WID Blog

ACE Mentoring

: April 3, 2012 6:54 pm : Blog

WID volunteers and other professionals from our Denver community have helped mentor at East High School for the past 3 years in support of the ACE Program (www.ACEmentor.org). Working with high school students has its challenges. You may have 20 years of experience in your field and patiently brainstorm with a student design team, explaining site grading, placement of the building, ADA access, solar orientation, massing, and much more. In return, there is usually a lot of silence and blinking… and then some sketching of what all this means to the teens. It’s a lot to process, but by taking it one step at a time we can help remove the stress of the design challenge and start producing something that they can sink their teeth into and proceed on their own with occasional help from patrolling mentors.

Last week we had a quick 45 minute model exercise where the teams cut up cereal boxes to tape together mass models of the buildings.

ACE action shot, photo by Kathy Ford

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February Networking Event

: March 11, 2012 11:42 pm : Blog
What a fantastic turn out we had for WiD’s first networking event of 2012.  We gathered at Fado Irish Pub in Denver for after hours sweets and networking in our themed setting;  “Post-Valentine’s Day”.  Yes, we all forgot about a date and focused on our career in the purely social networking, yet casual environment.  We had a fantastic turnout of triple the number we had planned.  We also grew our membership by a dozen women that night.
I personally made some great connections.  As the new Membership Director of WiD Denver, I am thankful for the attendees and look forward to getting to know each and every one of you better throughout the year.
Jeni O’Brien
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Successful Snowshoe Excursion!

: March 5, 2012 11:12 pm : Blog

Twelve brave Women in Design members met Saturday morning for a outdoor networking event; snowshoeing at St. Mary’s Glacier. After organizing carpooling arrangements we were on our way! Once we got to the trailhead we were greeted with strong winds! Four women decided the weather conditions were too harsh for them, so decided to head into town and meet back up with us for lunch. The rest of us braved it out and went on a short hike up to the glacier. The trees cut the wind some but we were definitely glad we brought as much warm gear as we did! After getting blown around enough in the cold we headed to Idaho Springs for some much needed warmth and lunch! We got seated in our own little corner table on the balcony of the restaurant where we were finally able to chat and get to know each other. We had great food and even better company. Although the weather conditions weren’t ideal we all agreed that it was still a very successful trip! Thanks to all that attended!

Author:  Carmen Schechinger

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Cardboard Metropolis!

admin : April 19, 2011 3:17 pm : Blog, Share

Several WiD members volunteered at the AIA’s Box City event this year. On Saturday, April 16, we welcomed over 150 children and their parents/guardians and watched as a brand new city was created inside the atrium of the Wellington Webb Building. At the “store” we supplied our designers/builders with various materials to help them take their sketched designs to 3D forms. There was a mouse hospital, a nuclear power plant, a couple of roller coaster parks, several high rise apartment buildings, the Eiffel Tower fitness park, a candy factory, a puppy playground and doggie daycare, an elementary school, a Mexican restaurant, the capital bldg., a soccer stadium, the Rockies stadium, an aquarium (which also served as a bridge over the river), a house boat, and many more. There was an abundance of creative energy. Inside the “construction zone” the builders turned paper towel rolls in to smoke stacks and roller coaster piers; cereal boxes were sliced up to make coaster cars, canopies and domes; boxes of all shapes and sizes were stacked, taped and wrapped with colorful paper and then markers were used to add more detail. In most cases they remembered to draw in a door or two.

    Box City 'build'   

 Speaking of doors, in the past the Denver Metro Fire Dept. has attended the event and talked with the aspiring designers/builders about their designs and any safety/exiting issues that they may want to consider in their buildings. This year we had the unexpected excitement of a fire alarm going off (due to some work in the basement allegedly) and we all had to evacuate to the street while the fire fighters did their jobs. The kids may have assumed it was all planned so they quickly formed a line at one of the fire trucks and began tours with the help of some very friendly fire fighters. Leave it to the kids to make the best of an unexpected event.

