Monday, September 7, 2015



Back in the day, and I would assume the same now, first year architecture students were treated with a unique combination of disdain and fear. Disdain, because you obviously had no idea what you were doing and you did not possess the talent or fortitude to make it through the rigors and insanity of architecture school.  As Frank Lloyd Wright so eloquently affirmed - If you can't be anything else, be an architect. Only a person with extreme issues of self loathing would subject themselves to five or six years of the unrelenting abuse architecture schools can heap on a delusional insomniac with dreams of being the next Howard Roark, the central character in The Fountainhead, written by the mother of Objectivism, Ayn Rand. The plot centers around a gifted architect, who blew up a building because it wasn't "architecturally honest". Gary Cooper played the uncompromising genius in the 1949 film against Patricia Neal as his love interest. Ooh La La!

As for the fear part, just re-read the first paragraph. Yes, it is real and yes, it never ends. I have been an architect for over thirty years and I still have moments of self doubt and obsessive voices in my head every time I sit down at a drawing board. Oh wait - architects don't use those anymore. But I digress.

Another  admonition  by the greatest American Architect of the twentieth century was his insistence that one go to the Grand Canyon for design inspiration. Well, if he were to design an outdoor performance venue, he would have needed to look no further than Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, about ten miles up the road from Denver. Built in 1906, this amazing natural venue with seating for 9,400+ music lovers, surrounded by massive natural rock formations, has hosted the likes of Jimmie Hendrix, U2, Neil Young - the list is endless. Even the Fab Four - John, Paul, George & Ringo - played this famed venue August 26, 1964 (Three weeks later, yours truly saw the four mop tops at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida). Today's new rockers - The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons or J.J. Grey & Mofro are continuing the tradition, entertaining music fans who happily make the treck to 6,400 feet above sea level to hear the best on the American popular music scene today.

I want all my die hard fans to appreciate this blogger's insistence that we are not just about the design of places to sleep. We are also about finding those places that, somehow, transcend the every day. And Red Rocks proves that it is virtually impossible for a mere architect, no matter how talented, to ever one up nature. Aesthetically and acoustically, this place rocks.

One word of warning - If you are averse to climbing stairs - lots and lots and lots of stairs - you may want to arrange a limousine or a bus. As I commented to another concert goer - the architects did a great job inserting the amphitheatre seating sensitively into a brutally powerful landscape - not so much on the vertical transportation though. However, once you arrive at your seat, with the view over the mountains and the city of Denver, you forget about the Sherpa-esque stairway to heaven you had to traverse to get there. And , of course, it doesn't hurt to hear rockers of the caliber of My Morning Jacket and Alabama Shakes wail to beat the band. I am sure Frank and John are looking down and enjoying the show.


Travel Quote of The Week - “All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.” – Paul Fussell

Video Artist of The Week - Who better? Alabama Shakes.

August 26, 2015