Coffee Sketch Podcast

149 - Architecture History and Coffee

March 21, 2024 Kurt Neiswender/Jamie Crawley Season 6 Episode 149
Coffee Sketch Podcast
149 - Architecture History and Coffee
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Show Notes Transcript

The Intersection of Architecture, History, and Coffee

In this episode, Jamie and Kurt discuss a wide array of topics, from architectural history and historic preservation to their love for coffee, intertwined with playful banter about merchandise and roles like the cruise director. Jamie shares insights from his recent attendance at the 25th annual historic preservation symposium, shedding light on the importance of storytelling in architecture, the role of statues in narrating history, and the collaborative essence of preservation efforts. They delve into the histories and contributions of significant figures represented through statues, highlighting the story of Senator Matthew Gaines and his advocacy for free higher education, which played a pivotal role in the establishment of Texas A&M. The episode also touches on the complexities of memorializing historical figures with controversial pasts and the evolving nature of historical narratives. Transitioning to a more casual conversation, Kurt and Jamie discuss their excitement for upcoming coffee blends from Rootless coffee company and share their personal connections to the projects they work on, emphasizing the power of architectural sketches and documentation in preserving history. The podcast encapsulates their varied interests in architectural history, the significance of memorials, the joy of coffee, and the importance of storytelling in architecture.

00:00 Introduction and Marketing Banter
00:44 Role Play: Cruise Director and Bartender
02:39 Cruise Adventures and Cautionary Tales
03:20 The Importance of Visiting Architectural Sites
04:00 The Evolution of the Podcast
05:40 The Origins of the Podcast
06:54 Coffee Talk: Brewing and Tasting
11:40 Sketching History: Senator Matthew Gaines
16:48 The Role of Historic Preservation in Architecture
31:06 The National Museum of Women in the Arts
34:04 Conclusion: The Marathon of Architectural Preservation

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Kurt Neiswender:

Oh, Hey, Jamie. Is it, is it your computer frozen?

Jamie:

No, just good stage marketing. It's marketing, marketing. So,

Kurt Neiswender:

yeah. Well, speaking of marketing, how about I use one of these subtle hints. Pow. You can get yourself. A coffee sketch podcast mug, just like Jamie's at this link below. And if you're extra nice, we might even put coffee in the mug for you. That's correct. We'd have to figure out how that could happen, but we there's where there's the will, there is the way. Yeah. We'll talk

Jamie:

to the cruise director. So

Kurt Neiswender:

for those that didn't join the live, yeah, we, we established a new role for Jamie that he doesn't want already. I'm trying to

Jamie:

demote myself just to bartender. So, like, I mean, like, there's, there's a lot of pressure in cruise director. Bartender seems a little bit more like it's social, you know, there's some boundaries.

Kurt Neiswender:

Yeah, you know, if anybody's listening that is familiar with Fantasy Island slash Love Boat, remind us

Jamie:

Slash Ricardo Montalban slash Ricardo Montalban becomes Khan and then Star Trek, so

Kurt Neiswender:

The, the genealogy of actors, actors, movies, TV shows, and,

Jamie:

It's all word association, people. It's all word association. Jimmy's job

Kurt Neiswender:

is cruise director. Yes. For episode 149. How about there is one episode worth? There's

Jamie:

a quiz later. There's a quiz. I promise. But along those same lines, though, is that I will say that as you're talking about sort of these subtle references or the ones that I've just put into this episode we do do this live. The, the episodes that you are hearing. So this episode that you are hearing right now on your favorite streaming platform has been edited ever so slightly hopefully we get the gist and the spirit of the content, but yeah, each one of these is, is live, we do a live green room. So there's an actual bonus aspect to each episode. And in the green room, it's sort of a no holds barred. I, you know, we are, I hope I got that phrase, right. That's that's the way that phrase has always been in my head. We're just going to move past it. Works for me. So I learned that Kurt's going to go on a cruise. And then I maybe have suggested some cautionary tales, not that I've ever been on a cruise. I've been on boats.

Kurt Neiswender:

Oh, I was under the assumption that you have been, so your advice is coming from experience.

Jamie:

No, totally not. No,

Kurt Neiswender:

are you kidding me? You don't even have a peg leg to stand on, Captain Hook.

