Favorite Color… ?

Posted in #letsblogoff, stuff by DS26 on 05.24.2011

(borrowed image. unknown source.)

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HS.. thinking Architecture?

Posted in a design education, High School AEC Education, projects, stuff by DS26 on 01.27.2011

If you’re a High School student now, and are not sure but have the suspicion that maybe you would like to be an architect, there are many wonderful programs nationwide to help you explore design before you have to concretely make a decision.

I, myself, am involved in one, offered by Duke University via the Duke TIP program.

This particular program is a 2-week boarding session where we concentrate not only in Architecture, but other building industries and also matters of Sustainability.

This year, 2011, will be my 2nd time participating. 2010 was actually the founding class (picture below) and some of our students have left the class with great passion and inspiration to continue in the path to becoming architects. We also had future engineers and builders.

[ follow the link for Duke TIP Arch here ]


Another great program is the one led by my undergraduate school Director Aron Temkin, now professor and Dean of the School of Architecture and Art at Norwich University. Located at the Fallingwater residence designed by famed american architect Frank Lloyd Wright, this program is a 1-week boarding program that

is an interdisciplinary architecture program for students interested in exploring environmental and design related issues in the context of one of America’s most significant works of architecture

[ for more about Fallingwater HS Residency ]


There are other local non-boarding programs around, like the CAF (Chicago Architecture Foundation) Teens program. Offered during the summer in the City of Chicago.

[ more about CAF Teens in Chicago ]

CAF, in addition, offers a program at Taliesin, studio founded by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Or the summer Architecture program offered by IIT (Illinois Institute of Technolgy), also in Chicago, located in the famous campus with buildings designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe & Rem Koolhaas.

[ more on HS iit summer architecture ]


There are specialized High Schools around the country that are also tracked in Architecture, for those of you that were undoubtedly born for the art.

Like DASH (Design Architecture Senior High) in Miami.

I probably would’ve attempted to get in if I would have known it existed…

Many programs, many places, chartered schools, etc… do your homework.

Google “High School Architecture”.   :)

the Target effect…

Posted in opinion, stuff by DS26 on 01.16.2011

Architects should look closely at a certain retail giant, and take note.

If you’re now finding yourself thinking

“what the hell is she talking about?… i’m an architect for god’s sake…”

… hence my point… & I’m going to walk you through this:

> The other day, browsing the tv (which is mostly crap by the way… don’t know what they’re thinking…), we ran into a documentary about Target. Everything about its inception, founders, business strategy, today and where they’re going.

We were quite surprised at how old Target is. Not originally named such, Target’s inception came to be from Dayton Dry Goods, a company founded in 1902 in Minneapolis. A family of entrepreneurs that constantly held their post dominating retail, though slowly and inconspicuously through “affordable” stuff (the downstairs store)

For years they continued to try, and try hard, to succeed with all of the best, newest, one of a kind stuff, when deep down their “downstairs” was what was soaring (they did not realize then…)

It took about 50 years, and a couple of generations involved, to realize that it was about quality, but about affordable quality, for the masses.

So… today Target is a place that, regardless of who you are, lower to middle class, professionals, the snobby and rich… even the elite above and beyond, you love the place because it is “affordable” (not cheap) quality and aesthetic stuff. Target, like other corporations we know, is almost cult-like in terms of its customers.

We, the profession of architecture (architects), have gone in the complete opposite direction of what makes sense. The opposite direction that those designers have taken, like Isaac Mizrahi, or the beautiful products by such as Liberty of London… and now William Rast (by Justin Timberlake) or my personal favorite Mossimo (because they have the best fitting jeans and tees I’ve ever encountered… and I’ve even bought $100 jeans before).

[ Remember… Michael Graves?… tea pot now a Collector’s item ]

Why can’t we take note, and realize that we are not above and beyond others… we serve others. Like retailers do. Like the hospitality industry does. The public.

Sure, we train and become highly specialized… but we’re still ones that must sell “our business” to the public. Really! Don’t you see it?

