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New Year, New Plans

New Year, New Plans. And for us Californians, El Nino season!

Black Swan events, slight imbalance in plans and actions for the year of 2015 has pushed some of list items into 2016. I am moving in to 2016 knowing two goals for the year, and an outcome. 3 of my ARE tests, California Supplemental Exam- and the definitive outcome of these two being a legal change of name from IRA Consultants, LLC to IRA Architects, LLC. IRA just turned five, and the fifth year was nothing short of adventure. 2015 taught resilience, patience and accepting failures with the same grace as triumphs.

Time to plan 2016!

00000.0 Priority Numero Uno: ARE and CSE.

00000.1 ARE Exams: BS/ SS/ BDCS. Finish the mandatory break on Jan 15th and resume studying.Start using the new Hay Yellow Moleskine Planner to make a schedule and stick to it.

00000.2: Pass the exams, or repeat 0000.1.

00000.3: Form a CSE Study Group at local AIA

00000.4: Take Funkaar class + Gather study material

00000.5: Register for CSE and take the test

00000.6: Pass the test.

00000.7 Patiently wait for license.

00000.8: Legally change name of the company to reflect licensure

If done with the top priority item, then add other items to the list, or rinse-repeat until done. Meanwhile continue with work-life and other necessary deviance to stay on task, and stay focused.

Also:

This month the #ArchiTalks blogging community is joining together on this month’s post to help a friend. It’s a simple life- work and family, but sometimes simplest things come with the most complex of demands. Having brought a child home from NICU, I know the pain first hand. Here are more details about Rusty and his wonderful baby boy Matthew.

Matthew Long was born May 29th, 2013, happy, and seemingly healthy. Less than two days later his mother and I found ourselves in an neonatal intensive care unit waiting room, listening to a rushed intensive care doctor explain how our son needed immediate dialysis to save his life. The disease, he briefly explained, was one of a group of disorders called Urea Cycle Disorders, which impact the way the body breaks down protein. We later discovered that Matthew’s particular variant is called OTC Deficiency, a particularly severe form of it in fact, which results in a rapid rise of ammonia in the blood, called hyperammonemia, resulting in devastating neurological damage. This form of OTC is so severe, Matthew has virtually no peers who have survived it. Once the immediate crisis was arrested, we came to find out more about the disease and the impact of this initial event.

The disease is inherited, and the damage is permanent. Treatment consists of a combination of medications, low protein medical diet, and ultimately a liver transplant. Matthew was fortunate to experience no additional hyperammonemic events in the following fifteen months of life, and had a liver transplant on August 24th, 2014. The cure for the disease, a transplant, isn’t so much a cure as trading one condition for another. While we will never risk the chance of another ammonia spike, Matthew is on a half a dozen or more medications at any given time to avoid rejection. Despite these challenges, intensive daily therapy for cerebral palsy (a result of the initial damage), limited motor function, and various other challenges along the way, our son is remarkably happy and has changed all our lives for the better. He’s taught us to be stronger than we ever thought possible, to have faith beyond human understanding, and the immeasurable value of life.”

The #ArchiTalks community is hoping to raise $5,500 to help Architect Rusty Long and his family reach their financial goal on HelpHopeLive.org. If each reader of this post contributes a small amount, our impact will be massive and we can make a difference for Matthew’s family.

Click here now and donate $2.00.

What are my other Architalks friends planning this year? Read their blogs and get inspired!

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
New Year, New Community on Business of Architecture

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/new-year-new-adventures-that-might-kill-me/

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
New Year, New CAD

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
New Year, New Adventures

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
new race new year new start

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
New Year. New Budget.

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
New Year, New Goals

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect)
New Year. New Gear.

Cindy Black – Rick & Cindy Black Architects (*)
New Year, New Casita

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
New Year, New Underwear

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
New Year, New Era

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“new year, new _____”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
New Year, New Plan

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
New Year, New Adventures

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
New Year, New Life!

