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Before The Wizard of Oz

8 May

Wizard of Oz is a childhood classic that I took very seriously, well serious in a fun way! I grew up watching that film far too much to the point where in 8th grade my family took a trip all the way out to Chesterton, Indiana from Massachusetts just to go to a Wizard of Oz Festival where I met the few living cast members from the movie including the Coroner! So I am always interested to see variations on the classic story and went to see prequel Oz the Great and Powerful recently and was sadly disappointed. On the other hand I am a huge fan of the prequel musical Wicked which I have gone to see numerous times and I came to the conclusion that there is a key difference between the two: depth of substance.



Beyond The Box – A Building for Affordable Housing

2 Feb

Congratulations to the entire ToastingDesign group, engineering professional Marcos Guerrero and architect/mentor Steve Beck for the second place finish in the first annual 2012 National IDP Design Competition hosted by the AIA-San Fernando Valley Chapter.



It’s an EV Party! The IGO EV Event Recap

11 Apr

Last night’s IGO EV Member Party was filled with fun, information, and intrigue. After toasting (yes, toasting!) IGO’s EV start with a plastic cup of champagne, the IGO CEO explained some of their plans on moving forward with their EV releases. There were plenty of snacks and drinks going around while people enjoyed good discussion, thoughts about the program, and yes, even some test rides in the their new Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.





Some recap and insight:


Auto Show – The Architecture Files

28 Feb

Of course as an architect when I went to the auto show I wasn’t just looking at the cars. Now overall I must say if I was judging the show based on the booths I would have been sadly disappointed but luckily the filled them (as planned of course) and it was a great show.

Auto Show Globe

Chicago Auto Show 2012


Memorial Design…is there a wrong way

19 Dec of Capitol from Memorial=167051688

Architectural Record posted on its site an article from the Washington Post voicing concerns about the planned Eisenhower Memorial set to break ground early 2012. The preferred design by the memorial commission was created by Frank Gehry in collaboration with set designer Robert Wilson.

The main concern voiced by 2 grand-daughters of Eisenhower is that the memorial doesn’t to them truly represent the essence of who their grandfather was. And there not to thrilled about the statue of their grandfather being a representation of him as a “barefoot boy from Kansas”.  This idea stemming from a quote Eisenhower said during a coming home speech following WWII…

Eisenhower Memorial

“Because no man is really a man who has lost out of himself all of the boy, I want to speak first of the dreams of a barefoot boy” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 22, 1945



I couldn’t find a picture of the proposed statue, but their concerns over the memorial bring up the question, at least to me, is there a right way or a wrong way to memorialize a person through design?

Memorials can be as large as the recently opened September 11th Memorial in New York, or as small as a tombstone or a sign saying that this place is in remembrance of a person. So many corners and streets throughout New York City I have seen named for people and I have no idea why. Older memorials think back to the idolatry the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans had for their Gods (The Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and Washington Monument for examples). More recently memorials are becoming more artistic, and open to interpretation, for lack of a better word, you could call them modernist or avant garde. Personally while I think the design is beautiful and that it would be a very interesting space to experience first hand, if I was to look at these images and not know their context, to me its a new design for the park space that is already there and getting an upgrade. Would I have known it was supposed to be a memorial, not at all, let alone one for one of the past Presidents of the United States.

So truly is there a right way to design a memorial?

Being Elmo: Inspirational! (commentary and insight)

10 Dec

Remember Elmo? Of course you do…Sesame Street has been a major part of the lives of millions of kids. But do you know the story behind Elmo’s puppeteer? Well, a group of us found out the story at the Gene Siskel Film Center, and it was an absolute inspiration!

Trailer | Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

Kevin Clash’s story is full of struggle, opportunity, and passion, as well as a variety of life lessons and inspiration. It’s amazing to see that a passionate young kid from Baltimore can follow his dreams from as early as 10 years old to become successful, loving everything he does and touching the hearts of millions.

So, what about the rest of us? What about the teens, 20s, and 30 year olds, and beyond, that know they want to do something great but have no idea what? What about our journeys?!


Personality vs. Professionalism

5 Dec

Can personality and professionalism get along? Who says that in order to be professional you must wear a suit and maintain a serious demeanor? Who is more professional Jon Stewart or Glenn Beck? Most importantly, is the view of professional changing and how?


Advertising, When does it go too far?

15 Nov

We all know the reason for advertising but is there a line it shouldn’t cross? Is there a point where it becomes too obtrusive?

I came across an article in the Chicago Tribune: “First ads go up on Chicago River bridge houses” and my immediate reaction was that the bridge houses should not have advertising on them. It made me even more disappointed when I saw the photo.

New Bank of America advertisements on the Wabash Avenue bridge houses. (Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune)


Saving Architecture

3 Nov

I was just reading an article from the newspaper that my parent’s sent to me about a Frank Lloyd Wright house that is for sale and came across one line that really struck me:

“(Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin) has no plans to buy the Arena house, Lilek said, because it already has a similar one. Also, the group wants the row of houses to be lived in. It was important to Wright to have people live in architect-designed homes, Lilek said.”

In market for a Frank Lloyd Wright house?
Sunday Republican, October 9, 2011


What does your office space say about you (or your firm)?!

28 Oct

For the longest time, I’ve received emails from “Reach Personal Branding” getting their newsletter.  Quite honestly, I usually delete them (I don’t even remember how I subscribed to them!).  This time however, for some reason, I decided to open the email, and to my pleasant surprise, I found a quick newsletter article that made me think about the work space that we, as architects, tend to work in…take 2 minutes to read it:

The article stuck out to me because of their reference to Pixar Animation Studios.  Anyone who loves animated movies knows that Pixar is FANTASTIC!  They have developed a plethora of amazing movies (one of my favorites being the Toy Story series), and they can attribute that much to the design of their workspace…coworkers have fun, are encouraged to explore their creativity, and naturally made to run into each other to exchange ideas and get away from their desk.  Great concept!

So it seems to me to be this kind of equation: Pixar Animation Studios makes movies + great creativity-inducing workspace = GREAT MOVIES!

Obviously, the concept of great work environments is nothing new, and many companies are adopting it.  But how fast are ARCHITECTURE FIRMS adopting it?  Architecture/Interiors/Design firms are the ones usually creating these amazing workspaces, but if you have visited any firms, you’ll find that many firms don’t exactly have that kind of “cool, fun, creative-inducing” design space.  Many of them explore the concept of “openness”, where office cubicles have half walls, there are small conference spaces withing work areas, and some employees share space…but on the flip side, many offices still take the stance of looking “clean, professional” and sometimes almost “prestigious”.  What if we “practiced what we preached”?!