04 October 2011

How is Architecture Like a Triathlon?

They both involve bicycles. Or at least they did for us this weekend.

Saturday morning we decided to ride our bikes down to a house on the American Institute of Architects tour. The tour organizers were trying to promote seeing the tour by bicycle, so they advertised a free tour of one of the homes for anyone who rode from the AIA-Austin office a few blocks away. (One of our city council members also rode, and he noted that cycling and architecture are both, on a certain level, about being in harmony with your surroundings.) We didn't have the time to see the whole tour this year, but we were excited to see the free house (which was a huge turn-of-the-century brick home that had been remodeled in some way), so we rode the seven miles down there from home. And I'm glad we did -- not only was it nice to stretch my legs the day before my last triathlon of the season, but the house was pretty spectacular.

We had assumed that the architect's contribution would have involved an addition of some kind, but it didn't (although there was a guest house). The first two floors were updated in all the ways you'd expect for a 110-year-old house...and then I found the stairs to the third floor, which was a spectacular master bedroom attic conversion. Cameras weren't allowed inside, but the space was full of interesting angles (all clad in some kind of unusual wood treatment), as the ceiling followed the contours of the pitched roof.

Fortunately, I was able to get some pictures outside (which give no hint of what's going on in the attic).



That triple window up top provides a great view from the master suite.



Did I mention that the house was seriously fancy?



It was pretty neat to see how they (the owners and their architect) blended an extremely traditional house with a more modern aesthetic. This round koi pond, playscape, and barn-like guest house are just down a small hill from the back doors of the house.



The landscaping was also nice. Understated, but nice.



We've had eight lamb's ears waiting to be planted for a few weeks, so I appreciated seeing them arranged in random clumps (I had been planning to put them all in one particular area of the backyard, but this is much more natural and interesting. Score one for procrastination.)



Love plumbago. Love it.



And more lamb's ears. I guess I didn't expect that they would form such nice, round clumps. I'm rethinking everything I thought I knew about our backyard.

And then there was the triathlon on Sunday. I had a great swim, I finished the bike portion feeling like I had ridden as hard as I possibly could (riding is definitely not my strength), and despite exhausted legs, I was happy with my run. Plus I won an entry to next year's race, so the fun continues....

And mark my words, next year I'll have my fast back.

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