Ostia Antica

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Ostia Antica is the site of an ancient Roma civilization. Our family spent the first night we arrived on the back porch of Ostia Antica Park Hotel, the site of our worst Italian experience. The first communion celebration extravaganza should have tipped us off. This place was an in-between place, convenient for travelers to the nearby airport with nothing more of the community to be shared. I would have to pay to swim, pay to sit on the front patio, pay to stay too long at breakfast. So, we eventually figured out other places to spend time while staying at the hotel. Walking around downtown wasn’t so bad, considering the well maintained private drives.

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This place was beautiful but I wouldn’t recommend our hotel for many more reasons by the end of our stay. The first being the common ‘misunderstanding’ of many restaurants serving American tourists. They loved to give us 5-times the portion of appetizers. I tried out all of my verbs, condividere – to share, or the simple word for divide, dividere. But, none of them worked. The waiters all wanted to see our faces when what was meant as an order to share was way too large for any group to split. See the mozzarella balls below.

Ostia again

We had to say goodbye to my brother who would be flying back to the States earlier than the rest of us. We’d also have to say goodbye to my Mom’s camera and all of her beautiful pictures that was lost or taken somewhere in the lobby of this hotel or as we boarded the bus out from the front door. The hotel staff, with access to the security camera, refused to watch the tapes for us as we called and called back for help. That is, they refused or saw something they didn’t want to share with us. It was difficult to understand either way. Even a year later it is hard to digest the faces and scenes my Mom had captured with her creative eye, then lost.

We’d spend the day my brother left playing in the ruins around an erie feeling of a spirit returning.

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What should Architecture be?

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What should architecture be? What should I be as an architect? The class discussion about Le Corbusier required that I define something for myself!

The more I learn about how to be a better person, the more I believe everything I do should relate back to the same thing. When my family traveled in Italy in 2014 we took an 11 o’clock taxi ride to our hotel outside of Venice. The three miles was something like 30 euros, a rip-off, of course. My mother was upset and when she demanded an explanation the cab driver simply handed over his laminated ‘terms and conditions’ sheet. My family then decided that we all needed terms and conditions of ourselves and that declaration has been with me ever since.

So, with the task inspired by Le Corbusier from an architect’s perspective and my belief that all things in life relate, I’ve drafted the following.

I must try to write every day. Language relates my actions to my beliefs. Sometimes not until I write, do I fully understand what I think.

Help others.

Reading and writing influence my work.

Everything is better with a good cup of coffee.

Authentic experiences must evolve.

In architecture, there exist inner and outer forces, meaning that there is the way people want to use a space, and the conditions of the site, culture and area in which the project exists. I’ve started a chain letter to a colleague that describes how I start a project, and I believe the next step to understanding the conditions of project is to evaluate the materials with which one is to be working with. Then, the structure, something holds up and together a project, and then the infill may be allowed to be more fluid.

Homes are for eating, cleaning, sleeping. Beyond the home there is work, social interactions, and commerce, everyone sharing their work. I need to develop my thoughts architecture beyond the home.

All things great or distressing become better when they are shared with someone else.

Live life how you believe you should be living. (What you identify with, you become. – from the Deepak Chopra meditations.)

What are your ‘rules’ of life?

~ Take in October ~

Fall time with the low sun, the crisp mornings and cool breezes throughout the afternoon, October lets me see the world around me with fresh eyes.

Some images from home:

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Out of a stump

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The Front porch

Views and Brews

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Photo sourced from WV Living

I wish I’d come up with the name Views and Brews. A northeastern US club, Views and Brews, has the same philosophy as my husband and I do: vacations that are coordinated around where we can hike, and if we’re lucky, where we can enjoy a cold local craft beer to commemorate it.

As someone who enjoys all kinds of brew, I also look forward to breakfast with coffee too! The best combination of place has all three, a good coffee shop, a local brewery and a mountain nearby. I’ve had this app on my list of things to discover for a while – the Best Beer at Untapped.

Halleck Morgantown WV

Morgantown has recently added to the list of breweries to try in the state of West Virginia with the opening of Chestnut Brew Works. What’s the thing I heard most while enjoying the flight at the bar? I’ll have a Halleck, I’ll have a Halleck, I’ll have a Halleck… it may be the beer of choice for the whole city.Chestnut Brew Works Mtown WV

Places we’ve tried:

