✱ This is Exciting... Because It's Real / by Evan Troxel

This is the second post in the ArchiTalks series where a bunch of internet-friends (no, we did not meet on match.com) post on the same topic that has to do with our chosen profession - architecture. Bob Borson over at Life of an Architect started this whole thing last month and it went really well, so we're continuing until it doesn't go really well.

As if.

At the end of my post I'll link to the other articles posted today by my friends so you can see what all of their "This is Exciting" posts are about, so hang on until the end.


For my second installment in the ArchiTalks series, I'm going to write about the most exciting part of my job. After all, the topic is called "This is Exciting" and I had to pick something to write about. I have to say that without a doubt, it's when one of "my" project starts getting built. The point when it goes from drawings to reality. When it gets out of the ground.

I say "my" project (in air-quotes) because it's never really just mine... I am but one person on an incredible team that worked really hard to create the plans and do all the behind-the-scenes work to get this thing to a point where it could be built. It takes years and thousands of hours to accomplish. It's huge.

But I've already digressed away from the main point.

Typically when a project "breaks ground" it's the ceremony for the uninvolved. This is not what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about a bunch of people standing around with a golden shovel who didn't do much (anything?) on the project, posing for PR shots. What I am talking about is when backhoes dig trenches. When steel goes up. When concrete gets poured. Framing too! The sound of a saw ripping sheets of wood on the job site. Yes, I'm talking about the sights and sounds of a building becoming a real thing.

A project I had a part in is now under construction near Los Angeles, and it's a community center for a very deserving, underserved area. It will, no doubt, be their pride and joy. They will love it for many, many years and I know they will take care of it like a newborn baby.

I had the opportunity to visit it the other day with my my friend/mentor/boss Mark, and potentially field any possible questions that might have come from the County Supervisor, and I probably spent more time ogling over the space than most of the other tourists. I tweeted this:

It's true. I have a bit of romance with projects I work on, and I didn't want our first date to end. I've been working, along with many others, on this project for years now and much like a child being born, it's an amazing thing to see it for real the first time. This isn't only true for this project. It's true for all of them. I think I actually prefer them when they're under construction because they're just so damn cool. It's like seeing beneath the skin of an airplane... there's just so much going on. For a while we get a glimpse of the stuff that makes a building what it is before it gets all covered up with a final coat of makeup. It's at this stage that we are reminded that these enormous things are built by hand.

How about some pictures?

Here are a few shots I posted on Instagram: The first one here is of the street-side entry and memorial wall for the local Veteran community. It is a giant, curved, monolithic wall that has an enormous window in it. This thing has what we call 'street presence.'

Here is a shot of an interior open-office with plenty of natural daylight streaming in through some clerestory windows, which make the space just wonderful:

And here's a shot of the main lobby roof from the street side. It's just floating away... Catch it if you can.

Here's the side where most people will enter around back and the cantilever shoots out beyond the edge of the world:

It's just unreal to me that I get to work on, and eventually walk through projects that actually get built. They are an unbelievable amount of work to get to this point, and I can't still can't believe they are really building this thing. 

As I was walking the site with Mark, he said that it feels like we got away with something on this project. I couldn't agree more. There are some amazing details, spaces, materials and so much more that will start showing up very soon here. The bones are there and it's developing at an incredible rate.

As we toured the site, the Construction Superintendent paused, holding his arms up in the air. He guided them in a linear motion with one eye closed as he talked about how the main roof material flows from outside in the plaza to inside the lobby through the main curtain wall past the front door. I wish you had seen it! When a freaking construction supervisor is excited about the architecture, you know you've got something special. You can tell this is going to turn out to be a great project because he can't wait to see how it finishes either. And on top of that it's ahead of schedule and under budget.

Seeing one of our projects in person is by far the most exciting part of my job. It's unbeatable.

Here's a peak of what it'll look like when it's all done:


Click here to see other posts on Twitter using the hashtag #ArchiTalks.

Check out what others wrote about the topic "This is Exciting":

Cormac Phalen - Archispeak Podcast 
@archispk and @archy_type
This is Exciting: The end is like the beginning

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design
@modarchitect
This is Exciting - It All Comes Together

Nicholas Renard – Cote Renard Architecture
@coterenard
This Right Here, This is Exciting

Enoch Sears - Business of Architecture
@businessofarch
This Is Exciting: Marketing For Architects That Works

Jeff Echols - Architect of the Internet
@jeff_echols
This is Exciting: 5 "RE's" to Change the Future of Architecture

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect
@bobborson
This Is Exciting - The Beginning of the End

Matthew Stanfield - Field 9 Architecture
@FIELD9arch
This Is Exciting

Marica McKeel - Studio MM
@ArchitectMM
From Dreams to Reality - THIS is Exciting

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet
@Jeff_Echols
This is Exciting: 5 'RE's' to Change the Future of Architecture

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect
@LeeCalisti
This Is Exciting :: Start + Finish

Oscia Wilson - Boiled Architecture
@Oscia_Wilson
This Is Exciting: They're Fighting It Out

Mark R. LePage - Entrepreneur Architect
@EntreArchitect
This Is Exciting - Making A Difference At Entrepreneur Architect