Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Some fun things for a hump day...

My name is Rachel and I'll be your server of fun things today. First, today happens to be 31 cent scoop night at Baskin Robbins. Yes, please keep reading my blog because from time to time, evidently, I will tell you where to find cheap, delicious ice cream. I won't wax poetic about Baskin Robbins like I did with Ben & Jerry's, but hey, maybe you need cheap ice cream to get you through this crazy week of swine flu and a murderer at large so I feel it's now my duty to tell you about it. Another fun thing? This bicycle! What a beauty! It's color is called Vanilla Orange- and don't you love the basket? Last weekend I attended Twilight, a bike race here in Athens. We biked around town with family on a beautiful spring afternoon, and although it was somewhat tainted by the tragic news of the day, I counted my blessings to live in a small, relatively quiet community where we can hop on the bike and get just about anywhere quickly. I was amazed by the talent of all those cyclists (shout out to Heath Blackgrove from Team Hotel San Jose -BEST hotel in Austin!-, who won for the Men's Professional Division, and to the members of Iron Data who put up a great show!) but I think a bike like the one pictured above is more my speed. And style :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pritzker Prize announced

Actually I think it was announced on April 12, but somehow this news is just getting around to me. And the winner IS... Peter Zumthor! If you're unfamiliar with Zumthor's work, he's Swiss and frankly, I can't believe he hasn't already received this award. The Pritzker Prize is given annually to a living architect whose "built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture". I got all that from the website. This is a very big deal- the Pritzker is like the Nobel for architects and each year it's given in a different architecturally significant site around the world. I was at school at UVA when Herzog and de Meuron received the award at Monticello in 2001, and let me tell you, you could smell greatness in the air. I don't think it's been announced where it will be given this year, but I'll let you know if I hear, even if it's weeks later. The Swiss really know their stuff when it comes to architecture and design. If I am ever back in Switzerland, I will not miss the chance to visit the Thermal baths at Vals, designed by Zumthor. Here are just a few images: One of Zumthor's sketches for the baths, above. And a photo of the exterior. Zumthor is the kind of architect whose work makes me drool. It's got such weight to it, but yet it's full of life and light, and he makes it look so easy. He's very inspiring and I am so glad he's finally being recognized for his lifelong commitment to incredible work. Edited to add: Okay, the ceremony will be held on May 29 in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the Legislature Palace of the Buenos Aires City Council with a reception and dinner following at the Palacio San Martin.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Brilliant !

This evening I finally got in to reading some of the April Architectural Record. This month's issue is mostly Record Houses 2009, so I thought I'd come up with a post about one of the houses. And while they are stunning, another article intrigued me more. It's an interview with John Morefield, a designer in Seattle selling architecture advice for 5 cents at the farmer's market. He has a stand with a sign reading Architecture 5 cents (a la Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip) and he's not only solved a few problems for those who may not have otherwise saught the advice of an architect, he's also gained clients. I written before about getting creative during these troubled economic times. This article struck a chord with me because not only have I had two friends tell me of lay-offs at their respective firms this past week, but I, too, am trying to drum up work of this very sort. I think his method is brilliant. In the interview, Morefield explains that he was laid off twice last year and decided he needed to try and work on his own. This method of paying 5 cents for a few minutes of design advice is much less intimidating for the average homeowner looking to make their house more palatable. In just a few minutes, Morefield can usually ascertain whether or not a project is feasible and explain how the process might work for a client. From these weekend meetings, he's been able to generate enough work to keep him busy and he's also marketing himself as a reasonable and approachable individual. I think the tide is changing from those trying to make a quick flip to those coming to terms with the fact that they may be in their home for a while, so they might as well make it as enjoyable as possible. I love the challenge of these sorts of projects- finding the potential in an existing house or just bringing out the best features so that a homeowner can be proud of where they live. Apparently, Morefield would like to expand his business to other cities so that there is something like Architecture 5 cents New York or Boston. What do you guys think- if you saw me at a stand at a farmer's market in Athens, would you drop 5 cents in the can? For more information, check out Morefield's website, www.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I designed myself

Have you guys been to this website: ? I just found it this afternoon and had a fun 10-minute work break designing myself. No, not my 2nd life avatar... I tried that, D I S A S T E R. 2nd Life and I don't get along. But on this super-cute site, you can design a little image of yourself (or someone else) and then order or print your own stationary or labels or a whole slew of other things with the image. I am now using it as my representation in that About Me profile. That's pretty much what I look like- frequently in a striped shirt, glasses, hair up, jeans. There are about a zillion combinations of body features, clothes and accessories- I bet you can make one that looks just like you, too. Or try making one that looks like Dwight, from The Office, who's first life was so great he needed to have another one on 2nd Life. Eventually I'll be ordering some mailing labels, though I am waiting on that right now since we move at the drop of a hat...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's the best day of the year

