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Archi Summer

As a young designer, I’ve had the good fortune to work in a variety of cities but finding my way into the studio of Boor Bridges still feels like a stroke of luck. I remember cold-calling Bonnie after discovering Sightglass and suddenly finding myself at their annual office party. Warm introductions and a couple of whiskey specials turned into watching my future coworkers get down on the dance floor—my friends who accompanied me agreed that I had found a good fit.

I have long had the romantic belief that killing yourself in the name of work or school is a noble and worthy cause—intense projects, dozens of iterations, late nights, spinal dysfunction and permi-coon eyes the form for dedicated successful designers. Interning at Boor Bridges this summer has helped me remember that life is not all about architecture, rather, architecture is about life. This seems like a silly thought, but the last 2+ years of constant schooling (I’m in my final year of a 3 year Master of Architecture Program at CCA) had winnowed down my little world to one filled with archi thoughts, archi speak, archi friends, archi people and archi trees.

Boor Bridges has a strong archi thing going on, but it is well balanced with their commitment to a rich life —family, friends, play and rest—which makes for interesting co-workers with a very strong work ethic. The culture and setting of San Francisco is conducive to the well balanced life in many ways. A life rooted in significant relationships, rich experiences, and outside hobbies leads to a more dynamic understanding of our work—from the cafes we wait in line in, the work spaces we negotiate in, to the homes we construct memories from—people, place, and space, generally put.

Of course, being an architecture student, I would come to this meta conclusion never mind trying to internally justify sleepless nights for the name of “Architecture”.  Another byproduct of the transition from grad student to intern was from thinking about space in terms of transitory blobs, fluctuating systems, vectors, and trajectories to considering practical matters of functionality through time, spatial and material constraints, client interactions and budget—all intimately experienced by a project I have worked on continuously and directly. (I’ve visited the site multiple times, prepared presentation drawings, interpreted the clients’ needs, selected materials and finishes, and coordinated with the project team).

Even essential concepts like “site” are sometimes overlooked or over generalized by us students, hypnotized by the vastness of our screens. It was a welcome break when we had the chance to escape to Bonnie’s sweet cottage near the Russian River for an office retreat. It was amazing to hear all the strange insects at night, use the sun and shade as a measurement of time, hear the kids laughing in the pool, and to see everyone so relaxed and well fed. Becky and I, as Boor Bridges newbies I suspect, had a pleasant surprise when we were asked to lead a design charrette on site.

During the charrette, I decided to lead my team out to the orchard where we debated the perfect sleeping spot, noting which trees to keep and trim, sun, shade, and temperature shifts, and various spatial frames and levels of isolation via the amount of screening through certain tree canopies and leaves. It was such a relief to have to heighten our awareness to the seemingly still space—what I still find to be a slow awareness at first, coming from a chain of cities, and perhaps another type of intelligence that takes time, space, and stillness to develop. The sensory still reigns, in my mind, and perhaps one of the most powerful elements of a space that our memories are constructed from or triggered by. In your face, super convoluted, mis-annotated, over generalized, pseudo-scientific diagram! (It’s a love-hate relationship, really).

My summer with Boor Bridges will definitely affect my fast approaching final year of grad school. I’ve had a fulfilling experience with some unique, smart, and able architects and am grateful to be a part of the small yet growing family this summer. It’s Monday night and I’m off to stir my own senses with a new love of mine: Classical night at Revolution Cafe—just the right amount of loveliness and funny people-watching to kick off another busy week.