Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 193 - PechaKucha


I have never attended a PechaKucha event. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know what PechaKucha was until a few weeks ago, but the concept immediately appealed to my interests in learning and growing as a person. For those that are unaware, PechaKucha is a form of lecture series wherein notable experts in a given field present 20 photos for 20 seconds each, which sets the pace for a rapid and intense delivery of knowledge during each presentation of a little less than seven minute. When I learned such an event existed, I was immediately drawn to the concept, and the discovery of an upcoming PechaKucha on one of my favorite art forms, architecture, was more than enough to secure my commitment to attend the event. As a result, Rachael and I recruited a few friends, Erin and Patrick, to join us at the Monona Terrace tonight for what was likely to be a highly informative and uniquely unforgettable experience.

The winter terrace

Upon arriving to the conventional hall tonight, it quickly became clear were surrounded by a crowd of highly intelligent and accomplished architects from around the Midwest. Conversations of opportunity, developments, and landmark structures in every major metropolitan city in a five state area filled the air as the crowd settled in for the event. In awe of the happenings around me, I sat quietly as I waited for the event to begin. With Rachael readily engaged in conversation with Erin and with Patrick still en route to the event, I was happy to soak in the variety and depth of conversation within earshot. As it turns out, it would set the tone for an event that would go far beyond a discussion of architecture and its functional role in our lives, and would leave me rethinking the path I want to take.

Kicking things off

Moments before the event began Patrick arrived and took a seat at our table. We spent a minute or two catching up until an older man in a sport coat took the stage and kicked off the event. After giving a brief introduction, the man quickly provided background on the night’s event and delved into the concept behind the night's PuchaKucha, “What architecture means to me.” Continuing, he stated his efforts would solely be directed at letting each of the presenters speak for themselves, which led him to promptly conclude his introduction and kick off the event with the night’s first speaker.

Donald Briggs - "Architectural Journey:
Often Delightful, Never Predictable"
 

Janine Glaeser - "Architecture is Hazardous"

Now, I won’t go through the details of each presenter’s all-too-brief speech, but I will provide some perspective on what it was like to witness the nine featured speakers take the stage and discuss the impacts of architecture in our lives, in art, and in the way humans co-exist with the world around us. For over an hour we had the privilege of listening to highly talented and incredibly devoted architects talk about their inspirations, their perceived purpose in affecting the lives of others, and their stories of transforming lives through transformative design. From fundamental components of structure to stories of volunteer work in natural disaster ravaged countries, each speaker presented ideas that gripped the audience and left it nearly impossible to feel anything but uplifted and moved. Getting a glimpse of the world from those that have the greatest impact on our presence in it was enlightening and refreshing, and it opened my eyes to a previously unfamiliar form of transcendence that binds the design in creation to the world around us.

Peter Tan - "The Dance of Architecture:
Rhythm, Stewardship and Transcendence"

Kristofer Nonn - "What I Love About Architecture:
Light, and All That Yet Can Be
"

By the time the presentation was drawing to an end, I found myself recapping the stories and knowledge passed on through the rapid presentations of my first PechaKucha night. The discussion of design, of giving back, of seeing beauty in disaster, and of finding ways to design with the Earth left me feeling brightened and inspired. In fact, the fundamental traits of creativity and vision that echoed through each of the presentations struck a chord with me to the extent that they left me contemplating the steps I would need to take to move into the field of architecture. Perhaps it was the barrage of insight we experienced or the most direct exposure I have ever had to an art form I have always appreciated from a distance, but I was walking away from a new experience questioning my professional decisions in life... and it couldn't have felt better.

Cathy O'Hara Weiss - "The Guilty Pleasures of Architecture,
or a Boy, a Girl, and a Hot Dog Stand
"

Robert Wheat - "Preliminary/Not for Construction"

While I know it isn’t likely I will take the steps necessary to acquire the credits and experience necessary to move into the field of architecture in the near future, it was hard to kick the idea as the evening drew to a close and we made our way back to my car. Our experience with the outstanding degree of intelligence, devotion, and inspiration that flowed from the PechaKucha architecture event simply left me feeling wrapped up in the concept. To their credit, each of the presenters built on a fundamental concept of the beauty in purpose that runs through the heart of architecture, which left me hooked on the idea of leaving a lasting mark on the planet through creation in functional space. Time will tell whether the bug that bit me tonight at the PechaKucha event drives me into my next academic pursuit. For now I can just rest on the fact that tonight’s event was so much more than I expected, and that makes me happy I set aside time to experience something I might have otherwise overlooked.

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