Summer Surprise

It’s 9:00 at night, and it’s 90 degrees outside…. Yeah, it’s definately summertime.  I’m back from the baseball game  In case your wondering, we didn’t win it all, but hey, we’re in first place again this year.  So far summer has been chalk full of the typical things; summer camp, sports competitions, bar-b-q’s, and so on.  But this year has had a couple of surprises to go along with it, but this time, I got to play a part in creating the surprise.

#ArchiTalks is back from an extended break, for the 20th post we were given the subject of “Summer”.  A quick reminder of what #ArchiTalks is, since it has been a while.  The brainchild of Bob Borson of Life of an Architect fame, it is a monthly blog series by various architects from all over all talking about a single subject.  The catch to it all, none of us know what the other is going to talk about before they all go live at the same time.  It’s amazing to see how different each post can interpret such a simple subject, considering we share this passion we call architecture.

Time Away

I’ve now been at my current firm for a while, long enough to finally have enough vacation time to actually use.  And after the rush of projects that were in all different phases this spring, I was definately in the mood to take it.  This one was going to be a little bit different.  We had been planning this one for about 2 years now.  We’ve done the whole visit grandma and grandpa “vacation” many times. I think every parent out there knows the necessity of that trip.  This time it was not only going to be a time to get away, but it was going to be one where we could really make some memories that would last a lifetime.

Yeah, I think that will suffice.

Ok, rewind about 2 years ago when this whole idea began.  Planning, lots and lots of planning.  Researching parks, hotels, flights, tickets, oh boy you name it.  At times it felt like a second job when you come home at night and you are working on finding out everything you can.  Oh and did I forget about that “surprise” part?  We decided early on, we were not going to tell my 2 kids what we were doing.  Did I say this was 2 years in advance, yeah, that’s a long secret to keep, from a couple of kids that are curious about everything.  Somehow, we were able to keep the secret all the way to arriving at the Miami airport.  The gig was up at that point, you actually have to walk down a hallway filled with paraphernalia and cast members that extremely friendly and eagerly tell you to enjoy your stay at the resort.  The fact that grandma and grandpa don’t live in Florida was a pretty big hint as well.

Savanna view from the comfort of the lobby.

#ilookup I can’t help it, I do it everywhere.

And I thought I had a big Lego collection.

Hidden views around every corner, be sure to look.

You have to ride the classics.

Alright, now I know a lot of the ideas, designs, etc. here are more similar to set design than traditional architecture, but you have to admire the attention to detail and their commitment to their specific story to tell.  You are immersed into a different world from the first moment you begin to interact with them.  There were certain rides I wanted to go, certain things I wanted to see of course but what really amazed me was how they are constantly integrating new technologies and procedures into all of the existing and new experiences.  Two words – Magic Band.  Wow, after researching it in the beginning I thought it would be a pretty neat feature, but I was more than impressed by how it made our stay so much more enjoyable and worry free.

Back to Work

So yeah, eventually I had to come back to reality.  I have two projects in construction, one in the DD phase and one in CD phase.  Time to start going through the pile of e-mails that stacked up while I was gone.  I had basically refused to look at the e-mail app on my phone the entire time.  You’re probably wondering what the heck does a summer vacation have to do with architecture, anyone could have talked about their trip.

Once I got back into the thick of my projects, one of the two that are in construction, had really just barely started, and we were asked to do something that typically, at least on the projects I have worked on, doesn’t happen very often.  We were asked to do the best we could to keep the project a secret.  Now the projects I have pretty much worked on in my career, that really isn’t in the cards.  You have big construction equipment moving dirt, pouring concrete, lifting steel, and so on.  Not to mention all of the deliveries of materials barreling down the road. So unless you are David Copperfield (look him up) you really can’t make these construction sites disappear.  But, a 700sf remodel is not one a project I typically work on either.  Heck, why not?

The windows to the space have been covered up so you can’t see in, and whether it was intentional or not, the graphics that cover up the windows are actually giving you a hint as to what is to come.  Looking back on it, I’m really surprised my two kids didn’t pick up on their surprise along the way as well.

Another couple of hints…. nothing?  Ok good.  It’s actually kind of fun knowing what’s going on inside, what this space will look like, how it will function.  I think one of the coolest pieces of this project, apart from the overall design, is going to be the way the technology is integrated into it.  It’s not an ‘over the top’ type that just screams in your face “Hey look at me, I’m new and flashy!”, but a subtle and familiar look, that uses some of the things we use on a daily basis and weaves that into how they will do their daily business.

Since this is such a small project, it is going at such a speed, that we are having to try to keep up.  And just like every remodel project, there will be plenty of scratching your head moments of “How are we gonna work around that?”  But with all of the attention this little jewel box is getting, I can’t wait to see the look on the faces of the people that are going to stop by for a visit once it is finished.  How both the visitors and the employees will use the space so differently than they used it before.  And in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that one of the bigger reasons we all got into architecture in the first place.

Now, what shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, there are quite a few other bloggers that have posted about “Summer” as well.  Go click some of the links, give ’em a like, give ’em a comment, do whatever the social media overlords have programmed into their user experience.  Anyway…. give ’em a read, I’m sure you will find it interesting.


Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
An Architect Summer

Adam Denais – Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch)
5 Things to Make the Most of Your Summer

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
[Dis]Connected Summer

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Summer in Seoul

Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
An Architectural Spark for your Summer

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
… and the livin’s easy

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Seasonal change

Brinn Miracle – Architangent (@architangent)
4 Reasons Solar Power is a Hot Topic

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Glass in Architecture – Summer Wonders

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
An Acrophobic Architect’s Illuminating Summer of Roofs

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
4 Secrets To Getting The Most Out Of Your Summer Internship

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#Architalks 20 “summer” and architecture

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Summer — Architecture Imagery

Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL (@etroxel)
Lake Powell

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
summer working, had me a blast

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/summer-is-for-the-young-at-heart/

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
Summer is a Great Time To Market Your Architecture Firm!

Jes Stafford – MODwelling (@modarchitect)
The Dog Days of Summer

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