Paper Dreams

Architecture and The Lost Art of Drawing

 

By Me

It is now fashionable in architectural circles to declare the death of drawing. With its tremendous ability to organize and present data, the computer is transforming every aspect of how architects work, from sketching their first impressions of an idea to creating complex construction documents for contractors. Are our hands becoming obsolete as creative tools? Are they being replaced by machines? And where does that leave the creative architectural process?

Today architects typically use computer-aided design software with names like AutoCAD and Revit, a tool for "building information modeling." Buildings are no longer just designed visually and spatially; they are "computed" via interconnected databases.

Architecture cannot divorce itself from drawing, no matter how impressive the technology gets. Drawings are not just products: they are part of the thought process of architectural design. Drawings express the interaction of our minds, eyes, and hands. This last statement is crucial to the difference between those who draw to conceptualize architecture and those who use the computer.

Of course, in some sense, drawing can't be dead: there is a vast market for the original work of respected architects. But can the value of drawings be simply that of a collector's artifact or a pretty picture? No. I have a real purpose in making each drawing, either to remember something or to study something. Each one is part of a process and not an end in itself. I'm personally fascinated by what architects choose to draw and what they choose not to draw.

For decades I have argued that architectural drawing can be divided into three types, which I call the "referential sketch," the "preparatory study," and the "definitive drawing." The definitive drawing, the final and most developed of the three, is almost universally produced on the computer nowadays, and that is appropriate. But what about the other two? What is their value in the creative process? What can they teach us?

The referential sketch serves as a visual diary, a record of an architect's discovery. It can be as simple as a shorthand notation of a design concept or describe details of a larger composition. It might not even be a drawing that relates to a building or any time in history, and it's not likely to represent "reality" but rather to capture an idea. These sketches are thus inherently incomplete and selective. When I draw something, I remember it, and the drawing is a reminder of the view that caused me to record it in the first place. That visceral connection that thought a computer could not replicate the process.

The second type of drawing, the preparatory study, is typically part of a progression of drawings that elaborate a design. Like the referential sketch, it may not reflect a linear process. (I find computer-aided design much more linear.) I like to draw on translucent tracing paper, which allows me to layer one drawing on top of another, building on what I've drawn before and, again, creating a personal, emotional connection with the work.

With these types of drawings, there is a certain joy in their creation, which comes from the interaction between the mind and the hand. Our physical and mental interactions with drawings are formative acts. There are intonations, traces of intentions, and speculation in a handmade drawing, whether on an electronic tablet or paper. This is not unlike the way a musician might intone a note or how a riff in jazz would be understood subliminally and put a smile on your face.

I find this quite different from today's "parametric design," which allows the computer to generate a form from a set of instructions, sometimes resulting in so-called blob architecture. The designs are complex and exciting in their way, but they lack the emotional content of a technique derived from hand.

As I work with my computer-savvy consultants, I notice something is lost when they draw only on the computer. It is analogous to hearing the words of a novel read aloud when reading them on paper allows us to daydream a little, to make associations beyond the literal sentences on the page. Similarly, drawing by hand stimulates the imagination and allows us to speculate about ideas, a good sign that we're truly alive.

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Grand Ridge Manor  |  A Neoclassic Country Home

This drawing is an early schematic of a country home that I designed for Greg and Melissa Watts set on two acres within Grand Ridge, a subdivision of two-acre lots, and part of a larger master plan known as The Issaquah Highlands. This project began after Greg and Melissa had started developing a similar-sized lot on a property out of state. They thought, or believed, that since the lot sizes were similar and the programs were virtually identical, they may be able to use, or salvage, those original documents and save some money on architectural and structural fees. Wrong!

Firstly, The Issaquah Highlands has notoriously difficult CC&R's (Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions). The chances that a set of plans (most likely stock plans purchased for a flat fee for a flat site) created for a ‘different’ home in a ‘different’ development, within a ‘different’ part of the country would serve of any value here was slim to ‘nada gonna happen.’ And so, after an attempt was made, a total redesign was unanimously agreed uppon and necessary, and that was precisely what happened.

