Saturday, July 7, 2012

Pursuing careers architecture vs engineering

At the A & D Museum

I recently received the visit of a good friend of mine Jisun who is an architecture student in San Diego. We both went to visit many places and discovering some amazing places in Los Angeles that I was not even aware they exist.
Like the first time we met last year, she made me appreciate the beauty of a good building design in the inside and out. Video architectural tour.

The multi layer design of the future

We started our tour in the Miracle Mile district in Los Angeles, first stop the Architectural and Design Museum of Los Angeles, this is a place that I’ve always seen when driving by but never visited. So this time we headed to this place and I was  very much nicely surprised to see all the good designs from students from all over Southern California, so much talent around us. Funny fact is that I know more Architects and Designers outside California than inside.
Drinks in West Hollywood
Dinner in Marina del Rey
Anyway, since I have completed my Civil Engineering training almost 20 years ago (yes, many of you have not even born yet…. as architects) so I can read blue prints, building plans, elevations, cuts, layers, etc. This is when I created OREM Engineering & Architecure design for my early engineering individual jobs.
My friend Jisun helped me differentiate the good design from a bad one, or in other words the simple single layer ones from the intricate multi level great designs. This was a great lesson to learn. I remember back in the day (when still at the school) when my many architect student buddies came to me for help with the structural design for their buildings, I was so pleased and happy to be part of something that will last for  their buildings. This place reminded me of that.
Caltrans main entrance
LAPD head quarters
The same day we went to the Marina to have the dinner for Robert’s birthday, the restaurant is right next to the Pacific Ocean and the set up is just amazing. Later the same eve we went for some drinks in West Hollywood, at this place we noticed there are many places that have a bed as part of the decoration. I remember another bar in Hollywood a few months ago with a bed setting around the main room where people can just lay down while having drinks and appetizers.
Cathedral altar

LA Cathedral
Cool design next to cathedral
My friend told me we will do an architectural tour in downtown Los Angeles as part of her training. That reminded me back in the day when I was in Engineering school, I used to have these field trips to concrete plants, steel factories, construction sites, etc. but the main purpose of our student field trips was to familiarize us with the construction process and everything that goes along it, we had to wear hard hats, boots, etc, we went the whole enchilada with it… it was fun!

We were just so interested in comparing and analyzing the differences among Architecture and Engineering learning processes, it was just fascinating, while architecture focus on the design and visual aspect of the educational process, Engineering focuses in the dynamic of the construction process itself and the final result of it, and it has to be construction in motion because if the building is done then students cannot really learn it. We discussed all this while we walked to the Caltrans building, and while we contemplated its intricate design, she made me aware of the design details that normally would go unnoticed by the untrained eye. While she was more interested in the shape and open spaces my brain went on to the structural aspect the concrete walls, beams, pillars, and the massive steel structures that supported all the fancy metal skin and how they were attached to the building.

Architec & Engineering students 1991
Me at center and architect friends

Very first engineering design 1991

The metal skin made sense to me because it created a shade that diffuses the heat. I recall many times working for different accounting departments where these offices just had huge windows facing the sun and while one side of the office is burning under the sun, the other side of the same office is freezing with the air conditioning constant blasting.

Very first paid structural design 1992

While walking to the Los Angeles Cathedral, we passed by the Los Angeles City Hall, where I usually file the applications for all of my clients business licenses.
After a few minutes of walk under the California weather we arrived to the Our Lady of Los Angeles Cathedral, I’ve never been here before either. I always heard about the uniqueness of this place and every time since it was built a few years ago I always wanted to visit it but never had the time or the opportunity. This is an amazing place, the inside is huge, huge open spaces, huge windows.

Venice canals

There was a wedding when we arrived and after a few pictures we went to the catacombs (the cemetery beneath the church) we could feel the energy flouting around and my friend was a bit jumpy at times since we were alone down here. I’m Peruvian so no worries in this department, we Peruvians believe that a horde of family spirits follows us around to help and protect us, and if you mess with us, oh boy, you’ll see the consequences, maybe that’s why some friends of mine think I’m a lucky guy.

Walking the Venice canals

Then we walked to the gardens outside, this moment made me realize this church was built right next to the Hollywood freeway (101) in downtown Los Angeles that usually is so crowded and loud. The windows and the design simply kept all the noise outside and from my point of view that is a major achievement. While contemplating the freeway we spot some inscriptions in the concrete wall of the traffic divider, they were these bell, church, palm trees designs that remind us the site we were just visiting. And to the other side of the church it was this structure that until this moment I can’t figure out what it is, my friend told me it is a school disguised as something that reminds me of a massive android working.

