Park

Today I continued to work on a DD deadline at work. I finished the work I was given, but will see if they need more help today. After work I met with my friend Scott at Park in Harvard Square. He was in town meeting with the Harvard School of Education. We had a few cocktails and then headed home to pick up Ashleigh before going to dinner at Santarpio’s. It was a late night, but a fun one, and it was nice to catch up with Scott and share our Santarpio’s routine with him.

Let’s Try This Again

Today was MLK day, and I spent the day working at the office. The office was actually closed for the holiday, but I was asked to help out with a project that has a deadline this Friday. There was a little bit of snow this morning, but it was all gone by the time I came home from work. Some coworkers asked me to lunch today, and they decided on Qdoba, which is terrible. Another reminder of how much I miss Sonoran cuisine. Leftover chicken for dinner, and Ash and I began planning for my brother’s wedding in Poland this summer. Thinking of exploring Croatia after the wedding.

Searching

So hard to stay on top of these posts – weeks keep seeming to fly by faster. Before I know it, many weeks have passed without a posting. Since my last post I’ve traveled to Vegas for a soccer tournament, purchased plane tickets to Israel, and begun the search for a new home.

The team traveled to Vegas over the MLK Holiday. We stayed at the Aria, and I shared a room with my father who came up for the tournament – my mom was in Nebraska visiting family. I think this team has a lot more talent than our Chile team, and hopefully we will get some more practices under out belt before heading to Israel this summer. It’s a great group of guys, and I had a lot of fun playing over the weekend. My body seemed to hold up pretty well – unusual for me – and I returned home with just some minor bumps and bruises. The hardest part of the trip was the flight home, which arrived in Boston around 1:30am. Having planned ahead, I booked a hotel at the Club Quarters, which is not too far from my office. It allowed me to get to sleep a bit faster, and sleep in a bit longer before heading to work the next (that same) day.

I will not go on a rant about how terrible Vegas is, but it’s pretty terrible. I did not enjoy any part of it – the city that is – and hope never to return. I just do not understand the appeal. That being said, it was nice to spend some time with my father – we ate oysters and had some fantastic Italian food off strip.

Ash and I finally purchased out tickets to Israel – we are flying El Al, which actually has a direct Boston to Israel flight. They partner with Jet Blue, and Boston is a hub for Jet Blue so it makes sense. It was not the cheapest flight, but I think it will be worth not having other stops. We also made reservations at a hotel, the Dan Boutique. It seems close to the center of town and the old quarter, so I think we will be in good shape.

We have spent a fair amount of time lately looking at new homes to buy. We’ve made the decision to try and live as close into the city as possible, and are content to own a condo. We’ve looked at a couple of different areas, including Cambridge, Sommerville, Charlestown, and East Boston. East Boston is by far my favorite – the real estate is a bit cheaper, but that area of town still has a bit of an edge, unlike Charlestown. Cambridge and Sommerville are hit and miss, but can be quite expensive. We are still keeping our options open, but have not found anything we love quite yet.

At work we’ve submitted our documents for bidding on the BC Devlin project, and I will be working CA on that project once it gets into construction. For now I’ve been helping with the Babson College Residential Masterplan and also a very small renovation at BC which is placing a small lounge area inside a dormitory. The dorm is quite old and has no real facilities available for residents, so this will certainly be a welcome addition to the building.

EDIT

I started writing this post but never actually published it a few weeks ago. Since then I have worked on two new projects – BC Kostka and Wework, and had an offer rejected on a condo in East Boston. Today Ash and I looked at another place in East Boston and are going back tomorrow with our agent. It needs a lot of work – but is close to the T and is a single family home. On a whim, Ash and I went to Salem this afternoon for lunch. I had never been before, and really enjoyed being there. I especially enjoyed the historic colonial homes, really beautiful. Additionally, I’ve started volunteering once a week at Artisan’s Asylum – see image below of giant Snow Man I stumbled upon the other day while walking through there.

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Winter has finally arrived here in Boston. We’ve already had our first (and second) snows, and last weekends low temperatures reminded me why people live in Arizona. Still, the cold weather has not defeated me yet, in fact, I find it quite pleasant to come home to our comfy little house and start a fire in the living room. There are still deadlines to be hit at work, and we again had some visitors this this weekend, so things are staying pretty busy in New England.

Last week I finally had the chance to visit the building I’ve been working on, Devlin Hall at Boston College. It was good to walk around and orient myself with the actual space, and I’m glad Chad took me along for the site visit. We did have some business on our schedule, starting with a short meeting with the client regarding interior finishes. We met at St. Mary’s, the Jesuit residence which was recently refurbished, to look at some of the wood finishes. It’s a really beautiful old building, and I’d love to spend time in that sitting room – felt like I was a Duke in England. Just needed some hunting dogs and a giant turkey leg. After discussing the finishes at St. Mary’s, we then headed over to Devlin and took some measurements and looked inside some of the old walls.

