Category Archives: Placemaking

Revitalization in Orinda?

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.

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The Crosses of Lafayette Re-counted : Why Now?

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?

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White Crosses Adorn Hillside Memorial Iraq

The Crosses of Lafayette: Toward a Permanent Memorial

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.

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