Jamie:

No, there is no first hand experience. This is all conspiracy in my brain. So

Kurt Neiswender:

Well, you know what we say to our watchers, listeners about architecture, right? You have to visit the building.

Jamie:

Oh, I'm sorry. It's I will, I will be happy to hear about your experience. But I will be praying for you as you leave and depart on that from

Kurt Neiswender:

the dock. We could try and do a, try and pull off a live stream while on, on deck. Hell

Jamie:

yeah!

Kurt Neiswender:

It might be Kurt the bartender.

Jamie:

No, no, no, I want, I want the full FaceTime experience. I like, I wanna, I want the, like Kurt with like, we need to go back old school. Like when we were first, like the, like year one of the podcast where Kurt, Kurt was coming out of his phase of going GoPro and trying to do interviews, which sort of let him, yeah, the roots were like for the OGs here. We're talking about the roots and the, the, the

Kurt Neiswender:

precursor. Yeah, it was the prequel or the, yeah, yeah, the, the, the genealogy,

Jamie:

the lineage of it all. Like, like folks, you know, you have that favorite band, right. You know, and, and everybody has that favorite band or two. And that favorite band has that debut album. And then you realize that's really not their debut album. There was an EP before that. And so I, I like to think of Kurtz for a, with the GoPro and interviews as the EP to the coffee sketch podcast, not, not that the EP was bad. There was like, I liked the EP it's, it's raw,

Kurt Neiswender:

but it was pretty raw. It was raw. It was a lot of fun. Actually, I kind of, you know, in my infinite amounts of free time, I would love to, to do that again and just keep them super choppy. You know how YouTube has gotten? So I'm like, this is going to be, I don't know, controversial to some, but you know, it's, it's very professionally polished, but it, it all started in a very sort of DIY raw.

Jamie:

Oh yeah. Well, I mean, if you think about the origins,

Kurt Neiswender:

and maybe it'd be fun, I mean, be

Jamie:

raw. I mean, if you think about the origins of this podcast, you know, 2018 New York City, and on that excursion over pizza and beer, we might have birthed the podcast. Mm-Hmm. But also

Kurt Neiswender:

on that, well, no, might it was, it was. Yeah. Okay.

Jamie:

That is, that's really is the origin story. But also on that same trip, maybe a couple hours prior, we were on the Highline with a whole bunch of architects, some of which you have their own podcasts and Kurt was full on GoPro. So I think there's maybe lost footage there that would be fun to pull into and maybe do a mystery science theater 3000. Podcast so i'm just throwing that out there if you think that's an awesome idea just please tell us and you know we will go there

Kurt Neiswender:

mark the tape mark the tape so let's let's put a pin in that. Cause it's, it sounds like a good idea and move into our coffee of, of the day or the week. I don't know the week, the day. So what do you got cooking, brewing? I should say brewing.

Jamie:

This is literally the last pot of the community coffees, Mardi Gras, because I have heard that. And I've seen a photo. I've seen a photo of coffee in a box. Like that might be headed to somewhere where boxes get sent

Kurt Neiswender:

and received, yes,

Jamie:

and then show up on my porch.

Kurt Neiswender:

So it's about yay, big enough to fit to 2 bags or flint coffee

Jamie:

for worthless. It hasn't been sent yet. No,

Kurt Neiswender:

I didn't make it out to the, so you're trying to say, so

Jamie:

what I was going to say is you might've forgot that you also were thinking about throwing in a twin peaks bag, a damn fine bag for our friend who we're going to interview.

Kurt Neiswender:

Oh, okay. Yes. Yeah. Well, there's time then there's time, but now you've got to wait a couple more days because I'm not

Jamie:

trying to delay my own coffee, but. Yeah.

Kurt Neiswender:

Okay, we'll do I can fit it. It should fit. Okay. It's all going to go to your house though. Yes. Yeah. So for me, I am still with the, the rootless no X and espresso, which is it's a dark roast. It's really nice. Actually.

Jamie:

Did you try their snow day?

