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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

Deep Dive into Neocon Inspiration

Neocon 2017, Chicago Merchandise Mart, Interior Design and ArtWhile wandering the Mart at Neocon this year, I challenged myself to look beyond all the cool new products and design trends to find what inspired me in a more holistic way. After all, I see the larger world through the lens of design. What parallels could I find between our industry and what is happening in the world of art and cityscape?

With my trusty iPhone at hand, I watched for opportunities to capture an essence of creativity and exploration to take home with me. What caught my eye this year was all about texture and finding parallels between what I saw at the Art Institute Chicago, the River Walk and in showrooms.

Neocon 2017, Chicago Merchandise Mart, Interior Design and ArtWhile sitting on the tarmac at O’Hare during a thunderstorm, I had the time to sort through photos in a thoughtful way. Back at home, I plan on keeping my eyes open for inspiration, which like lightening, can strike at any time!

 

 

 

Bikes and Brews

Ride 2

What a great name for an event! When I saw the flier float around our office I immediatly grabbed it and knew I would have to roll. TLCD Architecture and many others were invited to join the annual ride to a nearby town of Sebastopol for a destination of good conversations, food and the celebration of bikes..and Beer.

 

 

Personally I’d never been to “Hopmonk”, but what a cool venue. We were greeted with ample bike parking for the whole group and a nice laid back outdoor seating area with a great draft list with many local micro’s. Fellow riders from ZFA and I were grubbing down on pulled pork sandwiches and the favorite 4 pack taco platter…amazing! According to local lore they have music there pretty regularly and I could see it being a pretty fun time. Living in Sonoma County (one of the worlds greatest bike and beer destinations) this local gathering was a great reminder of how lucky I am to get to enjoy this place from the speed and freedom of a bike. On the trip back to Santa Rosa, the ZFA crew kicked it into hyper speed as TLCD tried to keep up with the sprint… https://www.strava.com/segments/10029921/embed  Not realizing I was riding with world class riders I now know that I will have to train for next year’s event, and hopefully grab a few notches higher on the list of riders. I will definitely be looking forward to next year’s ride, and thank you ZFA engineering for getting everyone together to enjoy our amazing place to live and work.

Top up?

Top up?

TLCD’s Carl Servais Takes on Winter in DC for AIA Grassroots Conference

As the 2015 President of the AIA Redwood Empire Chapter (AIARE), I recently had the privilege of traveling to Washington DC for the annual AIA Grassroots Conference. Over 600 architects and administrative staff gathered together to advocate important legislative issues with our representatives on Capital Hill, to receive leadership training, and to network and collaborate with each other to find ways of better serving the AIA membership. I met with AIA leaders from chapters all around the country, from coastal Louisiana to northern Minnesota. Many of the folks I spoke with had issues similar to what our local chapter faces: how to best serve a diverse set of professionals from a vast geographic area with limited resources and how to motivate and inspire the emerging professionals who will carry the leadership torch of our future. There are no simple or easy answers to these questions, but I met lots of inspiring colleagues and I returned with a renewed sense of focus and energy, and with a handful of ideas that I will bring to my fellow directors on the AIARE Board.

Here are three of the highlights of my trip:

As an architect, of course the first thing I had to do after arriving was to walk the Mall. What I hadn’t realized is how beautifully the many historical buildings and monuments are lit up at night. I grew up in Wisconsin, so the cold winter night was no problem for me.

On the first day of the conference, my schedule didn’t start until the afternoon, so I took advantage of the free time by waiting in line to see oral arguments of the so-called “Obamacare” law at the Supreme Court. I waited for about 2-1/2 hours to get in, and I only got to sit for about 3 minutes in the courtroom, but it was well worth the wait to see the court in action. Fortunately, there were about 200 protestors providing entertainment for everyone waiting in line.

Finally, Wendy Young, the AIARE Executive Director, set up meetings for us to meet with 5th District Congressman Mike Thompson, and 2nd District Congressman Jared Huffman. After receiving training from the AIA federal advocacy team about the important legislative issues that were on the table, I was prepared to discuss the following:

1. Protect and enhance the Federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC).

2. Cosponsor the Safe Building Code Incentive Act, which encourages states to voluntarily adopt and enforce nationally recognized model building codes for residential and commercial structures in order to qualify for additional post-disaster FEMA grants.

