September 2014

Sleep Away Camp

Sleep away camp, for me, conjures thoughts of forced physical activity, serial killers lurking in the woods, and writing letters to your parents begging them to send you better snacks. So I was excited but a little apprehensive when Anand told us our summer retreat was going to verge on the summer camp experience at Pinecrest Lake, a peaceful spot in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. As the new kid at BBA, was I going to be the killer-in-the-shadows bait?

Our first night at Pinecrest kicked off the weekend with cocktails and a playlist of 90’s rap and R&B; trust falls are so passé – nothing says team-building like a sing-a-long to “I Believe I Can Fly.” Saturday started with a big breakfast (sans bug juice) to fortify for the jam-packed day ahead. First up was our group horseback ride, and we hit the extremely literal dusty trail with our horses – Bullwinkle, Joyce, Bob, Cash, Mork. Our ride took us by some incredible vistas and through a ski area. I was nervous about the ambitions of our trail guides when glimpsing a double black diamond sign as we began our descent back to camp.

Next up was our pleasure cruise. Two party boats, dubbed “Booze Cruise” and “Snooze Cruise” (take your pick) set out on the gorgeous lake, where we suntanned, grilled, jumped off the boat, jumped off rocks, jumped into floaties… basically jumped off anything that was sturdy enough to launch from.

Saturday evening was capped with a dinner at the Steam Donkey Restaurant. We chatted away about upcoming projects, the balance of creativity and critique, our favorite wines… and presented Seth and Bonnie with a surprise, funny books full of silly candid shots that we had been hoarding for an appropriately embarrassing occasion. We continued the party late into the night, playing boisterous rounds of Heads Up and Salad Bowl.

Sunday came all too soon, and after a huge stack of pancakes, we made one last nature stop in the Stanislaus National Forest, for a great view of the Echo Lake Reservoir. I sat on the edge of the cliff, watching the shadows of drifting clouds move across the surface, thinking about how much fun I had with my colleagues, getting to know everyone better and blowing off steam… only to be interrupted with a jolt by the painful sting of a wasp. Time to get back to reality!

September 2014

Taking Time Out to Make Things

After being in our office for over a year now, we have finally outfitted our shop.  We’ve undertaken our first building project:  a laminated wood table for our office kitchen (reclaimed wood courtesy of this office and other jobs).  All designers love to make things, of course, but are often a bit sad / jealous to let someone else have all the fun in actually building our projects; we are contractors at heart I suppose. Yes, we do fun “architect” stuff like making beautiful images and solving difficult but rewarding three-dimensional problems, but like any modern day desk person, we also do our fair share of emailing, phone calling, chart making, and calendaring, etc.  Happy clients and contractors (and dare I say building officials?) are a wonderful product of these efforts.  But sometimes you need a tangible pat-yourself-on-the-back object that you can admire and say, “We made this!  With our own two hands!  And look how awesome it is!” The sore sanding muscles, gluey fingers, blisters, and greasy pizza refuels are not just things to be worked through or dealt with, they are part of the enjoyment of making real physical things. We aren’t yet at back-pattable status, but that’s just because (we hope) we aren’t done yet.  This table is on its way.  Stay tuned.