(DI)STRESSED OUT: LIFE WITH PATINA

September 29, 2016

What is it about our favorite pair of jeans—weathered and perfectly broken in? How about the ol’ leather jacket—worn and faded? The lustrous surface, cracking a little—almost poetically.

But a car. No one wants a car that has been distressed, with a shattered windshield and scratches on the sides. No, we want our cars immaculate. Like new.

Many think of architecture like a polished car. Buildings should look new. Buildings are constantly being renovated, and historic building hopefully restored to their original sheen.

But why not we embrace a building as worn, like our denim jeans or favorite leather shoes?

STICKS & STONES | STEEL & GLASS : ONE ARCHITECT’S JOURNEY

September 16, 2016

Hearing intriguing tales of being an architect, friends conjure up ideas like, “You should have a reality TV series,” “You should go on a talk show,” “You should blog about it,” or “You should write a book.” The first two suggestions are absurd. The third: Done.

So I chose the fourth one.

EIGHT THINGS I DISLIKE ABOUT ARCHITECTURE

September 2, 2016

Clients who change their minds every other day. I get it; it’s their project and it’s their money. They are the customers, and I would not have a business without them. But I am hired to be the design authority. So why is all my expertise cast aside, only to have me arbitrarily move a wall six inches in one direction, then three inches in another direction, then back to the original position—and then, do this again 20 more times over months?

SQUEEZING IN THE NEW SFMOMA

August 19, 2016

As a kid running around Chinatown, the alleys of San Francisco fascinated me. This childhood curiosity preceded my academic studies two decades later into urban density and the small streets that patiently waited to be discovered.

In 2009, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (“SFMOMA”) announced a massive $300 million, 235,000 square foot addition to the iconic 1995 museum by Swiss architect Mario Botta. In the dense South of Market area expecting this museum’s expansion, there is barely any land left. Only slivers of in-between spaces. How would this big project squeeze into the city

WHO THE HECK WAS THIS GUY?

August 5, 2016

So I had this entry-level stint at a corporate Manhattan firm, in one of those shiny Midtown skyscrapers. Cramped in cubicles more suited for a telemarketing company than an architectural studio, we all mindlessly drafted and read code manuals and technical standards.

But in the far corner of our over-crowded floor with a spacious loft-like area was This Guy.

He stood alone. In contrast to our low acoustic tile ceiling and blue-ish fluorescent lighting—large windows with city views and an artsy open structure high ceiling surrounded This Guy. Whether from the natural light or a personal aura, This Guy actually glowed.

TO BE LOVED

July 22, 2016

In my last year as an undergrad, the brilliant (to some) Michael Graves (LINK) gave an evening lecture. As one of the founders of Post Modernism, Graves sparked a movement of creative but tradition-bound architects.

The lecture hall on the UC Berkeley campus was packed; no, over packed. Architecture, art, and even philosophy and history majors plus all faculty filled the large auditorium. Alongside filled seats, students littered the aisles and corridors—on the steps, on the floor, wall to wall. Even the entire stage, typically left empty for the dramatic effect of the lecturer at his podium, was covered with eager audience members. This forced Graves to reach the podium by crossing the stage as it were a minefield.

Which in a way it was.