3. Cosponsor the National Design Services Act, which extends to architecture graduates student debt relief in exchange for work in underserved communities.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature intervened and dumped 6 inches of snow the day of my meeting, thereby effectively shutting the government down for the day. We still made the trek up to Capital Hill and had the opportunity to meet with Scott Rasmussen, Congressman Huffman’s Legislative Assistant. I think I made a good, confident presentation of the legislation we were there to promote and I went away feeling great about having advocated for our profession.

Photographing the New North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park

North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park, Sonoma County, Alan Butler, TLCD Architecture

Sonoma County Regional Parks opened a spectacular new park, North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park, that links the Bennett Valley/Sonoma Mountain Road region with Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen. My wife and I took to the trails and captured some of the beauty of this newest addition to our regional park system.

The park has one main trail leading to the western border of Jack London State Park near the top of Sonoma Mountain. Most hikers appeared to be doing the 2.2 mile hike up to the Bennett Valley Overlook about half way up the trail. The trails are new and while the trek is all up hill the grades are quite reasonable. There is about 800 feet elevation gain to the Overlook and about another 300 to the park boundary.

The beginning of the walk is wooded, gradually opening up as you gain elevation. With the fog last Friday morning it was stunning to look down on the layers of clouds lying in the valleys. From the Overlook there is a wide view looking from Mt. Taylor and sweeping eastward to Hood Mountain in the east.

The new park is very popular right now and while getting in during the morning was achievable for most of those I talked too, the rangers were turning away people in the afternoons. There is a narrow access road leading into the park from Sonoma Mountain Road. The turn is just short of three miles from Bennett Valley Road.

We saw about a dozen different types of wildflowers in bloom and I expect that in a few weeks it should be an even better display. Definitely worth the trip!

Welcome to the Beach

We started the surface refinishing of our new office!  As usual photos don’t do it justice. I did manage to sneak in during their lunch hour and take a peek at the transformation in its early stages.  The concrete is taking on a satin feel which is truly remarkable to experience. I wish all concrete could be like this…  Oh and another bonus, having an indoor beach is be pretty cool for office parties too.

Beach found

Wondering how that giant opening got in this solid concrete box?

 

Savannah: America’s First Planned City

Savannah, Georgia, State Capital, Don Tomasi, Oglethorpe PlanDon Tomasi, AIA

Last week my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Savannah, Georgia. I have been interested in visiting Savannah since first hearing about it in an architectural history class more than 30 years ago!

Savannah was established in 1733 and was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia. It was Georgia’s largest city until 1880 when it was surpassed in size by Atlanta. The City is steeped in history, and in many respects is the quintessential southern city. But my interest in visiting Savannah is primarily due to the city’s unique urban design; Savannah is known as America’s first planned city, and is a National Historic Landmark District visited by millions every year.

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Savannah’s plan, know as the Oglethorpe plan, consists of a series of wards surrounding 22 central squares, with trust lots on the east and west sides of each square for public buildings and churches. I found that the experience of walking through the town to be truly unique. The 22 squares are richly landscaped, with large arching trees that create an abundance of shade. From almost any given point in the historic district one can see at least two other squares, which are spaced only 2 blocks apart to the north, south, west and east. Standing in the middle of any given square offers views of 4 adjacent squares.

The effect of the urban grid is of a small-scaled community in which vehicular traffic is subordinate to the pedestrian environment. Though designed more than a hundred years before the advent of the motor vehicle, the network of squares easily accommodates traffic, while providing an integral traffic “calming” system. As a result, wandering through the historic district is a unique and truly pleasurable experience, enriched by historic buildings at every turn, and numerous points of historic interest.

 

Urban Sketching in the Bay Area

By Alan Butler AIA

Last week I took a three day urban sketching and watercolor class in the East Bay. It was taught by Alameda architect David Savellano, http://davidsavellano.com. He was a great teacher and it exposed me to many new concepts and techniques for both sketching and using watercolor. I have a long way to go, but had a great time sketching at various waterfront locations in Oakland including the Jack London Square Farmer’s Market and along the Alameda Estuary.

The days following allowed me to do some experiments in watercolor in Alameda, San Francisco, and Stanford. Tuesday was a visit to the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park where I took some of the photos shown below, and later sketched on the band concourse. We saw the Richard Diebenkorn show at the DeYoung which I highly recommend. Diebenkorn is perhaps the most highly regarded California artist of the Abstract Expressionist period from the 50’s to the late 70’s. The show covers his Berkeley years in the mid fifties to the mid sixties. This is his most widely liked work and is much more realistically focused work involving figures and landscapes. His use of color and forms is very exciting.

