Colorado Series:
Design for Reading

During our trip to Colorado Springs, we had the pleasure of actually staying in the house that we were hired to redesign.  After the first day and a half of preparing for and taking interior photographs, we then got a chance to slow down and relax.  After slipping on my Uggs and pulling out my latest Baldacci book, I was sitting in the living room and realized something.  Before this moment, I couldn’t figure out why this classic modern home with a true wood ceiling, heavy timber beams, concrete columns, eight foot tall glass windows and real concrete tile felt like such a warm, inviting space.  And then it hit me.  The space made you want to read a book.  All of those components; the oversized fireplace, the classic modern furniture, the wonderful scenery seen through the expanse of clear glass, were simply designed to encourage one to read.  And I realized that using the act of reading as a benchmark for design, forces us as architects and interior designers to create spaces that are proportioned, appropriately sized and finished in a way that provides comfort and satisfaction.

Colorado Series:
Design with Respect

It is not often that we, as architects and interior designers, get the opportunity to renovate a classically modern structure.  It is just as rare that we get the opportunity to meet the original architect of that building and even more rare that the original architect still lives in the house we are renovating.  We were lucky enough to have this exact opportunity in Colorado Springs.  We had two choices:  1. to design something representative of our own aesthetic to show off our own design style or 2. to respect the original design with the only goal to complement the existing aesthetic and ultimately hope for the original architect’s approval.  We chose the latter and got that approval.  By renovating with respect and admiration for the design, the results were both aesthetically pleasing for all involved, but more importantly, we enhanced the original architecture and space by giving it the respect it deserved.

Colorado Series:
Photos Should Tell a Story

Our website has morphed multiple times over the years, but the main purpose of any designer’s website is to express the visual success and achievements of that designer.  The photography gives us the channel to express our talent and specifically, what our buildings or spaces look and feel like.  Though always subjective in nature, our aesthetic and built form is our life and these photographs represent our careers.  They show the evolution of our designs and they can also tell the story of a project.  If photography is used properly, the photographs taken should allow the viewer to take themselves on a journey through the relationship between space, proportion, materials, the furniture and its context.  The images, organized properly, can explain the thought process of the architect or interior designer, expressing how they approached the project and ultimately, the project’s success.

Don Jones Photography

Don Jones Photography

Colorado Series:
Mix It Up

On a recent trip to Colorado Springs, Patty and I visited one of our residential projects renovating a classic modern home set at the base of Cheyenne Mountain.  While there, we experienced a most amazing climatic transformation over the two days we were in town.  As seen in the photos below, we went from a landscape covered in snow and clouds to beautiful green foliage, Cheyenne Mountain in the background and not a hint of snow or ice anywhere.  This brings up an interesting awareness to appreciate and take advantage of the photographic opportunities the climate provides when documenting our buildings for marketing purposes.  Don’t get stuck taking photos only when the project is complete.  Be patient and take photos at different times of the year in multiple environments.  It will only enhance the success of your project and help to tell your story.

Photo taken on Feb. 3 from the front yard (can’t see the mountain)
Photo by Don Jones Photography

Photo taken on Feb. 4 from inside the house (there’s the mountain)
Taken with my Droid phone

 

Large Bodies of Water

When flying over large bodies of water, I can’t help myself to just find that school of sharks or whales or anything swimming in the water. It’s about connection, grounding and familiarity. Flying over water in every direction creates a feeling of endlessness. We can relate to earth and ground or buildings, because we can walk on them. We want and need to place our feet on something solid. It is human nature to feel more comfortable flying over mountains or fields or cities. We need buildings and land and rivers and ball fields to connect us back to reality. However, I have to admit that it is sometimes nice to escape and just look for Atlantis.

~Barron Schimberg, AIA, LEED AP

Housing Developments

We often talk about community. I have attended entire conferences dedicated to that word. What is a community? What makes a community? How does one navigate through a community? As I continue this series on flying, I often see these ‘communities’ set within the environment. Tracts of green or brown land and then gradually, tens, sometimes hundreds of homes, built in some pattern, interconnected by roads and all approximately the same size.The roofs are typically the same color, and from an airplane, the houses all seem white for some reason. Did the developer think about how this ‘community’ would appear from a plane? Though I personally believe communities are created at a pedestrian level, when looking down on a housing development from above, one cannot ignore the impact that all of the roofs and winding roads and spattering of pools has on the definition of community. It’s the 30,000 foot perspective of not living alone.

~Barron Schimberg, AIA, LEED AP

Manicured Tracts of Land

There is something very beautiful and architectural about flying over land versus water.

In different parts of the country, the Midwest in particular, tracts of land extend as far as the eye can see, in this incredibly geometric pattern. Each area of land is clearly defined with ’pathways’ or tan colored ‘roads’ creating squares, rectangles and parallelograms.

It resembles a city grid, imagining each ‘road’ as a city block and each square as a community unto itself.

Then, each defined grid shape is a different color. Shades of greens, browns and reds all seemingly related, but separate in their function.

One must consider what grows within those tracts to create the different colors and is it possibly deliberate? The farmers’ ultimate patchwork of art on the world’s largest canvas.

And ultimately, this field of angular shapes represents work, thoughtfulness and care. It is American and it is beautiful.

~Barron Schimberg, AIA, LEED AP

The Winding River

As I look out the window, all I see is land. I focus on something else on the plane’s fold down tray on my lap and then peer out again. Beginning somewhere, I’m not quite sure where, a winding river is snaking its way through the trees, or the desert or flat lands. It narrows and widens as it continuously curves, seemingly never ending.

I immediately want to know where it starts. A natural spring? A body of water? Are we near the coast or inland?

Are there houses built on the river, creating an opportunity to design a modern, custom home with fabulous views? Or is this just a natural environment home to local species like alligators, birds and mangroves?

In a way, the river is like drawing a line on a page with your eyes closed. There is no real order in its movement, but there is a beginning, there is an end and everything along the way has an interesting shape or turn or relationship to its surrounding.

Sounds a bit like life, huh?

~Barron Schimberg, AIA, LEED AP

Baseball Fields

I once heard that if you’re flying somewhere, the one thing that places oneself in a certain geographic location are baseball fields. They tell you, “You’re in America.”

There are no other places on earth that have as many baseball diamonds, spread out over an entire country, spotting the terrain.

Flying is always a disconnecting experience. You’re in a machine, fairly small if you think about it, compact in nature, hurdling 20-30,000 feet above land, seemingly floating in air with nothing around it. That’s disconnection.

When flying, I find myself searching for comfort. I find myself searching for a connection to a place or to the earth or to a familiar shape. The baseball diamond is that special shape, set in a field of green, red clay and white stripes, the baseball field simply says, “I’m home.”

~Barron Schimberg, AIA, LEED AP

The Lone House

While flying to D.C. from Florida, I thought it would be interesting to write a series on the view from above: the lone house, baseball fields, the winding river, manicured land, house developments and large bodies of water.

I always wonder who lives in that house? Vast areas of trees or hills or fields of grass and out of nowhere, a house appears. Typically white for some reason, it calls for attention.

What were the owners thinking? I don’t like people. I like a ton of land. I hope no one can find us. I always think, “How long does it take to get home from work?” and “Where does the mailman drop the mail, at the house or the entry to the driveway?”

Choosing to build a house in the middle of nowhere is like choosing to vacation on a very small island in the middle of the ocean. It must be fun to just get away.

~Barron Schimberg, AIA, LEED AP