Finding you in that room changed my life and stirred my soul. You had been waiting a long time, when the librarian showed me back to a large public meeting room and opened the door. There were some large colorized prints of the neighborhood places hanging around the room on the wall, and you were featured in one of the images. It was the coolest thing I had ever happened upon.
Modern dads have learned to balance bringing home the bacon with living a full family life. Although dads have long been hardwired to provide financially, the satisfaction of being a breadwinner and advancing in the business world comes at a cost. I witnessed it firsthand and through a series of providential events have been finding balance in my own life, with my family.
There is not a leaf that has fallen without promise. The promise of renewed life and the coming spring. Underlying this is an order that connects all things. Sometimes, architects have a sensitivity toward nature, but it is something that we could all explore further.
Sustainable communities, like the blood and flesh of our own bodies, are made from living parts. Just as the human body regenerates its own cells regularly, it also experiences entropy. In a similar way, we should not forget...
Want a simple equation to make the places you love stronger? Do you want to better understand your place in the world and leave it better for the next generation? Maybe you are interested in a more sustainable built environment, including green architecture, sustainable planning and historic preservation. If so, then I began this blog for you.
I tend to think of our natural environment as both a gift and a resource. It gives us everything we need. Unfortunately, modern culture appears to be causing more negative impacts than positive. Do you see this too? What if we could work to lighten our environmental footprints while also strengthening our communities? This may be possible with a simple shift in thinking.
In my tour of the 2017 Solar Decathlon, Team Maryland was my favorite. Their project called reACT (ie. Resilient Adaptive Climate Technology) proved to me that a sustainable future needs to merge indigenous/cultural traditions along with modern technology. This is not just about energy either. Even though the architecture and engineering were exceptional in this design, the incorporation of cultural traditions gave the house much more impact than the rest of the entries at the Solar Decathlon.
During my tour of reACT, I spoke with some of the team and learned about the Native American philosophy called the "7th Generation Principle". This simply means that we should think about our future descendants 7 generations from now (or about 140 years) and honor them by leaving the world better.
Last time we shared the list of work items included in the Scope of Work for the application for Certificate of Authority (CA). After leaving from our initial meetings with the City’s Historic Preservation (HP) staff and Code Enforcement inspector, we had a plan. Since the deadline to submit for that month’s HP Commission meeting was very close at hand, we submitted a partially completed application. Thank you for the nice trick HP staff! We were ready to get the ball rolling.
Last week began a series on renovating the worst house on the block in Oklahoma City's historic Mesta Park neighborhood. Once the property was purchased, the new owners and I met to conduct a damage assessment and form a game plan. Delayed maintenance, inappropriate materials/retrofits, and apathy are three plagues upon under-appreciated historic properties, and this one suffered from all three!
But, what the home lacked in physical condition it made up for in location. This neighborhood and its surrounding walk-shed are becoming more revitalized and vibrant by the day. At the center of the neighborhood lies Pearle Mesta Park. You can see this common green space and the the well-maintained children's play equipment from the front porch. Score!
When some close friends bought the worst home on the block in an up-and-coming historic district, they called me. They are a wonderful young couple that has made their business breathing new life into older, often neglected homes. Even though they had remodeled dozens of other properties before, this historic home renovation was going to be their toughest one yet.
“Larry we are thinking of buying a 1926 residence in Mesta Park. It has loads of potential, but man, it’s rough!”
Over the past two posts we have taken a new angle on design charrettes (fast-paced design workshops). First, we looked at the split paradigm between public and private realms, and how this sets a course for gathering project stakeholders. Then, we looked at gathering a team and took a deep-dive into the home, neighborhood, and downtown realms - even looking at the funky "in-between zones" where ideas can become really interesting. Now, let's wrap this rodeo and outline how to facilitate your own design charrette.
Do you want to live in a Green Heart Town, where there is a sense of health, community, and legacy? This kind of town can only be a product of community-wide sustainable development, which takes thoughtful planning and action. At the center of the effort, I see each one of our lives as a common thread skillfully used to create better places for everyone to live, work and play.
The transformation begins by loving our family and community well, caring for our neighbors, and becoming more future-minded. The wonderful paradox is that being future-minded also makes our lives better today, too!
"When we build, let us think we build forever.” John Ruskin's words evoke the notion of building in a sustainable manner, thereby leaving a legacy to future generations through the story of our places. Every day in my work at the Oklahoma Main Street Center, I am fortunate to encounter historic buildings that mirror Ruskin’s ideals; however, I have also seen in the modern building movement that we have lost our way in designing sustainable places over the last half century.
I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on a wonderful experience from 2015. I visited Taliesin West in early October to attend the the American Institute of Architect's (AIA) first joint colloquium
The Main Street America™ revitalization strategy applied at the grass-roots level has allowed thousands of communities across America to recast their historic downtown districts as the heart of town life. The movement was launched by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980. Since then, over 2,000 communities have followed the Main Street Approach, bringing renewed energy and activity to America’s downtowns and commercial districts, securing $65.6 billion in new investment, creating more than 556,000 net new jobs, and rehabilitating 260,000 buildings.
Vernacular architecture (aka. traditional architecture) is a topic we are going to be referring back to often. “Looking back before moving ahead” is a principle that any sustainable designer should cherish. Not only are our communities’ histories informative, they are also treasures that can enrich our lives. We can choose to become part of the great story of our community, and leave it stronger.
There is a timeless way of building and we have forgotten it!
The historic vernacular architecture is the rudimentary construction done by your town’s original builders, with the traditions, skills and resources they had at hand. You might also think of it as your town’s architecture, before architects.
This blog is about creating a Green Heart Town: Renewing Your Home, Neighborhood and Downtown from the Inside Out.
For over a year, I considered the right direction for this blog. I could use the "I have never blogged before" excuse, but the truth is I'm a slow poke. One thing I knew for certain is...