Tuesday, April 15, 2014

downtown [do]nation

any idea what the greatest nation in this world is? 

it's do-nation.

last saturday the wichita downtown development corporation held their annual downtown cleanup day.  a morning filled with painting, landscaping and trash collecting. having missed the event previously, i made sure to mark it in my calendar this year.  all together 113 volunteers came out to help clean.  113 people gave up their time to help clean and "beautify" the city they love.  113 people.

i'm a big believer in the power of volunteering, because anyone with time has the ability to do it. there are several people in town who can make large scale projects happen in the downtown area.  there are also individuals who have the means to make sizable donations to downtown organizations.  most of us can't do that, we can however donate our time.  the older i get the more i believe time is money.  to see 113 people donate one of the most valuable assets they have, their time, was incredible to see.  

as i was painting, i was trying to figure out what value to place on this "time" donated.  figuring 113 volunteers worked 3 hours, you have 339 collective hours. about 8 and half weeks of work for one person.  trying to put a monetary value to those hours...an employer might pay between 10 and 15 dollars an hour for the work involved, meaning the total cost for labor is anywhere between $3,390 and $5,085.  averaging that out, the city received a $4,200 donation last saturday.

not a huge amount of money when it comes to city budgets, but it was absolutely free. $4,200 worth of value going towards downtown without having to cut budgets or increase taxes.  a nice deal for the city and it's citizens for sure, but i would arguer the sense of civic pride slowly growing in this town, really is priceless.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

koozie [culture]

i'll admit it, i'm a little late coming into the koozie culture, therefore i'm not sure i fully understand all the social boundaries surrounding these beer blankets.

hanging out by backyard pools and college tailgates, i've known of koozies for some time, but in the last few years i've found these little thermal accessories in new places.  i have several friends who can be found using their koozies in public establishments. after receiving their pabst from the bartender, they'll reach into their back pocket or purse and pull out their personal koozie. sitting around our favorite patio, enjoying great weather, it's not uncommon to see a couple cans sitting in a collection of their own condensation, while others are neatly nestled in neoprene. apparently in the hot summer land of lagers, the one with koozie is king...or at least is kept cold the longest.

is this a wichita thing? a kansas thing? a midwest thing? does our local climate cause this culture or are the coasts covered with koozies as well?

so i ask you this, is it culturally acceptable to bring a koozie to a bar?

should this form of beer bedazzlement be banned, or is it cool to clothe your coors in comfort.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


all cities fascinate me; washington dc amazed me.

walking in a city as well planned as washington dc, means every intersection is picturesque. having only a day to explore it's urban landscape meant every minute found me in [architectural sensory overload].  in school we studied kevin lynch's book "image of the city" which discusses "imageability" and "wayfinding," terms which identify what elements of a city make it more memorable in your mind.  walking through dc i discovered just how memorable well defined paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmarks make a city.  all these elements worked in perfect harmony and left me with a better appreciation for thoughtful urban planning.  i also enjoyed the sensitivity to the sense of scale. along the mall, buildings and monuments tower above you, but walkways, landscaping, patios, and seating make you feel comfortable at a more human scale.  little spots perfectly placed to interact with other people while enjoying the monumental backdrop. i could go on about how much this city surprised me; hopefully the pictures do a better job.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

perfect [strangers]

i celebrated my birthday with 10 people i had never met...and it couldn't have been more memorable.

over the past several years, i've always seemed to be in a different location for my birthday.  this year found me in washington dc attending an architecture conference.  actually, the conference had ended that afternoon and a few people from the young associates committee were staying an extra night, and kindly invited me to join them for dinner.  through various helpings of pizza and drinks, one of them mentioned their birthday had been the other day. having been silent about my own birthday, i thought it too much of a coincidence not to mention it was in fact mine that day. 

somewhere between those two facts and a single cupcake with a candle on it, we all became friends. the evening continued past dessert right into a dive bar with pool tables and cheap drinks.  conversation topics ranged from the serious, like what type of projects everyone worked on, to the more entertaining, like what movie would you'd watch if you were on a desert island and only had one to watch. we drank, played pool, shuffle board, and darts. basically conversations and activities you'd have with life long friends.

although i missed the wonderful people i call my friends and family back at home, there was something very refreshing spending a birthday with 10 complete strangers...people who i may never see again...but who are now facebook friends.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

group [shots]

in a world filled with oddly angled, out of focused, and badly cropped group "selfies", i'm still a fan of the well composed group shot.  one thing i've been trying to do more of, to the annoyance of my friends, is take more of them.  there's just something intriguing about them.  looking back over pictures i've taken the last couple of years, i always find myself enjoying the "group shots" a little more. 

