me wonder around by myself all day long eventually meeting up to enjoy dinner with them.  i would like to tell you this was a single occurrence, but i’ve recently had my girlfriends parents drive me to various buildings around boston in the dead of a new england winter so i could take pictures.  i walked around admiring the architecture in the freezing cold, while they waited in the warmth of the car and, i’m assuming, wondered who in the hell their daughter was dating.

there are various other problems such as; late nights, lack of color in wardrobe, expensive furniture taste and impossible to shop for, but in my opinion the items discussed are the top three.

that being said, it really isn't all bad to date an architect. if someone is willing to accept these qualities, or rather, if we’re able to keep them in check, we really do make great partners. for the most part, you’ll have an individual who craves culture, can be a professional while still having an artistic side, will always to try find creative ways to show their love to you and will always be down to sit and enjoy a great cup of coffee with you.

or you could simply do what our clients have figured out; pay us to listen ad be civil.