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
New Year, New Home

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
New Year, New Adult Architect

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Little Premature

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
New Year, New Business

Brinn Miracle – Architangent (@simplybrinn)
New Year, New Perspective

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
The New New

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
New Year New Reality

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@anth_rich)
New Year New Desk

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
New Year, New Goals

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
New Year New Office

Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
New Year, More Change

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
New Year, New Office Space

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
New Year, New Reflection

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
New Year, New Direction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Architalks : From an Architect’s table

When I opened my eyes and searched for the morning light in distance, there was none today. It was dark, and cold. I heard the usual morning sounds of the newspapers being delivered, of the neighbor starting his car and letting it warm up before he drove to work, and the clanking of the charms on the leash of my neighbor’s dog. I didn’t want to get out of the warmth of the blanket and take on the world and my multiple roles for the day. On mornings like this, I want to lie down in the bed and wait for someone to make coffee for me. I want to lie down in the bed and wait for the morning light to wash away the darkness of the night. We have taken a week off from work, and the children have a week off from school. But all vacations are canceled, and all drives are local (two hours, considering LA-OC “local” traffic”) – we brought home a Pekingese puppy last Wednesday, and the only item on the agenda for this week is to adapt to the little royalty.

And of course, Architalks. From the Architect’s table…

I don’t cook for Thanksgiving – I am always the guest, and I am always the guest who can bring “whatever she feels like”. Somewhere between super-foods, health-foods, organic-free range talks, I have lost my credibility of trustworthy Thanksgiving potluck cook- perhaps no one tells me, but everyone fears a vegan dish, or something with spirulina or chia. I am not offended. I dress my best and show up with a Mango Pie made from organic mangoes- it’s slightly Indian, it’s slightly American, and it’s delicious. It represents me.

But this year, I have decided to take a break from my usual Mango Pie, and redefine my holiday tradition. Of late, between all the work-life balancing, I have found that my slow cooker is my most trustworthy dinner plan – I have a decent collection, nothing that would tag me as a hoarder, but a little more than one slow cooker somewhere in the garage.It’s easy to throw in a few things that go together, and come home to well cooked scrumptious dinner- sort of like third set of CDs for the same client for similar projects.

I put my slow cooker to work the week before, trying my own twists to traditional recipes. And, I am loving this new tradition of making a hot cocktail every night in the name of recipe experiment! – What’s not to love..A little Bourbon/ Whiskey/ Rum never hurt anyone, and not every night has to be a wine night.

Pomegranate Toddy

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4 Cups Pomegranate Juice
2 Cups Orange Juice
1 Orange, Sliced
3 tsp Pumpkin Spice (Trader Joes)
20 Cloves
20 Malabar Pepper Corns
1/2 cup brown sugar, if desired
1 Cup Rum, or more if desired

Tie all the spices in a cheesecloth. Add them to the slow cooker along with the juices and sliced orange. Simmer to 2-3 hours, remove the spices. Add sugar if needed, and add rum. Stir and serve!

 Spicy Apple Cider Toddy

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4 cups Apple Cider
3 Tsp Ginger-Serrano paste
(Serrano packs medium heat)
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
1 cup Bourbon

Add all ingredients except Lemon Juice and Bourbon to the slow cooker. Simmer for 2-3 hours. Add Bourbon, squeeze lemons and mix well- Serve!

I do have a few more hot alcoholic slow cooker cocktail recipes, but time and space are both premium tonight.

Sixteen years ago, I was a new bride, and a recent graduate, and a recent immigrant. My knowledge about Thanksgiving was limited to “four days off”. My husband had taken me to his friend’s house for my first Thanksgiving dinner – I hadn’t met any of them before. Raised a vegetarian all my life, my jaw dropped when I saw a whole bird sitting on the counter- it was a culture shock of sorts, but I also learned to sit at the table, share what I am thankful for, adapt to what I can, and adopt new traditions, and still value my own.

The world around me has changed drastically in the past sixteen years. As you may have noticed, I am rereading Kite Runner.. A decade ago, when I read the book for the first time, it felt like a different world, completely detached from my own. There wasn’t a single passing thought about “what if everything we worked for, and everything we have is taken away from us just like that”

The recent turn of events in Syria, and in Paris, and everything that happens between the place I call home to the place I used to call home-there is an uncertainty about what’s in store for tomorrow. Living in Irvine, a multicultural city that’s home to more than fifty nationalities, there is always someone with family in one of the troubled placed, or someone who fled the violence. It pains the heart to know these stories first hand..

This Thanksgiving, I am truly thankful to have a place to call home..

Ever wonder what’s on other architects tables?  Check out the rest of the #ArchiTalks crew below.

