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Rivard Report

All things must come to an end...


…including my first podcast, The Works. We had a good run for the last four years but it’s time to move on to other things.

One of those things is the San Antonio Storybook.

Each chapter of the Storybook will tell a different story about the sights, the sounds, and the people of the Alamo City. They will be stories you haven’t heard before. They will about the people behind the headlines. They will be about the things that make San Antonio such an amazing place to live and work.

Produced in conjunction with the Rivard Report., the first episode of the San Antonio Storybook drops next week but you can subscribe now (here or here) and even listen to a trailer that gives you an idea of what to expect.

San Antonio REX

Earlier this week Joshua Prince-Ramus gave a lecture here in San Antonio. In the last decade he's been a part of some truly innovative projects including the Wyly Theatre in Dallas (pictured above). The Rivard Report asked me to write a short article about the lecture that you can read here.

I am not an objective journalist. What I write is always influenced by the subjective experiences I have had. It just so happens my most recent subjective experience (as described in last week's blog post) was Disneyland and so I naturally organized the essay around a comparison to the Happiest Place on Earth.

Meeting Emma

Writing assignments come into the office in waves and mid-February through mid-March proved to be especially busy. The most recent article to go up is an essay for the Rivard Report on the Hotel Emma, a new boutique hotel that will be opening at the Pearl in the coming months. It was great to get a sneak peek into the project and it was even better to be given a tour by Scott Martin, whose ongoing documentation of the project are as remarkable as the spaces themselves.

Journalistic non-ojectivity

early sketch of Trinity University tower and chapel courtesy Ford, Powell & Carson

So when I was asked to write an article for the Rivard Report about an upcoming exhibition at Trinity University, I initially expressed some hesitation. I certainly felt the story needed to be told - the unearthing of a collection of design drawings by O'Neil Ford of some of his most important projects certainly seemed newsworthy.  However, I was worried I couldn't really approach the story from a place of objective neutrality.

First of all, I have taught at Trinity.  The student who discovered the drawings, Jason Azar, was in fact a student of mine.  The office where the drawings were discovered, Ford, Powell & Carson, is an office with whom I have collaborated and I am friends with several of its partners.  Kathryn O'Rourke, the professor who helped organize the exhibition, gave a guest lecture for the class I taught and I have asked her to speak again at next year's Design Conference sponsored by the Texas Society of Architects.

In other words, I have a some degree of relationship with all of the key players in the article.  Luckily there really isn't anything particularly controversial about the story so perhaps it is no big deal that I displayed questionable journalistic standards.

Bad architecture

It's been a busy few weeks of writing.  In addition to the essay about fracking , I was also recently asked to write a piece for the Rivard Report about the poor quality of some of the newer buildings in downtown San Antonio.  Although I agree with the premise, this proved to be some of the more challenging 1,200 words to write.

Designing a good building is hard.  Building a good building is even harder as there are so many factors beyond the control of the architect.  No one sets off to design a bad building and besides that I am always hesitant to criticize the work of a colleague.  I tried the dance around this issue by praising the good work that is being done, but at the end of the day, San Antonio should demand better buildings than they are currently getting.  

Hopefully that was the idea I communicated.