The most challenging thing about the Issaquah Highlands CC&R’s is its impervious surface requirements. Whereas within the denser development of the Issaquah Highlands, where the homes and lots are significantly smaller, it was the developers intended to make up for the density by overcompensating impervious regulations on Grand Ridge. Thereby forcing each ‘grand’ home within ‘Grandridge’ to be placed within 30’ of the street. Doing so proved to shoot the shit out of any hopes of setting these homes back from the street on their two-acre parcel of land in the hopes of achieving privacy or a ‘grand’ looping approach, which every client there requested. I’d just like to know, “who writes these CC&R’s and have they no idea how cruel and unrealistic they are?!” F**king attornies.

With that said, try as hard as we did; the Grand home turned out truly lovely. It’s composed of tile roofs, stucco façade, half-timber details, copper gutters and downspouts, brick details, heavy-timber details, garden walls, spectacular chimneys, but with crummy windows and a truly short driveway. It turned out okay, but it was short of astonishing by a whole RedZone.

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Villa Diana - A Neoclassic Paladian Villa 

The drawings above represent early schematics of a neo-Palladian (or Mediterranean Revival, if you prefer) residence in Enatai, Bellevue. The home was set on a one-acre relatively level site with 320 feet of waterfront - a unique and spectacular plot of land. From schematics to completion of construction, the home's design and planning remained the same with few revisions. Its neoclassic architecture continues its evolutionary metamorphosis twenty years later. This home, known as Villa Diana, has new owners and is presently undergoing updates, including minor planning revisions, finish upgrades, and refined details true to its neoclassical style.

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c'est magnifique

Villa Valya  |  Un Château Français Néoclassique

Villa Vayla, named for one of the developer's wives - I always wondered how the other wives felt about that – was designed with evocative architectural elements such as barrel-vaulted ceilings, arched windows, and breezy loggias. This neoclassical French manor was built in Medina on Evergreen Point Dr., which sits on the Gulf of Lake Washington and is known for calm waters and white-sandy beaches and features manicured gardens dotted with specimens trees, a pool, and a guest house.

Villa Valya's architecture combines the grandeur of Bernini and the subtlety of Palladio with its rich limestone facing, symmetrical attributes, and formal landscaping. This is a design gesture, rare these days, that evokes an era of impeccably uniformed maids in the servant's wing, butlers in the pantry, Peter Pan in the nursery wing, and never-ending preparations in the kitchen[s] for an evening's gala.

This inner-city estate is comprised of 1.3 acres swathed in elegance on the shores of Lake Washington with views of Madison ParkHusky Stadium, and the peaks of the Olympic Mountains. The home was programmed with nine fully contained bedroom suites, a formal and informal dining room, multiple kitchens, and this list goes on and on. The formal dining room alone can easily accommodate 22 guests. Still, during those O-so-rare and beautiful, Seattle summer evenings, three sets of French doors open outwards within the dining room to two flanking open-air terraces achieving a garden-like dining atmosphere. It is, in a word, quite a spread.

Significant effort was made in Villa Valya's axial planning and achieving rigid symmetry throughout the home and its gardens. The main floor master suite (there is another on the upper level) will provide a restful escape from socializing with its broad Juliet balcony that overlooks the lake and the pool terrace below. All of the bathrooms throughout the home were cloaked in Carrera marbleWalker Zanger mosaics, and fine fixtures from Chicago Faucet and Waterworks.

Outside, expansive west lawns will be able to host an event for hundreds of guests, and those guests may choose their favorite form of arrival - by car to the front door motor court or by yacht to the 120' deepwater dock.

Villa Valya was designed to transport its owners to a relaxing resort-like atmosphere immediately upon setting foot on the private and secure compound. The Villa is surrounded by the sights and sounds of rugged waterfalls that morph into quiet lily ponds; lavender walks that end in private gardens, and swimming pools and spa facilities that could rival any five-star resort.

In short, this is an extraordinary home offering its owners a rare opportunity to own a distinctive trophy landmark on Medina's Gold Coast.