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
UTAH = JELLO

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
giving thanks and [wine]ing

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Unplug Tradition

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
The Architect’s Postmodern Thanksgiving!

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Archtalks from an Architects Table

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“From an Architect’s Table” Dolly Brown’s Pumpkin Pie

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
Hacksgiving – A Hacker’s Thanksgiving

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Archi-Table – Any Berry Salad

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Bourbon. Every architect’s friend.

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
From My Table To Yours

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
This Thanksgiving: Something New

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Thanksgiving Feast…

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/margaritas-especial-del-arquitecto-de-texas/

EQxD: Get Real Series

This article originally appeared on the Equity by Design website: http://eqxdesign.com/blog/2015/8/16/eqxd-get-real-series-bias-privilege

Last night, at the AIA Orange County office, I was browsing through the reading material in their library, and “Women’s Architectural League” caught my eye. It is a red leather bound scrapbook with pictures of women in the Architectural League, and newspaper clippings from early 1960’s Mad Men era. Women in beautiful clothes, and women in beautiful hair-dos meeting for luncheons to celebrate local architecture by organizing “home tours” and “helping their husbands” in their chosen field. It was essentially an unofficial AIA club for Architects’ and Associates’ wives. It was the time and era of transition of women from, “work if you need money” to being a, “professional.” There were women in high places, but for an average woman, it was a tradeoff between work and family. You were not expected to do both successfully.

This picture in particular caught my interest:

“Little Jeffrey Bell, 3-year-old son of Mrs. Stanley Bell of Costa Mesa hangs on to Mrs. Bell’s apron string as he tries to convince his mother that she should stay home with him instead of attending the annual meeting of the California Council of the Women’s Architectural League.” Mrs. Bell was a delegate to the event. There is another picture of Jeffrey Bell along with Annette Bell and Lisa Woodman tied up in a big ribbon and shown as “precious charges” to the babysitter as their mothers leave for the parley in Coronado. I don’t know these women, but with the network they formed, and the events that they hosted, I can safely tell that their mission was to educate the public about architecture – they were playing a supporting role to their husbands’ careers mostly because of the societal bias against privileged women going back to work after having children more than anything else.

Fifty years later, the world has changed.

Women are underrepresented, but they are present in almost every profession of the world unless it is gender prohibitive. NCARB numbers for women in architecture are reassuring – more women are entering the profession, and more women are making efforts to stay in the career, get licensed and be mentors. The percentage of women completing AREs has doubled since 2000. We are still at a measly 35%, but I have trust and faith in the next generation for not being the “Missing 32 Percent”.

What still hasn’t changed? – The mom bias.

The pinch points for women in architecture are still “licensure”, “caregiving” and the “glass ceiling” – all tied up mostly to parenting duties. Speaking about my personal experiences – my privilege is my bias and my bias is my privilege. That’s the hardest truth of my life. As an entrepreneur, I work hard – but then there are times when my decision to be an entrepreneur is pegged to motherhood making it a “convenient way to balance work and life”. It’s not so. It’s not so for any entrepreneur, male or female – parent or not. We are in the business because we are passionate about the business and creative sides of architecture- we take risks. Not because we want to be able to pick up the children from school, and save daycare dollars. I don’t know how many men in business hear that, but if I had a dime for every time I heard that, I would be a ….

Then there is the mom guilt.

Have you stayed at work past six? Have you shown up to work before sunrise? Let’s assume your employer is all for work-life balance, but also lets you call the shots on your project schedule. Let’s assume you are doing something you are so passionate about, you refuse to leave your desk simply based on the clock. Let’s assume your co-parent / your parenting support system and you have it under control. I don’t know why I am adding “assumptions” since it should be nobody’s business. But still, for argument’s sake, how many times have you heard “I could have never done that – Timmy needs me.” or “Wow, you are lucky, my husband would never do that”.

A simple suggestion to all working mothers: don’t call the other woman lucky if she has a good support system. Like everything else, it needs hard work too; to have and to maintain a support system. Don’t ever tell a working woman when she needs to go home, or who needs her at home. Architecture being what it is, sometimes cannot be an eight hour job with a fixed schedule. If someone volunteers, if someone involves themselves more into the profession than treating it as a job to pay bills, be supportive. Reword your “wow, you are lucky” to “I am glad you can make time for things you are passionate about”. No one is lucky- even lottery winners bought several tickets before they won.

