domestic bollards

domestic bollards: describing a series of industrial equipment situated at the periphery of a corner lot residential building in Lubbock, Texas presumably to mitigate the “potential” danger of interference with a vehicle.

To find the quaint idyllic house juxtapose with vehicle stopping defense is both humorous and frustrating.

Humorous because the bollards, as one system, overcompensate for the inadequacies of another system, the light weight ballon framing construction of most Lubbock homes. These vehicular-defensive shortened columns stand guard out front the All-American dream house. I appreciate that the bollards are unadorned, true in their industrial honesty and material authenticity. It would be frighteningly disappointing to discover bollard systems plastered over with stucco both for the aesthetic misplacement of an artificial presentation and for the waste of material energy to acquire an artificial presentation.

Frustrating because bollards are a quick fix solution to a situation architecture can resolve. Fast driving and safe sleeping are a study in program proximity. Architects are trained to find creative solutions to program relationships and even advocate for program complexity. In “the Manhattan Transcripts”, Bernard Tschumi explores the event (program) and the potential for architecture to be rebuilt according to event relationships, the Parc de la Villette being a realized example.  In “Delirious New York”, Rem Koolhaas writes about architecture’s capacity in the skyscraper for program proximity as “the vertical schism, which creates the freedom to stack such disparate activities directly on top of each other without any concern for their symbolic compatibility”.

Domestic bollards are traces in this built environment of a reaction-focused object-driven quick solution mentality.  However humorous I may find this juxtaposition I prefer to walk a city of hybrid houses that creatively negotiate program proximities of the fast & furious to the safe & sleeping through space and architecture instead of defensive framing any day.


Imperial Valley is a sweet cocktail fragrance of decaying fish, dates, cabbage, cocaine, citrus, sweat and cigarettes emanating from land that rings our spectacular engineering failure, the Salton Sea.

William Vollmann, in his book “Imperial”, states


Yes, Imperial is.

A place of salt, sun, earthquake faults, heavy metals, agriculture, bombs, love, chipped buildings, elusive events, quiet voices comfortable in shadows, Imperial Valley is a conundrum of social and ecological existence. It is a landscape of grotesque beauty, making me wonder if Hieronymus Bosch primed his imagination by living this Imperial life.

Bordering Mexico, this Southeastern inland California valley is elusively captivating.

everything mobile

In the early morning light, with the sun behind us, we crest the ridge of the Gila Mountains on highway 8 and see the Yuma Desert stretch out in front of us.  As we dropped into this valley at 75 mph the ground, sky and space are a pure flux of mobility, not just in relation to our moving Nissan Maxima but to an amazing density of non-choreographed hybrid activity.

In partial disbelief, we stop to gage this hive of happenings.

On that Sunday morning Yuma, Arizona manifest the visionary cities of Archigram, Situationist International New Babylon and Cedric Price.  Hot air balloons fill the sky moving East, most land in Exit 3’s Love’s Travel Stop parking lot, all stopping just West of the fighter jet flight paths on their cyclical training routes roaring overhead.  Birds dart the sky as freight trains pass by. Semi-truck trailers line the landscape awaiting their next voyage.  Everything is either in-motion, recently parked from motion or about to engage motion.

Passing Shangri-La , a trailer resort community, we almost find the name authentic and contemplate signing-in to this purely mobile environment of Yuma existence, however only temporal the existence may be.

shadow landscape

In Lubbock along both sides of Avenue A, just North of the 50th street intersection, is a fantastic stretch of drainage infrastructure that scars the typically flat street-scape into a sculpted terrain.


At the deeper stretches, this line of divots drops 4′ to 8′ below the street’s surface, allowing shadows of adjacent street lamps, trucks and buildings to warp and reshape in these basins. This shadow-tracking got me thinking about Valparaiso, Chile street-scape, the Valparaiso studio exercise “site of shadows” and a resulting student’s comment, “The sun moves faster here than in Lubbock”. Immediately my response was not that the sun moved faster, nor is their observation a result from the earth’s rotation at latitude relative speeds (given Valparaiso at -33.0 is nearly the same latitude distance from the equator as is Lubbock’s 33.6, with both rotating around 1400 km/hour).  What the student experienced and verbalized was a registration of the narrowing street-space and shorten time in which the sun, thus shadows, fills the street volume.

A quick proportion comparison sketch of residential street-space between Lubbock and Valparaiso demonstrated how dramatically wide and open to the sky Lubbock’s streets are.  This widening reduces the impact shadows have on shaping our collective city space as any marker, building edge or variation in the landscape becomes lost in the distance.  Surprisingly the Avenue A infrastructure gap retains similar proportion to Valparaiso shallowest street spaces and offers a place to register and experience shadows changing our collective space.  Here you can enjoy a changing shadow landscape.

light rooms

what is great is how light can split space.  it has the potential to reconfigure perceptible edge of material boundary through expanded and hidden spaces.

Four light-room relationships based on material behavior and space dimension;
Mirror, Clip, Split and Arc.

led by curiosity the other day, I wedged light from a Dell projector into partially enclosed spaces to track what the resulting projected surface, reflectance and luminosity.  i was surprised to find the striking black line, particularly in Mirror, that occurred from receding space between the wall and projecting surface.  This seam appeared to pull blackness out from the gap into the projected light, where in contrast the meeting of two materials without a gap (space), as in Arc, concentrated light into a sharp node.  In Split, it was rewarding to see each space take on a color weight in particular the yellow hue that amplify because of metal material edging reflecting the light and expanding the space.  Arc became a whole other beast of relationships as the projector was set in angle to cornered and curved planes, thus stretching, reflecting, hiding and concentrating light across the space.