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Palazzo Gali | Neo-Palladianism | Architecture of the Gods

The Italianate style of architecture was a distinct 19th-century phase in the history of Classical architecture. The models and architectural vocabulary of 16th-century Italian Renaissance architecture, which served as inspiration for  Palladianism and Neoclassicism, were synthesized with picturesque aesthetics. The style of architecture that was thus created, though also characterized as "Neo-Renaissance," was essential for its own time. "The backward look transforms its object," Siegfried Giedion wrote of historicist architectural styles; "every spectator at every period - at every moment, indeed - inevitably changes the past according to his nature."

This home, one of two, was designed for Joseph Galli Jr., who was at the time, Amazon.com Inc.'s president and chief operating officer. Unfortunately for me, after just 13 months at the online retailer, he left Amazon, moved back to Baltimore, and neither home was constructed and had they been, it would have been a career-changing moment for me. Ahh, heavy sigh.

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Laurel Hall  |  A Neoclassic English Manor

A natural 4 acre clearing nestled withing a 17 acre site of thickly forested land, and this is were the clients chose to build the home they had dreamed of. For many years they spent their holidays 

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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Le Hameau de la Medina  |  Un Hameau Normand Néoclassique

For those who have followed the development of the architecture of Mellor, Meigs and Howe, its most interesting feature has been precisely this progressive mastering of the charm, of the unconscious beauty of the minor domestic architecture of Europe. In each successive work there is a progress in the elimination of the “picturesque draftsmanship” and a step toward that simplicity that is achieved only by a very few. There is a less and less of what could be called the bric-a-brac of architectural repertory, and in each case a stronger affirmation of individuality.

From a planning standpoint this home is not simply a pleasant combination of garden-architecture forms; it has also the quality of the well-planned industrial plant where each process of fabrication is in the right relation to the proceeding and succeeding processes. There are some spaces for sitting [the upper 

errace and the lower lawn and gardens]; spaces for walking [the green walk from the tennis court and guest cottage to the main structure and beyond down a steep set of stairs to the beach below]; spaces for working; and each of these are in their proper place. The primary terrace becomes the logical extension to the outdoors for the living room, dinning room, and the library. All three open to the terrace which runs the full width of the structure and offers unparalleled views of the Puget Sound. Here you will find driftwood beaches, rain forest valleys, glacier-capped peaks in the distance, an occasional super ferry, and a stunning variety of plants and wild animals. This is a little part of Heaven.

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Hacienda Tweten  |  Una Hacienda Española Neoclásica del Desierto

This project serves as another example of Don’s fundamental design concepts regarding siting buildings concerning the landscape, creating indoor and outdoor relationships within a structure, and incorporating exceptional craftsmanship.

Designed as a getaway retreat for clients who wanted a place to escape with friends and family, the 7,000-square-foot one-level house is composed of private and public spaces arranged in a row of individual detached wings linked by

outdoor spaces. Three separate master suite pods provide privacy for their occupants, each featuring unique courtyards wrapping bathrooms equipped with outdoor showers and uber-private ‘tits-out’ garden spaces.

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Washington Park Manor  |  A Châteauesque-style Estate

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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A Country Manor  |  A Neoclassic Country Estate

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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A Neoclassical Country Villa  

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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Glendale Villa  |  Neo-Eclectic Country Home

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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A Cottage in Clyde Hill  |  A Country Home

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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The Leeward Cottage  |  A Modern Farmhouse

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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Rose Manor | Modern Farmhouse

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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The Elms  |  Dutch Colonial Revival

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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The Highlands Villa  |  A Neoclassic Spanish Hacienda

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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Chateau Tenney  |  Un Manoir Français Néoclassique

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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Wallen Manor  |  A Neoclassic Country Home

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

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Coles Manor |  A Neoclassic Palladian-ish Manor | Hunts Point

This project, designed for Jim and CK Coles, began as a renovation to their existing 1980’s home built by Don Bender. Shortly after the initial design phase began it became evident to demolish the existing home and begin anew. Jim was a lover of classical architecture and high-quality construction and so, what you see is what we ended up agreeing upon. However, this home was never built; instead, the Coles purchased 1,800 acres in White Fish, Montana, built a magnificent log structure and retired there. – happily, ever after.