The mom privilege.

The mom privilege is actually bias in disguise. Finally after working for fifteen years, and two children, the time is right for me to pursue licensure. As I take care of my projects and parenting along with studying for ARE exams, I do hear things like “At least you have a reason for not doing it”. No, children aren’t and shouldn’t be a reason for anyone to stop in their tracks. I didn’t work on my licensure so far because I didn’t have the drive to. Of all the women that changed the world, many didn’t wait for their child to grow up and be in high school and not need them anymore – it doesn’t work like that. But that’s a “privilege” that I deal with as I continue my journey;, my migration from the “Missing 32 percent”, currently as the Test Taking 38%* and one day adding to the number of licensed women architects.

In a nutshell, while I do what I want to do in my life, at my own pace and at my own timing and methods, please don’t guilt me – or have bias against me – or treat my parent tag as a privilege. My gender, my reproductive accomplishments, and my age – they should all be background noise. Same goes for other women – or men.  Architects have the privilege of changing the world with their careful planning and execution of community components. Let’s use that privilege to end bias – not end each other’s career with bias against people of color and/or gender.

No one should go “missing” in a profession because they were not accepted by the tribe.

* (Based on NCARB By the Numbers 2015)


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Moving on, moving forward

Dark clouds gathered in the sky last night, and I reflected the many moods of the world around me with a gray and black ensemble. A cup of coffee couldn’t lift me up, neither could chatting with friends. A hug from the little one fixes the worst things in the world, and so does the smile of the older one.. but there was a little bruise in the heart that wouldn’t go away with my trusty band-aids. I don’t know if it was depression, or the blues, or just the extended nurturing of emotions of an entitled life. It’s been so for the couple of weeks now, and I haven’t been concentrating on things that I should, I am not letting go of things that I should, and I haven’t been moving on or moving forward.

I am pretending that life is at a standstill when it’s not.

I haven’t been studying well, I haven’t been eating right, exercise is the last thing on my mind, I am going on life without focusing on my goals, or my interests. Bed- desserts-coffee, and burning the midnight oil with Carrie Bradshaw- I can’t even watch Ted Mosby anymore. I am supposed to write an article that fired me up so much a month ago- I haven’t written a single line. I am supposed to attend my study group- I lose my interest every now and then, and then regroup to drag myself back to the meetings. I am canceling the lunch dates with my husband for a month now. Not today, not this week.

There is a hole in the heart that will never mend.

Mark was very close to me. We went to Architecture school together. In a classroom full of people for whom architecture was all about graduating, there was this person in the corner occasionally attending the class but understanding the concepts better than those who burned the midnight oil. A couple of weeks ago, when I got that message that he was no more, I wanted it to be a prank. I wanted it to be some other Mark even though I don’t know another Mark. I wanted it to be some celebrity that everyone mourned on Twitter and forgot seven tweets later- not my friend. I didn’t meet him in the past fifteen years, but we have always stayed connected. Marriage, children and our careers took different paths – none of that ever affected us.

He was the happiest person I know. His happiness was contagious.

There is sadness frozen in me beyond my words can express. These incidents will forever change me as a person. Eventually I will regroup my thoughts, learn to express my sorrow and learn to move on. But a part of me will always be broken. A part of me will always be scared to know what future holds for me, or for anyone at all. I can’t hurt publicly for a man that I am not related for more than a certain period of time. It pains, but I can’t show or share the pain. I will probably still spend time looking at the family pictures of Mark- I haven’t removed his contact from my phone, or my social media. Other than look at what he was, and what he could have become, there is no point in it, but it makes me happy to know he was happy- and remember his happy moments.

Will colorful clothes and a bright lipstick heal everything like it happens in the movies? I tried.

I am developing a routine, trying to put my plans on paper so that I can train myself to focus, but it’s been an uphill battle. There are three more ARE exams, and then the California Supplemental. I want to write an article about Women in Architecture in Orange County- I did the ground work, but I never progressed. I haven’t read a single Architalks blog after the news. Last week I gathered courage to commit to the exams- I have all three scheduled for December. It will not be easy, but nothing has been easy in the past few months. There are times in everyone’s life when they feel shipwrecked and alone- this must be mine. Whatever is happening is temporary, must be temporary. I haven’t done much, I want to do so much, and I don’t know if I have the time and energy to do it all. But I want to live in hope, and be an eternal optimist.