I know you would like to say “we don’t sell a product… we sell a service…” but blah blah blah! to that. We sell a product. You cannot deny that, even though not in existence, your design is a product… the product that is your client’s eventual built environment.

Have you ever stopped to think about why Contractors do better? Get respected more? Or make more money?… Even after not receiving or enduring as much education or training (not even close) as we do? You know, they could also make the same BS statement that “they provide the service of building construction”… but they don’t. They sell their clients a product. The building.

In the same way you should be selling your client a product. The building.

If you disagree, then look around you. Why are we in such depths of disarray in this market? No one has to be. No one should be.

Did you know Target recently opened their first store in the island of Manhattan?… Do you have a project in Manhattan?… Looks to me like Target’s got you beat (bahaha… bad joke)

But honestly… re-think your practice, re-think your strategy, and I would strongly recommend you put into perspective exactly what it is (& how it is) that you’re doing  it all. Put into practice “the Target effect”.

AND… if this at all sounds interesting to you… got get yourself some additional free business skills from Barnes & Noble, for the small price (or big depending how you look at it) of a stbx cup of coffee.

2010 26[at]41 – in review

Posted in stuff by DS26 on 01.02.2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads:


Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 38 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 190 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 79mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was June 1st with 257 views. The most popular post that day was Hi, I’m Barbie… & I want(ed) to be an Architect.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, ds26.com, obama-scandal-exposed.co.cc, and hootsuite.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for lateral torsional buckling, local buckling, omelette architect, duke tip 2011, and denny’s omelette architect.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Hi, I’m Barbie… & I want(ed) to be an Architect May 2010
1 comment


Architect?.. Get ‘Licensed’ or get over it ! September 2010
1 comment


5 good reasons to attend the convention.. while in a recession May 2010
1 comment


Steel BM #Fail(ure) August 2010


GB10… the best of… November 2010

neither here, nor there . . .

Posted in opinion, stuff by DS26 on 08.06.2010

I tell you… I find myself in this position, as does BobbyZ, as we speak.

It truly Sucks !

The ‘Here’, a student or new graduate, with little or no experience has a decent shot at a job (of the little jobs there may be).

There is sort of a “good value” to employers. They acquire the ‘CAD monkey’, or a production or rendering Guru. Maybe someone that can whip out some serious Goggle SketchUp in a few hours.

In this bad market, even maybe a better value… employers will get away with paying a decently skilled graduate what they pay a Barista at Starbucks (they may even leave out the benefits).

The “There”… you guessed it … the license.

Also  very few, but still advertised jobs for licensed professionals. Mostly under a simple contract, or on a per-project basis, but there are out there. Some with contractors, others with developers.

We, almost “There” but not yet, and definitely waaayyy past the “Here”… well… We have to settle for designing whatever (for Bobby is cardboard furniture for our new apartment… yes he even whipped out a SketchUp model for it… for me is the DS26 thumbs, and other minimal graphic type work)

If you are neither here, nor there…

please know you are not alone.

Things will, effectively, get better. It is the nature of the cyclical economic system… we do say though:

while you wait…

consider doing whatever else lets your creative juices flow…


grow baby, GROW !

Posted in stuff, sustainability by DS26 on 07.29.2010

Yes, it is BobbyZ ‘s birthday, but no I’m not talking to him this time.

This is a blog post ‘update’ on our veggie (rented apt) indoor potted garden.

If you remember our last post [ Now… eat the fruits of your labor! ] , we introduced you to some very sustainably advanced individuals (& friends) and our small attempt to begin our very own green garden at home.

Certainly, my main interest is due to the fact that I am a veggie monster (unlike BobbyZ who’s a cookie monster).

Give me a red & green pepper and I will add some mango and chicken, red wine and soy… and make you the best stir fry you ever had.

Give me a tomato… and i’ll eat it and cook it 1 million ways.

Give me a garden at home that gives the peppers and tomatoes, and oh my goodness. Someone stop me.

The garden, slow to grow, showed some signs of life at end of week 1, at least in the cucumber pot. Funny how that cucumber was fast :

A couple of weeks into it, exactly 15 calendars day later, we now have all 3 plants going.