trying to figure out exactly why i enjoy taking group shot, i've narrowed it down to two reasons. first, group shots tend to happen when you and your friends are enjoying an activity or event.  seeing multiple smiling faces in a picture always takes me back to that time and place.  next, they're extremely hard to organize and take.  the more people in them, the more people you have to ask to stop what they're doing, get up, move, and smile for a picture.  also, the timing for the photo, i learned you have about 10 to 15 seconds to get everyone moved and organized before people start to get annoyed.  assuming you can get everyone placed, the lighting is good and everyone fits in the frame, it really is worth it.

here are a couple of group shots of my friends, that will forever remind me of st. patricks day 2014.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

[ego]tecture is for the birds

there's no denying, egotism and architecture go hand in hand. some of the best architects in history were extremely egotistical; unfortunately some of the worst architects have been too.

the city of wichita has a problem.  one of the main gateways into downtown, both by vehicles and pedestrians, is through a historically significant railroad underpass.  this pathway is dark, damp, and full of pigeon shit. simply stated, an incredibly uninviting space to travel through.  i couldn't be more thrilled the city and the downtown development corporation are trying to fix this. however when city projects, opinions, and design are involved, egotects emerge.

as a downtown resident who walks under this bridge twice daily and wanting to be more informed, i attended the public meeting held to present the project.  the design team started the meeting by clearly stating the problem, which is everything i mentioned before.  after discussing the issues, they started the brainstorming session.  a series of slides showing their vision of the final project, stating, "what if this underpass could be something more?" the next thirty minutes consisted of us being shown interactive l.e.d. displays, digital billboards and other technological eye candy.  the idea being drilled into our heads that this underpass could be something more...a destination.  a phrase and idea which starts to ignore the original problem, and makes us believe in a new, fictional one; that this underpass is underutilized as a destination; that it's someplace we should be. when i asked the design team how they planned to solve the bird problem, it was clear they spent more time finding images of projects using l.e.d's than solutions to pest control.

creating a destination out of nothing; building something that "wows" or is "awesome," are all common phrases of egotecture.  now, i have nothing against those phrases, i am after all an architect and sometimes projects need this.  however, let's get back to basics.  legally, to be an architect, first and foremost you must provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public.  slightly less stuffy and more poetically, architects solve problems dealing with the built environment in a creative and artistic way.  it's fine to ask if a project can be "something more," but you also must ask yourself if it shouldn't.  should a project be something "cool" or should it provide the public with a safe, healthy, and beautiful solution to a problem.

sitting through the meeting it was clear it was not about solving the initial problem of how to beautifully make a dark, damp, pigeon shit filled, historic underpass more inviting.  it was about egotecture; how they can take a project and force it to be something it's not.

does the underpass want to be a "destination" or in its natural and literal state, should the underpass be an inviting, well lit, creative and beautiful "connector" to other "destinations." some of the best architecture in the world is when the initial problem was solved beautifully and simply. when the surroundings were enhanced and celebrated, not forced to be something it's not.

less is more.

if the original problem isn't solved, it will resurface once the portfolio pictures have been taken. in this case, a digitally frosted, ornament filled piece of egotecture...for pigeons to poop on.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

deep [city] diving

i love living and working in old town, but every once in a while you gotta get out of your neighborhood.

a few months ago, my friends and i decided to check out some [dive] bars we had heard about but had never visited.  it ended up being a total success; so much so, we decided to do it again., with more friends wanting to join in the adventure.

we decided to hit up several [dives] on the south side of town.  we ventured into bars with names like "whisky dicks" "mick's" "the stop" and "snug harbor."  we found the bartenders to be friendly, the drinks to be cheaper, and the patrons to be talkative. not only was it a good night out with friends both old and new, but we discovered there's a sense of community a group forms when venturing into places unknown. we discovered new sights, new sounds, new drink specials, all of which were documented and noted on instagram.  we were like the millennial version of the lewis and clark expedition, reporting back to our friends in civilization as to what's outside the territory.

i'm not sure how many of the bars we'll find ourselves "trekking" back out to again, but much like our predecessors who told stories of the native people, animals and events they discovered in the vast unknown, our south side stories have already filled the walls of the bars we consider home.

