This photo was taken in Culver City, CA while on an art walk with workmates. I pose the question: is it art, a modern gargoyle or the invisible man?
With all our collective travels, it is easy to overlook the inspiration available to us right outside our front door. Pictured from left to right: the Hayward Gallery, the south bank, and the streets surrounding the Barbican, London.
Photo by Dimitris Hatzigeorgiou
It is photos like these, taken on a site visit for a new Park Hyatt, that keep us grounded as designers. They serve as reminders that our work must respect the cultural heritage of each locale in which we work.
Photo by Nicole Hammond
WATG has a legacy of working in China, and currently 19 percent of the firm’s work is in that country. This week we've all been deeply affected by the news coming from China, by the areas devastated by the recent earthquake, and by the suffering we are seeing.
We have been considering how WATG can best respond to this tragedy. As relief efforts continue for the victims, we believe the best way to help is to donate money. Therefore, WATG will make a corporate contribution to the American Red Cross' China Relief Fund to assist victims in the devastated areas, and match employee donations dollar-for-dollar.
Our thoughts are with the victims, their friends and loved ones. Our combined efforts can assist the survivors through the difficult recovery process to come.
Detailed stonework and lush landscape meet at West Lake. This plaza creates intimacy nestled amongst cafes and shops that disappear into the vegetation.
After a two-hour drive through the Moscow metropolitan district, we took a sharp left up a track. Our driver, who spoke no English, introduced us to our host, who also spoke no English. We are now entirely alone in a vast canopy of birch and fir; listening to a blazing fire and excited about designing over the next few days. We are here to design a master plan for a resort project on a lake with residential and recreational components. With inspiration like this, how can we fail to deliver a truly unique master plan? We are so excited by all this that we used a digital camera, a laptop with bluetooth and a Blackberry to share this with you.
From Russia with Love,
Lisya, Aaron and John
Last month's conference on "Confronting Climate Change" in Bangkok attracted 250 high-level executives and four teenagers. Entitled "CEO Challenge 2008" and organized by PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association), the event included presentations by a Nobel prize winner, government and ministerial officials, and chief executives from a broad spectrum of tourism-related businesses. The keynote speakers and panelists got down to a great level of pragmatic specificity -- addressing not only problems but also solutions.
I was particularly impressed by the student panel.
Providing attendees a unique perspective on climate change, this group of tomorrow's travelers -- students from the Regent's School in Bangkok -- very articulately and passionately talked about their hopes and aspirations for travel and tourism in the world that they will inherit.
With great conviction and authority, these teenagers shared what they've done at their school to deal with climate change -- hosting blogs, raising awareness, painting roofs white, using money saved on energy costs to plant trees, etc.
Hardly intimidated by the importance of the assembled delegates, the students admonished those in attendance for not doing more to address environmental issues. They stressed the importance of responding with a sense of urgency and offered specific suggestions that people could embrace immediately, including:
. Create a compelling vision of the future for your organization
. Conduct an environmental audit and set targets for improvement
. Get discussion groups going and gather innovative, implementable ideas
. Establish an awards program to recognize green initiatives
Prophetic title for this gathering: It was these students who issued the ultimate "CEO Challenge."
I recently stumbled onto this post at BLDGBLOG noting a current photography exhibit at Architekturzentrum in Vienna. The exhibit is of abandoned hotel projects on the Sinai Peninsula. Scrolling through the images is a bit like taking a tour of the film set for Star Wars.
The exhibition reminded me of an unfinished hotel that sets the standard for architectural and development overreach. If you’re unfamiliar with the building, allow me to introduce to you the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea. For a closer look, check out this YouTube video someone managed to smuggle out of the country. Esquire Magazine may have dubbed the building “The Worst Building in the History of Mankind,” but I happen to have a soft spot for this, er, monstrosity. It’s a bit like watching a car accident: I can’t pull myself away from the political and economic traffic accident that this building has come to represent.
A sunset view of the Wynn Encore, currently under construction, as the new signage was being tested.
Photo by Supranee Degraw
Often, I have not appreciated my own business travel experiences at the time. But unpacking an old box this week I came across the photos below that told a unique story. With the perspective of several years behind me I enjoyed remembering that trip.
The toilet was custom built for a job site toilet in Indonesia. This was the executive toilet with a two fixture sink, shower and toilet. The latter two fixtures required a bucket to operate properly. It is a model of efficiency and function, not quite two-star.
From our air-conditioned meeting space to this toilet required crossing a dusty courtyard under eves and small trees which were crawling with fire ants. The ants fell atop me with frequency and the workers confirmed we humans were tender prey.
The war room was built with thin walls, a tin roof and had dim florescent lights. The noisy air conditioner would switch off and on. Temperature rose and fell as condensation ran down the walls. Lifting my arm for a warm soda, the sketch paper clung to my forearm. Jet lag contributed to the feeling of internment over the three days.
On day two, lunch was brought to our crowded room in order to save valuable time for work. We foreign consultants ate boxed lunches from a nearby five-star hotel, while the Indonesians were served McDonald’s.
Earlier that morning, I was not able to confirm for certain that our design afforded views from each of the upper floors. After lunch we were told that the platform was ready for testing. Before my ascent, a 45 kilogram "safety inspector" scrambled up the trembling tower to demonstrate its strength. That is me on top, a few minutes later. The client below me trusted my assessment that the views over the Indian ocean were just fine from the top floor.
What weird and wonderful or not so wonderful business travel experiences do you have to share?
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