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St. Mary’s, Jesuit Residence at Boston College
My parents came for a visit over the weekend, and got a little more than they expected with the weather. It was pretty chilly over the weekend, but that did not stop us from walking all over the city in an effort to show them around Boston. Friday evening we headed to Back Bay for a steak dinner at Abe and Louie’s, with Frank and I sharing a Bone In Ribeye – it was delicious. Again, it’s no Durants, but I think it’s probably the closest you can get in Boston.

Saturday we were lucky to meet with Adam for a tour of Fenway Park. It was the first day to buy season tickets at Fenway, so there were a lot of activities happening on the grounds. We walked all around Fenway, including up to the Green Monster, which I have not been up to before. Great view of the ballpark from up there, but we didn’t linger too long, as the cold wind was a bit much for us up there.

We headed back to our house during the late afternoon and were surprised to be gifted a new smoker from my parents. They had it shipped to a local Ace Hardware, and we are really looking forward to smoking some meats this winter! We were also gifted some amazing cook books, including Anthony Bourdain’s Appetites, Steve Raichlen’s Project Smoke, and an American Cake Cookbook for Ash which offers recipes of American cakes through the decades.

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Some of the crew began wearing cold weather gear this weekend
Saturday night ended with a nice dinner at Vinoteca Monica and then a nightcap at Four Winds. We ended up walking up and down Newbury on Sunday afternoon working up an appetite for our dinner at Island Creek Oyster Bar. The oysters were delicious and were the highlight of the meal for me.

My parents leave Boston this afternoon, so we are going to try and sneak another meal in before they go. I think we will head into the North End and look for something tasty to eat there, should be pretty easy.

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Look at these two popsicles

Ramping Up

Another week and another interview. On Friday I met with Guy Grassi from Grassi Design. Grassi Design mostly does high end residential architecture in many different styles, from Craftsman, Colonial, to Modern. Their offices are located at 46 Waltham in the South End, which is a small office complex housing several design and architecture offices (It’s actually the same complex where I met John from CWB Architects a few weeks ago). Our meeting went very well, and I’m hopeful something positive will come from it, although there was one rather large embarrassing moment. I had been working on my computer all day at my favorite coffee shop, JAHO, in Chinatown, and by the time I got to my 7:30pm meeting with Guy Grassi my computer was dead – meaning no portfolio to show him. Guy was extremely patient with me despite this ridiculous mishap on my part, and we used his iPad to pull up my portfolio from my website. Crisis averted, but lesson learned.

Why was I working all day on my computer? Well, I’ve been given some part-time work from my good friends Olga and Daniel St. Claire of SDS Architects. Olga and Daniel have really been amazing in helping me find my way in the architecture world of Boston, and have reached out to their friends to get me some meetings. Recently, Olga asked me to help her with some projects she is working on, so I went with her on Friday to visit a client, take some measurements, and spent the day putting as builts together. It was great to finally have some architecture work to do, and it might be nice to have some side projects once I gain full time employment.

On Saturday evening Ash and I went into Boston to have dinner and some drinks. We started with cocktails at Anchovies. This small, Italian food bar/restaurant in the South End is really cozy and unpretentious. The bar is fun, friendly, and dollar friendly. We will definitely be coming back. We did not have any food, but from what we saw, the plates looked delicious. Anchovies has been added to the rotation, awesome little place.

After Anchovies we headed to The Salty Pig. This is a much more upscale restaurant compared to Anchovies, and serves pastas, pizza, and their signature charcuterie plates. For charcuterie, you can choose from a selection of meats, cheeses, and extras (like almonds), and they prepare a personalized board with all your selections. I was really happy with our board, which also comes with spicy mustard, pickles, and bread. The pizza was good, but did not blow me away. This place was really all about the charcuterie for me. Additionally, they deserve some points for friendly service. We were seated at the bar, and one of the bartenders we were chatting with accidentally knocked a glass over and it broke and fell on Ashleigh. It was really no big deal at all, but they comp’d our drinks despite us saying it was unnecessary. Would go back for a drink and charcuterie plate for sure!

This week I have one interview with Elkus Manfredi at 7:30am tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. This was put together by Daniel and Olga, so I’m looking forward to this interview. I’ll have to be up pretty early in the morning to get myself to South Boston by 7:30!

