5ive For Women

August / September 2019

Chippewa Falls 5ive for Women

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Page 14 | 5iveforwomen.com "Architects see the world differently," I was told during my graduate studies. Over the years, I realized how true that is. Now, as an instructor myself, I tell my students the same thing. They look at me befuddled, but from time to time I catch a glimpse of their shift in perception. There are two elements that make up the lens through which designers see the world. The first is understanding that everything is designed. The second is something you can't undervalue -- your own unique life experiences. Nearly everything, and I do mean everything, is designed by someone. Whether with thought, care and insight or the total lack of all three, someone made the decision to build, manufacture, excavate, or otherwise fabricate everything in your life. Stop for a moment and think about that. Now look around. Unless you are in a pristine, untouched wilderness (lucky you) there is nothing within your line of sight that was not brought about by a choice someone made. What we make, and how we choose to make it, has consequences. Therefore, we should be very intentional about what we design. For most architects, this is a defining tenet of what they do. The second element of designers' unique perceptions are life experiences. Looking back at my career in architecture, I realize that my time in the Chippewa Valley makes up a big part of my sensibilities as a designer. At 2 weeks of age, I was introduced to Lake Wissota*. For the next few decades, my summers in Chippewa were filled with swimming, fishing, water skiing and trips to town for ice cream floats and restocking our bait supply at Gordy's Hardware. Our extended family would gather at a little yellow cottage, built in the 1920s by my grandfather Chester Lindsey. As a youngster, that simple, elegant structure fascinated me. It became my favorite place in the world. I had no choice but to fall in love with this place. My original impression of the Chippewa Valley was based on that little yellow cottage. My grandfather was typical of the Great Depression, boot-strap, DIY generation; he wasted nothing. Chet was also a master woodworker. I came to realize that being exposed to all his handmade things, especially the little yellow cottage, informed my understanding of what great design is. His creations were intentional objects of thoughtful simplicity and exquisite craftsmanship. He was, in fact, designing his/our world. He was creating things that brought great value to our family and, in many cases, would be passed along to future generations. As I developed my own design sensibility, his artistry was one of my guideposts. To me, great design is about optimizing resources, being extremely thoughtful, and creating something that is beloved. Now at middle-age, my view of the Chippewa Valley goes beyond the little yellow cottage on Lake Wissota. In the last 5-10 years I have seen restaurants, shops, artists, musicians, writers, festivals and filmmakers filling our cultural well- spring. Because of this, I have a renewed passion for this place. I have, for a second time, fallen in love with the Chippewa Valley. Appreciation for local arts and culture is contagious. Small cultural groups that start on a college campus spill out into new coffee shops, restaurants and artist studios. Music festivals and entrepreneurial start-ups bring money into the community. In turn, visitors are introduced to local retailers and craftspeople, which expands their customer base, and word spreads until there is a notable groundswell of cultural appreciation in the Chippewa Valley. This signals a growing appreciation of the value of thoughtful design. I firmly believe that great design delivers greater value. My grandfather knew that thoughtful design, quality materials and carefully considered details, while occasionally impacting initial costs, pay off in other ways. Things such as energy efficiency (lower operating costs), a longer useful lifespan and a more engaging customer experience formulate a "new equation" for how you evaluate the success of a building. Understanding of this "new equation" is evident around the Chippewa Valley. You see it in places like Artisan Forge, the Banbury, and Riverfront Park to name a few. The Oxbow Hotel is more than a hotel; it is a cultural center for food, drink, music and one-of-a-kind events. Consider the Pablo Center, the Visit Eau Claire Experience Center, the farmer's market, surrounding businesses, restaurants, condos and retail; the Confluence is an exciting example of design decisions producing "As a youngster that simple, elegant structure fascinated me. It became my favorite place in the world. I had no choice but to fall in love with this place." Falling in Love with the Chippewa Valley...Twice Falling in Love with the Chippewa Valley...Twice By: Kurt Gough Visit Eau Claire Experience Center Photo: Brandon Stengel, Farmkid Studio Little Yellow Cabin Photo: Ann Gordon The Oxbow Hotel Photo: Nick Myer Skill Shot Coffee + Pinball Bar Photo: Brandon Stengel, Farmkid Studio Visit Eau Claire Experience Center Photo: Brandon Stengel, Farmkid Studio

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