Landscape, Art, and Culture: Inspiring Local Architecture

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The Navajo Nation Division of Transportation Office Complex (NDOT) draws inspiration from natural rock formations in the surrounding landscape as well as from traditional Navajo culture. The complex also integrates work from local artists, strengthening the ties between architecture and community. Continue reading

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Introducing the First Annual SASC

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It’s August. The summer is winding down, stores are stocking school supplies, and students all over are packing as much fun into their last few weeks of summer freedom as they possibly can. After recent budget cuts (discussed here), a lot of students won’t have after school programs, art or music classes, or their favorite electives to look forward to.

So, we decided to see if we can fix that, and give students something to look forward to.

At Dyron Murphy Architects, P.C. (DMA) we are continually looking for ways we can help our community. This year, we wanted to do something bigger. Something better. Something that will benefit Native American students throughout the southwest. Our goal is to empower students, to encourage them to not only make it through school, but excel and even enjoy their classes. We want to inspire engagement with all areas of education, from math and science, to reading and cultural studies.

DMA is pleased to announce the first annual Native American Student Architect Sketch Competition (SASC). The SASC gives students the opportunity to explore their creativity while thinking critically about the structural elements of a building. The competition exposes students to the field of architecture, and provides a creative platform for teachers and students to investigate core STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) lessons, in addition to history, communication, language and other lessons.

For more information on the competition (rules and regulations, etc.) check out the “Student Architect Sketch Competition” tab above. Or click here.

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…)