Picnic in Griffith park

Walking in Venice beach

And before the nice weather was completely gone for the day we decided to visit “the Venice canals” in Venice beach that is just 3 miles west from where I live. Another friend of mine told me a few years ago these canals were build to mimic the Italian city of Venice, they were build some decades ago but later they were neglected and people were just leaving this area due to the bad condition of the place, but later some people decided to take action and started on to cleaning the canals, taking care of the houses around the canals and little by little the value started going back up and the businesses came back to the area, nowadays this is a such a nice place to visit, with lots and lots of nice landscaping, beautiful houses all over the place, some old designs, some super modern but all share the same Venice canals uniqueness.

Ennis Brown house in Hollywood

Then we headed to the beach for a walk along one of the most famous wonderful California beaches, we walked a few miles to the Venice pier and enjoyed the crowd from all over the world walking around this place. This day was far from over because then we went to have a taste of Cuban food in Venice.

Ennis house entrance

After renewing some energy at home we headed to the Griffith observatory. This place was packed with people as usual, we parked a couple of miles down the hill because the main parking lot was full, but the experience was just amazing, walking with all these people that we never met before and enjoying the view of the city of Angels at night from the Hollywood hills is not something that you can enjoy every day unless you live in this place. This city is so big that your eye just sees never ending street lights going in all directions. This place and its energy captivated so much our interest that we decided to come back the next day for a picnic, so we prepared by going to Santa Monica and enjoy the Promenade.

Ennis house

Santa Monica is just 3 miles north from where I live, so “The Promenade” is a great option because it is so nice at night, you can see all the stores and artist from all over the world performing in the open space here. Sometimes I come here to go to the movies with friends and it always catches my interest with the new displays, the new artists, the book store at the end of it, I can just spend hours and hours just at this place, and just half block of here there is another bookstore that specializes in architecture and design, so this is heaven. So much intense excitement.

Santa Monica Promenade

I am so happy to meet some of my tax accounting clients at all these places in southern California, is nice to see they are having their share of fun too. OREM Southern California

The next day, the 3 of us headed to Griffith Park to enjoy our picnic, and it is as magical and nice during the day time as it is at night. While we relax for a few moments after our lunch my friend Jisun entertained us by playing the Ukulele while Robert singed something that didn’t have anything to do with the song she was playing, that alone made us all laugh a lot.
While inside we enjoyed this place. They have the planetarium show that last for about 40 minutes and it is so interesting to see, if you ever come to visit Los Angeles you cannot miss this place.

Old town Culver City night walk

Or educational tour was not over yet. At night we headed to old town Culver City which is just 1 mile east from where I live. I heard over the years that there are so many haunted houses in Culver City, and here we found the historic “Culver Hotel” back in the time when they filmed the wizard of oz the majority of the crew and actors stayed at this hotel, you can see the memorabilia at the main entrance of the hotel. We arrived late at night and we walked in to the second floor that was completely dark and before we were stopped (that area was closed at that time) it was nice and well kept area the antique furniture gives it a unique atmosphere, so cool, but both of my friends felt jumpy at this dark place, so we walked to another area.
For the last day of our tour we went to visit the Ennis-Brown House at the Hollywood hills, I have an architect friend who worked at this historical renovation a few years ago, from the outside seems like a work in progress still, some of the walls look so deteriorated and the concrete blocks were just disintegrating at times with the soil coming throughout, there are pieces of history all over the street, so I couldn’t helped but grabbed a few pieces from the ground as souvenirs.

Edison bar

We did a lot this day and after having Peruvian food, we headed to a farewell party for my friend in downtown Los Angeles roof top bar, the view was breath taking, you can see the skyscrapers around this place, it was windy and cold. Usually I don’t like going to downtown Los Angeles because I personally found it so inconvenient, parking is hard to find, and is usually is expensive too but this place was well worth the effort.
Then we headed to our final destination for the night, the Edison bar just a few yards away from the Caltrans building that visited a week ago. We were told by other of the crew members that this place used to be a carbon generated power plant back in the early 1900’s we toured this place and for our amusement it was decorated with furniture and the remaining artifact that they had when this place was still working.

I was just infatuated with the historic light bulb chandeliers and lamps all over this place, there were projections of early black and white movies in huge screens, the furniture was just delicious, leather seats and couched everywhere, the main power generator was turned into a private vip party room, etc, this is a place that you definitely need to go and experience by yourself and is the place to see. And the drinks are amazing too.

Historical light bulb chadelier

This reminds me that I will be in northern California in a few weks and yes I will blog about it, wait for the next article it'll be fun as the other ones too, feel free to email us. OREM Northern California website

And before she left, for last my friend Jisun was so nice to help us redecorate my place and make my living room bigger and more functional that before, I’m surprised how much you can change a place with just little money. I ended up having a natural private inside garden too (my friend is into natural organic stuff) while me (Engineering mind) are in to more “toxic” stuff.