Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A quote from Robertson Davies

I just started Davies' Cornish Trilogy, and I'm stunned by the quality of his writing.  Clear, sharp prose, very lively and an utter delight to read.  I'm a late arrival to Davies, though, so I looked him up on wikipedia, and found this quote:

"I don't want a word-processor. I process my own words. Helpful people assure me that a word-processor would save me a great deal of time. But I don't want to save time. I want to write the best book I can, and I have whatever time it takes to make that attempt."

A man after my own heart.
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Can't argue with that.


Greek misogynia, from misein to hate + osu Ohio State
circa 1969
: a hatred of "The" Ohio State University

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is it me?

...or are green projects tending towards some amorphous design ideal?

Not to pick on Kubalo Washatko, or anything - this is truly a beautiful project, expertly done.  There are many, many positives about its design, and that's BEFORE you say "LEED Platinum."

But I look at this year's AIA / COTE Top Ten Awards (look here), and...I'm underwhelmed by the variation of design approaches.  There's definitely a "look" - a beautiful, friendly look, but a look nonetheless.  Is that a good thing?  I'm not so sure.  I'd like to see a bit more disparity within the green approach.
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Oh, honestly.

I've made a point of trying to stay emotionally disengaged from the Justin Boren "situation."  Not every situation is right for every player, after all, and if he was the only one to ever transfer after a coaching change, well...well, he isn't.  But I read this, and...I'm not sure how to react.

As I said, I get it.  Not every situation is right for every player.  If Boren was being pushed in directions he didn't want to go, if he was feeling overwhelmed, if he was being asked to do things outside his skill set...all of those are valid reasons to leave.  He presumably wants to make the NFL, as most kids at this level do, and if he (still talking about a non-specific, generic "he") thinks that this system will not only not help him to that goal but could actually keep him from achieving it, he SHOULD go.  And I would wish him the best.  I would root for him to make it, and I would take some measure of pride in that fact that he did.  His dad was a Michigan man, and he'd be a Michigan man, no matter what school they said after his name at the draft.  Just like Trevor Pryce, Jon Ritchie, David Bowens...all those guys.  No hard feelings whatsoever.

But going to Ohio, I just don't get it.  Did he learn nothing from his father?  From his years under Lloyd?  Lloyd, above all things, values and instills loyalty.  This smacks of petulance and a desire to hurt the program as much as possible.  I can read his mind - "I hate this place.  I hate the new guy.  What's the most in-your-face choice I can make?  I got it..."

And for that reason I say, for the first time ever...

Good riddance.  Enjoy your music appreciation classes, enjoy your couch burning, enjoy Satan.
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Monday, April 21, 2008

I Wish I Was Here.

from the complete running network.  I love this kind of run - cold, but clear (well, can see some pretty sharp shadows from the left).  Just a great morning.2008-04-21-anotherrunner.jpg
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Friday, April 18, 2008


...when you tell a potential consultant / supplier exactly what you don't want, and they propose it anyway, at the last minute and too late to make significant changes to the proposal / pricing it okay (or even smart) to essentially get rid of them?

Here's the deal.  I'm working on an 8-story hybrid parking garage / residential / office / retail project, and we're trying to work out our structural system.  Steel is out for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that we don't want to fireproof the hell out of everything.  So now we're down to precast beams, columns and plank or completely cast-in-place, and we're soliciting preliminary proposals from the two major local suppliers.

We told the precast guy - columns are okay, beams are okay at the demising walls, but we need to run plank parallel to the exterior wall so that we don't reduce the available glass with a beam.  This is last Friday, with a deadline for today.  Well, I got a package from him that is essentially exactly what we don't want.  Beams at the glass line ("don't you have spandrel anyway?").

So.  The problems here are myriad - the supplier is, frankly, outstanding.  They do very high-quality work, are conscientious, and are pursuing the project aggressively enough that we're going to get a great price.  Their guy is a high-energy, quality guy who is very easy and enjoyable to work with.  Unlike some other precast suppliers, they are very collaborative and always take a team approach to a project.  They're great.  But I'm put off by this.  I hope the price difference between systems is significant enough that the decision is basically made for me.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

What, again with the sheds?

From materialicious, a 190 sf project on Lake Simcoe, Ontario, by Taylor Smyth Architects

The siting is half of this project, and the randomness of the horizontal slats is a bit off-putting, but really a beautiful project nonetheless. More images:

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tiny Architecture

As will become apparent, I'm a sucker for small, nicely detailed sheds & such. There's something about taking a small, small project and figuring out every bit of its construction. This project:

isn't perfect - it seems to have too much glass, the windows are too close to the edges of the wall, the dormer isn't a strong enough element (I keep thinking of what Venturi would do with it), and the siting is...well, let's just be charitable and call it problematic. But something about it seems to represent an iconic idea of an urban house.

Further digging makes this analysis somewhat moot - the name of the project is "Roundabout House," and it's the creation of artist / architect John Kormeling. It travels, once around a Dutch roundabout, one rotation every 20 hours...which makes the siting a non-issue. I still have some misgivings about the proportions of the front facade, misgivings that amplify when I realize that this isn't an actual house but an object to be experienced in the landscape. One would think that the notion of a house moving through the landscape is key to the artist's vision, and that idiosyncratic design choices (of which there are several, certainly) might detract from that experience. I'd like to know more about the artist's idea.
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more nice detailing.

i'd like to see some more sunlight, to be honest, but the patterns that the roof framing throw across the floor are delicious. the perforated wood slider, too - our designer(s) really like the 'barn door' look, and it's nice to see it done well.

the tag on the flickr photo is "marnelavalle," which is (according to wikipedia) a new town outside paris. no word on the architect.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Renzo Piano - Peek & Kloppenburg Store, Koln, Germany

This isn't the exciting part, although i think most people would find it's a bit too "look at me" for my tastes.  Set against the backdrop of the stone (?) grid to the left, yeah, okay.  It's a bit too jarring a contrast vs. the slabs to the right, but I'm not sure where this project ends and the next begins. 

In any case, this:

is the kick-ass part.  Exquisitely detailed, as one might expect in a Piano project - the exposed fasteners in the wood (?) framing (you can imagine someone in Piano's office doing sketch after sketch of that pattern before the boss finally okayed it), the reduced cross section as the framing goes down the wall, the interior framing that braces the vertical members, the horizontal "piping" (are they mechanical components, or horizontal purlins?)...the overall effect is that of willful precision.  You get the idea that Piano designed the egg from the inside out, although that is almost certainly not the case.  Contrast that with something like Gehry's Disney Concert Hall, where the designer came up with an exterior look (which, it must be noted, is not my style at all, but to each his own) and shoehorned a structure and (possibly) program after the fact.

As I said, exquisite.
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A New Direction

This "blog" has been a hit-or-miss proposition, formless and aimless. Kinda like...oh, I don't know. The Lions? Michigan basketball? Most television programming? Whatever. Anyway, I changed jobs a month or so ago, and it's recharged my interest in design and architecture. So I've been "collecting" images of cool projects and whatnot on my flickr page, and it occurs to me that I could do some commentary on the stuff that clicks with me, as well as the intermittent philosophical quotes, movie / book reviews, sports stuff, etc. So. Take two. Or three, or seven...whatever. Go!