Friday, September 26, 2008

ARE You Nervous?

Today I did it!  I registered for my first ARE (Architect Registration Exam)!

After seven years of school and three-and-a-half years of full-time employment, it has been a long time coming.  So, on October 21st at 12:30 in the afternoon I will sit to take the the first of seven registration exams:  "Site Planning & Design."  As I am still completing some final IDP (Intern Development Program) requirements toward licensing, I will be taking my registration exams for the state of Massachusetts, which (unlike Connecticut) allows candidates to sit for the AREs before finishing IDP.  This will hopefully allow me to complete both in a timely manner.  My goal is to be licensed sometime next spring, or before Kim and I bring our children home from Brazil, whichever comes first.  (Hopefully the kids come home first!)

Yikes, I had better get crackin'.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This Day in History: If it Ain't Baroque

Today is the 409th anniversary of the birth of the Italian Baroque architect Francisco Borromini (September 25, 1599).

While Kim and I were in Rome this past May, we had the opportunity to visit a couple of Borromini's buildings, and I must say I was quite pleased.  Generally, I am a bit turned off by Baroque architecture as I find that it is simply too much of too much.  But Borromini's work, though intricate, possessed a sort of elegant simplicity which really spoke to me.  His work did not reek of the overwrought detailing so prevalent in much Baroque architecture.

Borromini's small church San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (or San Carlino, 1634-1637) was one of my favorite churches that we visited in Rome.  (Please keep in mind there are a lot of churches to visit in Rome!) The church's white, oval-shaped dome is stunning, really, with its complex coffering pattern of simple geometries. And the dome's skylit lantern and several small windows provide more than enough light on a sunny day (of which there seem to be many in Rome) to fill the lightly-colored space with a beautiful, clean light.  The beautiful chapel also serves as a quiet respite at the corner of a narrow, busy crossroads, while its intimate scale and beautiful architecture made it feel to me like one of the most sacred spaces I have ever been in.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

People Who Live in Glass Houses

"Architecture is the art of how to waste space." (Philip Johnson)

Tickets went on sale this morning at 9:00 to visit Philip Johnson's Glass House and estate in New Canaan, Connecticut, during the 2009 season (May-October). Though I intended to visit the house in 2008, tickets sold out quickly when they went on sale last year. Having learned my lesson from that experience, this time I was not going to take any chances.  I was ready this morning with credit card in hand before 9:00 to buy tickets for myself, Kim, and three of our friends. It seemed like almost instantly weekends in May started selling out, so in order to find five tickets together, I had to look all the way ahead to July 11th!  That was a real surprise!

Who spends $45 a head 9.5 months in advance to buy tickets for a two hour tour of a house!?  A very cool, modern house, but a house none-the-less!?  Why, it could only be a group of architecture dorks and their loving and ever-so-supportive wives!  Thanks, loving and supportive wives, for putting up with our shenanigans!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Half-Way 'Round the World

This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on business. Although I learned several years ago that business travel and leisure travel are not really synonymous, I have had some pretty amazing opportunities to travel while working at Pickard Chilton, including trips to Canada, Denmark, Italy, a number of cities around the United States, and, now, Malaysia. Throughout my business travels, my attitude has always been, "well, I may never get back here again, so why don't I make the most of it."

Though this trip was quite quick and I only had a few spare hours of time to myself, I feel privileged to have had an opportunity that most people in the world will never have. In about four hours one evening, I walked around downtown KL, visited a large craft market as well as one of the largest malls I have ever been to, bought some souvenirs for Kim, went to the top of the Menara KL observation tower, listened to a performance on traditional Malaysian instruments, ended up in China Town, rode the subway back to my hotel, and laid on the ground in front of the Petronas Towers to take a picture of a large group of British teenagers. Whew!

One of the most exciting parts of the trip was being able to see the Petronas Towers, which, although not the tallest buildings in the world anymore, are still the tallest twin towers. The towers were designed by Jon Pickard, one of the principals of Pickard Chilton, while he was working with Cesar Pelli, and so I feel especially privileged to have had the opportunity to see them first-hand.

Though the towers are quite beautiful during the daytime, they are absolutely stunning at during the nighttime. At night, the multi-faceted Islamic-inspired stainless-steel-clad towers shimmer and shine like jewels in the powerful spotlights. They are almost surreal as they sit above KLCC Park. They seem both massive and delicate at the same time, and appear close enough that you could reach out and touch them through the thick, humid, tropical air.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


This summer, Pickard Chilton announced a new initiative to have all of our designers become Accredited Professionals in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program by the fall. After a few nervous weeks of reading and studying, I passed the exam earlier today and am now officially a LEED AP!

Hopefully this past month of preparing for my LEED exam will help me get in the habit of studying for my next big professional step: licensing!

AREs (all 7 of you) here I come!