Thanks to everyone who volunteered to help and who even came back on Sunday to tear down the city. We had a really good turnout and it is with friends like you that we have so much fun at our events!

Box City 'after'

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International Women’s Day & WiD

: March 8, 2011 2:01 pm : Blog, Uncategorized

March is National Women’s History month and today, March 8, 2011, marks the 100th Anniversary for International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. “It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women. International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities”. (United Nations Website-click here for more history)

Today we celebrate the members of Women in Design. They are exceptional women of high ability and promise, exemplifying the most spirited and intelligent professionals of our industries.

WiD was built upon a foundation of respect, knowledge and acceptance and with each unique member our community grows more diverse and stronger every day. We are proud to support contributions and offer opportunities for women to unite, network and mobilize for meaningful change in our professions and personal lives. Thank you, our members, for uniting your tremendous talent and hearts under the WiD roof. You are remarkable women.

Today I give special thanks to the steering committee members of WiD, the admirable and endearing heroines of our volunteer-led organization. Their dedication to providing outstanding programming is matched only by their commitment to each other, knowing that teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success. I am fortunate to have such incredible colleagues and friends.

Join WiD- discover what empowers and inspires you. 

Many thanks,
Jennifer Gray
Co-Chair, Women in Design
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WiD in the World

admin : February 16, 2011 6:55 pm : Blog, News

Have you been to a WiD trivia night lately? They’re once a month at the Irish Snug and you wear the color of the month? If you have, I’m pretty sure you’d remember Meg Kullerd, the organizer — bubbly, smart, great laugh. Turns out she writes too. Last month, she had an article on the AIA Colorado Emerging Professionals Blog. It’s titled: “Working the Market– Dating and Job Searching“. Check it out, and keep your eyes and ears open for the next WiD Trivia Night. There’ll be one in March and everyone, WiD members and WiD-curious alike, are invited!
If you’re also interested in volunteering, check out our next volunteer opportunity on March 12th. Wid on the Farm!

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An “8 x 8” of the 8 x 8

admin : December 2, 2010 2:24 pm : Blog, Share

Eight speakers, eight minutes, eight fascinating presentations. Once again, WiD hosted the annual 8 x 8 speaker panel which never fails to educate as well as inspire.

Held at the Flower Garage and with an overwhelming turnout, eight speakers took to the stage with fierce (and at times humorous) determination to meet the eight minute time limit. Covering the elements of earth, wind, fire and water, building industry related professionals enthusiastically shared products, projects or concepts related to one of the elements.

In the spirit of the eight minute concept, here is an eighty second summary of this 3rd annual event:

  • Lydia Ruyle, covering the element of earth, discussed the benefits of rammed earth walls. An architectural construction method invented by her parents, Lydia continues to share the benefits of earth architecture while enjoying a career as a world renowned local artist.
  • Elicia Ratajczyk of EV Studio discussed intelligent design versus expensive technology in building construction. Focusing on passive solar and evaporative cooling, she explained the benefits of maximizing synergies in a low tech format and having a better relationship with nature. “Harness and control the flow of energy and use it to our advantage,” she stated.
  • Shannon Abote of Bella Glass Studios presented some of her company’s projects and the “firing” innovations in glass art including dichroic glass, while Slaterpaull (Jennifer Cordes, Adele Wilson) presented a LEED Platinum awarded firehouse renovation which will house their new offices.
  • Suzanne Tegen of NREL spoke of the advances in wind technology while Nicole Delmage of Barrett Studio emphasized the advantages of “gentle architecture” and her firm’s progression in honoring the earth in addition to receiving top awards in sustainable design.
  • Laurel Raines of AECOM introduced architectural projects that contain “visual and participating water” while Mike Sukle of Sukle Advertising & Design delighted everyone with his presentation of his company’s “Use Only What You Need” advertising campaigns. Developed for the Denver Water Department, he asked if any of us have seen “running toilets” in downtown Denver or clad-less cabs. Yes on both counts and now we really get it.