Kurt Neiswender:

I think I've only had it. From the coffee shop now I've never, I don't, I haven't bought any and apparently it's now sold out. It's kind of like a seasonal, it comes and goes. Did you, did you like, did you read the tasting notes and I did,

Jamie:

I did read and it just, it was intriguing. So I just was curious if you had, I know that, so Kurt has the opportunity for folks who are just sort of joining the podcast is that we do have a coffee sketch podcast. We do have a coffee sketch podcast coffee that we've done in collaboration with rootless, which is a wonderful independent coffee company in Flint, Michigan, of which Kurt has done architectural and design services. But they're also just good people. And they love the art. And they do some great collaborations, and right now they're going on this really kind of interesting bent with some really seasonal special brews, small batch kind of stuff, yeah. You're getting that one. Hell yeah.

Kurt Neiswender:

What else, I forgot what's in the bag. I don't know, you're getting two of them. The first two. Yes. Hasn't shipped yet, so I guess we

Jamie:

gotta And then we will do live tastings. We're so for anybody who's been really worried about my coffee intake. Hopefully there's

Kurt Neiswender:

a, you know, returning to sender.

Jamie:

Yes. I've got ideas. I've got ideas.

Kurt Neiswender:

Ideas are hatched. So, yeah, that's, you know, I like, I like, I like supporting our friends at rootless, they make good stuff and and the, yeah, I'm really excited for this whole year. Well, I don't know how long they're going to do it, but they're, I mean, they, they are planning multiples of these small batch release, so. Anywho, more to come,

Jamie:

more to come, exciting stuff, more cool

Kurt Neiswender:

labels, cool artwork, and a good coffee as well. Yes. Should I flash, should I flash the sketch of the day?

Jamie:

Yes, let's go, let's, let's go to the

Kurt Neiswender:

sketches. You're aware, you're aware of the existence of this fantastic. Yes. Fantastic sketch. There's two technically, so let me try and squeeze them together a little bit. Let me get a little zoom. And this, so on the left, actually, I was, I don't, I didn't clip out the, the hashtags that you put on there, but this is, is this a statue on your Aggie campus? It is. Yeah, okay. It is.

Jamie:

Yeah, so, I was in Aggieland this week or this past week, I should say. And yeah, this is Senator Matthew Gaines. So he was a black Texan who was elected to the state Senate in the, in, I believe 1870, so this was a reconstruction era Kind of legislator here in Texas and of course, you know, reconstruction, you know, has, you know, a storied and sort of difficult history, you know, in many parts of the country, but one of the things that's sort of interesting about him and the reason why he has a statue at Texas A& M other than being a state legislator was that he is Sort of credited amongst others about promoting free higher education in the state and, you know, for, so kind of the land grant status of Texas A& M in, in large respect is credited to him as well as a few others, but he was certainly a champion of that both for Texas A& M as well as Prairie View A& M. And so in 2021, there was a statute dedicated on campus in his memory and for his legacy. And so it's

Kurt Neiswender:

sorry, I was just thinking, was there. Is this the first sketch of that?

Jamie:

No, we have talked about it in the way back. But it's this is definitely a different view of it. And so I was there in 2021. Shortly after it was dedicated, actually got to go to a game, got to go to a football game with my pops. And so took him over to see it and he was pretty excited. He, he loves history, loves art loves Aggieland. Loves football, loves all the sports. So, but yeah, this was you know, this was me kind of, kind of revisiting that space again. And I think it's just sort of a, it's, it's something that, you know, not just that we talked about once, but talked about many times I think what was interesting about. Being at a and M this past week and sort of seeing this statue and sort of in the context of this conversation, I think it was it was even pointed out that. There is a, and, and even when this statue was erected, there was a lot of controversy on campus, not necessarily about this statue, but one that was similar scale, similar location but the, a former president of the university that had been a governor. Basically, it helped establish the university and so kind of the effectively the founding father of Texas A& M, but also had a a tie to the Confederacy when when Texas was part of the Confederacy. So you know, not to To belabor that point, or sort of, you know, talk about it, but I think that the timing of this statue and being an opportunity to tell a fuller and richer story and, and really a story of sort of a difficult history of the university's birth. And sort of growth I think is really important.