Friday, January 17, 2014

the year in pictures [2013]

year nine for the [year in pictures] post.

as i've said before, i never plan out a theme for this post.  only after the year has come to a complete end do i try and figure it out.  as it turns out this years theme started early, although i didn't know it. while sifting through the hundreds of photos taken this year, trying to find just 10 to best represent the past year, the theme slowly started to to present itself.  once it had, it was easy to see what this year was all about.

this was a year of [next steps]

some [next steps] were taken by me, some by family and some by friends.  often times, it's hard to know if you've actually moved forward in this life or not.  only when you stop and take a moment to look back do you see just how many [steps] you've taken.

i hope you enjoy taking a look back at some of my favorite [steps] taken this past year.


for seven years i driven by this horse, wondering when the day would come when i would walk in and order my official architecture stamp.  for seven years this horse haunted me, mocked me, laughed at me, digging it in that i hadn't finished my tests yet. for seven years this horse ran wild and eluded me, a beast unable to catch.  well my friends, on march 20 of this year i was finally able to lasso this stallion in...and order my stamp. a long overdue [step].


april found the entire town in wichita in a great mood, and for good reason.  our local university had defied the odds and made it into the final four, a great [step] for their basketball program.  i've never seen an entire town in such good spirits. although this picture was taken on wsu's final game in the tournament, it perfectly reflects the feeling of that day.


i was invited to join my future brother-in-law on his bachelor party along with nine of his closest friends.  nine guys i had never met before. by the end of the weekend, i found myself with nine new friends...


....mostly because of this night...and that's all i have to say about that.  


this year i said goodbye to some very dear friends who decided to take their [next step] and move to a larger city.  although it was sad to see them go, lucky for us they wouldn't dare leave without throwing one, final, amazing party. this past summer we celebrated our 3rd [june bucket] a tradition they introduced us to.


i love walking to work.  the two blocks between my apartment and office has seen a lot of development and activity the past year, making the walk better and more enjoyable with each passing month. you never know what you're going to see. one summer afternoon i witnessed an elderly couple on their way to a lunch date at the old mill tasty shop.  every time i see this photo i smile.  i love the fact this couple is still holding hands and [stepping] out on dates.


this summer also included the wedding of my little sister.  her and her boyfriend decided to take their [next step] and get married.  spending the weekend with family and friends was nothing short of amazing. not only did this weekend find our family with one new member, but it made me appreciate all of them so much more.  by far the most memorable and enjoyable weekends of the year.


i couldn't dare do an "end of the year post" without including a picture from acl.  traveling down to this texas town to spend three days in the sun chilling with friends to amazing music has become a benchmark in my year, and i'm not exactly sure what i would do without it.  on this day we came across a fellow that had had a bit too much fun, and i couldn't help but take a picture.


i entered into a relationship this year, which in my opinion, is a big [step] for anyone to take.  i don't pretend to know what the future holds for us, all i do know is that the last half of this year was made better because of this person.  on this particular day we fought the freezing temperatures off with some coffee, an activity that became a bit of tradition during our december weekends together.


i wanted to end with this photo taken on my recent trip to boston.  the last twelve months were filled with family and friends taking [next steps] as well as a few of my own, both professionally and personally.  it seemed only fitting to end the year with a beautiful set of architectural stairs.  a little reminder of the [steps] i've taken...and those yet to take.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

i'll be [lounge] for christmas

to anyone i'm lucky enough to call a friend, whether digitally or in person, i want to thank you for reading this blog. i hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and looking forward to a happy new year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

love that [frozen] water

three things fuel my sightseeing adventures when i travel:

-pop culture
-food and drink

a perfectly sane list if you ask me, however when you visit a city with an incredible amount in each categories, it can be a little overwhelming. 

the past week was spent visiting my girlfriend in her hometown of boston, a city i've always wanted to visit.  not only was it great to spend time with her, but it was also a little bit of a test on our relationship to see if she could handle traveling with me.  thankfully she, and her wonderful parents, were incredibly nice and accommodating when it came to my tourist list.  we visited random buildings in the freezing cold so i could walk around them in awe and take pictures.  we stopped by local tourist spots made famous by tv and movies, and they discovered my rule about eating and or drinking in a restaurant or bar in order for it to "count" that i visited it.

boston is an amazing town and with their help, i do believe, i got a good feel for all this amazing city has to offer. hope you enjoy the pics...all taken in about 48 hours.