“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
― Mary Oliver
Sheltering in place has slowed us down. Past clients have reached out and told me that spending so much time at home has allowed them to notice details that they hadn’t noticed before. This could be just one of the silver linings to this sad time…us slowing down to notice.
The social media design divas, our favorite shows on HGTV, and even the hours spent pouring over Pinterest boards, somehow still can’t quite feed our deep desire to find and connect with beauty.
We forget that the best design is often no design at all, or at least design that you might not notice right away. What if “empty” or “enough” or “receptive to change” was as photographable as layers of pattern, bold form, and loud color?
Find the dreariest corner in town….. and watch it come alive! That’s what happens when you ask teenagers to express their sense of place and empower them with art and music and words.
Watch this story and then go out and find your own dreary corner. 😊
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Calling All Disciplines of Architecture
When I call myself an architect, most people understand what I do, but lately I’ve had to clarify by putting the word building in front of the word architect. Otherwise I might be confused with IT architects, enterprise architects, solution architects, project architects, data architects, application architects, SOA architects….I could go on. Some of my colleagues are quite bothered by the tech industry’s lighthearted appropriation of the state-governed title. I suppose I could be a stickler given my 7 years of school, the two-year internship, and the six grueling exams.
On the contrary, I am just honored that a field so full of possibility and potential to create change thinks the title architect best describes some of its big thinkers. In truth, there are some genuine similarities between building architects and solution architects. Both fields are challenged to create order out of complex relationships between space, function and user interaction and we are both tasked to ensure that the functional program is inspirationally designed and fully executed.
Most importantly, both industries serve to enhance the human experience.
The problem is that the two aren’t sitting at the table together. Building architects are feverishly catching up, laying out thick sets of drawings, stacking brick and mortar, and backwards solving for the social and environmental ramifications of tech’s forward thinking. By the time we’ve looped back around to respond, the digital idea is on its third or fourth generation without a significant pause to consider it’s implication on neighborhoods, cities and the planet.
Cliff Notes for the Silent Majority
Orinda is due for some revitalization. Not many can argue with that. Well, I take that back. There are those 5 to 10 people who show up to City Council Meetings regularly to argue that NOTHING should ever change, and for the handful of downtown property owners there is no motivation to do so. But for many of us, change to our downtown is a welcome, if not elusive dream.
They say “I am part of the silent majority here,” too busy working, cooking dinner, coaching, driving, paying the bills, and volunteering to stay informed or get involved with local planning issues.
I have lived here now for an astonishing 14 years. My husband grew up here, so he is going on 34 years. This Place is where my roots are, and it feels good and safe to understand a place so thoroughly, the smells, the climate, the people. I estimate 30% of folks I meet have also grown up here; it’s like a little Italian village where generations come back. Orinda kids at 18 can’t wait to get out, but many will spend the rest of their life trying to get back in.
All of this is to say that I feel grateful to live here but I also believe that we can do better.
I fully intended for my next project to be a new home in Calistoga with an unlimited budget or some cool artist lofts in Oakland….anything to keep me busy and upwardly mobile on my architectural path.
But instead I find myself yet again, working on something entirely non-billable that stirs great passion in me. This sounds more like the work of a fine artist and indeed this may help me explain to my accountant the unpredictable profit and loss reports for Laraarchitecture.
So today, rather than yet another blog on countertops and wood species, I’d like to share with you something I am working on that is really important.
The Crosses of Lafayette are rotting, have you noticed?
This summer I was honored, along with 6 other local architects and landscape architects to moderate a community design workshop to envision the future of the Lafayette Crosses.
This came after a moment of authentic stomach turning sadness.
On a cool day in late spring, I drove by the crosses and realized I wasn’t looking anymore. I drove around the block and stopped in front of the dry and overgrown hill and cried. I must’ve at that moment realized the crosses would inevitably have to change. I besieged the internet looking for ways to reach the founder of the crosses foundation and express my concern and willingness to help.