All in all a great week in our own backyard of the Bay Area. Don’t miss the lights on the Oakland Bay bridge after dark!

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Incredible Walk

Trying to take advantage of our recent fabulous January weather, on Sunday I took one of the most beautiful urban walks in the U.S. The walk from the Palace of Fine Arts along the Chrissy Field waterfront to Fort Point  in San Francisco was just incredible. The walk ends under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge and  the bridge is in view  the whole time. It is two miles each way and an easy flat walk. Worth a trip to San Francisco.

Two mile route from the Palace of Fine Arts to the Golden Gate Bridge

The Palace of Fine Arts has just been restored and is absolutely beautiful. It is well worth a visit in itself. The scale of  the structures is immense and the reflecting pool provides a beautiful vista of the complex.

Sketchbook

 

I think that almost every architect has more than one sketchbook in a bookcase at home with one or two sketches and good intentions to fill the rest of it. I bet I have ten or more and some of them have not been opened for a decade or more. My last two trips to Italy, I have finally gotten over my inhibitions (what if I do a bad drawing!?) and carved out the time to sketch regularly. This fall, while my wife Margaret was in Italian language classes, I went out and walked, took pictures and sat and sketched. My goal was to do at least one sketch each day. Linked on Flickr are some of the sketches I did.

We spent ten days in Rome, then travelled northeast about 3 ½ hours by bus to the town of Ascoli Piceno in the Le Marche province. It is a vital and economically robust town of 60,000 with a medieval core that dates from the 11th and 12th century. We stayed in an architect’s home overlooking the town that that had been converted to a B&B by his nephew, so you will see lots of views of the towers from above. Urbino was our next stop and focused around a renaissance fortress on a hilltop that is every travel photographers dream. Our last stop was Ferrara, a town about the size of Santa Rosa with an intact walled core dating from medieval and renaissance times. Sketching was a relaxing way of making myself sit quietly in one place for a while and really contributed to making this into a true vacation. I’ve got a couple of slide shows scheduled in January to show both the historic and contemporary facets of our trip.

 

GULF OIL SPILL

Here is a message from the director of the spill response for IBRRC, Jay Holcomb. I thought that some of you might be interested to know some of the final numbers of the response effort. 5 months after the rig sank in the gulf of Mexico, our teams are coming home.

-Jaime

September 21, 2010

Dear Friends and Supporters,
After nearly five months working at the Gulf Oil Spill I just returned to California and want to give you an update on IBRRC’s efforts at the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
The demobilization of all four rehabilitation centers and the remaining two stabilization centers should be completed in the next few weeks as they are no longer receiving oiled birds. We still have five IBRRC response team members in the gulf helping Tri-State Bird Rescue get the last of the birds released. In terms of the rehabilitation of impacted birds, many of them did well considering the logistical and political challenges that were a part of this spill. Approximately 2,000 live oiled birds have been admitted to the rescue centers since late April.To date we have released over 1,200 birds and still have another 150 or so in care. The final numbers will be posted at the official end of the rehabilitation program. See: Updated bird numbers
This was an unprecedented event in our nation’s and IBRRC’s history. Our organization mobilized over 88 response team members, and completed well over 400 media interviews from CNN to documentary film crews. We also provided our expertise to the U.S. government and various organizations and agencies involved in the spill. In addition, we cared for many new species of birds and provided invaluable experience to new and existing staff and response team members.
During this large-scale effort, while up to our elbows in oiled pelicans and chaos, we received an outpouring of good will and encouragement from our supporters, members and others who repeatedly relayed to us that our efforts gave them hope during what seemed like a hopeless situation. This was an unexpected surprise and meant a great deal to all of us who worked long hours to ensure that each bird received expert care.
The specific details and stories, as well as more pictures and video of our spill response and experiences will be forthcoming in the next few months. To commemorate this historic event, we have also created a limited edition t-shirt that honors and displays the birds that were the true stars of the oil spill and deserve the most recognition. The shirt is available for purchase at our online store.
On behalf of all of our staff, volunteers and response team, I want to thank you for your support during the spill. We look forward to seeing you and talking to you in the future.
Sincerely,

Jay Holcomb, Executive Director
International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC)

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