The Comeback

Apparently last week truly marked the end of summer here in Boston – not the Labor Day weekend. As of yesterday a lot of the summer activities here in Boston have shut down, such as the Harbor Ferries. Perhaps it is fitting that today is gray, cloudy, and rainy. Last week began a bit slow for us, with not much on the table. My continued job search prospects looked a bit shaky at the beginning of the week, but as the week drew to a close, there were some opportunities that look promising.

I was fortunate to respond to a job search from a small office called CUBE Research + Design. Looking through their website, I loved their clean and elegant design sensibility. What really got me was many of their projects, especially single family residential, had a hint of mid-century modern embedded within the work. This really drew me into their projects, and I was hoping to have a chance to talk with them about some possible opportunities.

As luck would have it, I was contacted by Chris Johns from the Boston office, and asked to come in for a meeting. So, on Friday I headed down Summer Street delighted to be able to meet with CUBE. We chatted for about an hour regarding my past experiences and jobs, and looked at some of my work materials. Chris showed me around the office and then we sat at his computer and he showed me several of his projects – nearly all of them really. We spent almost 2 hours looking over their past and current projects – some really thoughtful work, I was impressed. So, after nearly 3 hours of hanging out at CUBE and meeting with Chris I left feeling confident, but know they will be looking at other talented candidates.

In addition to CUBE, my good friend Daniel was able to email a few larger firms on my behalf. Two of them responded right away, and as of right now, I have scheduled a meeting at Elkus Manfredi Architects for Tuesday the 27th. Hoping to have a few more meetings scheduled by the end of the week.

Apart from the job search I asked Adam for possible tickets to Yankees v Red Sox on Thursday night, and of course he obliged and gave Ash and I two great seats on the third base side. Fenway is a great place to be, even if you don’t love baseball. The evening was nice and crisp, cold but not too cold.

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Ash at Fenway, the Green Monster in the background.

At the top of the 7th the Yankees were leading by about 4 runs, and it was already getting pretty late so we decided to make our way home. We stopped in for a quick dinner and then took an Uber back to Lexington. Once home I checked the score of the game to find that the Sox had come back in dramatic fashion to win. Adam said it was the best comeback in many years. Oh well. Highlights below. 

On Saturday, Ash and I went to seek out some authentic Mexican food. I’ve been told that its pretty impossible to find the quality we were accustomed to in Arizona, but there was promise with Taqueria Mexico in Waltham. It was located in a run down area of Waltham, which made me think this might be the real deal. We ordered some beers and they brought us chips and salsa. We sat outside on a nice patio on a warm afternoon. The chips and salsas were quite good. They had one spicy salsa and one more traditional style salsa. Both excellent. The food was good, but not quite the same as we can get from home. I had a taco and enchilada, and they were good. The beans were not quite right, nor was the rice. I’d definitely go back, but I’m still left missing that part of home.

After our Mexican food we headed to South Boston for the American Field Boston event at the Design Center. American Field is a pop up market for handmade goods made in America. It was quite the hipster crowd on the 7th floor of the Drydock Building, and while there were certainly some nice items, we did not end up making any purchases.

It was a pretty lazy Sunday for us, lounging around the sofa most of the day, although we did walk to Wilson Farms and back to get some items for dinner.

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Our busy Sunday schedule.

Well, as always, hopefully there will be more to report next week.

And there goes the summer…

A bit of a quiet week for us in Boston, although quite busy for most others with the Labor Day Holiday signaling the end of summer. I started the week back at the Artisan’s Asylum meeting with their courses director to get my new class scheduled and on the books. I will be teaching an Introduction to Onshape class – here is a direct link. Pretty excited about the new class, and look forward to teaching it when it begins in a few weeks.

Following the vein of learning and teaching, I’ve just started an edX class titled MITx:16.00x: Introduction to Aerospace Engineering: Aeronautics and Human Spaceflight. This is the online version of an actual class taught at MIT by former Astronaut Jeff Hoffman. The online class is free from edX, and I’m pretty excited to be able to take this course.

I’m making another hard push to find work at an architecture firm, having spent most of the Labor Day Holiday brushing up my cover letter and resume. My friends Olga and Dan are going to make introductions to some new firms this week, and I am eager to get some traction with one or more of the firms we have discussed. Hopefully I will have more about this to discuss next week.

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Some beds you never outgrow.

