June 8, 2006

Public at Large

I've just received an email from Jim Brown, an old friend who went to architecture undergrad school with me in San Luis Obispo back in the day. Jim is building what he calls a "hut" on or near the beach in Baja, and he invited us to come for a weekend for sun splashed summer construction fun. (No irony intended.) My wife Stephanie and I used to travel south nearly every weekend when we were pups and we would visit our good friends in San Diego.

Another visit is long overdue. Such is our crazy calendar: I doubt that we could make it over there before I travel to Spain. The raincheck is getting dog-eared, but it will never be thrown away.

Jim went into business with another friend named Jim, Jim Gates. A great team, these guys are part of a larger cohort of amigos who settled into San Diego after school. Robin Brisebois lured Jim Brown to work with the great Ted Smith and Others.

I call Ted great because he has achieved what few archticts have done: he articulated a brilliant, practical and humanisitc urbanistic vision to form a context for his architectural projects. Called "Go-Homes", he challenged the existing zoning code by urbanizing suburban edges by literally subverting the local code and planning restrictions. His strategy: knowing the code better than the "coders" do. (

I pause, wondering if I'm spilling too many beans for Ted, but these projects have long been built, habitated, sold and re-sold, so I'm sure everythign is ok. ...fingers crossed. Architecture's nobility comes form something akin to the doctor's creed: "Do no harm", and thus most arctiecture has an overly tamed nature. Not edgy. When architects get edgy, they go waaaay off the reservation, never to be seen again. Ted is the lone exception with his out-lawyer-the-lawyer approach.

A good expositon from the Architectural League, New York is here. Another from the LA Forum is here. Ted works on and off with Kathy McCormick, who has carved out an impressive architectural portfolio, seamlessly colored by a previous life as a color consultant.

Characteristic to Jim, he sent along this pic, of the cement mixer, which looks like it's a vintage equipment find down there in Mexican Frontera Baja land. Notable features of their designs are simple-yet-subtly existential boxes articulated in several material assemblies (wood, metal, concrete and notably -salvaged archtiectural components), sliding planes jostling with services and landscaping that all add a habitable tension to the apparent simplicity of the arrangement of the designs. Check out their site. Click around, its good stuff.

(Public's office staff apparently out in public -at a game of some sort. Jim Gates in in the green ballcap. Typicaly self effacing, Jim Brown is probably snapping the picture.)

Posted by Dennis at June 8, 2006 3:17 PM

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