It's Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's nationwide*! That's right- visit a scoop shop between noon and 8 p.m. and get a scoop of your favorite flavor for F R E E ! I love ice cream, though I have been trying to cut back lately. Today is a good excuse to fall off the wagon. What's your favorite flavor? In high school it was Cherry Garcia, and in college I transitioned to Phish Food (seemed cooler) and now it's a big toss up between Half-Baked, Everything But The..., and New York Super Fudge Chunk. I guess it's pretty obvious- I like STUFF in my ice cream. I'll have to wait and see what they have left to choose from today, but I'd like to try Steven Colbert's American Dream or Willie Nelson's (swoon) Peach Cobbler. Happy Ice Cream hunting! *Yes, I know this post had no reference to architecture or design, but it's an important day that deserves recognition!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Casa El Pio, part dos

If you haven't figured it out by now, I am a little blog-incompetent. I am just not savvy that way, but hopefully I will get the hang of it before I lose the few readers I have. Here's the rest of the post- I had a little trouble getting all the photos into the last one. This is another shot of the courtyard with its dipping pool. I made use of it after a humid morning run- very refreshing! This is Margaret and another guest heading out of the courtyard. Here's a shot of Casa Sirena, which is just down the street. Margaret is good friends with the owner, Steve, and he kindly invited us all over for one of his nightly Happy Hours. I enjoyed the Margaret Special (it's a gimlet!). Casa Sirena is also a gorgeous hotel- with a roof deck! Here is Margaret enjoying the hammock on the roof of Casa Sirena. Doesn't she look like a Siren? Above are some of my girls enjoying the Happy Hour- Steve has special Disco lighting. And one final shot of all of us on the roof at Casa El Pio- can we make this an annual trip ladies? Have I succeeded in convincing you all to visit the little chirping bird on the amazing island?

Casa El Pio

  • This is Margaret, manager extraordinaire of Casa El Pio, the wonderful hotel I stayed at with my friends on Isla Mujeres a few weeks ago. This place is truly worth visiting, and I don't think you'll find a better deal than Casa El Pio. Though Margaret has been my friend since Mrs. Tapley's fourth grade class, I can say without any bias that it's hard to find a better hotel experience. Here are just a few photos from my stay there. Below is the lower portion of our room. Yes, four ladies squished in to one room, but there were two beds in a generously sized room, and we've all known each other the majority of our lives so we pretended we were 10 again. The owners, Hillary and Chris Bilheimer (Margaret's sister and brother-in-law), had all the furniture made on the island. Isn't their taste just spot on?
Next is the courtyard and pergola. While we were there, workers installed netting on the pergola for vines to grow over. We had this little patio area outside our room. This shot is looking below in to the courtyard from the roof. I took some liberty getting up on the roof for photos, but later I got the okay from Hillary. Eventually we all got up there to watch a spectacular sunset.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Design Contest Alert

Who doesn't love a good design competition? Last week I was in my local g-store (that's grocery store, keep up!) and noticed that they are offering a competition to design a Reusable Shopping bag. These things are just getting cuter and cuter- a few months ago I bought two of the same one at Target for 99 cents each. They are green with a Ginkgo leaf pattern and don't look like your standard reusable bag, though the logo does appear as part of the design. They also have a great fold-up and velcro feature (as seen at left, modeled by the talented Rudy). I took one on the Mexico trip and it was the perfect, easy to pack beach bag. I'm going to try and enter a design for the Kroger reusable bag. I'll have to be sure and let them know that it is designed by a LEED Accredited Professional. Hopefully I don't have too much competition from my readers. I'm sure I'd go crazy with a $1000 gift card. I could buy lots of almond butter and filet mignon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, T.J. !

Yes, it's Thomas Jefferson's birthday. One of my favorite presidents, fellow architect, and founder of a wonderful little school in Charlottesville, let's all take a moment today to celebrate him and party like it's 1799.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Island of the Women

Hi there, remember me? Sorry about the absence... I recently returned from a girl's trip to Isla Mujeres, an island off the coast of Cancun, Mexico. It was a girl's trip to the Island of the Women and we arrived to surprise our dear friend (who lives there!) on April Fool's Day! How perfect is that? I was a happy vacationer because the island was beautiful, our accommodations were stellar (more on that in another post) and I was able to capture some interesting architecture on film. I thought I'd break up the trip in to at least two posts because I do have so m any photos. Over 4 days I took about 375 photos and 250 or so made it in to the Picassa album I created for the trip. It's been a week already and I really need to get some of these on the blog, so here goes: This is the church in El Centro, taken from the roof of our hotel, Casa El Pio. My next post will focus on that and some of the restaurants we visited, but here's a shot of the entrance to keep you interested. My good friend Margaret, whom I've known since fourth grade, is the manager at this hotel and kindly drove us all over the island in a golf cart last Friday. Here are some of my favorite buildings from the island. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of contemporary work there. Concrete and glass seemed to be popular on the island, and bright colors everywhere complemented the turquoise blue water. And yes, that was a house shaped like a seashell. I preferred those with the straighter angles, but to each his own. This was a school on the island. I love campuses like this with multiple buildings and natural ventilation. They make full use of the climate and sea breezes that pervade the island.