BS, SS, BDCS in four to six weeks. May MEEB heal.

People often talk about taking the AREs while planning weddings, being pregnant, and other relatable milestones. Mine have been the weirdest milestones. I dropped the Freshman at High School and went to the Starbucks close by to study. I am dealing with loss of a friend, grieving and taking AREs. My parents visited and children had summer vacation during the last one. We plan my test dates based on my carpool days, and husband’s work related travel so that one of us is still available for parenting duties. Point is, licensure is a long commitment- life goes through different stages during that time financially and emotionally.

I want to go to Sagrada- the state of mind resembles the work in forever progress.

Architalks: Meet Jane Doe, Citizen Architect

This blog is a part of “Architalks: Citizen Architect”- Architalks led by Bob Borson of Life of an Architect.

AIA says “The Citizen Architect uses his/her insights, talents, training, and experience to contribute meaningfully, beyond self, to the improvement of the community and human condition.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Jane Doe, and I have taken this name to signify that I am your everyday architect.

I am the mastermind behind designing those buildings that don’t make you stop on your evening runs to watch against the sunset and post on Instagram. I am the keeper of your safety and well being who spent  numerous hours designing that exit staircase- exit lobby- exit discharge to public right of the way – but that Type X wall system I added to the staircase will never interest you enough to touch and feel it on your way up and down the stairs. I am the one sitting at the City office waiting to submit the drawings that if approved will end up generating significant revenue for the City and create employment opportunities in the community- yet you will drive past the construction activity without noticing the building envelope. I am the person who designed your average grocery store, your typical bank, your everyday office, your familiar school and sometimes your library..

I, Jane Doe was your average architect until I decided not to be.
Now I am Jane Doe, the Citizen Architect.

Jane Doe, Citizen Architect, takes responsibilities- your building is more than another avenue to show her design and management prowess and earn revenue. She decided to get her license. She decided that even though she designs regular buildings, if she is designing more than three hundred thousand square feet per year, she should add more to her superpowers to help you make the best decision. Jane Doe will not be one more team member in a group of yes-masters that take orders from a person who stamps and signs the drawings even though they don’t always agree with master’s decisions. Jane Doe is empowered, and makes ethical decisions- decisions that Jane Doe the Project Manager might not always be able to do.

Jane Doe, the Citizen Architect struggles to answer the simplest of all questions: What do you do?

Jane Doe always replied with details about her next project, the location, the client, etc. But it’s hard for Jane Doe, Citizen Architect to explain her job, or rather her profession using a mere two words and three sentences. A project is not just four walls and a roof. No way, not without those interwoven- interconnected social, environmental, and economic characteristics that lay within the walls and roof. From worrying about the environmental impact of choosing that virgin land to stressing about the footprint of the building material sourcing, to pondering over the social impact of having a diverse team of architects/ consultants and contractors, to agonizing over the economic impact of illegal and undocumented labor, Jane Doe, Citizen Architect has a lot of things on her plate.

But through thick and thin, she repeats to herself “volunteer, volunteer, volunteer, and lead. ”

The mantra for all Citizen Architects is to be the change they want to see in their communities. We all have different ways of doing this- some of us engage in activities with AIA, or are on the Board of Planning Commissions. Some of us take the time to go to classrooms to inspire and lead the youth. Some of us fight passionately for what we believe in- be it equality in pay and equality in profession. Some of us take  it upon us to write blogs to educate the public.

But my point is, we all go above and beyond, and do something more to be that Citizen Architect. There is more to Architects that using a Lamy on a Moleskin, with a cup of black coffee and fierce eyeglasses. We have more to share with the world than what our professional outline demands.

Jane Doe knows you care about the origin of that apple you are eating, and you frown when you see titanium oxide listed as an ingredient in your cereal. But what about the building you live in? Have you thought about what makes up the walls and ceilings? What about the site your house was built in? Are you aware of the native vegetation and wild life that thrived before you called it home? These are things that are seldom talked about by your builder, but literally make up the foundation of your life. Given that you spend over 90% of the day in built environment, shouldn’t you be more concerned about the origins, ethics in practice and life cycle analysis of the same?

Jane Doe, Citizen Architect knows miracles can happens.

