2012 Gate River Run

A little over 6 years ago I decided I was going to begin training to run my first 5k race. It took 3 months, but I ran that first race. Since then I’ve been a Runner. And let me tell you, that was a big shift for me. I was always the guy who made fun of those “health freaks” running in their funny shorts and their walk-mans (yes I’m a child of the 80s). Then suddenly I was one of them. One race and I was hooked.

On Saturday I ran in my 6th Gate River Run. The Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida is the largest 15k in the US. And this year was no exception. I participated this year with 20,000 of my closest friends and it was EPIC! I finished not just in record time, but in “holy-crap-thats-really-my-time?!” record time.

Final official 15k finishing time 1:15:17. Boom baby!

If you’re not a runner, go run. You just might like it. 😉

grammar pet peeves – #LetsBlogOff

Your – possessive
You’re – you are

*face palm

There – as in “over there”
Their – possessive
They’re – they are

Were – as in “you were over there”
We’re – we are

*smacks head on desk

ATM machine = Automated Teller Machine machine….REALLY PEOPLE??!!

*jumps out of first floor window

– the greatest grammar pet peeve of all –

the random capitalization of letters and the random repeat of letters to make words longer in social media posts. Holy Jesus, save me from hurting someone.

As architects our success is directly proportional to our ability to communicate effectively, efficiently, and intelligently. Now, I do not pretend to be a learned writer or grammar aficionado, but at least I know how to use the spell/grammar check tools at my disposal. And I always proof read before posting. This doesn’t mean that I catch every little foible or even that I would recognize all of the mistakes I make, but I do my best to try.

When I give presentations, I am conscious of limiting the use of “um” and “uh” and the dreaded “like” from my vocabulary because it’s important to me that my listeners are wowed by my presentation and don’t get lost in the never-ending world of “UH”. However, listening to a modern 20 something talk in conversation is like having a front row seat to the wholesale rape and torture of the English language. I think we’ve all suffered through at least 10 minutes of one episode of Jersey Shore, so you know exactly what I’m talking about.

In the presentations I sat through last week it was obvious that presentation skills aren’t focused on at the collegiate level. And this is a shame. A bad design can win out over a good design if presented more successfully.

Again, as architects our success is directly proportional to our ability to communicate effectively, efficiently, and intelligently. I welcome any and all grammatical corrections to this post. 🙂

manic monday – my favorite architects and blogs

If you read my previous post you know that I recently participated in a 4th year architecture studio midterm critique. During one of the presentations, while several of us offered our critique, the question was asked of the student “who is your favorite architect?”. And of course every mind in the room immediately started rattling off names of famous starchitects like Mies van der Rohe or Le Corbusier or Santiago Calatrava or Richard Meier. And, as the student floundered to find what she may have thought would be an appropriate answer, I began to wonder why it is that we put so much celebrity on these high profile architects? Their designs are high profile, to be sure. And mostly cutting edge in design and execution, though perhaps not always successful in function and performance. And that is well and good. Architecture needs to have her envelope pushed and stretched and sometimes torn completely. But, do we really need to look so far up towards Mt Olympus type architects to find cutting edge work to admire and emulate?

I think not.

I’ll be honest and admit that, when I was in school, my favorite architects were none other than Richard Meier and Le Corbusier. I identified most with them because I, even now, strive to design with an honest simplicity of material, color and form. But as I’ve continued in my practice and learned and worked for real architects, not those ephemeral Olympians, I’ve seen the immense value in architects and designers who simply strive to give their clients the best product and service they can without the need or even desire for widespread recognition. These are the architects I celebrate and follow and try to emulate.

Starchitects are great. They get headlines and they help to publicize architecture in the public eye. But there are so many more that truly add value to our profession either through their work, community involvement, education and/or outreach. And here is a small list of some local Jacksonville architects and designers I’d like to introduce you to. These are just some of those that, through their work and willingness to act on behalf of the profession and not just themselves, I admire and respect.

Content Design Group

Dasher Hurst Architects

Cote Renard Architecture

Kasper Architects

Akel Logan and Shafer

Richard Skinner & Associates

PBV Architecture

Group 4 Design, Inc.

Zona & Associates

JAA Architecture, Inc.


U of Florida Midterm Crit: 4th Year Architecture

I spent March 2nd on the fourth floor of the historic Dyal Upchurch building in Downtown Jacksonville listening to the presentations of 4th year architecture students on their design solutions for one of three urban infill sites along Main Street in the historic Springfield neighborhood. I love participating in these events as an architect and designer not just because of a desire to engage with the upcoming generation of architects, but mostly because it’s a perfect excuse to sit in a room with other design obsessed students and professionals talking about design and architecture for 5 hours. Winning!

