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At heart, I am a designer, an Architect. In this field is where many a passion lie (passive, for now, as my kids are front and center), many consuming thoughts stem out of, much time given in the pursuit of. Granted, for now it is not my career, not my sole focus. But it is there, patiently waiting and every so often getting a chance to flex many a creative muscle when Matt and I take on a project together (or I help out a bit or live vicariously through his work). I have to admit, it is hard. Hard to not be tempted to sacrifice the people who matter most in attempt to fill my burning urge to make architecture. A lesson in patience and priorities as we plan and work towards the time when I will be able to take on more. That is why when I see good design, my heart beats a little faster, the temperature rises around me, and that giddy sense of euphoria floats upwards. Kinda like tucking all 3 miles of the women’s Super G course at Mammoth (we called it something far cruder, the inappropriate, yet understandably, dubbed name garnered from this feeling of, um, arousal you have by the time you reach the bottom, I won’t repeat here).

But when I see something, let’s say, that leaves much to be desired (like this project we walked by yesterday), there is a sinking feeling of disappointment. Yes, a sadness. A sadness for the waste of what could have been, for the potential of a project that is trying to be something good, yet is tragically falling short. This project is a few blocks away from where we used to live in the loft. It is right across the street from another urban infill project done by the same group of people. A handful of blocks away from another project they did which, formally, has much more good things going for it yet the craftsmanship of construction is poorly executed. You see, we have been watching this group of designers and builders, we have even talked to the Architect, we have been hoping they might learn from completed projects and continue to improve with the next. Sadly, it appears with this project they haven’t.

Sad, because it reflects badly on the rest of us who are trying to do modernist infill projects in this part of the city. Sad, because it reflects poorly on modern Architecture in general, no wonder neighbors complain when something ‘modern’ starts to go in when this is the bar being set around this part of the city. Sad when units in other projects this group completed almost a year ago are still unsold. Sad for whomever might actually buy one of these. Sad, that while I know design review is a pain in the behind and projects like these don’t have to go under design review, that the city allows something so discombobulated to actually get through to be built when so many other good projects get canned. Sad because there are several other firms doing such better projects in this area and a project like this attempts to compete on the same level as someone like, say, PB Elemental (who is really doing some great work to better this part of the city, kudos to them on their recent AIA Honor Award).

I hate to be too much of a critic and would rather refrain from slandering another design firm, but in short, I feel this group needs a bit of peer critique and I would think it is a likelihood it may come in the form of unsold units. Even in Architecture, there are very few new ideas, sometimes the simpler solution proves to be the better rather than pushing into an area of funkified ugliness and lack of cohesion just to be different.

This particular group is also the reason we have decided to change our business name by the end of the year. Sadly, we have had as our branding and business name since the year before we got married (02) and started doing work on our own. The name of part of this group is far too close for comfort and we would rather not be confused with projects like this. Yes, it will be hard to give up something that has become such a part of us, an identity. And, No, we haven’t come up with a new name and branding yet. Gosh, it is like naming another kid!

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