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Western Tile & Marble  |  Cast Stone Courtyard Display

Located between two existing structures at Western Tile & Marble is an awkward area which tends to gather useless materials and a convenient spot to temporarily store building equipment. The building to the east is the fabrication facility and to the west is WT&M’s primary showroom. We converted this ‘alley’ into an enclosed (open-air) courtyard and designed two vignette’s showing how their cast products could be used and assembled.

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Galli Summer Lodge  |  A Neo-Palladian Mountain Retreat

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

Palazzo Chiericatiis, a fictional name assigned to a structure designed in 1999 for a unique client who had secured a double-wide City parcel in Madison Park, bordering Washington Park and overlooking Lake Washington with the Cascades to the east and Mount Rainier to the south.

otherstuff

I didn't always design just homes. Prior to that I designed commercial projects inclusing retail, hospitality, institutional, healthcare and even master planning of communities in far away places. My firm, Donald Whittaker, Inc., completed projects in over 27 US Cities and twelve foreign countries - including projects throughout Southeast Asia and West Africa. Here you will find just a small sampling of that work. Enjoy. 

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BEIJINGChina

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The Flying Horse, Ltd.

Phase One of The Flying Horse entails the creation of 125 independent farms in Inner Mongolia for the primary purpose of breeding high quality cattle for both beef and dairy consumption. Ultimately The Flying Horse will develop farms for the sole purpose of breeding high quality thoroughbreds for the sport of racing. The horse racing component is perhaps the most complex governmentally because presently there is no gambling allowed within mainland China but the government has preliminarily agreed to lift that for “betting” on horse races because there is a massive tax collection process that they will receive in return.

The Flying Horse also includes the preliminary master planning for four fully self sustaining new townships which included everything from sewage treatment facilities, hotels, golf resorts [the Chinese love to golf] shops, restaurants, libraries, town halls AND one massive centrally located a race track with seating capacity for 40,000; all just 40min outside of the downtown central business district of Beijing. The project is backed by a newly formed Western conglomerate which includes NYC Hedge Funds [here we go again], private investment capital and the Chinese government, plus China has agreed to provide all the required land for development, as if they didn't have enough.

The Flying Horse is both entrepreneurial and humanitarian in nature because it will supplement a much needed food and dairy industry, ultimately employ thousands of people, and none of its facilities are urban based businesses so it provides opportunities to employ people out of the heavily populated cities throughout the mainland.

Phase One master planning began with half million acres of pasture lands in Inner Mongolia [fig. 26, 27, 32, 33, 34 and 35]. The project is committed to raising cattle on allocated lands and to help develop efficient farm-to-market and market-to-market efficient methods of transportation for both slaughtered meat and chilled dairy.

In addition to long-term innovative cattle breeding programs The Flying Horse is securing licensing to develop 23 race tracks [The Chinese love to gamble, did I say that already?] with the first three expected to be operational near Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou in 2012. This will be a first for China yet it is a much anticipated project.

Thoroughbred racing, The Sport of Kings, world-wide is a vibrant and economically significant industry and sport. Today it is responsible for bringing in billions of tax dollars and just within the US alone it employs an estimated 1.5 million full time employees.

"The Sport of Kings"

aboutus

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Legos Traffic

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LEKKINigeria

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The Lekki Golf and Country Club | a Planned Community

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Building on the Dark Continent

On my first trip to Lagos, I traveled via London with my clients and their accompanying entourage. No sooner than we had landed, we were greeted at the gate by a platoon of attendants and security guards who ushered us efficiently through customs and immigration. As soon as we exited baggage claim, we loaded into a series of bulletproofed G500's. They were escorted by two open-air pickup trucks packed to the gills with military soldiers brandishing AK-47's. It was not until that VERY moment, as we departed the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, in motorcade fashion, that I began to question if visiting Nigeria was such a good idea after all.

