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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

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.

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