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back in Austin

whew – what a ride. got back in austin last wk after having spent 6 months working in NY for Grimshaw Architects.  it was intense at times, with long hours, but overall it was not the grueling experience that so many people associate with architecture.  i learned a lot about the design process in a professional office, and was especially grateful for the opportunity as Grimshaw produces excellent details for highly technicaly and highly detailed buildings.  i also managed to see, hear, and learn a lot about client interaction – quite the mixed bag.  it can be so aggravating to be hired for your expertise, but then told to cut things out of the design b/c of some inane preconception held by a client (i.e. i’d like a fountain at the entry – even though it has absolutely no place in a building of this type, and is an environmentally taxing addition to the building considering the climate).  also enlightening was seeing how budget cutbacks can kill a project and how the design team must deal with it (the ever tightening budget on the Fulton Street Transit Center threatened to completely mangle the design of the building, until the MTA managed to reinstate the funding.  all of this can be found in numerous NY publications).

it was great to be able to spend time w/ my parents, though i have to say that my sanity was saved by the hours i worked.  i pretty much only saw them on the weekends, tho my dad drove me to the train every morning.  it was really nice being able to see them as i never get to spend that amount of time in NY anymore.  before i left, my sister managed to come home to visit for 2 wks (small break between semesters at med school), so i also got to spend some time w/ her as well – i see her even less than my parents. 

i also got to create a dvd of home movies for my dad for father’s day – it was something i had planned on doing for his birthday last year, but didn’t get a chance to do.  it was freakin awesome!  i digitized old movies of us ranging from the time i was 3 (and sis was a few months old) till my 9th birthday party (karate party kicked ass!).  i put it all together in iMovie, added transitions and chapter markers, then sent it to iDvd where i created a nice menu from their templates.  it was a great menu – i scanned old photos of the whole family, and they all showed on the screen, but one photo would be enlarged for about 5-10 seconds before going back down to normal size and another photo would be enlarged.  i put george harrison’s ‘what is life’ running in the background.  the only issue was that the whole thing took about 5 hours to encode and burn – ugg.  not a big deal, really, but i wish i had known that so i could have started burning earlier in the day and not show the movie at 10p.

my last weekend in NY (july4 weekend) was spent at a family friend’s house in the hamptons.  wow.  i’d never been out there before, and i fell in love w/ it.  i’ve ripped on the hamptons for being just a beach where rich people hang out – why anyone would want to go to an extremely overpriced town was beyond me.  but i guess if you can enjoy it from the other side, it is quite worth it.  i spent all weekend w/ my parents and cousins and friends, as well as my cousins adorable daughter (1.5 yrs) with whom i am absolutely in love.  she sat in my lap on the beach during fireworks on saturday night and clapped at every part.  she almost fell asleep, but found that extra bit of energy to send her into overtired territory.

on monday morning, july3, i got up rather early in order to make the train from the hamptons to jfk by way of jamaica (LIRR to airtrain).  of course, i realized at this point that i had left several extremely important things at my parents’ house – my phone and computer chargers.  so instead of going straight to jfk, i waited at jamaica for 40 min before hopping a train to cedarhurst, catching a cab from the train to my house, picking up necessary items, and then jumping back in the cab to jfk.  thankfully jfk is not even 15 min from the house.  thankfully i had several hours to kill before my flight was to take off (the train leaving the hamptons left at about 7:30a – the next train after that would have gotten me into jamaica, let alone jfk, after my flight was schedule to leave).  i got to the jetblue terminal at jfk w/ plenty of time to spare, got some lunch, took a shuttle to the temporary jetblue terminal (they’re in the midst of expansion around the old saarinen twa terminal), and booted up my computer to enjoy jetblue’s free wireless.  i love jetblue.

now i’ve been back in austin for a week, and it’s been great.  we had some friends over for july4 and polluted the sky w/ smoke from sparklers.  we discovered that we have a flock of wild parrots in our backyard (somebody released some parrots into the wild about 20 years, but the story is part of austin’s urban mythology) as well as hummingbirds, cardinals, the standard doves, and one freakin huge egret – this thing eats crawdads that it picks up from creeks and leaves their shells on the roof.  real nice.  it also leaves massive shits in its wake, one of which it was kind enough to share with t he roof of my car.  when i brought the car to gas station yesterday (full service, how crazy is that?), the guy washing the windows insisted on cleaning off the roof (and door and hood).  he asked if i had been targeted by the bird mafia.  i replied that it was the work of just one single bird – he couldn’t believe it.

