Philosophy Tuesday

October 25, 2016

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Ever used the phrase, when discussing the actions of another person, “I just don’t understand it”?  Maybe with a guttural  exclamation before it, one of disgust?


I think we mostly use that phrase in a pretty pejorative manner.   It’s a great way of being dismissive.   It says “if I, as an intelligent, aware, well reasoning individual cannot figure it out, then clearly it must be that their position and their actions are wrong, delusional, and hysterical.”

And who knows, that could be true.

Lately though, I’ve purposefully taken on  relating to that phrase in a very literal manner.  In that, it’s true, I really don’t understand… in the same way that I don’t understand a lot of other things.  Such as quantum mechanics, or how the gall bladder works, or why certain movies continue do well at the box office.

Which means I can learn and can work to understand it.

We are all blessed with our own little pocket of reality that we carry around with us, fashioned from what we’ve experienced, from where we grew up and what we’re surrounded by, and especially from our decisions along the way.  We are all delightfully complex little bundles.

And everything we do in life makes sense inside of our little personal pockets.*

If so goes I in the world, then so too goes others.  When I don’t understand, I can explore, I can ask, I can listen, I can imagine others complexly, and I can see what’s the context that would have them be the way they are being.

Like a good book, it can only broaden my views on the world and on others.

In the end, I may not – and likely will not – take on the whole of their world view, and I might still recommend different courses of actions.  But my little bubble may shift.  I may see things newly, or see things I’d never paid attention to before.  And inside the space of understanding, there’s new openings.  For listening.  For creating.  For solutions.  For reconciliation.  For freedom.

Inside the spaces of understanding, we can drive towards what it is we all want.


* Which is why it’s super helpful to have another get an ‘outside view‘ when we’re looking to explore and examine our lives.  Things are super immediate to us and our thoughting gives us the ready, right, answers.  It takes an outside view to help break those bubbles. **

** What’s really great is if we notice (with or without another’s help), that something we consistently do doesn’t seem to make sense to our conscious self, we then know that there’s something hidden behind the scenes that’s causing us to behave that way.  And that’s always where the juice is, always where the biggest transformations can happen, when we unconceal the hidden factors and can own, complete, and transform them.


Architecture Monday

October 24, 2016

Often a blank page, or the most featureless of sites, can be the most daunting.  What should the first move be, when the first move can be anything?  By contrast, constraints, far from being frustratingly limiting, can be the driver(s) of great creativity.

So it’s cool for me that the architects spoke hard to convince the Harvey B Gantt museum to put their new building on a ridiculously narrow (50′) and long (400′) slice of property in the heart of downtown Charlotte.  A choice seemingly even more crazy, given that the site was already occupied by a loading ramp, carving down into the earth, for an adjacent building.  Oh, and the site sloped rather significantly.

Kinda nuts.  But from those constraints, they wrought themselves something quite nice.

Just by virtue of that narrow site, the building is naturally tall and slender.  They took advantage of that, and the almost billboard-like 400′ long face, by wrapping it in an abstract pattern of traditional quilting, made out of perforated metal panels.  This perforation is great – besides helping keep the building cool as ventilated shading, more importantly the transparency creates striking depth and richness that gives a very soft and full feel to the building’s face (much like the quilt that inspired it).  The pattern itself is strategically peeled back in places for glazing or to let the sky through.   It could have devolved into a chaotic mess, but good proportioning and a certain rhythm helps keep it in balance.

Even better, is that this quilt motif continues along to the backside of the building, onto the firewall that separates it from the adjacent site (which one day may have a building placed on it, mere inches away).  This otherwise featureless expanse is instead animated by the pattern that, in a stroke of brilliance, glows at night.  It’s sculpture for the city.

Inside, taking the concept from a photograph of an old neighbourhood school and it’s prominent staircase (it was known as the Jacob’s Ladder School), twin stairways bring visitors from either end of the building to a central atrium on the second floor.  The angular forms of the quilt pattern continue within, with the stairs and ceiling planes.  The galleries themselves are, however, simple black boxes,.  This allows for great flexibility but is a bit of a downer, seeming a bit like afterthoughts within the more articulated shell.

Choosing to work on this challenging site was the right way to go.  It’s a great location for the museum at the heart of the city, and the constraints helped spur on this elegant wrapped box, bringing in a whole raft of historical contexts, from its skin to the heart of the building and the re-interpretation of the school.

Taking the hard road can indeed be so worth it.


Call Elon Musk

October 19, 2016

I think I know what caused that explosion of the Falcon 9 during the static fire test last month!

Someone accidentally dropped their Galaxy Note 7 onboard during rollout to the pad.



Case closed. ;)


Wonder(coaster) Wednesday

October 19, 2016

The plaque for my beloved Wilde Beaste!*


* Yes, that will forever be the spelling for me!

** And yes, it is supposed to be that rough.  That’s what makes it great old school woodie!

*** And I love the recommended speed:  “just lift ‘er up let ‘er drop!”


Philosophy Tuesday

October 18, 2016

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Heard this on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me this past weekend:

“Over and Next.  We don’t pay enough attention to them.  When something is over, it is OVER, and we are on to NEXT.  And if there was a hammock in the middle, between over and next, that would be what is meant by living in the moment. ”

— Norman Lear

Wow.  What a nice and succinct phrase that captures a a whole bunch within.  There’s so much I like in there, beginning with the notion of attachments and of letting go.  A reminder to not drag the past into our future, a reminder to let what’s so be what’s so, and to let what happened be what happened.  An invitation to transformation.    And then, onto creation.   A look forward, towards what’s up and coming, towards possibility.  In the middle, the glorious middle, is the right now, the glorious moment by moment by moment of our everyday.  A call to be present, a call to practice mindfulness, and a call to live our lives with intention.

And that image of being present as being a hammock is great.  A place to hang out and be at ease and relaxed and listen and feel and experience.


I gotta read/remind/listen/etc to this quote every now and again.  Well said and moving, and one to realign me into what’s possible.  Alright!  Let’s go.


Architecture Monday

October 17, 2016

Sculptural, but still spatial. That was one of my first thoughts of this chapel in Finland by Sanaksenaho Architects. It’s also a very simple affair, and when things are stripped down to that level of simplicity, much like Tadao Ando’s works*, the quality (or lack thereof) of the space really takes prominence. And here, that quality is golden.

The rhythm of the wood beams, rising to a well proportioned pointed arch as they march down towards the luminous apse, hits you immediately upon entering, reinforced by the horizontal lines of the wall planks also pointing towards the end. In this way, the space feels both soaring (with the strong verticals of the arches) as well as ensconcing you snugly inside its warm confines. The band of windows at the apse work their magic to fill the space with diffuse, and again warm, light. It invites sitting, experiencing, and reflection.

Outside, the copper skin reflects the countryside (for now – it will patina). Details are vital to simple structures, and the diagonal patterning of the copper cladding keeps the form alive and dynamic, enhancing the way it embraces the countryside.

Nicely done. A strong image and concept rendered beautifully through simple and well refined moves, and an excellent sense of scale and proportion. Another entry on my list of spaces I’d like to visit and experience.


* Contrast too to the exquisite complexity of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia…


Wonder Wednesday

October 12, 2016

a lovey space … yet not one we can enter

born of sound … entered in dream

(I love this pic, the spatial quality of it is stunning.  You get a feeling of it so strongly, there are sensations and memories and emotions that all come spiraling up yet it is of no space we have ever been in.  So demonstrative of the power of the built form and of place, and of our imaginations.)

image source