All in all, the evening was fun, entertaining and highly enlightening. WiD hopes to see you at the next 8 x 8 in the Fall of 2011. Perhaps you are an attendee or perhaps you are a speaker. Are you up for the challenge? More importantly – was that eighty seconds?

Submitted by Jacqueline Trice, WiD member and owner of Canvas Design, LLC a firm specializing in design journalism, holistic design and philanthropic pursuits.

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Sustaining Denver: Discovery Greenhouse!

: November 17, 2010 12:56 am : Blog, Share

In early October, a group of architects gathered with other designers, engineers, students, and friends, at Cap City Tavern to share a beer and help support a good cause.  Architecture for Humanity (AFH) was showcasing two greenhouse projects designed for Feed Denver. For $10, participants got two beers and a ticket to cast a vote for their favorite design. You got to hang out with friends, enjoy a few beers, and check out Architecture for Humanity’s latest endeavor, which happens to be the Denver chapter’s first effort in support of a local organization. What could be better than that?

The seed for the greenhouse project was first planted back in June, when the director of the local chapter of AFH, Sarah Karlan, put out a call for volunteers needed to design a prototype of a sustainable greenhouse for Feed Denver, a local non-profit. Their mission is to build community-based urban greenhouse farms and markets that empower people to feed and sustain themselves and their communities and, in the long run, strengthen and secure the foodshed of metro Denver.  As a fledgling organization, Feed Denver has made strong headway towards accomplishing this goal with a garden at Stapleton and another one at 42nd and Steele.

During the initial gathering of the interested volunteers, Lisa Rogers, the founder of Feed Denver, shocked the group with some startling statistics: only 0.1% of the food consumed in Colorado is actually produced in Colorado. In 2008, Coloradans spent $5.7 billion on food, and yet only $4.9 million of that came from local sources:  enter the need for a well-designed structure that would enable increased efficiency of locally grown food. Greenhouses not only get communities involved in their own nutritional well-being, they create the possibility to invest profit from produce sales back into the local economy, creating a “cottage industry.” If that doesn’t bolster Feed Denver’s mission, I’m not sure what does!

To provide local fresh produce year round, farmers rely on greenhouses to extend the growing season through the winter months. In the past, Feed Denver has utilized the inexpensive hoop house, whose disadvantages include the inability to capitalize on the abundance of sunshine present through Colorado’s winter months as well as the lack of insulation, which prevents plants from freezing overnight and during those blustery days when the mercury really drops.

Here’s where the real challenge for us designers came in: AFH asked that the prototype design be sustainable, self-sufficient, and completely “off the grid”. Oh, and also a relative cinch to construct, considering that the construction crew was going to be a volunteer crew. Undaunted by this monumental task, as many as ten different design groups took on the challenge and began brainstorming. As the weeks wore on and the process evolved, some groups combined efforts, others dropped out, and eventually it came down to a choice between two: the Discovery Greenhouse, with contributed efforts from Women in Design members, and a Portable Greenhouse by a group of designers from SLATERPAULL Architects.

When it came down to decision time in October, Women in Design’s Discovery Greenhouse took the vote in a very tight contest, winning by only 2 votes.

WiD AFH Greenhouse

Of course we were rewarded with the satisfaction that winning instills, but in my opinion, the real reward was collaborating with our diverse and passionate team. Kathy Ford, Nicole Delmage, and Brigitte Kerr formed the WiD team early on, and as they saw common themes, they combined groups with James Oeinck, Rob Ollett, Lisa Moses, and me. None of us had previously worked together, yet somehow navigated the demands of the project and the always-challenging team dynamic to ultimately arrive at the finish line not only with a design in which we all took pride, but with new-found friends as well.

The competition at Cap City was not at all about winning: both teams’ designs will eventually be built; the vote only determined which greenhouse would be funded first. The ultimate winners are the individuals in the neighborhoods and communities in which these greenhouses will exist. They will be the ones sustaining the production of produce, therefore helping to sustain themselves: all because a group of concerned, dedicated designers took AFH’s motto “Design Like You Give A Damn” seriously. That’s really what it’s all about.