Ashleigh and I spent Friday in Manhattan. We took Amtrak from South Station in Boston to New York Penn Station. The trip is quite pleasant, only a few hours with nice big seats and free wifi. I was able to get some work done on the way over while Ashleigh read. We spent the day walking around Central Park; it was quite a gorgeous summer afternoon in the city. For lunch we headed to one of my favorite Manhattan establishments, the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station. I love sitting at the counter eating oysters and having a nice cold beer. Always perfect. We ended the day with haircuts from our good friend, Kirin, who works at Rudy’s Barber on 29th St – not far from Penn Station. Kirin used to cut our hair in Phoenix, so it was nice to get one last haircut from her while we were in town.

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Ash in Central Park

We ventured out into Boston on Saturday evening, having cocktails at The Last Hurrah before enjoying some appetizers at Ward 8 in the North End. Ward 8 had some delicious Pork Buns and Cheesesteak Dumplings. We then headed to 4 Winds for a nightcap before returning home for the evening.

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I love the Grand Central Oyster Bar.

The rest of the weekend was spent at home being lazy. We are traveling again this week, heading to Chicago for the wedding of our good friends Chris and Jackie. Looking forward to seeing them and enjoying Chicago for the weekend.

A legal resident of Boston

On Friday I, and my car, became legal residents of Massachusetts. The process is fairly easy. You fill out some forms online, print those forms, and take them, along with forms of identity, you car title, and proof of address to the RMV and hope you get Arlene. Arlene works at the Watertown RMV and she is a dream. She made the process tolerable, and was patient when I fumbled with my paperwork. There needs to be more people in the world like Arlene. After everything was said and done I was registered to vote in Massachusetts, had new license plates, and a temporary ID (the real one comes in the mail in 7-10 days).

That evening we met up with Ashleigh’s cousin Lauren and her husband Todd to have dinner with Nader Tehrani, and several people from his office. We ate at Molana in Watertown, which is a Persian restaurant. The food was excellent, and we listened to many of the dinner guests talk about living in Iran, both pre and post revolution. Such interesting stories!

We spent Saturday in Boston proper, deciding to sit outside and enjoy the nice streak of weather we are having. Craving some seafood, we headed to the Seaport District to The Barking Crab. The Barking Crab is certainly much more of a tourist jaunt then we would normally frequent, but the ability to sit outside, drink some beers, and eat crustaceans was too much for us to avoid. While I’d probably not return, it was a pleasant afternoon, and we really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Later that afternoon, we headed to my friend Adam’s house to meet up with a former classmate, Tim, and go to Fenway Park for the Zac Brown Band concert. Again, you probably would not find me at a Zac Brown Band concert ever again, unless the following variables were fullfilled. First, if the concert was at Fenway Park. Check. Second, we had access to several suites, each with food and full bar. Third, you are with great friends whom you don’t often see. Check. We really had a great time, and Adam even took us to some 2nd row seats for a few songs. Pretty amazing.

Last Tuesday I headed back to Boston Makers for their volunteer meeting. It was another chance to meet some new people, and begin the process of getting involved in some local activities. The only downside is I tend to get home pretty late, as Boston Makers is located in Jamaica Plain, and it takes about an hour by public tranportation to get their from Lexington.

Tomorrow I will head to Sommerville to attend the Artisan’s Asylum teacher meeting. I sent in an application to teach 3D modeling using OnShape and was accepted. I think there will be some very interesting people at the Asylum, and I am looking forward to making some new contacts.

Lastly, I’ve got my 3D printing work station up and running in the basement. Some improvisation was needed as a filament holder, but so far so good. I am currently experimenting with some prints to create a front license plate holder. Since my car was purchased in Arizona where front plates are not necessary, it did not come with a method to attach a front license plate. Massachusetts does require front plates, so instead of drilling holes in my bumper I am working on attaching the plate to the bottom grille. Should not be too difficult.

Upcoming Olympics – Writing – Jorge Mario Jauregui

With the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro just around the corner, I was reminded of my time many years ago in Brazil, especially Rio. In fact, my first work as an intern architect was with Argentinian born architect Jorge Mario Jauregui. His office was located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and featured a group of interns from all over the world. Projects were mostly work in Rio’s favelas, poor communities that can be found all over the city of Rio. I was so moved by the work of Jorge Mario, that when I returned to the states, wrote a short piece about his work for a new magazine – now defunct. Jorge Mario featured the content on his website, which you can find at this link. I have copied the story below.

Transforming Rio: New Urbanization Projects in the Most Unlikely Places

If you are looking for gorgeous beaches, beautiful people and a nightlife that never ends, there are few destinations more suitable than Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Marvelous City offers all of this and more, yet there is a side to Rio many visitors never see. Scattered throughout Brazil are the favelas, poor ghettos riddled with crime, drugs and poor sanitation. While most people avoid favelas, Argentinian-born architect Jorge Mario Jauregui devotes his practice to organizing, rehabilitating and community-building in these impoverished areas.

