I hope you’re relaxing, enjoying water, gardens, and travel. Sunday afternoon we headed out on the Sudbury River for a Father’s Day picnic. Aside from the usual Blue Herons, turtles, beavers and deer, we paddled past Concord families on their decks and had a chance encounter with friends.
In this newsletter we’re focusing on why: why you get stuck when you’re in unfamiliar territory, why rebrand after 30 some years, and why some buildings lift our spirit and others don’t.
We’re transitioning into new space and a new name, East Side Studio Architects, with a soon to be published website at essarc.com. (please reach us for now at juliaminer.com). Summer intern, Kevin Ellicks, has been busy helping set up our new office at 2 Lexington Road, Concord. He also researched and drafted the Iconic Architecture piece on page 2.
Lessons from Italy
My transplanted Texan husband feels right at home in Boston, especially in his car. He drives aggressively, like the Massachusetts road warriors who’ve earned a not-so-nice nickname from the gentler New England states. OK, I’ll admit it, I exceed the speed limits here too, flowing along with the traffic. But keeping up with the locals in Tuscany was another level of fast and furious. With John driving our rental Toyota, hardly bigger than a Smart Car, 40 MPH felt like 70 and I was barely managing to keep up with the GPS.
At our home base of Cortona, a walled town far above the surrounding plain, I couldn’t wait to ditch the Toyota. Walking the steep, narrow, streets, mostly stairs and twisting alleys full of remarkable doorways, flowers, and cats, was my idea of heaven. And I love train travel in Europe. But I had to admit the car was convenient for day trips out of town.
The GPS was crucial for finding our way out of the maze of our medieval town. But by the third day trip, I was pretty sure I knew our way through the streets, out the gate, and down through hairpin turns off the hill. So that morning I took a break from squinting at the screen bouncing around in my hand as the car bumped over cobblestones and lurched around corners.
We zoomed down what looked like a familiar street and suddenly
We jerked to a stop in the middle of a staircase. We’d bumped our way down some very steep steps! It sounded like we’d bottomed out and totaled our little car.
There was no room to turn around even if we could back up off the stair. Would we need to call a tow truck? Were there more steps ahead around the bend? We were stuck, bewildered, and embarrassed. Oh no, typical “turisti americani!”
Fortunately, the car was okay and there were no more stairs around the bend. And huge sigh of relief, no Italians in sight to laugh at us.
We gingerly continued down the last few steps on that staircase and left town – slowly.
As we kept an eye on the GPS for the rest of our vacation, we discovered places that we would have missed. We became better explorers when we didn’t try to compete with the folks who drive the roads every day. We took in spectacular sights instead.
That’s when it came to me. In our professional roles, we enable a similar experience for others - the ability to explore and tap into potential they might not otherwise discover. As an architect, I provide the roadmap so the client can enjoy the journey.
We’ve all heard horror stories from projects that rush, that aren’t managed well. But there’s even more at risk than wasted time and money. Great potential will be missed and the owner won’t even know it! That’s what really breaks my heart as an architect.
With a thorough exploration of a homeowner’s hopes and dreams, or a commercial building user’s needs, and time spent up front on great design based on that criteria, you avoid prosaic “building” and create inspired, poetic architecture. You get more value for the same investment in time and money. With a set of detailed plans and on-site construction administration by the architect, contractors won’t have to guess and come up with solutions that work on one level, but are inconsistent with the collaborative vision that led to a remarkable overall design.
If you know someone who is about to embark on a design and construction journey, let them know that we’ve driven those streets for more years than we like to admit, and can guide them with a roadmap for their unique direction. The first step: call our office to see if we are a good fit. Then meet with us on site to help us create your STORY BOARD, the initial review and report of your needs and options.
It can seem like a maze, or the way can be clear and enjoyable as our clients discover each need being met in an unexpectedly delightful process and design.
Iconic World Architecture
TAJ MAHAL, INDIA
USTAD AHMAD, 1653
Revered as a testament to eternal love, the Taj Mahal’s ethereal ivory-white marble forms reflect serenely into the Yamuna River. Located in the Indian city of Agra, it was completed in 1653, commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum and memorial for his deceased wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The Taj Mahal, meaning “Crown of the Palace,” is often regarded as the zenith of Mughal architecture, a style composed of large, bulbous domes, slender minarets at the corners of structures, massive halls, large, vaulted gateways, and delicate ornamentation. The Taj Mahal incorporates these features, as well as Hindu design elements like the lotus flower motif and chhatris, which are elevated, dome-shaped pavilions that symbolize honor and pride.
The intended pinnacle of the Taj Mahal is the central tomb structure, constructed entirely of white marble and resting in the middle of a raised plinth, equidistant from four surrounding minarets. The perfect symmetry of the architecture contributes significantly to its beauty.