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True Inspiration

admin : October 16, 2010 12:07 pm : Blog

By: Kristen Magnuson

True inspiration:  if you’re like me, you could stand a little more of it a little more often.  It’s anywhere, on any given day, and so easily accessible, really–but how often do we force ourselves to focus our attention away from our all-important everyday-tasks long enough to actually absorb it?

Infused with an electric energy only a true passion can instill, I actually skipped away from the Sharp Auditorium in the Denver Art Museum last Thursday, immediately dialed a friend, gave him no time to say “hello” before I began my frenetic, ebullient review on a film I had just seen that put me into this inspired state: “Studio Gang Architects: Aqua Tower”.  Co-sponsored by Women in Design, the film was shown along with “Philip Johnson, Diary of An Eccentric Architect” as part of the Denver Film Society’s Architecture + Design Film Series.

If you’ve been to Chicago within the past year, you’d have to be blind to not have noticed the latest compelling edition to the downtown skyline: Aqua Tower, designed by Chicago’s own 13-year-old Studio Gang, of which Illinois native Jeanne Gang is principal and founder.  The film documents the building’s design and construction process, noting its unique aspects, including its targeted LEED Silver Rating, its green roof (one of Chicago’s largest), and the unique social sky-community created by the nature of its form.  Aqua, the world’s tallest female-designed skyscraper, places Jeanne Gang’s name on a prestigious list of world famous architects who have shaped Chicago’s skyline over the centuries, including Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe.

Aqua is an anomaly of a skyscraper and is in stark–and refreshing–contrast to its rigid and numerous neighbors:  Mr. and Mrs. Steel and Glass Box.  Unprecedented in personality, the building is a marvelous vertical geographical adventure, in the most urban of settings.  Resembling a 3-dimensional topography map, the facades are dotted with multiple organically-shaped reflective sky-pools created by strategically-placed breaks in the cantilevered, undulating floorplates.  Each of the 82 floorplates differs only slightly from its nearest floorplate neighbor(s), creating a soft grace that most nearby buildings could not feign in their wildest dreams.  Many of the amoeba-like floorplates’ “pseudopods” exist in the precise location that they do in order to attain views of some of Chicago’s classic icons, such and Navy Pier and Millennium Park. 

Equally as impressive as this “tall building” was Ms. Gang herself, who happened to be seated two rows and almost directly behind me!  She and fellow Harvard classmate, Tomas Rossant of Ennead Architects, took the stage after the film showing and led a short discussion.  This dialog proved especially interesting due to the contrast between the two modern architects featured in the two films:  Jeanne Gang, whose first and only skyscraper to date is Aqua and Philip Johnson (also a Harvard grad), who is considered to have pioneered the design of the modern glass & steel skyscraper and has designed notable iconic skyscrapers all over the world.  The discussion ended with a few questions from audience members.

I know why this entire experience inspired me the way it did:  Ms. Gang is a woman–an extremely well-educated, talented, and humble woman.  She, however, did not touch me solely because of our shared gender–although I do appreciate the “feminine touch” that Aqua posesses–but because of the penetrating caliber of her work as well as the understated presence she exudes.  In a world where jobs can easily become mundane, true inspiration never ceases to serve as a much-necessary reminder of why you are doing what you are doing with this precious life.  So, do yourself a favor and don’t talk yourself out of that next event that sounds interesting to you–get up and go.  You never know what that inspiration could become.

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WiD Honored Via Blog

admin : September 1, 2010 1:39 am : Blog, Share

Imagine our surprise when we discovered that WiD has been blogged about as one of BARRETT STUDIO architects’ favorite things.  We know we love WiD, but the affection from others is heartwarming and humbling.  Thank you for honoring us, BARRETT STUDIO architects, we tip our hats in your direction and hope to see you again at some of our upcoming events!

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