We transplanted our cucumber to a bigger pot, and now are thinking on getting serious and visiting a store for the 3 kinds of peppers (I need them all in my life), some more herbs, and I am hoping for some fruit.

Problematically, most fruits are trees, and I cannot plant trees in my back sunroom.   :(

Here are the snapshots of the day :

Now… with a tiny pot left unused… and the bag’s remaining soil, we decided to put it to good use and planted a second tomato plant.

Yesss !

One can never get enough tomatoes.

Grow baby, GROW !

Here is how our free garden is looking, after clean up.

We are on our way !


CHI(natown) Toys !

Posted in stuff by DS26 on 07.24.2010

So, yesterday, due to my little sister being here (and somewhat because she is a perfectly quartered venezuelan, italian, german, chinese girl) we went to Chinatown in Chicago.

( if you noticed in [ Ivonne & Architecture ] … her eyes are slightly asian-ised.. Ha! )

One exit away from our house… it is just about a skip away on the red.

Even though it was scorching… we walked the path, lively buildings on both sides of the street.

But, what I was most amused by were the Toys…

Toys. Toys. Toys.

Dolls, swords, little things… Buddhas… dresses… bamboos… all sorts of things for sale… at every store.

It was wonderful. Colors. Patterns. All things one would want (& does not necessarily need) Asian.

Take these beauties, for example… (BobbyZ thought they were a little too real)

And, right behind… the little boy toys. I loved these. Metal made, crazy nick-nack-y Rex… nuts, bolts…

who the heck wouldn’t want that?

So many buddhas.. so little time..

Are you looking for health? money? love? luck?… Chinatown has a buddha pho ju !


Plus… these are some of my faves.

The really modern dolls. Usually see these in cool perfume bottles at the store. (Can’t remember the name now… have never bought them, but always amused by packaging/bottle design)

This one that looks like she’s riding CTA :

And this one was definitely happy to be in front of the camera :

There were also toys for all ages…

Example, the yard type toys for adults would be ones that JadaZ would be definitely scared of when walking by…

And other wonderful things…

We always love the ‘lucky’ bamboo.

But no matter how many toys we saw, how many stores, how many markets, here is the best part of it all :

people that are working really hard, day to day, to make ends meat.

People that, with pride and joy, enjoy a craft (like this guy we found at the front counter of his own store)… he was sculpting away like no one was watching.

Best of all was definitely the people…

Horse sculpture, anyone?


Now… eat the fruits of your labor !

Posted in opinion, stuff, sustainability by DS26 on 07.14.2010

If you’ve considered a more sustainable way of living, then consider your own green garden at home.

We all love the farmer’s and green markets, truly, because in any Saturday it is a very entertaining walk ( for most ) to find the best vegetables, home-baked goods, home-made spreads, and other wonderful items like delighting old aged cheeses ( yes i did find a 10+ year-old cheddar last time i went ) … so if you are into the fresh, into the best…

why not begin your own garden ?

In the last few months I’ve found a couple of people that are very advanced, highly intelligent sustainable beings, that with their efforts everyday have amounted to beautiful fruitful gardens in their backyards.

Christina’s Garden :

I went to high school with Christina, many years ago, and since finding her again she has truly impressed me with her sustainable farmer’s and at home crafter’s spirit.

From her home-made composting device

To her small little helper

Christina’s garden is truly an inspiration… that amounts to some beautiful harvest.

If you want more, and other beautiful things by her… you can visit her etsy store. She does make some awesome organic soaps !

Christina on Etsy ( link )

Nicki’s Garden :

Nicki and I met through my work at Duke University. As a matter of fact she runs the Duke TIP program.

She is a PhD in education, and very proper/polished when at work, so I did not expect what I encountered in her back yard.

