Goodbye, DC (and Maryland & Virginia)

It’s with not a little sadness that I have to announce my departure from the DC area.

I grew up here, and after college and some misadventures, came back to discover a city I hardly knew, one that was interesting, diverse, and beautiful. Over the past two years, I’ve worked with passionate activists and written with some pretty brilliant people. Then there are the friends and coworkers with whom I’ve enjoyed Washington so much. It’s hard to leave.

But my return to DC was always temporary. My career requires still more education. So, in September, I will start classes at the Yale School of Architecture. It’s an unequaled opportunity that I just have to throw myself into. I’m going to go work a lot, sleep occasionally, and hopefully learn a little.

As a result, this blog will become a lower-level priority in my life. I probably will post less frequently. The content will focus more on design, as studios consume my mind.

That does not mean I will stop talking about DC. I will not let the Tenleytown NIMBYs off the hook. Greater Greater Washington will likely continue to tolerate my ramblings. To make it easier, I intend to start a series in the fall that will let me contribute with less pressure. In the same vein, I will continue to work on and post about my project for Fort Reno, even if it takes all of grad school to finish.

Right – but all of the academia that Yale entails put me in the mood to do something radically different with my remaining time. So, at the end of May, I will be moving to New Mexico to work at the Philmont Scout Ranch. Philmont is a high adventure camp on a working ranch between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. At 137,000 acres, it’s slightly larger than 3 Districts of Columbia. The ranch is also 6,090-12,441 feet closer to the sky and its pastures contain around 100 more bison than Washington’s.

The landscape is powerful. The experiences people have are profound. I think this promo reel captures enough of the natural majesty  – as well as the old-fashioned clothes I will be wearing:

Aerial Reel – “Philmont” – Ascent Imagery from Brent Murray, Ascent Imagery on Vimeo.

Philmont holds a cultic power over people who have been there, especially those who have worked out in the backcountry. The most prominent Philmont obsessive is Donald Rumsfeld, who worked there in 1949 and now owns a vacation house in nearby Taos. And there are plenty of others, the ranks of which I joined after a trek in 2002 and a position in 2005.

So, I’ll be away from my computer for a while, restoring historical cabins. One last breath before I move on to adulthood. I’ll see you all later.

Eatable Things: Italian Pizza Kitchen

Pizza is a staple of American cuisine. Good pizza, however, is hard to find outside of a few metropolises where Italian immigrants settled. Chicago, New Haven, and, of course, New York lead the pack. For more designer pies, the urban boho can easily acquire a california-style pizza in any place touched by Whole Foods. For a simple, cheese-sauce-bread combination handmade from fresh, straightforward ingredients, getting a pizza that’s delicious is rare.

margherita from the italian pizza kitchen
Who knew DeKooning could be so delicious!?

Three interesting things

Metropolis ran an article online discussing the unorthodox business model the firm Delle Valle Bernheimer employs. They have begun integrating development into their portfolio, realizing that controlling all elements of a project essentially cuts a lot of inefficiency from the process of getting something you care about built. In addition to giving them a high degree of control in regards to design and quality, it tempered their exuberance by bringing issues of engineering, cost, budgeting, and dealing with problems into their realm, on their bottom line.  Their strategy is not new – it’s a standard practice called design-build-operate/maintain – but this is one of the first boutique architecture firms to employ it. 

But back wen DB were just getting started, a depraved genius named Zak Smith managed to produce illustrations of each page of the book Gravity’s Rainbow. Somehow, he  managed to sit down and produce 760 works of art, in multiple media, depicting pretty much everything that happens in the book, in some way or another. I haven’t had a look at the whole thing, but the sheer amount of creativity would make an edition of Thomas Pynchon’s book with these drawings a worthwhile purchase.

And also terms of good (early) works, Metropolis has nicely been hosting blog posts about Yale’s First-year house project, where they also design-build a house for a local rent-to-own program.