traveling with an architect: california

Posted by susan on September 22nd, 2008. Filed under: getaways.

Okay, Mike won’t technically be called an architect until after so many more hours of documented work and 7 more out of 9 grueling tests (he passed two already, isn’t he so smart) – but for now, architect is close enough…

I’ve pointed out many solo travel experiences, whether they were my own or someone else’s, because I am truly fascinated by and admire people who can put themselves out there in such a way. However, I think it is also important to acknowledge something that is typically so understood that it doesn’t get quite as much attention – traveling with people dramatically shapes your experience.

The other day I asked Mike if I could have the itinerary we made for our trip to California back in 2006. We went from LA to Anaheim (for my cousin’s wedding) to Santa Barbara and back to LA and we printed out directions to everything and kept them in this book…yes, no GPS or iPhone’s for us, wicked old school.

Though this book stemmed from me being pretty crazy when it comes to preparation, Mike had a pretty big contribution. You see, traveling with an architect requires a full list of buildings that are meant to be looked at, admired and appreciated while on the trip. Here is one of the pages we included on our itinerary…

The Hollyhock House by Frank Lloyd Wright was one of his more touristy choices, and by that I mean, I have heard of Frank Lloyd Wright. But even if I had gone without Mike, I never would have learned how unique the pattern on this building is and that it was created from a mold that must have taken forever to design and create. I would have looked at this and simply thought, interesting pattern (if anything at all), instead of really acknowledging and appreciating how much time must have gone into this.

If I hadn’t been with Mike, I may have driven by the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, but I never would have stopped, got out of the car and taken multiple pictures (actually I didn’t take any of these pictures, Mike did). In fact I may never have driven by both sides and realized that there are two parts, one green and one blue, that are connected.

I never would have known that the Caltrans building even existed. I never would have learned that what you see in the picture below is actually a layer, the skin of the building, that resides on top and has openings that open and close, as dictated by solar power and what time of day it is – that it was specifically designed to react to the environment.

I also wouldn’t have about a dozen pictures of every single angle of the building.

And I never would have realized that this architectural detail is actually concrete meant to appear as wood – the concrete was poured over wood to get this texture.

I would have gone to The Getty Center, but I never would have had this picture, because my architect is also a good photographer, who likes to capture the parts of buildings that people don’t always look up and see.

Had I not visited the Getty with Mike, I may not have taken the free architectural walking tour and discovered that Richard Meier usually designs all of his buildings to be stark white, but for this project, he made a compromise and used beige-colored travertine stone from Italy (okay I had to look that last fact up because I forgot what kind of stone, but I really did learn it that day).

I probably would not have visited the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels designed by José Rafael Moneo, which overlooks the Hollywood Freeway.

And let’s face it, traveling without him, would not have been as fun.

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