Environment

✱ Climbing in Joshua Tree by Evan Troxel

Going rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park is one of those activities that I don't get enough of anymore. Luckily a friend of mine at work set up a trip far enough in advance that I could actually make it happen. The three of us left before dawn and spent the day on an adventure I hope to repeat more often. 

We only were able to do a couple of climbs and some bouldering problems because real rock climbing, unlike climbing at the local climbing gym (for the most part), has real consequences. The anchors at the top are carefully evaluated and triple-checked for safety, then triple-checked again just because. That, and some incredibly powerful winds slowed the whole process down a bit more. It really didn't matter. Spirits were high and the climbing was fantastic. 

It's this kind of thing I find more and more that gives my life incredible meaning. Spending time outdoors on real adventures, risking more than would ever be possible in a cubicle at the office, is what I strive to make of my life. As they say, we only live once. Better make it real. 

I want more experiences that are real; somehow more tangible and in the moment. Putting tape on my hands to keep what skin I have left where it belongs, but still being OK when the rock takes a sample just makes the memories even stronger. 

Climbing to the top of Headstone Rock a third time in 20 years is still one of the most exhilarating feelings I've ever felt. Helping others at the sharp end of the rope get to the top to share the experience is a bonding moment I won't forget. 

A few people were nearby at the Coachella music festival. I felt like I was on another planet hanging onto holds made for few people to cling to. Placing my toes on a crystal just so; jambing my fingers and hands into Colorado Crack to get through the crux; grinding the gear on my harness into the cliff as I shimmy up a little further - these are the things I love. 

There are not too many places I'd rather be. Solving problems on a 100 foot tall granite cliff is probably better than being an architect. Luckily I get to do both.

Click the photos for larger versions.

All photos © Evan Troxel – All Rights Reserved

✱ New York & Philadelphia by Evan Troxel

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I recently went on a business trip to the east coast with my friend and colleague Mark and had a few chances to get out and make some photos. In NYC I had my first opportunity to visit the High Line on a perfect day with my architecturally-savvy friend Mark LePage (a different Mark) who drove down from upstate to meet us. After walking the entire thing, we got a ride from him down to the 9/11 Memorial. We said our goodbyes and jumped out of the car at a stoplight in true New York fashion. It was an amazing and truly appropriate experience - the designers have made a very special place. 

After a couple of days learning about Lutron lighting and window shades in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, we went into Philadelphia. There is so much to see coming from the west coast, I could walk both of those cities for days. Needless to say we only had a few hours. 

Here are my favorite photos and scenes from the trip.

Algae-powered apartment complex blooms in Hamburg by Evan Troxel

Image: ARUP

Image: ARUP

During the summer, however, when the sun is out in full-force, BIQ will no doubt go into full “bloom” mode. As Curbed notes, the panels, acting as “massive, algae-driving transition lenses,” will grow noticeably darker when filled with elevated levels of algae. In turn, the interior of the building will be kept nice and cool. So much for window AC units when you have bacteria-sized organisms multiplying on the side of your building to help you beat the summertime heat, eh?

I wonder what the building smells like.

A Happy, Flourishing City With No Advertising by Evan Troxel

Billboards and signage advertising are way out of control and getting away with murder. Cities bend over backwards to allow this environmental junkyard, effectively making us live in visually chaotic spaces which lead to more stressful lives.

Estimates say some Americans now look at upwards of 4,000 ads per day. When is enough enough?

Isn't it interesting how we just accept this trash; this visual pollution? Have you ever asked yourself why? Well, lucky for us, someone with a backbone in São Paulo did something about it:

In 2006, Gilberto Kassab, mayor of São Paulo, Brazil, passed the "Clean City Law." Citing growing concerns about rampant pollution in his city, Kassab decided enough was enough. But this was no ordinary piece of pollution legislation. Rather than going after car emissions or litterbugs, Kassab went after the billboards. Yes, you read that right: Kassab wanted to crack down on "visual pollution."

Thank you Gilberto, for showing us the way. You are a hero and a gentleman.

It's bad enough that we have all of the gratuitous signage on our playground equipment, storefronts and public spaces everywhere. It's a true shame our society feels the need to physically label absolutely everything to protect us from ourselves. This is another topic, but whatever happened to personal responsibility?

Companies can and should be forced to find better ways to sell their wares to consumers instead of bombarding them with signage advertising. They are not entitled to this form of advertising, and it's up to us to take it back. The public needs to understand that they own these cities and have a say in what is built in them - including signage and billboard advertising. That we even allowed it in the first place pisses me off. Let's learn a lesson from São Paulo and get rid of the clutter. 

This reminds me of the apropos chorus in Signs by the Five Man Electrical Band (or maybe even better is the Tesla version):

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs

Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign