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A CRANnie’s Mile High Adventure

Bud Dietrich, AIA

The Denver convention is well behind us so before it completely recedes from our rearview mirror, let’s do a little post-convention recap.

But before I get to that, yours truly would like to point out that the AIA national convention is one heck of an event. I’ve only been to a handful of conventions, mostly of late, in a career that spans over 35 years. It’s a shame, really, as attending the convention has become so rewarding that I plan on attending every year from here on out. From seeing old friends to meeting new ones, from learning about how the AIA functions and who the folks behind the scenes are, from learning new things and seeing some great cities, the convention is well worth the time and expense. And I say this as a sole practitioner, someone who isn’t earning when not back at the ranch clocking billable time. No matter, some things are just more important than that extra billable hour or two (spoken like a true architect).

And there’s always something about the venue or the people or both that really makes the convention super memorable. This year was no different. From landing in Denver at 2:30 in the afternoon, just in time to be sent off to a tornado shelter, to being overwhelmingly inspired by Blake Mycoskie, to being a voting delegate from AIA Tampa Bay, to seeing many of my Chicago friends, attending the Denver convention was just awesome.

Yes, yours truly landed in Denver just in time for the airport to be placed under a tornado alert. The sirens were blaring and the terminal became a ghost town as everyone was shuttled off to the basement tornado shelters, which were way too small to accommodate everyone. So, as I stood in the atrium well waiting for the tornado to whoosh me off to Oz, my head was a jumble of thoughts ranging from ”how could the architects not design adequate shelter areas” to “how cool is this.” In the end, thankfully the funnel cloud didn’t strike the airport and all I’m left with is one incredible experience.

It seemed like CRAN was everywhere at the convention. As the sponsor for a number of workshops and seminars as well as the CRAN forum, we CRANnies had quite an impact on the convention. In fact, I bet that CRAN, which is a relatively small Knowledge Community, has as big an impact on the convention activities as many of the larger components and KC’s. It just makes me proud to be a member of a CRAN and appreciative that I’ve gotten to know some really terrific architects in the process.

Any recap of the convention would be remiss without mentioning the Thursday keynote address by Blake Mycoskie. Blake is the founder of TOMS and the One for One program. If you ever have a chance to hear Blake speak, go for it. A few months back, Mickey Jacobs FAIA mentioned that Blake would be a speaker and that we wouldn’t want to miss his address. Who the heck is Blake Mycoskie, I thought, and why would I want to listen to him? Well, I’m really glad I did listen. Rather than get into all of the detail about Blake, his company and his One for One program, the notion that a for-profit company can do good by doing well is something we can all learn from and be inspired by.

While I could go on and on about the Denver convention, there are word count limitations. So lastly I’d like to say that I did get out and about. The library designed by Michael Graves and the art museum addition designed by Daniel Libeskind are within a short walk of the convention center. While these two buildings and the surrounding park, etc. are all nice and suitably “architecty,” my favorite venue was Coors Field. It was a shame the Rockies weren’t playing at home during the convention as I surely would have gone to a game. There’s just something about a baseball park that’s really wonderfully urban and American. Maybe it’s the fabric of streets and proximity to a CBD that’s special. Or maybe it was all of the housing being built around Coors Field that was reassuring. But in the end, it’s really all of the restaurants and bars that nestle up to the best of our ball parks, like Wrigley and Fenway. And Coors Field has its share of these venues. Even when there was no game going on in the park, the adjacent party scene was going strong each evening we were in Denver. Thank God for America’s pastime.

Finally, see you all at the CRAN Santa Fe symposium in a few weeks and at the Chicago convention next year. Until then,



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