While at the “Sustainable Architecture” course, it occurred to us to present the students with a real life problem (and client). Their task was to improve their water collection system at home. I thought  –  water collection? ..You? –

Anyhow… what we found was stunning, from her re-purposed children’s playground into a chicken coop

And her use of old car tires to plant various roots

Her backyard surely made for a great setting for the class project, and had wonderful variety…

So, in talking to Nicki about planting a garden indoors, being that we still ‘rent’ for a living… she told me that she started in potted green gardens in small apartments as well. While she lived abroad, she always did this. I thought

Great !


Target sells these little potted plants (sometimes) to get started, 99 cents each, and we’ve taken steps to begin our very own green garden with tomatoes, parsley, and cucumbers.

We will add to our garden, but this is what we managed to accomplish this morning.


+ it was fun to watch the very compressed soil expand (rapidly) !    :)

meet our new neighbors ! ( & yes, you can eat them all )

Posted in opinion, stuff by DS26 on 07.12.2010

Finally, we arrived in Chicago after great ordeal that involved a few thousand miles with a 60 lbs. pup in the passenger’s seat,  and two weeks of 20+ architecture/engineering/construction inclined teenagers.

How exactly did we get here ? … mmmh!… ?

In any case, after one week in the City, we find ourselves more alive than ever. At every corner.

Architecturally, culturally… in my particular case, even ethnically ( I find that every time we stumble upon a wonderful food ‘parlor’, I immediately succumb to their heritage… )

For those of you that are local, you’re lucky and may know them well… If you aren’t… sorry?!

Meet our new neighbors !

1. Bridgeport Coffee Company

A small, but very popular ( and very good ) coffee joint we found down our street, at the corner of Morgan & 31st. Bridgeport Coffee Company definitely sets a high standard.

Our favorite thing about this place ( besides our complimentary 1st-time-in espresso shots ) is that the staff is awfully friendly, the coffee is extremely good, and the breakfast sandwich ( not having had lunch there yet ) is one of a kind… I tried the ‘everything’ bagel with eggs, cheddar, mayo, mustard, jalapeños, pickels, tomatoes, s&p… yummy.

We also loved the old ceiling, the mason jars for H2O, 2 available wi-fi(s), and the very happy day-lighting by the window… lovely space.

2. Zaytune Mediterranean Grill

A newly opened ( we assume by all other online posts ) small place, close by the coffee, where one can get a very nice, fresh, lunch.

At Zaytune we particularly loved the yogurt cucumber dill salad, and the home-made flat breads. Nice.

3. La Palapa Mariscos

This one place… man oh man. 5 Stars !

If you want a very beach-y, spanish, seafood flavor… and if you are not scared of B.Y.O.B…. this place is for you.

When we went to La Palapa, we ran into it accidentally on our way to Target. It was busy busy with people… always a good ‘food’ sign.

So we said, what the heck… let’s try it.

Inside my order was not what I requested, but chose to stick with it… and was blown away. Believe me, I am not one to be very happy when my orders are wrong ( out in a restaurant ), but I can admit it was delicious.

A piece of South America + Florida (shark at the top and all) for me here in Chicago.

So next time you drop by Bridgeport… Feel free to eat up our new neighbors.

Well worth it !

not just another dance…

Posted in events, opinion, stuff by DS26 on 06.13.2010


the universal music icon, was selected as the official artist for the World Cup 2010, and she is one that has always stood for education.

One instance is piez descalzos , an organization founded in Colombia.

During the last few days, after the launch of the official song for the world cup, she has made a call to everyone out there to “dance” waka waka for this “1 gol” .. education for all.

the challenge

waka waka, like any other official world cup song, is a very happy dance song .. it encourages engagement from people .. & calls for a move or two.

The dance is explained through “the call”, and Shakira requests a counter- video .. a response and to benefit the “1 gol” // View instructions in Shakira’s YouTube Channel

Architects… waka waka

As a means of celebration of this year’s AIA National Convention  (+ a 6th Good Reason to attend in addition to the 5 previously addressed ), and to celebrate being in such a fun place as is Miami Beach..

Dancing just… seemed like the natural thing to do.

So we invited Architects to come out to Lincoln Road, at 4:45pm on a hot Friday afternoon ..