five years ago my wife and i made the decision to move to the northwest…our destination of choice. ballard.
for any of you that are not local to seattle, ballard is a neighborhood in northwest seattle, just a little left of norway. we instantly fell in love with the small downtown that reminded us so much of cambridge, massachusetts. we thought it would be great to live in one of the many quaint homes that occupy this part of town.
As 2011 came to a close we stumbled upon a small cottage for sale overlooking Puget Sound. The house was absolutely a scraper, but the potential for this site was huge. We quickly put the land under contract and began designing away. The plans were set and the pro-forma was defined in lightening speed. Unfortunately we were unable to get the financing set to do the development……as this would be our first project, we were unable to convince lenders of our capability to execute it successfully.
I’ve attached a sketch of the design below. It was to be a blend of the traditional styles found in Ballard’s downtown and a touch of the modern architecture that has found its way into this neighborhood.
The title is a bit counter-intuitive seeing how I love big old Land Rovers. Almost to the point of an obsession. They hold a deeper meaning to me than just the “gas guzzling grocery getter” that most of them are. (point of confession – yes, I am guilty of this) When I drove my old 110 (looks like the old safari style most people are familiar with) I felt like I didn’t need to simply stop at my destination. Just driving the truck conjures images of mountain stream crossings or possible jaunts on hwy 1 in Australia. Alas neither of those seem to be the destination I reach; however, something internal changes so that when I arrive I am able to view the world as “global” again, not just point A to B. This daily enlightenment is what contributes so heavily to my sense of wanderlust.
….and so, here’s the relevance to architecture. In a traditional, large firm, that wanderlust can be easily crushed for a false sense of client security. In that scenario there is typically a board room and corner offices, there are shelves upon shelves of samples and books, and of course there is almost always a coffee machine at the ready. All of this lies in wait for clients to visit and be impressed.
My studio is a bit of an experiment (although I am certain it has been done before) in nomadic practice. We maintain resources across the country for production assistance and work hard to keep our overhead, and roots, minimal. Currently we are working on projects in 6 states and 3 countries. The flexibility of a small studio will allow me to travel and set-up a remote on-location office for large projects, knowing I am able to rely on developed relationships for production. In its fledgling state this has worked very well and created the need for additional resources. While it certainly sounds like a great deal of work; all of this is handled from a small office, an airport and sometimes a Rover.
i caught myself having a conversation with my 9 year old daughter about focus. the topic arose while we were discussing the importance of homework. i won’t get into the nitty gritty of the back and forth, but suffice it to say, she tought me a lesson.
actually, more than one.
the one that i’m willing to share is this. I was explaining to her that when i was young i remember hearing a very influential term that you all have no doubt also heard.
“work hard and play hard”.
it’s such a simple concept that i should certainly be able to convey it to a 4th grader, right? she gets the second part of it, but the first seems pretty foreign still. while attempting to emphasize the importance of the balance of the two i began to get a little introspective. was i was still following this little golden nugget of advice?
the good news is that i am working my tail off lately thanks to one particular wonderful client and a whole slew of other work. the problem is that i had recently become so fixated on work that i forgot the equally important other half of the equation.
so, here is a photo of me trying to play hard. in actuality my lungs were burning and i couldn’t feel my feet, but it’s movement in the right direction.
now i if i could get the motivation to finish that chess set…..
it’s something that has always driven me crazy. I’m not exactly certain why it is, but i think it has to do with being told as a child to firmly shake ones hand upon being introduced. it’s become such a pet peeve of mine that now even my father-in-law gives me a limp hand shake knowing that it’s tantamount to fingernails on the chalkboard.
aside from asking anyone who reads this to please give a firm handshake, I realized the other day that the professional equivalent (to me) is handing someone a sub-par business card. I know, I know… many of you who fancy yourselves “green” are probably wanting to shout at me for wasting good trees in this digital age even using business cards. Well, I have an answer for that. spend good money on your cards and make them marketing pieces, you’ll be more selective about who you give them to and as such will kill fewer trees.
I’ve been using Moo business cards for a while now; they’re a heavy paper stock with a smooth finish. When you hand one of these cards to someone, i guarantee they will compliment you on your choice…….versus them commenting on the interesting choice of using perferated edges.
i’m sure there are probably plenty of options out there, but moo.com is definitely a good choice.
so if you’re reading this and i’m fortunate enough to meet you face to face, please give me a firm handshake and a decent business card.
This blog, while originally intended to supplement my professional life, is going to take a more interesting turn (IMHO). While i’ve spent the past 9 years trying to portray gps designs as a formal, traditional firm, i recently realized that this stunts the potential success of the company because this isn’t who i am. The past few years i have been in a unique position to be working in multi-family development and have had the fortune to wear the hat of the owner, the builder, the developer as well as the architect. The people that i have enjoyed working with the most, and the ones that seem most reliable, are those who genuinely enjoy what they do WHILE providing professional service.
Let’s not miss that last part, without on-time delivery of a quality product the first part is moot. I believe i can deliver a quality product on time, but i want to move forward toward working on projects i enjoy and that enrich not only my clients lives, but mine too.
the last post was more of a place holder than anything else. a teaser until i could get the tweets and posts linked. rest assured, we will soon be on-line and on track with the blog. i encourage everyone to check back in a few weeks. we have an exciting range of topics to discuss, everything from the necessity of proportions in architecture to the fun that can be had with a creme brulee torch. should be fun.
architecture . science, art and a touch of insanity