Week 14

This week at Humphries Poli was jam-packed with exciting events and happenings.

I knew I would be traveling to Eagle, Colorado with Dennis on Tuesday, so Monday was spent preparing all the materials we needed for our mind-breaking sessions with the library staff of Eagle Valley.  This included printing and cutting and organizing tags for the Building Breaking activity, printing floor plans, google earth maps of the site and surrounding neighborhood, and large sheets with the various categories for the Mind Breaking activity.

Tuesday, Dennis and I left the office at 6:30 in the morning to be there for our first session at 9:00 in the morning.  Honestly, it is probably one of the more beautiful drives to get up early for.  During the driving portions, Dennis regaled me with stories of different projects he has worked on, what it is like working in the public sector, people he has met along the way, committee’s he has served on, as well as Chair positions he has held.  Dennis is someone who is very passionate about design as well as serving the community where he is at.  That is probably why all of the projects he works on honor the community and environment around them so well.  He held the Regional Presidential Chair of AIA for a while, and was asked to serve on the national committee as well, but decided he wished to make an impact on the people whom he would be speaking to everyday, and the place where he was living.  He also participated on a lot of work for Civic Center Park in Denver to revitalize the park and turn it into something that was beautiful, usable, and honoring to the city instead of what it was previously, a mecca for druggies and homeless people.  In order to do this, at one point they hired Daniel Libeskind to do some concept work for the park.  At the time, Daniel Libeskind had recently built the Denver Art Museum just to the south of Civic Center Park.  It ended up not working out with Mr. Libeskind, but because they were clients of his, Dennis was invited to attend Libeskind’s 60th Birthday Party at Rockefeller Center.  That is just one example of the many relationships he has been able to build through his involvement around the city and through the firm.  On the way back I asked him what advice he would give to a younger Dennis, and so I will pass that knowledge on to you as well.  Dennis recommends, “Get involved!”  Whether it is with your church, AIA, Landmarks Preservation, a homeless shelter, whatever, get involved with your community, build relationships, find out what is going on in the location where you are, and do something about it.  We have the privilege to impact and literally BUILD our environment, so don’t selfishly keep your talent, knowledge, and perspective to yourself.

In regards to the actual sessions with the Eagle Public Library Staff, we held a morning session and an afternoon session which were basically identical.  We started with a presentation by Dennis, introducing who we are, what we are doing, and then basically showing lots of images and examples of different aspects of libraries, while the participants were instructed to write down things that they liked and did not like on separate sticky notes for later activities.  After this, we participated in two different activities: the first, mind-breaking where large sheets were hung around the room with different categories like Children’s Spaces, Reading/Shelving, Technology, Staff Spaces, Sustainability, etc. and the participants placed their sticky notes within the various categories.  The second activity was building breaking, where we had sets of tags printed out with different categories such as front door, best view, children’s, adult, book drop, meeting room, makerspace, etc. and the participants placed them on existing floor plans where they thought the different areas should go, as if they were the architect for a day.  We then had a discussion about the building breaking as well as the mind-breaking.  This was very helpful to see them get inspired and excited, and really engage with their space and inform us of what was important to them, or what they needed.  We will see what happens from here.  Right now our scope is to only provide concept work for them to allow them to see what they would like to do from here on out.

The rest of the week was spent organizing and beginning a report and a sketchup model for Eagle Public Library, as well as some work on McNichols.  I actually got to visit the McNichols building on Thursday with Kelly for a site visit.  We had a lot of items to verify, dimensions of the interior, staircases, and lighting layout.  I have discovered that accurately building and modeling architecture that is both historical and existing, where you are renovating and not demolishing, is difficult.  The only drawings we have to work off of are plans from 1906, the building was actually completed in 1910, and has undergone work since then.  Also, we inherited the current Revit model from people who no longer work at Humphries Poli, so when our Revit model was vastly different from Structurals Revit model, we needed to verify a lot of items.

Other exciting events from this week including re-arranging our studio, so I now sit in a completely different spot from where I have been.  We also had a “Fresh Designs” presentation on Wednesday night that I attended.  This is when we ask a fellow employee to present their recent work, from college, or wherever they worked previously, and from Humphries Poli in the evening right after work.  This is fascinating to see what other architecture firms are doing, or have done, and ask questions and get to know a co-worker a little better.  Various micro-brews are consumed as well.  We are also at the very beginning of a 21 week long celebration of the firm’s birthday, so the first e-blast was sent out this week, and we held a lick and stick party to mail out the 1000 invitations to our 21st birthday party on May 21st.  Thankfully I will still be working there at that time, so I will be able to celebrate too!  The final exciting piece of this week was very special and I am glad I was able to be there to experience it.  Yesterday Dennis and Joe, current principals, founders, and owners of the firm, announced that Ryan and Jane are now owners and principals of the firm as well.  This was wonderful to witness, as Dennis remarked that they never thought they would make it this far, and Joe commented that he was sure they would make it three months, but to find people who would want to carry on Dennis and Joe’s legacy is something they had not even dreamed of.  It is a little bit like a father being proud of his child graduating from college.  All in all, this has been an exciting week at HPA.

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2 thoughts on “Week 14

  1. What a great week! The firm sounds like it has an amazing leader and a great culture – you are fortunate to be learning in this type of an environment. I really appreciate the advice that Dennis offered and thank you for sharing it! It sounds like he is a humble guy who really strives to make a difference in his community and through his projects.

    I love the idea of the Fresh Designs. Have you presented yet – or will you be? I am also glad that you will be able to still be part of the birthday celebrations.

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    1. Yes, Dennis and Joe are good principals and good at running the firm.
      In regards to Fresh Design, I don’t think I will be presenting, as I have no other experience than at HPA for a few months.

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