April 2nd, 2009: [Raleigh,_NC_USA]
My time in Cappadocia had come to a close and I headed back to Istanbul, Turkey from Goreme by another cramped overnight bus. After one more night in a hostel I jumped the big flight home to Raleigh, North Carolina to see my family for a few all too short days. Being in one place for more than two nights and not having to fight a crowd of people for the shower was a welcome exchange from the frantic pace I'd been keeping up to date. Two Months+, 7 countries, and now back in the States until after Berkeley's Thesis Reviews on May 2nd and 3rd. While back in Raleigh my mom, dad, and myself went by my undergrad college of North Carolina State University to view their celebration of the 60th anniversary of the College of Design. Wandering the halls I ran into a few familiar faces, though I still felt like I was trespassing slightly for some reason. The normal response I get when seeing someone back home is usually "What the #@%$ are you doing here?", followed by "No, seriously, why the #@%$ are you here?". It was great to catch up but most of my time in NC was spent decompressing and buying jeans that didn't look like they had been cut from a burn victim. The next part of the journey was a two week US Road Trip tour de force with my veteran road tripper buddy Matt Fornaro. Matt and I did a three week road trip back in 2007 from the East coast to the West to move me out to California, and we were looking for a repeat with an architectural emphasis this time. We had upgraded from a cramped, smoking '88 Honda Accord to my sister's spiffy '95 Honda Accord, codenamed "Lucille". We packed a cooler half full with string cheese and beer and we were off headed east on a great black stretch of tar.
April 3rd, 2009: [Nashville_TN_USA]
Our plan was to head west all the way to Fayetville, Arkansas, and then cut down to Houston/Austin and back around through Louisiana and Alabama on the way home. Driving along, we saw the same series of tanks on trailers over the course of many days, and couldn't decide who was following whom. I tried to get them to deliver the tanks to P.O. Box Nick Sowers - Berkeley California, but I don't think they could understand me through the wind in between our cars. About an hour outside of Nashville I remembered my good friends Chase Holfelder & Co. were bunkered down recording for a new CD, so we gave them a call and lucked out by getting to come by the studio to see the magic in person. I can now happily say that I am a country fan, or at least one of theirs. I really hope they used the tracks I laid down, it was probably some of my better kazoo playing in the last 8 years or so.
April 4th-6th, 2009: [Fayetville_AR_USA]
Next stop: Fayetville, Arkansas to see the work of Marlon Blackwell and make sure our friend Brad Payne hadn't gotten arrested too many times. I am happy to say he is not even on parole and doing some phenomenal work at Marlon Blackwell Architects. Brad graciously showed us around the office and introduced us to the small, yet lively town of Fayetville and their extensive whiskey selection.
The next night we grabbed some questionable Chinese food and headed up to the "Tower House", an amazing project in the middle of a dense forest overlooking the whole of downtown. The height of the tower was determined by the record height of the surrounding trees and is used as a vacation home for a family. The program is luckily very sparse and is comprised of an open living/eating area, a bathroom, and a sleeping deck. Since its used during the summer months mostly, the family sleeps on the upper deck where they are shielded from the wind but can still experience views across the entire forest. Structurally, the tower is one big gigantic steel truss, and I can say without hesitation that it can withstand some extremely high winds. While we were there the trees close by were leaning over at almost a 45 degree angle, presumably to get a closer look at the forest floor and pick out a place to lie down. The entry is through a raised steel portal and the ground inside of the tower is covered in pecan shells to give a satisfying audible crunch when you walk on them [Brad correct me if I screwed this part up]. The walk up is an open metal staircase that is screened by raw-cut wooden members used to shield you from the harshest of the elements and calls to mind the bark of a large oak tree, emphasizing the vertical nature of the project and relating it back to its surroundings. Almost all of the windows in the open living area are operable, allowing for cross ventilation if necessary, while still using a standard size, just repeating them the whole way around.
Another stop on the list was the Blessings Golf Course, that Jon from the office was nice enough to take us by and show us around. One of the pieces of the project that struck me the most was the finishing of the interior of the spa/bathroom in the men's locker room. I can only hope that the women's was as nice, but understandably we didn't go poking our camera lenses in there. From floor to ceiling it is covered in different shades of long green hued tile that emphasizes movement to a large sky lit soaking tub at the end. Using only one material, but with different grades of color united the whole area while also making it extremely easy to maintain. Your eye therefore was free to concentrate on the actual volume of space and the light beaming in, warming up the ceramic tiles. Even the mechanical vents were recessed into the ceiling in a way to blend in with the over-riding mentality of the one material.
One of our last stops with Brad was the house of Marlon Blackwell, completed in 2006. Its located in a relatively dense suburban area, and as such has to carefully screen views to the surrounding houses. The house is comprised of two long boxes stacked on top of each other. One spans across the restored stream on the site, while the other sits on top, cantilevering off of the front and hovering over the backyard to provide shade and protection for an outdoor sitting area. The whole house is wrapped in a delicate rain screen that compartmentalizes the exterior wall to protect the rubber coating from both sun and rain. Rain sits on the horizontal surface of the wood instead of the wall and theoretically allows for replacement of individual wooden slats instead of entire sections of siding. Marlon was nice enough to give us some sage advice about other places to visit on the next leg of our trip and we set off to see some Fay Jones on our way to Texas.
Thoughts on Traveling #14 : WARNING: over-caffination while close to funny hats can lead to ridiculous pictures being posted online.