Someone who is very dear to us gave me this T-Shirt today, they got it at MD Anderson, Texas while putting out a fight of a life-time, and they thought of me. They said, "it embodies who you are as a person, a friend and an architect". I was humbled by the gesture, because behind all the bravado, the "my way or the highway" or "take no-prisoners" image I portray, there is the real person, who is nurtured by everyone around, my real family, Marco, Susana, Justin, Dicle, Peter and Stephen.
That message could not have come up at a better time... I just have arrived back from a life-saving trail run with Lance (not Amstrong, but my former partner) and was at the end of my rope with all the deadlines and obligations Esc Arc has to deal day-in-and-day-out... Then they were there, you know who you are... I feel so blessed to share with you on your journey to healing... and yes, "Failure is not an Option"... I promise you that much... Have faith and miracles will continue to happen.
We are at the end of January, and you all have noticed my latest habit, falling asleep unexpectedly in the afternoon...without a warning... Lots of stress, clients, deadlines, teaching and having a resemblance of a life takes its toll... you know the rest. Today however, when I walked in the office, I was captured by the magic environment we have created. Peter started by sharing the lecture he had attended the evenning before. Marco, who is my dad reincarnated, jumped into his routine of watching over everyone's welfare and working away. I realized that we are so fortunate to be together, inspiring eachother and most importantly sharing moments of laughter, frustration and even silence.
Yes, there are very few architects out there who have it as good as we do, because we have each other... Dimming the lights after everyone left, was heartwarming, because I realized that even though we have come from all walks of life... we share a common goal, to pursue a meaningful architectural journey.
Marco, Justin, Ana and our beloved painter Joe, the Romanian, spent the whole weekend giving the office a make-over. The project essentially consisted on removing years of accumulated models, catalogs, sets of drawings and even old sandwiches stuck in secret places and morphing into interesting life forms. What started as a paint and clean up job, ended being a major demolition and layout change of the space. Ana for one, lost her desk, (which she never uses anyway), catalogs disappeared since the empty shelves looked poetic. The model shop was moved to another suite and the extensive glass panels were exposed along with a concrete shear wall. So, the office will look beautiful, spacious, serene and...empty. However, we have the coolest spot in Palm Springs, overlooking Palm Canyon and the mountains...
It does not matter where our visitors come from, Austria, New York, Chicago or London, our space is breathtaking, if you have the ability to understand restrain and brutal use of of materials... The only problem is that to get to the clinical aspect of our work, you will find out that "Less is a lot more work..." if not, ask Marco and Justin... they will tell you.
A wonderful way to start the weekend. Look at the pictures we got from Uganda. The children of the orphanage received Christmas gifts provided by our office. Their smiles and excitement jump at you and makes you understand that it takes so little to make a difference… and Esc Arc is having an impact in these little ones lives!!!!! So guys, stop complaining about working on the weekends and holidays. The fruit of our labor and the sacrifices our families have to endure sets in motion a positive ripple effect in which our randoms acts of kindness multiply themselves algorythmically.
Let’s face it Gang, 2006 was a psycho year. It was a year of shock therapy for all of us, including me. We had great blessings and climbed insurmountable peaks, from losing all our key people to gaining some of them back. We went from the dissolution of an established partnership to the growing pains of a much better one. We got projects approved which the nay-sayers said “it ain’t gone to happen” in Palm Springs. We struggled among ourselves to find our own voice, while finding new soulmates. We recruited some great clients and outstanding tribal members such as Juju and Dicle, but along the way, we had to kiss a few frogs “good bye” and redefined the notion of a “family”. That is the nature of Esc Arc, always in a state of “flux”, always questioning, holding a mirror to people’s faces and forcing them to conquer their own inadequacies.
Yes, at Esc Arc, we are unique and proud to practice architecture full of passion, song and dance. We are big on dreams and we set about to fulfill them like “it ain’t no big thing”. Proof of that we are the “small train that could” we were just interviewed by Architectural Record for an article to be featured in March. We were just quoted on Met Home Magazine, and to be featured on Dwell, Palm Springs Life (this is getting old), Shelter Magazine and “Modernist Desert Homes” book.
On-going projects vary in scope, from the $60 million “biggest project in Palm Springs since the building of the Airport” to a humble restoration in Coachella, which only pays for our gas and reproduction. We have developed a great roster of clients, many of them “frequent fliers” like Brian Linnekens, College of the Desert, San Bernardino Diocese. We have The Palm Canyon, The Alejo Mixed Use, The new St. Theresa Library, College of the Desert Aquatic Center Conversion, The Balthazoar Steel Home, etc. etc. the list never ends… even a Resort Hotel Tower and Condo Complex in El Salvador's Pacific Coast for the biggest developer in Latin America, Roble and Associates (I know Marco will love this one). We have our first meeting in March. Along the way, we met people who are at the frontier of their own fields and that makes our “architectural journey” more meaningful and worth pursuing.
And of course, Esc Arc’s baby, the AROH School in Uganda East Africa… No need for words. Great client, great cause and most importantly, it is the sum of experiences and desires, it is what architecture should be about. Improving people’s lives by improving the built environment, and having a great time while doing it.
Hey Slackers, there are a lot of greater things to come, so hold on tight to your seats