Kurt Neiswender:

Yeah, no, I, I, I, I was aware, I think I was aware of that bit of, I mean, it, it's not un unsurprising or not surprising that know, being in Texas, there's some historical bits that would like to be sort of left behind, but yet, you know, you can't, you can't undo the past. But, you know, just thinking about the sketch, you know, and statues and statue monuments, things like that. It is interesting. I think you're, you're, you're closing sentence. Your last sentence was about evolution and, and growth, right? And moving past various points in time and, and sort of reflecting on and highlighting. You know, positives and things like that and finding a way to, to, to represent that with a statue or a monument which then kind of makes an interesting well, I guess I find it interesting, like this idea of, like, these, these things, you know, these statues of humans or groups of humans, you know, things like that. And that as a, as an art form on its own, yeah. And how it can provide meaning to place and, and and location and, and, and, you know, that they're not necessarily well, that they don't have to be thought of as permanent all the time. But that's a hard one, I think, for a lot of people.

Jamie:

Well, I mean, sort of permanence. Well, and I think that that was the whole thing that was sort of interesting was you know, I'm glad we're kind of having this conversation with respect to both these, these sketches. And then we'll talk about the 2nd, 1, 2 because as we've talked about before. You know, I have a, I have a historic preservation background that I sort of stumbled into in, in effect at Texas A& M while I was doing my master's degree. And so I think the stories that we tell about people and places and things, are important and who is telling those stories oftentimes is even more important or is who is writing those stories and and what perspective they're coming at them from so in in the case of, you know, the statue of Senator Gaines, you know, I think a lot of the question was, you know, do the students even know who he is? Do they know what this history is? And if they don't, you know, why aren't we telling it? And. It was a it really was a student led movement actually to establish the statue. And there was a student group kind of a Matthew Gaines society that was established to fundraise for it and advocate for it. So all those things are extremely important, you know, at an institution that oftentimes is thought of as very, very conservative you know, kind of in sort of anecdotally, at least, but. The other statue, you know, is, you know, so Ross and he was, like I said, a governor of Texas, but 1 of the earliest presidents of the university. But, you know, I, you know, you can't disregard the fact that he was also part of the confederacy. And I think that completely removing that history. You know, in his particular case, especially with his association to the university itself, its establishment and its governance kind of early on wouldn't, you know, wouldn't necessarily tell the full story. So, I, I'm, I'm kind of of the opinion that I understand the difficulties in, in recognizing it. I'm not sure if a statue is still appropriate or not but that's sort of a different, maybe a different kind of question and opinion and we've talked about memorials and markers before and kind of what that significance, you know, should be. So, I, I, I'm not saying that everybody's gotten it right for sure, but I think that the, the. Edition of Gaines's sculpture and its location on campus. Mind you is really particularly important. I was at A and M kind of along these lines for the 25th annual historic preservation symposium. And so all this stuff sort of in Jamie's mind kind of tied together a little bit.

Kurt Neiswender:

As we select sketches, yeah, every week. Yeah, it's, it's how the in, in inner workings of Jamie's brain works. So this conference though, is it's related to your job in, in that it's hosted by the state, or is it more. Hosted

Jamie:

by the university. No, it's it's it's not the Texas Historical Commission. This is entirely done by Texas. A and M's Department of Architecture and what they now refer to as the Center for heritage conservation. Which is housed within the College of Architecture. It's a certificate program. So a lot of people are familiar, at least in our industry, when, when people are hiring a Historic Preservation Consultant, oftentimes they have a Master's in Historic Preservation. And so there's, there's plenty of universities that have that sort of specialty. A& M does not have that degree. What A& M has is a Master of Architecture. And you can get a graduate certificate in historic preservation and what it does, which I like and I think was the original intention. And that was some of that was discussed at this conference being that it was a 25th annual. So it was sort of a milestone marker date. But the reason why it's a graduate certificate is because there was a recognition early on that having a center that had a graduate certificate, though most of the degree recipients and certificate recipients would be architecture students, it afforded the university and the department to. Invite and encourage people from other disciplines to get graduate certificates in historic preservation and be exposed to it. So in, in succeeding years, a lot of people from other graduate degree plans have gotten certificates in historic preservation and. And aren't necessarily architects.

