2015 was the year of exploring to create!

Dear Blog,

Long time no see! Not even a recent word, text or tweet. I have been meaning to update you on 2015 as it was an amazing year that inspired, challenged and delighted in many ways. Yet, it flew by. Travel was the theme of the year: Visiting Maine, New York, Arkansas, Chicago and for the finale Italy. Each trip had architectural marvels, wide open thought clearing spaces, dear family plus fabulous food! As if I created my own custom year of studying, I learned many magical things along the way.

As an architect, I follow the Explore to Create mentality. It is important to look around, see what is happening and understand the details. It inspires me to see how a city works, look carefully at new buildings and marvel at old buildings in awe of their timeless inspiring existence.

First my kids are not little kids anymore. They are rapidly gaining their own voices, independence and most startling beating me at Scrabble.  We had a taste of the future to come when my daughter showed us around her college state of Maine.  The diner, the fish ladder, her favorite beaches and a long Target list of first apartment needs awaited us in Maine. We stayed at the Maine Idyll motor court near Freeport.  I had eyed this as a potential gem on previous trips and couldn’t resist! My grandmother told wonderful stories of traveling across the country in the 1930’s stopping nightly at motor courts! Tiny houses at their best! Was maybe 400 sq feet with 3 bedrooms! the wood burning fireplace was a hit for s’mores!  It was snug for the five if us but I love having all family in one room trying to decide on what TV show to watch together on the ONE TV! Wifi was thankfully slow that night so phones were off and family time was on :)

Maine Idyll Motor Court. Charming 1930’s cabins. Tiny house at their best.

We visited  Acadia. Deep forest trails with glimpses of the ocean. Popovers too! Thanks to Mr. Rockefeller for sharing this land and having the vision to create the miles of carriage trials in this National Park. His carriage trails are magical and land planning at its best. Every curve, path and vista was thoughtfully considered when crafting the roads. They were built following a precise layout to create creating an enchanted experience.

Charming cabins with fireplaces. Scones at breakfast were a nice treat. Tiny house at it's best! A kitchen, table, couple of cozy chairs, 2 bedrooms and a bath what more do we really need?
Charming cabins with fireplaces. Scones at breakfast were a nice treat. Tiny house at it’s best! A kitchen, table, couple of cozy chairs, 2 bedrooms and a bath what more do we really need?


View from Acadia at Cadillac Mountain top.
Carriage trails at Acadia. Planned to work with topography and provide vistas of woods with glimpses of ocean. Magical!
Carriage trails at Acadia. Planned to work with topography and provide vistas of woods with glimpses of ocean. Magical!












A June trip to New York was a treat for an architect from Kansas!  Seeing the King and I Broadway was marvelous. I had no idea Broadway theaters were so intimate. Every seat feels like the front row!  The next day allowed a chance to walk the entire High Line. It was remarkable for two reasons. First it is an oasis in the sky that took tremendous vision and sheer determination to make it happen! Secondly it is packed with users! It is a planning dream come true. If you build it they will come, exceeding the number of  visitors in the first month what was expected in a year! I was happy to weave and it out of pedestrians as we strolled the entire length. Every bench was filled with people wanting to rest, eat lunch, catch a little sun or simple chat with a friend.  The landscape is already lush and filled with flowering plants. From the lush High Line landscape to Ground Zero, completely different experience just blocks apart.  The museum is powerful and emotionally exhausting. The architects provided a sobering subterranean framework to study and reflect on what happened on 9 11. The new adjacent subway station by the architect Santiago Calatrava is still under construction yet appears as a dove in flight to me. If a building had to embody “hope” this would be it! The contrast of the reflecting pools with the new station is compelling.

Gardens along the High Line. A Landscape oasis.


911 Reflecting Pool with the New Subway Station designed by Calatrava beyond.
High Line
High Line on a June afternoon. Notice the packed sidewalks!


New York to Arkansas! It was a quick trip to see all my cousins at my aunt’s house near Little Rock. Last time we were all together was many decades ago! Time flies with 10 kids in 2 families in two different states. Those 10 kids now have 14 kids of their own with 2 new great grand-babies! What does an architect visit in Arkansas? The new Crystal Bridges Museum! I enjoyed how the art was very accessible not a stuffy formal museum but one that made everyone feel comfortable. Maybe it was the greeter at the door who explains the layout and where to get maps! It is a nice experience with a variety of galleries. There are moments where you can see the stream that the building dams and wraps around. Not sure how anyone didn’t consider the bugs, mosquitoes and gnats that are attracted to water and constant hover above it. Great idea but Arkansas in the summer is alive with bugs as is much of the Midwest! Just check my wind shield after the 4 hour drive!

Crystal Bridges
Crystal Bridges
Crystal Bridges
Crystal Bridges. Amazing connection of museum to nature it makes the experience very comfortable and approachable not formal.








Christopher Peacock Home Showroom. Nice bunk with built in shelving/storage above. Great for a vacation or TIny home!

After Arkansas, it was Chicago for a quick fun summer weekend.  Staying in the heart of the loop on the magnificent mile is a treat. Eating at the Frontera Grill (only at the bar) is a Chicago must for me! 20150710_194752Those hand shaken margaritas are pure FUN!  As an architect I prefer to design timeless projects over trendy but always enjoy seeing what current products are out there. The Merchandise Mart Design Center is dream floor with everything you could need for your home project. Some of my favorite tile showrooms include, Ann Sacks Tile, Porcelanosa, and Artistic Tile. Finally being able to touch and feel Christopher Peacock Home cabinetry was essential as it shows up often in my clients’ photos of dream kitchens!  Although we have a Sub-Zero and Wolf showroom in Kansas City I always like to walk through for fun  to see how many of their appliances can be packed in a kitchen mock up plus the layout and cabinetry are inspiring!

Fast forward to December and a holiday to trip for Florence! Ah Florence needs a blog of its own or maybe ten! It was incredible… stay tuned for future Florence blogs!

Florence Duomo on Christmas 2015 note the Full moon!



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