Friday, December 23, 2016

2016: A Top Ten List and More

2016 is quickly drawing to a close. The larger narratives of the year will encompass stories of terrorist incidents, police shootings, untimely deaths (think David Bowie and Prince, not to mention Zaha Hadid and Bing Thom), the Zika virus, the Syrian civil war, record high temperatures, and a divisive presidential election. Suffice it so say that 2016 will not go down in history as a banner year in the eyes of many. I certainly won’t look back at 2016 with fondness for many of the same reasons, but I nevertheless count myself among the very fortunate who enjoy the extravagances of good health, good friends and family, a loving spouse, and a rewarding career. I also enjoy the luxury of time I can devote to writing this blog, a regular exercise I find most gratifying. 

I’m always surprised to see how many people read SW Oregon Architect. The following are my top ten individual entries for 2016 as measured by the number of unique page views (listed in parentheses below as of December 23, 2016). Each listing is accompanied by one sentence as a tease, the one I think best captures the post’s core message. If you find any intriguing, click on the title of your choice and the full post will open in a separate window. 

Here’s the list, starting with No. 10: 

10. Spatial Variation (1,285)
We instinctively seek out supports within a setting and the freedom to control the degree to which we interact with that place; however, there is no choice if there is insufficient spatial variety. 

9.  The Terminal Studio Review (1,331)
I want each review to be exciting, valuable, and vibrant for the student, not because it is filled with drama and grandstanding, but instead because real learning is taking place. 

8.  #TheJane (1,351)
The PAC-12 Conference’s reigning softball champion resides at the University of Oregon, and now so too does the team’s sparkling new home. 

7.  Worst Buildings of the Last 125 Years (1,355)
As Thumper says in Disney’s animated classic Bambi, “If you can’t something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” 

6.  R.I.P. Zaha Hadid (1,404)
May we never forget how she pushed architecture’s envelope, but let us also acknowledge how her death should likewise spur serious and timely reflection about its future as a discipline in the service of humankind. 

5.  Working at Home (1,520)
There are times in everyone’s life when both pleasant and unpleasant surprises can throw you for a loop. 

4.  Bread and Butter (1,606)
All the ingredients necessary for my professional satisfaction are present in every project I am involved with. 

3.  Architecture is Awesome #12: Ordered Complexity (1,809)
At its best, architecture maintains a tantalizing balance between comforting order and bewilderingly artful chaos. 

2. Oregon BCD Certifications: OAR 918-098 (1,827)
. . . OAR 918-098 will likely have an adverse impact upon the quality of the permitting and inspection processes, drive away prospective new inspectors and plans examiners (just when they’re needed most), unfairly penalize private entities, and effectively (and ironically) generate new conflicts of interest. 

1. Placemaking - Making It Happen (2,296)
While creating effective public places is often difficult, Eugene definitely has all the ingredients necessary to develop its fair share of them. 

I’m amazed by these page visit numbers; however, they don’t come close to the 8,820 visits of my May 2010 entry entitled Influences: Christopher Alexander & Peter Eisenman, the most widely read SW Oregon Architect piece, nor do they approach the exponentially higher page view numbers some other architect bloggers can boast. In the grand scheme of things, my blog is small potatoes; nevertheless, it’s become part of my life and writing is something I do that makes me happy. 

Being happy is something I wish for everyone in 2017. Perhaps the new year will be a better one than we imagine now, during which cooler, saner heads will prevail and our seemingly downward environmental and social trajectory is reversed. Architects can be leaders in a movement toward positive, bottom-up transformations. We’ve long dedicated ourselves to ecological stewardship, the strengthening of our public realm, and the creation of safe, inclusive, and resilient spaces. We can be agents of the change we wish to see during an uncertain time. Always remember what Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Amen to that, Margaret.

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