They might not happen overnight. But Jane Doe and John Doe, Citizen Architects can make it happen. Your neighbor, your neighbor’s neighbor, your best friend, your bartender- what do they know about what surrounds them? They have a stand on LGBTQ issues and women’s reproductive issues- but do they have a stand on VOCs? Are they well informed to make that decision? Surely no one will throw PSAs at prime time the cause. Will that mean they should under-informed or ill-informed? Isn’t it their right to know where they live if they have a right to know the truth about what they eat and what they wear? We assume they know, but they barely know. They know HGTV, and they know Frank Gehry. They need to know Jane Doe and John Doe, Citizen Architects. Time to step up the game beyond that AEC world and involve the general citizens without generalizing them as clients and end users.

Jane Doe and John Doe, the Citizen Architects are the hope of the world. They are the sum total of the character of the Citizens they represent.

Sincerely,
Jane Doe
Citizen Architect

Citizenship is a tough occupation which obliges the citizen to make his own informed opinion and stand by it. – Martha Gellhorn

(This post is loosely based on the idea of  the speech in “Meet John Doe”)

To read what other Architalks Architects shared on the same topic, click on the links below:

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Crystal Cathedral – Garden Grove

““Come as you are … In the family car!” – Robert Schuller

I am not religious, but I am spiritual – I have visited several Hindu temples- Prayer Halls-Monasteries, Mosques-tombs and Churches-Missions-Cathedrals. I make a conscious effort to not to listen to the history of the religion, or to the religious teachings, but I spend time walking in the empty hallways, and sitting down in their courtyards – peaceful moments when architecture encloses your being, and frees you at the same time to be emotionally overwhelmed to connect with the truth closer to your heart. I love losing myself to religious architecture.

Last evening wasn’t a planned outing. Mom Taxi (my extensive experience qualifies me to apply for a Uber Job, but then mommy mood swings won’t be entertained by Uber customers) I was out to drop off the child to the Annual Military Ball, and the traffic was so bad, I didn’t have the courage to put my car back on that gridlocked freeway. From the parking lot, I saw the Prayer Spire of the Crystal Cathedral – Robert Schuller, who founded the church passed away yesterday. I took it as a sign, and drove down the street to document the building through my Droid. I still haven’t found time to get a new charger for my professional grade camera!

Everyone knows Robert Schuller, and for those who don’t, there is a plethora of Wikipedia and YouTube information. Same with Neutra, and his design philosophies. Philip Johnson and his works in Architecture. Richard Meier. I don’t want to copy down information from here and there, and try to summarize it all. “Drive-in Church”- now that’s a new concept, not completely captured by Wikipedia, and still faces a lot of criticism. Robert Schuller was the pioneer of that concept, what with preaching from the roof of a concession stand in a drive-in movie theater. In my opinion, if you want to feel closer to God through the preaching, without the distractions of dressing to the nine and the person next to you, it’s perfect – but like me, if architecture defines your thoughts, you have to get out of that car and open yourself to be consumed by the walls and ceilings.

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“I like the thought that what we are to do on this earth is embellish it for its greater beauty, so that oncoming generations can look back to the shapes we leave here and get the same thrill that I get in looking back at theirs – at the Parthenon, at Chartres Cathedral”- Philip Johnson

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“God is in the details—right, Philip?” he said. “I’m willing to give up space for myself on the podium, but I will not compromise on a single detail of this plan.”- Robert Schuller

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“Anybody can build a building, putting some doors into it, but how many times have you been in a building that moves you to tears the way Beethoven’s ‘Eighth’ does?” – Philip Johnson

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“To me, the drive for monumentality is as inbred as the desire for food and sex, regardless of how we denigrate it. Monuments differ in different periods. Each age has its own” – Philip Johnson

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“When I think of a place of worship, I think of a place where one can sit and be reminded of all the things that are important outside our individual lives. To express spirituality, the architect has to think of the original material of architecture, space and light.” ~ Richard Meier

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” It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.” – Robert H. Schuller
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“Some people are at the top of the ladder, some are in the middle, still more are at the bottom, and a whole lot more don’t even know there is a ladder.” – Robert H. Schuller

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“I am an eyewitness to the ways in which people relate to themselves and to each other, and my work is a way of scooping and ladling that experience.”- Richard Neutra

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