The militant unrest in Nigeria is fueled by a series of complex factors, including poverty, lack of basic infrastructure, and corruption amongst government officials and security forces, and just good ol' political thuggery, I know that's not a word, but for my purposes, it sums things up pretty well.

Between the oil-rich elite and the hectic streets of Lagos exists a thriving culture that is turning the city into the continent's creative epicenter. Lagos is a maddening paradox. As Nigeria's commercial capital and Africa's biggest city - a designation it took from Cairo a decade ago - with a population of 14,862,111, it struggles to keep up with the needs of its citizens. Lagosians must often endure traffic jams the likes of which LA has never seen, violent crime the likes of which Chicago has never seen, electrical blackouts, and the noise of generators the likes of which only third-world countries experience.

There is always an inexhaustible supply of hustlers looking to earn a little extra money who can make strolling down a simple street into a major ordeal. Lagos has long been this brusque: These were the same challenges that provided source material in the '70s and '80s for the churning music of the celebrated Afrobeat maestro Fela Anikulapo Kuti. And yet, the city is also home to many people made exorbitantly wealthy by oil deals, banking, or stints in government. The rich, surrounded by poverty, no longer need to leave Lagos to spend their money. They can now go to the Porsche showroom or high-end fashion houses like Ermenegildo Zegna or spend thousands of dollars at posh nightclubs like Rhapsodies.

The gap between the haves and the have-nots adds to the tensions of the city. When there are theft or armed robbery incidents - like many who visit Lagos, I was hustled for a few $20's [USD] at a random police checkpoint one night – it's frightening but easy to understand as an expression of the city's unresolved economic contradictions.

But from within Lagos's hectic neighborhoods, several oases of culture and tranquility are now blooming. These institutions, most of them relatively small, are helping to transform Lagos into a cultural epicenter in its own right. At the same time, they serve as a balm for the frazzled nerves of the city's cosmopolitan residents.

I traveled to Lagos three times on business to master plan a 240-hectare parcel of land owned by Trojan Properties. We built a small business center with office buildings, a sports center, a 150 room boutique hotel, a nine-hole golf course, home sites for 200 single-family residences, a dense housing area for 200 flats,  seven new waterfront embassy compounds, a sewage treatment plant, and many other facilities. Lagos excites me each time I visit - it's a combination of opportunity and danger – not so different than when I traveled to places like Vietnam or Malaysia.

What seems to be developing in Lagos is a critical mass of creative people turning the city into Africa's cultural headquarters, perhaps not dissimilar to how Vienna became the leading light of European culture a century ago.

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KUALA LUMPURMalaysia

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Kelana Jaya Medical Campus

Since its founding in 1996, Columbia Asia’s unique approach serves a growing need across Asia for high quality, modern healthcare. We create innovative facilities that deliver medical excellence in an environment that allows medical providers to specifically focus on the needs of patients. Columbia Asia has established a network of more than 28 hospitals, clinics and extended care facilities across Malaysia, India, Vietnam, and Indonesia, centrally located where people live and work. The bar is set high to deliver on the promise of quality care with affordability and transparency.

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HO CHI MINH CITYVietnam 

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Columbia Pacific Healthcare Clinic

Conveniently located at the center of downtown Hochiminh City, Columbia Asia International Clinic - Saigon proudly provides a wide range of high quality medical services including outpatient cares, health check-up, work permit check-up, treatments of general, chronic and acute conditions, treatments of minor accidents and emergencies, ambulance services and nurse escorts, etc. for local and foreign patients, clients and corporate partners in Hochiminh City and neighbouring provinces, especially expat community who work and live in Hochiminh City.

As a multi-specialty clinic with Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Ear, Nose & Throat, General Surgery, General Pediatrics, Dentistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology departments, our clinic is fully equipped with Emergency Room, Minor Procedure Room, Radiology (X-ray and Ultrasound), Laboratory and Pharmacy facilities.