We all know that, as professionals, it’s easy to get caught up in the humdrum of daily architect-er-ing and lose some of that fervor we had in studio. I encourage all of you, if you’re not already, to get involved with your local universities and offer to either sit in on or even teach design courses. Not only do you get to pour into a whole new generation of architects, but it just might be what you need to rekindle your own inner designer.

Here are some images of the presentations taken with my iPhone. Keep in mind this was the midterm crit, so there is a fair level of resolution to most of the projects, but also a good way to go. Hopefully we helped to steer most of them in the right direction. I’m looking forward to the final crit in Gainesville in April like a starving man waiting for a steak at Longhorn. :-\ Enjoy.

This project is interesting. The student is using a folded skin that wraps the building and is bent or folded in places to create openings to let in natural light. You can also see in the courtyard rendering above that he’s even taken the skin all the way to the ground and incorporated table seating as part of the building facade. Nice touch, no?

This project has one of the most successfully designed outdoor spaces. Taking full advantage of the corner site, this student created an outdoor public space that is fully integrated with the building itself rather than being separate or an “afterthought”. One of my favorites.

Anyone who knows me knows that I get all giddy when I see physical models. In my mind any student that brings in study models, no matter how crude or rudimentary, gets a big ole gold star in my book. Surprisingly I was not only the first, but the only, one on the jury to pick up the models, look at them, turn them around and get “into” the buildings. One of the things we’ve lost as a profession, in my opinion, is the tactile connection to our buildings. The computer has anesthetized us against our buildings with flashy and colorful renderings. Design is so much more fluid and real when you use your hands to create form and use those forms to study light in the real world, even at a small scale.

Overall this crit was a huge success. As fourth year students, this group is getting ready to graduate and move on to graduate studies. This will be a more critical time in which they continue to develop and refine their own personal design philosophies. I’m excited to see what this group has to offer in the future.

And again, if you’re not already involved with a local university architecture program, get up and get involved. You’ll thank me. I promise. These kids are the future of our profession. Pour into them anything you can. We’ll all be better off in the long run.

No Meat March

This post has nothing to do with architecture (I’m sure I’ll sneak it in though) and yes, I feel fine. No, I am not hemorrhaging from the eyes and no, I have not turned into a zombie. Yet.

Today marks the start of No Meat March, a month-long event in support of a vegetarian lifestyle and in protest again the inhumane and cruel treatment of animals that we consume daily. And so, for the entire month of March I, my wife, and children will be giving up meat completely. No chicken, no swine, no Daisy the Cow, no fish. As an added challenge for myself this month I’m also giving up cow’s milk. I don’t drink soy or almond milk, so basically I’m giving up all forms of milk – except cheese, I refuse to live without cheese. I’m not a communist. Cause we all know only communists can live without cheese. :-\

Anyone who knows me will immediately think “pfft, yeah right” because I have a profound obsession with cookies and milk. It borders on obscene. I don’t think it’s any coincidence either that No Meat March happens to fall within Lent, which is of course a time when we deprive ourselves of something to honor the sacrifice Christ made for 40 days in the desert.

So, does any of this have anything to do with architecture? Why, yes, it does. A larger issue that this has me thinking about is how we use our land and resources responsibly as stewards of this planet. Whether you believe in a biblical perspective or not, being at the top of the food chain comes with a certain degree of responsibility towards the environments we all inhabit and looking around I’m sure you can agree we’ve done a pretty piss poor job of that as of late.

But, I think there is genuine hope on the horizon. As more and more people are moving back to their urban city centers, the suburbs (hopefully) are shrinking, and mass transit is on the tip of everyone’s tongue due to the out-of-control rise in fuel costs, people, in the larger cultural sense, are thinking more carefully about how they consume. And by consume, I mean everything – food, clothing, bath products, shoes, cars, bicycles, those air-freshener things you put in your car. Hyper-localism is on the rise with more cities creating open air farmer’s markets and arts markets and providing incentives for local artists, craftsmen and the like to open small pop-up shops in vacant storefronts. And this localism is spreading as people are becoming more conscious of not just what they consume but where it comes from. This leads naturally to a larger awareness of how the things we consume are produced, where they are produced and what that means for our economy, our ecology and our community.

So, as I embark on this somewhat crazy trip into vegetarianism (anyone else feel like there are too many “isms out there?), I ask everyone – do you think about the things you consume? Do you think about the impact certain things may have on your environment and community? And if not, why not? After all, we’re all sharing the same rock. We’re all equal stewards of our home, our planet, and the hope for the future.

What say you?