Lost River Brewing Company in Wardensville, WV

Marietta Brewing Company in Marietta, Oh

Morgantown Brewing Company in Morgantown, WV

Mountain State Brewing Co. in Morgantown, WV in Deep Creek Md, and in Thomas, WV

Blackwater Brewing Company in Davis, WV

Rivertown Brewing in Pittsburgh, PA

Portsmith Brewery in Portsmith, NH

The Vermont Pub and Brewery in Burlington, VT

Woodstock Inn and Brewery in North Woodstock, NH

Lexington Avenue Brewery in Asheville, NC

Wedge Brewing Company in Asheville NC

Deschutes Brewery in Portland, OR

Weasel Boy Brewing Company  in Zanesville, OH

Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh, PA

Fat Head’s Brewery in Pittsburgh PA

Crean’s Brewing in Ireland

Flagstaff Brewing in Flagstaff, AZ

Lumberyard Brewing Company in Flagstaff, AZ

Bridge Brew Works in Fayetteville, WV (via Pies n’ Pints)

Wheeling Brewing Company in Wheeling, WV

Chestnut Brew Works in Morgantown, WV

Chic Formal Wear at Showers & Weddings

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narcici Winery

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It’s summer, which means everyone is getting married and having showers. A few years ago I attended a shower at the Narcisi Winery in Gibsonia, Pa. It is a lovely winery set in the flat lands of a wide hollow. The building seemed to come from the ground, intertwined in the landscape with the grape vineyard. It is a large venue that hosts a restaurant and many meeting rooms under one roof. They host events throughout the summer on the lawn which I look forward to attending some day. The shower is not the only reason I want to bring up this winery and restaurant. It turns out that the proprietors are Giulianova natives!
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Black Jacket Required

What I noticed lately is that shower attire has really become much more elegant. After attending two in the past few months, one wedding and one baby, I thought I’d share my thoughts about what women wear. One piece dresses, black tights, and high high heels are now the standard.

Inspiration comes from dresses as this grey number below. Shift dresses found on Amazon, or bold block prints are also popular. With a bold glass of wine in one hand, we congratulated the bride-to-be and enjoyed an afternoon among her friends and family.

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A baby shower I attended recently in Pittsburgh, Pa was hosted by the lovely family of the mother-to-be at Andora Restaurant. Welcome to Andora.

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The renovated home comfortably sat the family and friends of my beautifully pregnant friend. Center-pieces for the day were frilly girls dresses. I enjoyed the company, the atmosphere and again, the attire. Pearls, thick gold bangles, silk skirts, and little girls in poofy dresses.

In September I will attend a colorful-tie event at Oglebay celebrating a close friend’s wedding. What’s a colorful tie? Well, I’m not sure -we’re still trying to figure out the language. What do you call a formal event, where you want girls to wear long dresses, but the men aren’t required to wear black tuxes?  Developing what to wear should be fun!

Traveling as an Architect

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It’s fun to talk about how to find what you are good at, and what those talents are, so they can be easily incorporated into every day. The drawing obsession of mine began while traveling as a student of architecture at Virginia Tech. My fall semester of 2002 was spent on a bus  with 35 students and a handful of professors.

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Cathedral Photo by CED Berkeley

My first job at Kendall/Heaton Associates pushed me to work on construction documents for two years. I was fortunate to work under Rex H. Wooldridge, Steve Bell, and Joon. These men formed the foundation of detailed work and dedication to the profession that I still lean on today. After working in Houston, TX I moved to Ohio to work solely on a house project for my parents. Needing to find an expert in the area, I sought out Victor Greco, a mid-career architect practicing in Wheeling with SMG Architects (now Mills Group.) He invited me into the Wheeling, WV office and I easily found the job that would take me into the next phase of my architecture career. SMG supported me to take the ARE exams, and I became a licensed architect in 2009. In 2013 SMG split and became SM+P Architects  in Baltimore while Victor merged with Mills Group. I moved to Morgantown, WV to work for the Mills Group shortly after this change.

In the last year I have drawn three hotels, one small hotel project has been completed while the other is under construction here in Morgantown. The third one desperately wants to rise off of the drawing board. I have worked on two local residential projects that required additions, helped one interior residential project, and have continued to work on one large renovation that is going on 2 1/2 years. In the last few weeks as Marriott has moved fully into construction administration I’ve jumped on a university renovation project about to go out to bid as the final set-of-eyes over the documents, and am working on a small theater renovation in southern WV. I have a wide range of tasks that seems to change every day. I look forward to a mix-use project that is to begin in three weeks. Mills Group has responsibility over the design, and I can enjoy the freedom that comes with decision-making in my work.

All of the above is just my work. There are about 8 total project managers in this firm who draw off of a pool of three to five young designers across the two offices. With more people and more projects it is important for the structure of the firm to have a strong project schedule. Easier said than done when we are in a constant search to answer RFP’s or interview for new work. Projects have different levels of service, and each one continues to move along a different deadline.

One of my most talented colleagues who is currently completing her Master of Architecture at Lawrence Tech while working full-time suggested I read Project Management for Design Professionals. As a few of us continue to develop Gantt charts to schedule people and projects, I begin to understand how important it is for a healthy firm to balance talent, expertise, and time management.

Peter Zumpthor Chapel in Switz