University of Florida (Aaron Plewke)



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    Emerging Architects Conference - part 1/3

    Aaron Plewke
    Oct 24, '06 8:20 PM EST

    This past weekend I attended the 2nd[?] annual Emerging Professionals Conference in St. Petersburg, FL. The event, hosted by AIA Florida at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel, lasted from Thursday night through Sunday afternoon.


    Friday morning kicked off with a couple sessions dedicated to 'green' design. First, we had the pleasure of listening to a PGT rep give a run-down of the ever-expanding market for green products. This guy was pretty the end of his presentation he was off on some tangent about palm trees not being native to Florida, how he replaced those in his yard with large oaks (which cut down on his home's solar gain), and then he minimizes his powerpoint presentation, revealing his desktop background - a shiny new Corvette. Bio-diesel, right?

    After the first 2 sessions we ate lunch, which was the only disappointing thing about the conference. After the salad the caterer asked us if we wanted desert. My buddy Kyle quickly realized what was happening and asked for another basket of bread...

    Next on the agenda was the keynote presentation by David Lewis of Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis. Our stomachs' collective discontent was soon forgotten. His talk, entitled Invention and Constraints, highlighted a thread that ties the practice's work together - steering clear of protocol and uncovering each project's opportunity for invention.

    small restaurants. typical plans. tectonic surfaces.

    Optical trickery making a tiny hot dog 'stand' seem larger. The ground and ceiling slope in toward the counter, lengthening the perspective. Lines on the folded surface further accentuate the trompe l'oeil effect.

    Bamboo skewers creating a ceiling-scape on the largest surface of a small dining room.

    The latent richness of a coffee-cup's material pallete.

    The presentation's order was ingenious. Five small restaurants - simple yet charged projects - illustrating the way a practice operates. Invention within constraints. With this uncomplicated foundation, Lewis was able to launch into a series of more complex investigations, having already established with the audience (comprised mostly of young-ish professionals) a straightforward set of concepts.

    imageDavid[?] Lewis irons the wrinkles out of their Biennale exhibit. In order to save on shipping, LTL folded up the large banner-prints and packed them in their suitcases...once they were hanging up it became apparant that the wrinkles weren't gonna come out on their own, so the had to take 'em down and plug in the iron (on the smooth terrazzo floor of the American Pavillion).

    A few of my quondam classmates from UF also attended the conference. We all studied at UF's Vicenza Institute of Architecture, about 45 minutes from Venice during the 2004 Architecture Biennale. Kyle - the guy who asked for another basket of bread - noted that the installation itself didn't impress him on his visit in 2004. His attention at that time was on the content (analysis and commentary via architectural representation). Hearing the thought process behind the decision to extend Jefferson's columns out into the space gave the physical installation itself more intrigue than it initially held.

    The American Pavillion at the Giardini, Venice, Italy.

    image Archinect editor sighting [of sorts]...which reminds the end of the lecture the guy behind me - a middle-aged architect (perhaps finished "emerging") asked Lewis if he used 'graduate student labor' for the installations etc. His tone was a bit smug, if I may say so. Lewis responded by explaining that he came out of school at a time when firms were taking advantage of free graduate labor. LTL pays their help, and furthermore, are right there doing the same tasks with their young employees.

    Later that afternoon, a few of us caught up with Lewis. Really cool guy. Easy-going. Clever sense of humor. A fellow archinecter commented that he had no discernible ego. Without pretension. Very refreshing. He offered some insight on graduate school application packages, what's important, what's less so...

    After a great dinner at The Garden, we hit up the Friday night St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Party!
    ...a truly St. Pete thing to do, so we're told...

    "It might sound cheesy, but shuffleboard is making a comeback with the younger generation."
    Quote attributed to Peter, a really cool older guy that spent at least 15 minutes giving us an in depth explanation of the intricacies of the wonderful game of shuffleboard. Kyle beat me two games in a row.


    Over the next few days this blog will host a journal of the weekend's activities. At least a few other archinecters were you're reading and interested in sharing your version, drop me an email...


    • nice reporting, aaron. did you take lewis shuffleboarding with you, though? that's the kind of local treatment that i'd like to hear about. if you were spending a lot of time in planes, wouldn't you want to experience the oddball things on offer in the cities you visit?

      in new orleans we used to take people to the bayous. here we used to go to jake's club reno (now demolished). not sure where i'd take people now, unless the churchill downs was open.

      Oct 25, 06 7:01 am  · 

      no...architphil took him to what turned out to be a marathon dinner. They planned on coming to shuffleboard afterward, but evidently they didn't get their food until after 10pm...

      what i did this weekend...
      ...saw david lewis (ltl architects) give an incredible lecture...
      took david lewis to dinner and talked about highschool football, salvador dali, disney world, pixar movies, dwarf tossing, etc...

      -posted on pg 50 of Thread Central by architphil

      Oct 25, 06 7:45 am  · 

      yep, i thought that we were actually gonna get some shuffle on with him, but we got out of dinner too late... we ate at redwoods which is a few doors down from where AP ate and has the same owner/chef...

      david lewis did take in a few local activities... saturday morning he went for a run from the hotel out to the "famous" inverted pyramid of the st. petersburg pier...

      he also took a trip down the street to the salvador dali museum...

      regarding the "previously emerged" architects questioning of LTL's use of grad student labor... it seems that everytime we have a cool, young architect lecture here in the tampa bay area some old dude asks a similar question... does that happen everywhere? it seems that most older guys seem to think that you can't do cool work without slave labor... one of the things that i appreciated about david was his honesty in what it took to get his firm off the ground... "working 40 hours a week at parsons, 40 hours a week in the office, all while each of the 3 partners has kids and family"...

      one of the most interesting things was how he was able to turn their first two projects (both installations at the storefront for art and architecture) into something special on budgets of $100 and $700 dollars...

      Oct 25, 06 8:48 am  · 

      that crazy pier-amid will make an appearance in part 3.

      also, I neglected to mention above: another of the accomplishments of these small restaurant/cafe projects is the creative contracts - written in such a way that the atypical installations are considered 'furniture' rather than integral building systems, and therefore subject to less code scrutiny. The invention runs deep.

      Oct 25, 06 8:53 am  · 

      LTL is slowly growing as my favorite firm. Hand-drawings, projects that allow complete control and inventiveness, non-egocentric, no slave labor, New York City, professors at various schools, etc., etc. Mark Tsurumaki gave a similar lecture (with identical projects, decriptions, and slides) at my school last year, along with jurying the grad students for a couple of days. It's nice to know they can keep up a successful firm and still have time to go on lecture tours and so on.

      Congrats on the blog of the week, by the way.

      Jan 20, 07 2:01 am  · 

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