Thursday, April 19, 2007

Peer Amid The Stars

At first I named this blog "peer amid the stars"? Why? Well, I kind of always like the construct the chairman of my architecture department used in an invitation to the students to a soiree to be held in the Egyptian room of the archeological museum at the university, where she invited us to "peer amid your colleagues." So when naming a blog related to architecture, since a pyramid is a basic architectural form, it came to mind, as well as the "peer amid" construct. But who are the stars? I don't know - everyone out there in this profession we call architecture. My colleagues are "stars." Of course, there are "starchitects" - but I'm not having pretensions of peering amid them - although there are some who I admire greatly for their achievements and the simplicity of their lives. OK, now I've renamed it Archiyogitect, because that reflects more who I am. An architect who practices yoga.


Why am I an architect? Because I had two early influences in my life - architect William Biscombe, who was my sister's godfather, and architect Osvaldo Toro, who was my grandfather's cousin. Both were partners in their firms in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at exciting times during the 1950s through the 1980s, being very busy designing single family homes, condominium residences, hotels, office buildings and public facilities. I just found this website of the La Concha Hotel, in which the firms of the two architects collaborated once in their life. This hotel is being renovated today by the government of Puerto Rico.

Osvaldo's firm, Toro Ferrer, was the architect for the Caribe Hilton Hotel. Many years later, as an employee of Beame Architectural Partnership, I had the opportunity to work on the project of Paseo Caribe, which included a new casino for the hotel, structured parking, casitas, retail and entertainment center, and a condominium tower. Osvaldo's firm's most notable work, however, is the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, which is across the Paseo Caribe site. Osvaldo's son, Javier, who studied at Penn a few years after I graduated from there, teamed up with the nephew of Osvaldo's partner Miguel Ferrer, and resumed the name of the firm. This is their current website.

William Biscome was a founder of Metropolitan Builders, which did a lot of housing and apartment buildings in a time when the population of the island was growing. Here is an example of one of their apartments. The firm they started still exists under the name of Desarrollos Metropolitanos, dedicated to all types of large scale construction projects.

When I was growing up there was a lot of construction where I lived, in the beach resort town on the east coast of Puerto Rico of Fajardo. I'll have to dedicate some time to describing Fajardo and its surroundings at another time.