talk about taking a break. my last post was back in october 07 – let’s see, what was life like back then? aside from my daughter not having been born yet, not all that much was different – of course, my daughter being born is all the difference it takes to go from day to night, black to white. two totally different worlds. life has been good since she was born in november – watching her grow everyday is pretty much all i care about at the moment.
i’ve finally gotten back into the swing of finishing some renovations on the house that i started before she was born – hopefully i’ll get them done in the next month so that i can move on to the next round of fixes: remove the crappy corrugated plastic overhang on the back porch and replace it w/ a trellis. i’ve also started the design for our landscaping, which won’t exactly be cheap, but is the first thing to do when increasing home value. major home renovation (aside from painting and installing wood floors) will have to wait.
i’m completing 100% construction documents for my current project this week. very exciting – i’ve been on the project since design development, though i’ve watched and sat on crits during schematic design. it’s a really nice and simple, small addition to a university building here in austin. next week i’ll move onto a new charter elementary school project, which will be really exciting. it’s set to be LEED silver, which means i finally will have the time to actually get LEED certified (which was on my to-do list since last september).
haven’t done much travel since the munchkin was born, aside from going up to dallas to visit w/ her grandparents. did go to houston one weekend for a friend’s wedding shower – it was pretty much my first time there, but only had time to visit the contemporary arts museum. great exhibit on…contemporary design. mies’ museum of fine arts was across the street, but you need more time to visit that. i’m excited to go back – some good architecture out there.
also went up to NY for the first part of passover – at 5 months old, it was munchkinface’s first flight. she did pretty well, but that was thanks to the tubes in her ears installed 2 wks prior – she already had 4 ear infections, so tubes were pretty much the only recourse aside from constant doses of antibiotics, which are not at all cool. she was a bit fussy in NY – i think the flight, plus change in scenery and new crib were a bit much. she got to meet some of her cousins and spend precious time w/ my parents and sister, which of course is the most important part of these visits. 2 days after we returned, my sister came to visit for 5 days – it was great.
ok, good update. back to work, and hopefully some more regular posts again.
so it’s been nearly 2 months since i’ve posted, and i’d say a bit has happened in my life in that time. this post won’t be an update on all of that b/c it will likely verge on novella status, but in excerpt fashion, here’s the rub:
- first thing’s first: finished the semester. rocked out some kick-ass details of the firehouse, and was pretty happy w/ final review. i feel the critique was legit, and i’m in the process of updating a few items on the firehouse before me and the schreibs submit it to ISSUE:, the UT graduate architecture publication. after that it will be engulfed in v.2 of my portfolio. i took incompletes in 2 classes, and am currently trying to finish up some of that work (my studio this past semester was the most intense of any in arch.school, and it’s recommended to only take on class in addition to the studio. i took 2 in addition to planning a wedding, so i’m finishing up 2 classes in extended fashion).
- second thing which is really more important than the first: got married. as my best man and father-in-law both remarked in their toasts – finally. i know, dating for nearly 10 years is lengthy. on the up side, we were both completely confident in our future together and had absolutely zero anxiety going into the wedding (aside from regular anxiety dreams, which for some reason always involved wearing the wrong clothing – me, cindy, and our parents all had anxiety dreams about wedding garb. weird). after the wedding, which was amazing and fairy tale-esque, we stayed at the W Union Square in Manhattan for two days, and were given a complimentary upgrade to a suite overlooking Union Square. it totally rocked. much better than the silly Waldorf that we nearly stayed at. i can’t even believe that was ever contemplated. we then jetblue-d our way back to austin, and have been completely surprised to find that being married after 10 yrs of dating and 2 yrs of living together does feel different! it’s wonderful, and i can’t explain it. bordering on sappy, i have no doubt that i made the best decision of my life.
- sheva brachos: following a jewish wedding are seven days of parties in the new couple’s honor, and at each party seven blessings are read to wish them a life of happiness and success. they were thrown by our rabbi in austin and were very nice. parties nearly every night following your wedding, though, is exhausting.
- dallas: about 5 days after getting back to austin, we drove up to dallas (through a torrential storm) to spend christmas w/ the in-laws and extended family (who obviously aren’t jewish). jews and christmas – whoever says they don’t mix doesn’t know whats up. jews secretly love christmas – not the celebration of the birth of christ, but the awesome spirit and happiness and food and partying that happens. i love spending christmas w/ my new family and look forward to it every year. especially the insane cousins who play reindeer games, and we’re not talking ben affleck and his shitty movies – we’re talking about reassembling the neighbor’s yard art in compromising positions. following christmas, there was cindy’s office holiday party held at the managing partner’s house in fort worth severaly days later, so she worked in the dallas office and i worked at her parents’ house. on friday before we left, i explored downtown dallas, which is going to be pretty kick-ass soon. lots of old building are being converted to condos and apartments, and there’s some world class art and museum fun to be had down there. i got to visit the nasher sculpture center for the first time, and though it’s not necessary to proclaim renzo piano a master, i have to proclaim the beauty and elegance of the building. review of the nasher must be held for another post. also went to the dallas museum of art to see a van gogh exhibit, but only looked at it for about 10 min before checking out other parts of the museum. NOTE: never go see a special exhibition, ever, unless you REALLY love the topic. they’re generally filled to bursting w/ people that are trying to fill their yearly culture quota, and are therefore impossible to navigate or enjoy.
- austin: drove back to austin in another torrential storm (no rain while we were in dallas – just driving to and from!). this storm was even better than the first as we got to race tornado warnings! we waited out the first warning in dallas and had some lunch, but then listened to Emergency Broadcasting Service announcements the whole way back as we drove through walls of water. lots of fun. we only made it back 45 minutes later than our estimate, though, which was surprising. we immediately fell asleep.