in the past week i’ve also sat on a review for the UT Summer Academy at the school of architecture.  people interested in architecture attend for 6 wks or so for an intense architecture experience to see if they really like it and want to pursue it.  i did a similar thing at harvard back when i was in college.  there were some nice designs – i especially liked the studio led by my friend brien, who gave his students the program to create a single building to accomodate a rock climbing gym and a violin studio at 8th and congress.

sat nite i caught a showing of superman, which i really liked.  i didn’t think it was the best superman movie, but it was worthy, for sure.  i liked the story for the most part, and definitely liked the fact that there is now a superbaby – nobody in all the years of the superman story has gone that route.  brandon routh was also a pretty good superman, though i think he wasn’t such a great clark kent.  and though i liked the idea of a respectful homage to the original movies and christopher reeve, i thought there was actually too much of it – the opening credits were good (though the font was from star wars which made it a rather strange hybrid), but it kept going and going.  clark kent getting caught in the revolving door w/ lois lane; superman reprimanding lois for smoking; superman explaining that statistically, flying is still the safest way to travel; perry white telling lois lane that there are no ‘f’s in catastrophe.

after superman, we met up w/ some friends at Six, lance armstrong’s bar downtown.  obviously it opened before he won the seventh tour de france.  the place was alright, but it had a manufactured line out front which is always lame.  but they didn’t take cover, which was a big plus.  they also had a kick ass deck on the roof of the building w/ big fans, so you got great views of downtown while drinking outdoors.  quite nice.

on sunday the lady and i rode our new bikes downtown to watch the world cup final at fado’s.  it was packed.  so we walked to ringers.  it was packed.  we almost went to element, which was showing the game in spanish, but thought better of how we might enjoy that experience.  we ended up at saba, which is a kind of nice bar/restaurant.  definitely more upscale than shorts when you go out, and generally a slightly older crowd (read: not really a university spot), but it was sunday afternoon and it was the only place showing the game that wasn’t actually packed.  we managed to get spots at the bar right in front of the tv, but by the time the game was in full swing the place was packed.  the bartenders were great, and the food was good too.  by the end everyone wanted somebody to score, it didn’t matter who, just so that the game would end.  obviously the highlight was zidane head-butting an italian player for no apparent reason.  even if the italian player claimed he had fucked zidane’s mom, wife, and sister in every location possible, he still should have held back.  i mean come on!  what kind of self-control do you need?!  it was his last game ever, in the world cup no less!  talk about going out in a blaze of glory!  just show some control for a few more minutes, then beat the shit out of the guy after the game.  now zidane will be known for all time as the great player who fucked up by getting ejected minutes before the end of the game, quite possibly costing france the world cup.  it was great.

and now i’m spending time cleaning out the front bedroom which will become my office, setting up, food shopping, cleaning house, and hopefully by next week i’ll get started on my first summer furniture project – either building us a new bed, or an overly elaborate hammock stand and trellis.  we’ll see.  i’m also giving thought to trying to get a job for the last 6 wks of summer.  once i get the office set up i’ll have to start working on my portfolio…

ok, that’s enough for one post.  you think?

Categories: architecture, Austin, NY, travel
  1. July 11, 2006 at 5:15 pm

    wait a minute, you mean you’re still working on and burning home dvds on the same freaking day you want to show them?!?!?

    has august’s rehearsal dinner not taught you anything? err, did my rehearsal dinner not teach you anything?

    at your wedding, we’re going to mail your slide show to you three months aftwarwards.

  2. July 11, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    uhh, fountains are the sweetest part of any lobby.

  3. July 11, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    fountains are NOT the sweetest part of any lobby. especially cheesy fountains that don’t relate in any way to the architecture of the building. and especially a theme building that is anathema to water (which i don’t want to go into more detail about, but trust me – it doesn’t go w/ this building). and super especially – this was outside, in a climate where water is scarce and it would evaporate a whole lot. ok? OK!?!!

  4. July 13, 2006 at 12:25 pm

    you’re right, fountains are not the sweetest part of the lobby. life size bronze statues of nacho libre are.

  5. August 1, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    good source news.architecture.sk blog about world of architecture news

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