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MAGADANRussia

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Central Park Hotel

The Russian Far East

Brrrr r  r   r     r      r         r

Russia was a new experience for me. I had envisioned that just about anything east of Moscow was Siberia, so once again, I was in for a unique life experience. Russia and its history were absent in my high school textbooks or, at best, glazed over what some editor felt was unimportant. But now that I am a seasoned Russian Far East traveler and my mind is full of useless information, including statistics, about a place I will most likely never return to.

Initially, I flew to Magadan from Anchorage on one of Alaska Airlines' first flights to that part of the world. The Russians were not prepared to receive international visitors. The station officer at the Sokol Airport was a kindly-faced man with gray hair and a Soviet-style green cap. He did not speak a lick of English, and of course, my fellow Americanskies and I did not speak not Russian other than the simple stuff like "niet" and "nostrovia". Even after sixty grueling minutes of pantomime, we were getting nowhere with this stern comrade. One of the passengers tried French, another Spanish; I whipped out my eight words of German, another had a few in Mandarin and Cantonese, but alas, to no avail.

The station officer just grinned and spoke very loudly in slow Russian, as if the speed would make any difference; over and over, he repeated the exact phrase again and again and pointed to a sign. The four of us stood puzzled until we realized we had been trying to gain entrance to a mechanical room, and he was not with customs at all but with airport maintenance, boy. Did we feel stupid? Embarrassed, exhausted, and grimy, we eventually cleared customs. But it's stories like these that I reflect on as I get older, and no matter how crummy my day or the national economy is, these memories still make me smile.

When I thought of Russia before going, I primarily thought of snow and ice. Perhaps that's because I recall reading about Napoleon's horrible winter retreat and the stories of the Eastern Front during WWII. But it's images of Omar Sharif in Doctor Zhivago that invoke the strongest "visuals" because that movie was full of snow and ice "and" tremendous vastness of space.

Magadan, Russia, is a small port city on the Sea of Okhotsk and is considered the gateway to the Kolyma region, which lies in Nagayevo Bay in the Gulf of Tauisk. Okay, now after me, try repeating that last sentence ten-times-real-fast

.If you love the vastness of space, then you're going to love the Russian Far East because we're talking VASTNESS geographically, geopolitically as well as geo-emotionally. The entire time I was there, I don't recall anyone sincerely smiling at me. I had never met so many gloomy, miserable people. Communism had failed them horribly, and ex-party officials, wanting to be reelected "democratically" [yea-right... Mr. Putin and his Pollet Bureau buddies] when their terms were up, were more worried about stabilizing the west where the largely populated areas, such as Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, are. The Far East was left to fend for itself. Still, as luck would have it, in the Far East NASA, with some new classified gizmo with earth penetration laser technology,

determined that VAST amounts of natural resources such as gold, silver, copper, gas, oil, and coal were to be found. With satellite images and mineral excavation contracts in hand, Western corporations knew precisely where those deposits were. It takes all the excitement out of "exploration" if you already own a map with a big "X-marks-the-spot" on it, but then again, no one asked me.

Russia was a new experience for me. I had envisioned that just about anything east of Moscow was Siberia, so once again, I was in for a unique life experience. Russia and its history were absent in my high school textbooks or, at best, glazed over what some editor felt was unimportant. But now that I am a seasoned Russian Far East traveler and my mind is full of useless information, including statistics, about a place I will most likely never return to.

Initially, I flew to MagadanWestern capitalists flocked to the Far East like vultures to a rotting carcass. They were on a mission to engage mineral exploration rights, but there were few hotels to speak of in Magadan or Vladivostok at the time and no Western-style facilities. This would prove to be an awkward problem for visiting executives who were used to staying at a Four Seasons in the worse case. These were top executives with big companies like Exxon/Mobile, Shell Oil, Endeavour Silver Corp, and others whose names I've forgotten; I met most of them and shared jovial complaints about the lack of accommodations and services there was none, zip, nada.

Much of the housing in Magadan was post-war "communist Stalin era architecture," which was…well, nothing to marvel at. That Stalin was no Donald Trump, and the entire city was bland, practical, with perhaps a cheesy-modernist outdated and low-budgeted twist on it. 

