Thursday, April 30th, 2015

favorite place: #architalks 5th edition


By now you all know the drill. Once a month a bunch of architects get together to collectively post a blog of an identical title/theme and it has been dubbed Architalks. This month marks the 5th edition. I missed last month because I got too lazy busy, but we’re back with the topic of a favorite place. Here it goes.

Architects think a lot about place and about our experience within it. We create the place but most importantly we are trying to create an experience beyond the simple mechanics of a building. I’ve talked a lot about this over the last couple of years – the value of an architects services and the different expertise and perspective that we bring to a project, but today I want to talk about place in a different context, one that is much more personal and maybe even a little spiritual. If that makes you uncomfortable…well, I don’t really care. Keep reading anyway.


As an architect I deal with buildings. It is my job to create man made works of architecture that sit upon the ground and take the place of natural ecosystems. Yet my favorite places are in direct contradiction to my job, my passion. My favorite places to be are where no buildings have ever been, places that are natural and pure and uncorrupted by mankind. This is a relatively new change for me. If you had asked me the same question 3 years ago I would have said that my favorite place would be a dense urban inner city. But 3 years ago was a major change for me and my family. We packed up and moved from Jacksonville, Florida (one of the largest cities in the United States) to Little Rock, Arkansas. Just for comparison and culture shock purposes, the population of Duval County, Florida is larger than the population of the state of Arkansas. More people lived within a mile of my house in Jacksonville than live in the City of Little Rock.

When we first moved here we were of course a little shocked by the pace of life, but very soon settled in and came to love our new home very quickly. A few weeks later we went on our first hiking adventure which amounted to a 10 minute drive. We climbed Pinnacle Mountain (about 700 feet) and I got my first look at Arkansas from the top. I fell madly in love with my new home at that moment. I also just stood nearly dumbstruck at the magnificent creation splayed out before me. The winding Arkansas River, the hills and mountains surrounding, the plains and valleys between the rises, the birds soaring below me. Since then we have hiked a number of mountains in Arkansas with still more on our list. Each time my awe is renewed and I fall in love with Arkansas all over again.

Being out in nature, separated from the bustle and buzz of modern day life, is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever experienced and like an addict I’m always searching for an excuse to get back, to explore some new wilderness that I haven’t been to yet. This world has so much to offer and I hope to see as much of it as I can before I’m done.


Some may think that it’s ironic that an architect would find such peace and happiness in nature completely removed from the built environment. And it probably is and even a little strange. But then, in my practice, I try to bring some harmony between the built and the natural. Some of the easy tools I use are natural daylighting, passive cooling (breezes) and wide open floor plans that allow air circulation with large openings that blur the line between in and out. And really the goal of any architect should be a harmony with nature. After all nature is permanent and the more we blur the line between built and unbuilt the more permanent our buildings become.

Other Architalks Peeps:

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture

Matthew Stanfield – FIELD9:Architecture

Marica McKeel – Studio MM

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect

Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast/TRXL

Lora Teagarden – L2 Design LLC

Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen

Andrew Hawkins, AIA – Hawkins Architecture, Inc.

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design

Michelle Grace Hottel – Michelle Grace Hottel, Architect

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, Inc.

Michael Riscica – Young Architect

Stephen Ramos – Buildings Are Cool

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect

Tara Imani – Tara Imani Designs, LLC

Jonathan Brown – Proto-Architecture

Eric Wittman – Intern Life