The first favelas built on the scenic hillsides of Rio are nearly 100 years old. There are over 600 of these districts. Families reside in the cramped quarters of tiny shacks with no plumbing. One in five Rio residents live in the ghetto and are deemed lower-class citizens of the state. Further complicating the situation, most favelas are under the control of drug traffickers. These armed soldados, usually between eight and seventeen years old, guard the ghetto entrances. Violence makes upgrading these districts extremely difficult.

Fortunately, residents of these favelados are finding hope in new urbanization projects from Jauregui. Not only is Jauregui winning favor with Rio locals, but his efforts have even been noticed in the United States. In 2001, he received the Veronica Rudge Green Prize from Harvard University for his work on the “favela-barrio” project, a collaborative initiative to transform these poor districts into modern communities.

Jauregui’s designs contain a quality of innovation and simplicity critical for the development of the area. Money for such projects is scarce, so efficiency is important. For some, this would present a roadblock, yet Jauregui embraces this challenge, making modern forms from meager materials. For instance, in Vidigal, a once desolate area is transformed into a public square with flowing walls and stairs seeming to echo the dramatic, undulating coastlines of Rio. The form is not only beautiful, it reminds favelados that they, too, are a part of the city. Instead of leaving this area desolate and dirty, it is now a thriving symbol of hope for the city.

In Fuba Campinho, a new school was needed. Located on a difficult sloping site, the building embraces simple reddish-orange brick material used in construction in many favelas. The material sweeps across the lower part of the building, using curvilinear rather than orthogonal forms, distinguishing it from the surroundings. These broad gestures are docile and inviting, a pleasant change from the existing decaying dwellings.

Extruded window boxes, turned on an angle, watch over the street as if the building itself is concerned with public well-being. This simple move connects the structure to the community, evidence of the sympathetic understanding Jauregui brings to each favela project.

In a recent proposal for the Cidade de Deus or “City of God” (made famous by the movie of the same name) Jauregui demonstrates the connection between community space and architecture in an urban housing scheme. Instead of simply placing houses on either side of a constricted street, the space between homes is transformed into park area. The wide, shared communal areas encourage social gathering and leisure activities in a close-knit neighborhood setting. This contrasts starkly with the stacked, dilapidated housing and unfriendly, narrow streets that are more commonplace in the city. A similar scenario in a commercial context is in the favela of Manguinhos, where a central park area is inserted between major traffic routes through the district.

Jauregui’s buildings in these sites display bright colors, distinguishing his interventions as progressive landmarks for a better future. In his project in Vidigal, the walls are purple, accented with green stairs, reminiscent of evening colors found when gazing at the mountainous landscape that pervades Rio and the numerous favelas that reside in the hillsides.

In his kindergarten building in Fuba Campinho, the bright yellow color adds to the welcoming nature of the entire structure. The radiant shade represents a progressive modernity rising out of the cold, unkempt streets—a symbol that people can overcome social, economic and political difficulties connected with favela living. The bright contrasting colors associated with the new projects in Cidade de Deus and Manguinhos express the dynamic Brazilian culture. It is through such methods—relating architecture to culture and context—that gives Jauregui’s work a tangible relationship to the people it serves.

Jorge Mario Jauregui’s work is more than architecture. It seeks not only to create beautiful objects, but to develop a new ideology. When asked about his work, he replied, “The favelados live in an absolutely precarious situation. Any proposal for an improvement of their living conditions, to give them a small place, is better than the present situation, and is welcome. But the most important question is to go further than to introduce an infrastructure, ways and services. All this is necessary, but the most important thing is to configure with all these elements a new ‘aura’ of place.”
What separates Jauregui’s architecture from others is more than art, it is culture; the goal is not a building, but the promise of an improved way of life. For many residents of Rio it’s an overdue, yet desired, change.

Balloon to Space!

As moderator of the school’s Astronomy Club – we call ourselves S.P.A.C.E. Student Planetary, Astronomy & Cosmology Enthusiasts – attempted to send a small 3D printed replica of our school’s chapel tower up to 100,000 ft and record its journey using a GoPro camera.

After one failed attempt in which the satellite tracking unit failed to give a signal after launch, the club sent up a second balloon. The second flight was nearly pefect, and the group watched on their computers as the balloon sent back tracking signals as it crossed over the city.

Despite the groups best efforts to keep the balloon from landing in a remote area, it ended up in the middle of the desert, where no roads or hiking trails were nearby. Roughly a week after launch, the team hiked for 7 hours to recover the payload. The group created the following short video showing off the great footage they received from the journey. Hope you enjoy it!