- new years eve: stayed home, and cindy prepared an amazing gourmet meal. seriously, super top-notch. started dinner late so that we could have desert at midnight. we had the nice playlist going, the champagne, the fireworks set off by the neighbors, the firepit in the backyard. couldn’t have been better.
- new years day: double-dipped the movie theater for the first time since college. saw ‘night at the museum’ and ‘007: casino royale’ (for the second time). ‘museum’ was cute, nothing great, but not horrible either. i laughed, but it was only worth the cost of admission b/c i knew i’d get to see 007 again, which cindy had not yet seen. honestly, this 007 movie at the very least tied the best of any sean connery bond flicks, if it didn’t outright take the crown as the best 007 movie ever. it was a ‘bourne identity’ type of bond – not a ridiculous amalgam of gadgets and perfect hair stunts. super ass-kicking. and the ending rocked.
- now: as i said before, now i’m trying to do work from my incomplete classes, write thank you notes from the wedding, and pull together last minute details for our honeymoon to buenos aires next week.
- oh yeah: i got a macbook pro! i bought it refurbished from apple, so it was discounted nearly 40%. great deal. it’s a core duo, not core 2 duo, but i’m sure that i’ll survive for a few years w/ this hardware! the reason i upgraded from a powerbook was so that i could run windows (which is unforunately requied to run the standard CAD and 3d modeling programs). cindy bought my powerbook from me, so ultimately my total cost for the new computer was about $500-600. pretty good for a major upgrade. i think that i’ll try to sell and upgrade my machines every year or two from now on. you can get a good price selling apple machines in that time frame, and the amount of money i invest in new hardware every 1-2 years will ultimately be less than if i waited, say, 3 years and paid full price for a new machine. bonus: now i have a built-in web-cam so i can video chat (you can skype me if you want – the button on the right will say if i’m online [sidenote: i don’t know nearly enough people on skype. it seems that everyone i know who uses it keeps it generally as a work tool. oh well]).
- admission: ok, this did end up being a large post.
it was really exciting to see an article today in the NY Times about Grimshaw’s design for the Queens Museum of Art. i took off last semester from school and worked at Grimshaw NY, and spent some time on the QMA project, so i was really happy to see it unveiled. the design hasn’t changed much since i left in early july, and i was especially happy to see that the design for the west facade (containing ‘Queens Museum of Art’ in the 138 languages spoken in Queen) remains.
back when i was in NY, i entered an architecture competition w/ some coworkers. it was a ‘young architects’ competition (5yrs of work or less) sponsored by the NY chapter of USGBC. USGBC maintains the LEED system, the prevelant method in the US for rating green buildings. the program for the competiton was to create an education and nature center for soundview park in the bronx, a new park developing over the remains of a former landfill. our team was called gangGREEN. haha. we came in 2nd-place.
our design was pretty wild. it looked a bit like an ameoba, w/ an undulating roof shaped by the program beneath it. of course, as w/ any design, it could have been vastly improved by more time in the design stage. we had a double skin, semi-moveable, based on a pentagon-module. different triangles w/in the pentagon served different functional purposes based on the requirements of the space below (it was basically a roofing system). some triangles titled up to capture solar energy, others tilted up to open or close in order to provide ventilation, others served as locations for green roofing. there was a large circular berm on site (~100′ diamter), but we have no idea where it came from. we left it in place and butted our building against it. the berm became the path for a new hike/bike trail through the park. we also had a living machine (basically a system using a series of plantings to clean waste water) w/in the building itself. that was actually a really cool component, as it was built around some of the columns, which drained rainwater from the roof through a central funnel in the column to a holding tank which slowly infused the first stage tank of the living machine.
our prize for second place was $500 (split 5 ways) and a Haworth Zody chair. the Haworth rep ended up getting us all Zody chairs, and mine just arrived today! this is soooo awesome! the Zody chair is certified Cradle-to-Cradle, a green certification from MBDC (a firm started by Bill McDonough, green architecture posterchild). Cradle-to-Cradle means that an item can be fully disassembled and recycled (either conventional recycling or reused) at the end of it’s life. parts of the Zody chair are brand new, though they can be recycled, and other parts have recycled content. so at the end of my chair’s life, Haworth will take it back and turn it into something else. this chair is going for $600 new on eBay, so not a bad win! 🙂
i’m busy finishing up a website for my upcoming wedding, and there’s a section that provides info on flying into NY. as Newark is one of the 3 metro airports, i’ve included it. i’ve included iconography to represent NY – a pixelated city skyline and the statue of liberty. but what in the world to do for newark? i can’t think of any readily recognizable icon for NJ – aside from smokestacks and barrels of waste ;). yes, i know NJ is quite beautiful, bugger off. the only thing that i can think of is the shape of the state, and that’s lame. anybody out there have a suggestion for a good icon for NJ? keep in mind that this will be quite small – 100x20px or 25x60px. something that can be pixelated.
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?
i know i’ve been pretty negative about all things transportation in NY lately, even though it’s the best public transporation network in the US, but the things i bitch about are legit. i love the extent of the subways and buses and trains, but their maintenance really does stink.
sooo, i figured instead of complaining about the train, i’d make a snide comment about this ad i saw on the LIRR the other day. it’s pretty funny. sorry, but that ad does not speak to any new generation. it’s inherently boring and cliched. apparently, they believe that leather pants, a leather skirt and boots are all that it takes to hook up to the ‘new’ generation. that and the word podcast. yup, i’m there.