Don’t You Wish You Worked Here?

If you ever find yourself in the new Navajo Division of Transportation Complex (NDOT), you might look at the floor. And you might notice that there’s a row of lights, in the floor. And you might wonder, “what the heck?” No, it’s not a flaw in the design. It’s an intentional representation of a key part of air transportation – a runway. Make sense now? There are other symbolic representations of various types of transportation incorporated into the design of this office, some easily recognizable, others subtle.

Who says the office needs to be a boring place? Could, perhaps, the design of the office be inspirational and anything but boring? Most people are probably familiar with – and envious of – the Google grounds (employee gym? restaurants in-office? yes please). But what makes it so much better than any other office? The plush furniture? Open spaces? The overall design? Why is the stereotypical office full of cramped cubicles?

Okay, we’ll stop asking rhetorical questions. But seriously, all it takes is a little creativity, and a little imagination, and you get places like NDOT, or Google. If you’re not daydreaming about a new office yet, or if you’re not looking around work for design features in your already-inspiring-comfortable-amazing office and thinking “that’s why I like it here” then try reading this article, which highlights some of the most creative office designs out there:

Best 38 I’d-Like-To-Work-In-That-Place Offices



Chʼil gohwéhí – Navajo Wild Tea

The Chʼil gohwéhí is a soothing orange-yellow tea plant that the Dine’ people harvest in early June to late August. Before the herbal tea is harvested, a prayer is done to give thanks for its usage and to explain to the plant/mother earth why it is being taken. After the prayers are done, the plant is picked and tied into small bundles to be left to dry for later use or it can be used right after picking. One bundle of Chʼil gohwéhí makes 10-12 cups of tea after boiling for 5 minutes. This tea can be served with honey & sugar to sweeten the taste. It is also used as a medical tea to treat toothaches, remedy colds and stomach aches and can even be used to dye wool.

Chʼil gohwéhí is enjoyed by Dine’ families as a form of warm greeting to visitors,  as a beverage with a meal or as a ceremonial drink during winter story telling. Chʼil gohwéhí is an important part of Dine’ hospitality because it reunites the current with the past and it is said to be the blessing plant to reunite families with loved ones.

6 Examples of Innovative Architecture Inspired By Music | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

6 Examples of Innovative Architecture Inspired By Music | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

We all know that inspiration can come from anywhere. Music and sound are one of the most prominent, influential and diverse forms of inspiration for artists, designers, and people of all disciplines. These projects, highlighted by inhabitat, are incredible examples of architecture influenced and inspired by music. Enjoy the creativity!

Tsoodził- Turquoise Mountain

DMA Dine’ Word of the week “Tsoodził” (Mt Taylor) –meaning Turquoise Mountain. It is the sacred mountain of the South in Dine’ culture because it is considered the home of all animals/birds, female rain (soft rain) and is the origin for the Navajo blessing way ceremony (Highest blessing for the Dine’ people). The Mountain itself is said to be decorated in turquoise at early morning dawn. It also holds a special meaning in the Dine’ history because when the Navajo returned from Bosque Redondo, where they were imprisoned for four years after the “Long Walk,” the Dine’ people were so happy and overcome with emotion that they fell to their knees and cried tears of joy at the site of this mountain, because it meant they were safe at home again. Therefore the mountain itself is also a symbol of perseverance.

Mt Taylor is located northeast of Grants New Mexico and is the highest point in the Cibola National Forest.

When It Counts

Architectural ModelRecently, there’s been quite a debate in the blogging world over the value of architectural work, and whether what we do “counts.” This time, it spurned from the comment of architect and blogger Bob Borson “if doesn’t count if it doesn’t get built” (Life of An Architect) which was then countered with the quipping angst of Jody Brown (Coffee With an Architect).

Here’s our take:

Take a moment and look at an undeveloped bit of land – an empty lot; a field; the great expanse of dirt, rocks and plants will do – and now mentally construct a building there. Start with the general idea – what is the building? (Is it a house, office, store, hospital?) What does it look like? (What color is it? Brick, stucco, wood? Windows? Doors?) Pretty easy right? Now move inside. Plan out each room. How much space does each room need? What is the main function of each of these rooms? How will the users move about and utilize the space?

You might think it seems easy enough to envision something that isn’t there, but there’s a reason people hire architects. We are trained to see empty space and imagine all of the possibilities (bet you only came up with one just now). Each detail we add to the design has a purpose, is carefully thought through, and has more technical information backing it than most people realize.

Now, back to the issue at hand. An architect can spend weeks, months, maybe even years perfecting a design that embodies both beauty and function. And then the client decides to scrap the project. And then you’re going to tell the architect that all that work doesn’t matter? That’s like looking at the Mona Lisa, shrugging, and saying “recycle the canvas.” Ouch.

It might not matter to the rest of the world, or even the client, whether the design that we architects carefully coax out of the ether gets built or not. But to us, it matters. The project is still real, and who knows, maybe we can use some of the ideas from the so-called “dead” project on something new in the future. Or, we can just keep the “failed” design as a reminder that nothing is certain, until it’s (literally) set in stone (or steel, wood, brick, cement…)

Hózhó “Beauty”

The DMA Dine’ (Navajo) word of the week is Hózhó, meaning “Beauty” or “The positive way.” It is considered the most important cherished word in the Dine’ language because it describes the way a Dine’ should lead his or her life. That is to live a long, happy, healthy life in balance with nature, mother earth & father sky.

DMA Dine’ (Navajo) word of the week Biniʼanitʼᾴᾴtsoh

Biniʼanitʼᾴᾴtsoh is the Dine’ (Navajo) name for the month of September. It defines the end of the Navajo calendar/13th month of the year. The beginning of the word Biniʼanitʼ means “Harvest.” And the word ᾴᾴtsoh means “Big” in translation. When the two words are put together it actually means, “Big Harvest” and the month of the ripening of late crops.

The not-so-sexy side to Architecture | Life of an Architect

The not-so-sexy side to Architecture | Life of an Architect.

Bob Borson covers the “unglamorous” side of architecture pretty well. Of course we’d all love to be sketching and drafting and designing all day long, but that’s just not happening. If you haven’t read his article – you should. If only so that you’ll realize that there’s a whole lot of other stuff that has to get done in an average architects’ day.

We’re not interested in complaining though – hat’s off to you, Bob, for building a successful niche for yourself, juggling the two sides of architecture, and managing to blog consistently.

More to the point, though. All architects, (or the good ones, at least) take the time to get to know their clients so that the final design is unique to the person(s) who will inhabit it. In our case, we have an extra step in working with our Native clientele. Not only do we need to get to know the individuals directing the project from the client side, we also have to understand the unique culture of the community. The process of discovering a client’s culture – their history, traditions, community values and visions – is the best part of our job.