Kurt Neiswender:

I like that. I mean, it makes sense. I, you know, actually the university where, where I teach does not, used to have a concentration for the MR, the master of architecture program. I don't think, I mean, I should, I should say that with a little more confidence, right, but no, it doesn't exist. That concentration doesn't exist anymore. And I wonder, wonder if there is a potential to re re revisit that. And, you know, for for the state of Michigan, in a sense, right? Something up up near our region. Because, you know, heritage sites or landmarks or historic portions of the city, you know, are won't go away based on the definition. Right? You know, as as things continue to age, then they have the. Sort of the, um, the cataloging of years of heritage and, and significance things like, you know, the ability to do that

Jamie:

well. And, and the emeritus director, the one who effectively started the, the center, the research center in the Department of Architecture, but also established the certificate and then taught a majority of the courses and then brought other colleagues in over time. He was one of the featured speakers. He was a professor of mine, and when he describes it, it was as a certificate program. It was this opportunity to bring in people from other disciplines because just as in architecture we've talked about it a lot. You and I talk about it a lot. It's collaborative. This, this is not something where it's a solo enterprise. There might be somebody leading a team. But there's, there's certainly lots of players that gets, gets these projects executed. and in historic preservation absolutely is akin to that, especially with heritage conservation and telling full stories. Think about the concept of oral histories, something that a lot of folks are only now in the last few years hearing that as a term and, and, and as a practice and realizing the importance of that practice or community engagement related to oral histories. Well, all of that type of work. Is would be centered in a program like this and be inviting of sociologists or others who might specialize in some of those techniques to find themselves in a graduate certificate program related to heritage and conservation and so that they are bringing their skills to bear. But at the same time, collaborating and learning, about built history and and how that built history needs to be documented oftentimes, as you know, as you will know buildings that are in danger of collapse or, you know, condemnation or, or, or just being just generally lost to development. If you can document it, at least at some level, you've you've preserved a piece of that history. Even if the building itself is gone, so it's photo documentation, drawing documentation, you know, measurements, something, and, and though that's sounds very depressing that it only exists in those kinds of forms, it's still at least an effort at preservation and kind of recognition of that sort of important history. So some of that is part of this discipline and students get the opportunity to go in and and have those kinds of difficult conversations about particular sites and sort of challenges, you know, surrounding it. You know, I, myself was on a historic American building survey. That's part of that graduate certificate and it was mentioned actually, actually by in the keynote of this conference. Because that particular project was a bit of a turning point in 2 ways for that program. 1, a technological turning point. We were, we were working with the national park service. As sort of a test case to look at how drawings could move from ink and mylar and all these sort of, you know, techniques about preserving things at a certain quality and scale and archival materials for the Library of Congress and how that could transition to technology of today and doing it with Digital. Digital. Yeah. And blending those two things. And so, Texas A& M was tasked, was working in partnership with the National Park Service. And I just happened to be a student at the time. So the project that I worked on was the 1st test case of that. You know, the 2nd aspect was the difficult history was our site that that professor had chosen was 1 of the original historic American building survey sites. So, from the 30s. When the works progress administration you know, WPA projects, you know, hired a bunch of out of work architects to go around the country and document buildings document this build history. That's really, you know, how this, you know, started well. The site that we had was documented in the thirties, but only the plantation house was documented to the quote unquote, you know, capital a architecture was documented, but there was no acknowledgement of the rest of the site. So all the other buildings, this ecosystem, was not even acknowledged, you know, with any other reference in that drawing set. And so what we did was we drew the rest of the site. So we surveyed it and documented every other building on site and all the other people that hadn't also been acknowledged in that in that original documentation. And so that was added to the Library of Congress for that particular site. So as a student, as a grad student, that was, that brought about a whole, you know, a whole different perspective about architecture. And I'm really feel very fortunate to have effectively stumbled into it. You know but, you know, now, now I find myself, you know, working for you know, the State Historic Preservation Office. So there we are.

Kurt Neiswender:

Well, I think that's something we've always had in common. With differing different backgrounds or different pathways to some of the same things that overlap. And so, you know, so, yeah, these 2 sketches are kind of fun to to sort of compare and play off of each other in very different ways. But the you know, I guess the last comment I'll make is. You know, certain interest that I have to kind of find ways to creatively as document things in Flint or locally before some of them get too many of them get erased. And yeah, I'll, I'll leave it at that because, you know, I don't want to open up a can of worms on on certain things. But just like you said, you know, as things Get condemned or, or you know, demoed for 1 reason or another. You know, they're like the sketch, even if it is at least a sketch series of sketches, drawings. You know, a scan, right? I have 3d scanning capability. You know, at least it's somewhere that could be referenced somehow anyway. So there's a lot more we could. I'm sure we'll, we can try and unpack. And speaking of something I'm working on is, you know, in the, in the green room or before the, the, this sort of formal. Part of the show I talked about you know, I, I pulled you out of what do you call it off the clock, and asked you a, a question about a detail on a building that I'm working on right now, which I'll have a meeting tomorrow morning about restoring the cornice on a very art deco awesome building in downtown Flint that I'll, soon enough, have more photographic evidence. It is getting restored, so it's great. But I'm going to have to try and do some drawings of it now that the weather is broken a little bit otherwise it's kind of cold to stand outside and, and sketch.

Jamie:

Well, it's funny, you know, it's, you know, initially when you sort of said, I've got this cornice detail, I'd like to talk to you about and I knew that we were going to do this sort of discussion of sort of my last week. And some of these sketches the second sketch is the national museum of women in the arts. And the architect, as well as the director of that museum in Washington, D. C. And for those who are going to the conference on architecture this is 1 of the tour sites. It's it's a, it's a pretty great building. And I will say that Sandra I don't know if I'm saying her last name correctly gave an incredible presentation. So if she is giving the tour, I highly recommend it. But. Her firm was the design architect and sort of the sort of preservation specialist on, you know, bringing this building that was already the museum. It was basically taking it through a modern rehabilitation and that from both a technological standpoint and a curatorial standpoint to allow them to show more of their collection to be more efficient. With the way that they use and operate the building to give the building new life for both the researchers and the curators that are housed within it, but also the people who visit and and see the collections that do a lot of traveling exhibitions of women in the arts and the galleries themselves were just sort of underperforming. They really haven't seen a renovation of the building and in decades and the efficiency of the building from an energy and resilience standpoint. It was effectively decaying through use, so a lot of work had to be undertaken and the way that they both peeled apart those pieces and then reestablished all these functions there was they didn't say it in their presentation, but the way I thought about it was and I was going to mention it to you as, as a, As a professor is this was this was a way for a student to see a building an existing building deal with comprehensive design so deal with all the systems deal with accessibility and energy and structure and function. But do it also with a level of design and care and restraint emphasizing like big emphasis on restraint so that you could, you could have these wonderful designed moments where you're like, oh, that's, that's crisp, you know, that's, that's really amazing sort of design work. And it's contemporary. But at the same time, respecting this, you know, former Mason building You know, a couple blocks away from the White House and, you know, it's I was able to do a kind of a quick sketch. So this is sort of a view in Jamie's sketchbook when he's taking notes during a keynote. But it was it was great. I really loved it. Thought they were fantastic. And the conference overall was really great as well.

Kurt Neiswender:

Yeah, thanks. Thanks for that last. Added bit, because now I'm going to look it up and you know, there's a lot a lot more things that are going to be popping up for me that are going to that I'm going to need these kinds of details and information, you know, sort of repurposing. Adaptive reuse, things like that. So, yeah, thanks for thanks for the tip. It's, it's definitely something that takes, it's, it's, it's the part of the job that is the marathon, not the sprint. It takes a long time to kind of digest these different details and buildings and then be able to, to kind of sort of creatively. Deploy these tactics on another, you know, because there's so many things you find when you kind of dig in, you know, tear them, tear them open a little bit. Well, I'll send you pictures of the of the building tomorrow.

Jamie:

I think the, the word deploy is exactly right. Is that, you know, there's, there's a level of looking and seeing and analyzing. For lack of a better term, and then in that sort of moment is how quickly can one access all those things that we've seen before and inspired by them, you know, to deploy them, like you say, you know, in, you know, in a way that's appropriate for the particular project you're working on. So, yeah, I want to see the photos the details, the details alone, folks from a CAD perspective, it was a bunch of lines on a page with some notes, but. It got me excited because it looks like a good project. Oh,

Kurt Neiswender:

thanks. Just a bunch, just a bunch of lines on, on, and some notes. Yeah. All right. Well, yeah, we'll follow, we'll be back next week. I'll, I'll, I'll have some show and tell at least in the green room, and then we can formally sort of reveal a little bit more about it. All right. Thanks, Jamie.

Jamie:

Thanks, Kurt.