Everything in Magadan was gray; the buildings were gray, the sky was gray, people's hair was gray, even my soup and salad looked gray. I did notice, however, that there was an abundance of Ferrari red lipstick, rosy cheeks, and bright pink noses. But the latter two may have been from broken capillaries one gets after years of consuming alcohol. And man-O-man could these Russian's drink. As a pastime, they loved nothing more than to drink us, Westerners, under the table. If drinking booze was how a nation was defined as a superpower,.. they won!

The people in the Far East may have had the look of gloom on their faces, but in truth, I have never met such friendly and gregarious people. Trusting people they are not; in some places, there is still even a residue of suspicion of foreigners because they were conditioned for such a long period that Americans were their sworn mortal enemy. Particularly in Magadan and Vladivostok, which were "closed ports" during the cold war and home to the USSR's Pacific Fleet and nuclear submarine bases? Far Easterners are incredibly ambivalent about the old Soviet ways, or at least they still were when I was traveling there.

One year after Gorbachev introduced Perestroika and Glasnost, the old USSR looked to be in for a horrible economic downward spiral, as if they had not been in one since the end of WWII [intended sarcasm]. 

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SEMARANIndonesia

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SEMARANG, is a multi-specialty hospital in SEMARANG which commenced to provide its excellent healthcare in 2014. The hospital has 107 high qualified Doctor and 19 outpatient Clinic, and operates 119 Beds. Hospital built up in 14.400 m2 area provide the needs of high qualified medical for more than 1.7 million population in SEMARANG. Rumah Sakit Columbia Asia – SEMARANG, serve 24 hours emergency outpatient clinic & ambulance, pharmacy, radiology, laboratory, open clinics consultation including family health center, pain clinic, cardiac center, sports clinic & physiotherapy.

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Singapore

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Singapore has achieved universal health coverage through a mixed financing system. The country’s public statutory insurance system, MediShield Life, covers large bills arising from hospital care and certain outpatient treatments. Patients pay premiums, deductibles, co-insurance, and any costs above the claim limit. MediShield Life generally does not cover primary care or outpatient specialist care and prescription drugs. MediShield Life is complemented by government subsidies, as well as a compulsory medical savings account called MediSave, which can help residents pay for inpatient care and selected outpatient services. In addition, individuals can purchase supplemental private health insurance or get it through an employer. The national government is fully responsible for the health system.

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VICTORIABrazil 

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Conveniently located at the center of downtown Hochiminh City, Columbia Asia International Clinic - Saigon proudly provides a wide range of high quality medical services including outpatient cares, health check-up, work permit check-up, treatments of general, chronic and acute conditions, treatments of minor accidents and emergencies, ambulance services and nurse escorts, etc. for local and foreign patients, clients and corporate partners in Hochiminh City and neighbouring provinces, especially expat community who work and live in Hochiminh City.

As a multi-specialty clinic with Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Ear, Nose & Throat, General Surgery, General Pediatrics, Dentistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology departments, our clinic is fully equipped with Emergency Room, Minor Procedure Room, Radiology (X-ray and Ultrasound), Laboratory and Pharmacy facilities.

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Greece 

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This was a preliminary (outlandish) schematic for the purposes of elevating the value of a 120-hectare parcel of land in Crete on the Gulf of Mirabello by providing a graphic ‘vision’ as to what could be done. The planning exercise may have been successful in that the property sold for USD $6M more than anticipated, but the concept proved to be too expensive for the new owners to pursue and a lovely Motel-ish 6 now occupies the site. Grrr r r  r   r    r

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RIYADHSaudi Arabia

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Patterson Whittaker offers affordable, elegant, lightweight, durable and easy to install materials that avoid many of the challenges and costs associated with pre-cast concrete, wood, and other common building detailing methods.

Patterson Whittaker is an innovative company that has combined the richly sophisticated design principles of the past with today’s latest technologies. No longer is impractical to beautify projects with timeless classical detailing reminiscent of the cornices, parapets and elegant door and window surrounds found in defining as European architecture, for our unique construction and attachment systems allow even the most dramatic, large-scale details to be economically applied to both interior and exterior wall surfaces.