Architecture and the TdF

In many ways the Tour de France is analogous to the process of creating great architecture…

Today is the final stage of the Tour, which means the end of our month-long wake-up-early-to-catch-the-beginning-of-the-Stage and then media-blackout-all-day-until-catching-the-end-of-the-Stage that night. It’s been exhausting.

We’re big fans of the Tour for a few reasons. Every year it puts on incredible feats of individual performance and teamwork. The aerial architectural shots of France (and Belgium, England, Andorra, and Spain) let us see masterpieces of the vernacular and fantastic urbanism from a unique perspective. We also love it because in many ways the Tour is analogous to the process of creating great architecture.

There’s a Team Leader (the Client), for which all the teammates are working to help achieve victory. Without the Team Leader, the team doesn’t exist, nor does it have a goal to work for.

There’s the Team Director (the Architect), who is responsible for coaching, and the design of the strategy, tactics, and decisions for the team. Without a Team Director, the team lacks focus, direction, and oversight.

There are the Domestiques (the Engineers) who look after the team leader, provide a wheel to follow, ferry food and water, and even will surrender their bike if the leader has a mechanical problem. They are self-sacrificing, and rarely acknowledged individually, but without them, the Team Leader can suffer.

There’s the Peloton (other projects, permit departments, review boards, weather, schedule) which is comprised of all the other squads and competes against the team for time and resources. The Peloton represents all the aspects that can hinder or derail the team from accomplishing its goal.

There’s the Time Limit which is obviously equates to the Schedule for the project. (“We need to be in the house by the holidays!!”)

And finally there are the Stages of the race (Project Phases): some are flat, easier, and made for sprints, and some are longer or much more grueling, like producing the Construction Documents or obtaining a permit in Chicago.

So what’s the point? Great accomplishments can rarely be achieved without a great team, particularly when epic efforts are required! Congrats to all the riders who finished the Tour this year, and to Chris Froome for his third win!


Urbanism To Me

Urbanism is people-watching. Urbanism is walking the dog at night. Waiting for the bus in the rain, comparing boots and disliking umbrellas.  Streets with or without cars; paths for wheels; sidewalks for eating, or shopping, or strolling. Bundling the baby in a stroller to get to daycare on cold mornings.  Riding the train to work.  City living and dreaming of owning a yard.  Visiting relatives in the suburbs to remember it’s not worth the yard. Traveling and walking, walking, and more walking.  Skyscraper views out the window, due South.  Baseball park views due North.  Fire-escape gardens and neighborly noises.  Studying strangers on the street corner. Calculating the groceries that fit in one backpack and 4 reusables bags. Anonymity amongst familiar crowds. Parallel parking and paying to park. Big parks, small playlots, and potted plants. Towers with elevators, third floor walk-ups, carriage units, roommates in houses with envious gardens, and double-loaded corridors. I’ve had the great fortune to experience life from all of these perspectives, which has catalyzed the urbanist in me. I’d love to know, what is your urbanism?

Submitted by JS ::: This is the first in a series of short posts that intend to further shed light on each of our interests.