I haven’t written in the past couple days because it’s been a little hard for me to step back, decompress, and understand everything I’ve done and seen. We had most of the construction on our project done by Thursday night, so most of us went to a bar near the school and then later to another bar in Montpelier where one of the school interns was doing a DJ set hosting a funk/soul dance party. I’m not much of a dance party person, especially around people I don’t know well, so I didn’t dance until the last two or three songs before I left, but there is something really incredible and even spiritual about letting yourself go and bonding with people you don’t know so well. It was a really fitting way to start the end of my time in Vermont.
Friday we finished the work and had a little dedication ceremony with some beer the professors bought and some sparklers and cheap cigars I bought from a gas station. We were all really proud of the project and the work we did on it. Our finished product was more complex and larger than any other project this class has done in the past, and we were completely finished on time and under budget. I think that speaks highly of all of us students and professors and the work we can do, and hopefully this project will be a valuable addition to my portfolio besides just something to be personally really proud of. It could be just because this project actually got built, but I’m more proud of it than anything I’ve done in school so far.
After finishing on Friday we all went over to the house of an architect friend of our professors’. Maybe “house” isn’t the right word; it was more like a compound. You can learn about the architect, Dave Sellers, and an architectural movement he started in the 60s by reading this link. On his land were six golf holes on two big greens, a campfire area, a few cars and boats buried in weeds, and two large buildings. One was the workshop where he keeps all his drawings, experiments with building techniques, and creates prototype parts for his buildings that other people can’t make. The other building is an experimental concrete building called The Archy Bunker, and I think it’s one of the most brilliant works of architecture I’ve ever seen. Since that area of Vermont doesn’t really have building codes and it’s designed, financed, and built by the architect and his friends, there is absolutely no limit on the creativity that went into it. It’s a building made up of pure, unfiltered, and uninhibited creativity. He’s made the concrete do things it shouldn’t be able to do, he’s used materials in totally unique ways, and somehow it’s nearly perfect as far as the spatial qualities go. In Chicago I was lucky enough to spend time in a concrete house by Tadao Ando and fell in love with it’s calmness, peacefulness, and warmth. This building in Vermont might be seen as the polar opposite of all that calmness and peacefulness, but is easily as warm and if I think about it I might even like it better. Part of the genius of it is how well it fits its surroundings.
After spending time in both buildings we played a little golf and then had our graduation ceremony around the fire when it got dark. All the adults, including our professors, who were there are all old friends who don’t get to see each other much, so it was inspiring to be able to see them connect with each other in very real ways as they laughed, drank, and presided over our graduation. We got certificates, which we all immediately realized should be singed in the fire, and tried to spend as much time in the dark with each other as we could before having to leave. Then handshakes, hugs, and goodbyes all around, and back to school for a couple hours sleep before catching a cab to the airport at 3:30 AM.
These two weeks in Vermont were full of long days, good food, architectural inspiration, and connections with new friends, and I never knew that after only two weeks with people I’d never met in a place I’d never seen, it would be so bittersweet to leave.
Thanks for reading this blog.