Tag Archives: architecture

High School Reunion Chi

I just returned from Lubbock,Texas where I attended my high school class reunion. There is a certain reunion Chi that is inherent in this activity. The personal Chi, or energy of it, varies, I think, depending on your high school experience. For me, and I think for most of those who attended, it was a wonderful trip down memory lane as we renewed friendships with the people we graduated with, some of whom I’ve known since first grade. After all, these people went through the “formative” teen age years together, when we were all just finding out about life, friendship and love. Aspects of ourselves no one else can ever know about us.

A reunion highlight is the opportunity to tour our high school. I must tell you the Hschoolarchitecture of this building is awesome! My classmates and I loved it dearly when we attended and have continued to talk about how lucky we were to have had such an amazing building in which to learn. Even as teenagers, we seemed to relate to the special environment that supported our learning and socializing during those important years. We definitely had a relationship with the building and felt its grounded and nourishing presence in our lives. It was Feng Shui working at its best, but who knew?

RiderOur high school, the first in Lubbock, was founded in 1891 as a one room school named after Thomas S. Lubbock, a Confederate Colonel, Texas Ranger and brother to the governor of Texas during the time of the Civil War. The original announcement of the school’s opening read: “Schooling for all who could reach it by pony, wagon, buggy or on foot.” In the fall of 1929, city planners began planning for a new high school. Construction began in 1930, and the current building was completed in 1931.Over the years, and even since our last reunion 10 years ago, the campus continues to expand to meet the needs of an ever growing population.

During the planning stages, some of the city founders felt the proposed building was too expensiveHallWay and elaborate for a “high school,” especially since it was the beginning of economic hardship from the onset of the Great Depression. I am grateful to the farsighted leaders who disagreed. They were the ones who felt this high school should be more than just a school but rather a tribute to learning for generations to come. Despite the Great Depression and a population of only about 5,000, a local architectural firm designed the richly ornamented northern Italian Romanesque style structure featuring two and three story classroom wings, offices, a gym and auditorium all constructed around two open courtyards.The school featured decorative brickwork, terra cotta ornamentation, a bell tower and gorgeous three dimensional tiles throughout. Due to its distinctive architecture, it is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

BhollyLubbock High School is known for its academic program and, I might mention, also for the fact that it has produced a number of talented musicians and vocalists over the years including Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Mac Davis and Natalie Maines.

The students who served as our tour guides spoke with tremendous pride about the school. Like every generation of students who have graduated from there, they, too, are aware the building was built with the intention of honoring the education of the youth who would be the citizens and leaders of tomorrow. It is as if the building respects the young people who enter, and its beauty and strength set a high expectation for academic excellence. All these years later, the accumulated energy of generations of students who graduated with pride from this school was palpable as we walked the halls. Positive Chi is still alive and well there after 87 years!

Following Frank Continues

The third in my Following Frank series found us traveling to Chicago this past May.  These focused trips began several years ago when we took a road trip with friends to Spring Green, WI specifically to tour Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer home. That was followed by our trip to Mason City, Iowa to stay in the famous Historic Park Inn Hotel, the newly renovated and last remaining hotel designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Now it was time to fulfill a long planned trip to Chicago by train to tour Oak Park, Ill, home to the largest collection of Wright-designed residential properties in the world! It was always our plan to travel there by train which, we learned, was more expensive than flying. But we were all about the experience!


We arrived at the Amtrak station bright and early for a 7:55 a.m. departure. After comfortably settling in, our eight hour journey began with the rumbling, hissing, and screeching train song. I enjoyed being lulled by the gentle swaying movement except, of course, when trying to walk from one car to another.

Concerned about the quality of food we might encounter on the train, I brought snacks. We soon learned it wasn’t necessary. We were pleasantly surprised to have a delicious breakfast and lunch, both served on white linen cloths and with courteous service!

The scenery was beautiful all along the way; it was a treat to view the countryside from a different vantage point. Lake01

We arrived at the busy terminal in Chicago where we easily found and retrieved our luggage. Then a short cab ride took us to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency on Wacker Dr. It turned out to be a great location as it was walking distance to everything we wanted to see during our stay.

Following our check in, we discovered Big Bar in the hotel lobby! Time for a toast to Chicago! But, even better, we discovered Big Bar has a designated drink named after Frank Lloyd Wright. No hesitation there! We toasted Frank Lloyd Wright with, well, a Frank Lloyd Wright!


We then walked several blocks to have dinner at the Purple Pig. It had been recommended with a warning to expect a long wait. The wait turned out to be one and a half hours. Fortunately it was a lovely evening, allowing us to enjoy waiting outside on their large patio while visiting with interesting people from all over the country. Rewarded with fabulous food and service, we unanimously agreed it was well worth the wait!

The next morning, we were picked up at the hotel for our private tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in Oak Park, Ill. A suburb of Chicago, Oak Park has the largest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world.This collection of homes represents the first 30 years of Wright’s career and allows us to see the development and perfection of his signature Prairie Style architecture.

Our first stop was a tour of Unity Temple, home of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation.  Built between 1905 and 1908, it was among Wright’s favorite commissions. His desire to create a house of worship expressing the powerful simplicity of ancient temples prompted his suggestion that it be called a “temple” rather than a church. Its cubist theme and poured concrete construction were unprecedented in that time.Altar01

Unity Temple exemplifies how Wright used materials, color and geometry to define the character of the spaces. He created anticipation by leading us through low, dark spaces until we emerge into high, light spaces, resulting in a sense of awe. It is a perfect example of moving from yin to yang!

Our next stop was Wright’s private residence and workplace during the first 20 years of his career, and where he raised six children with his first wife, Catherine Tobin. His studio was added to the home in 1898 and it was there, with his associates, he developed the new American architecture, the Prairie style, designing 125 structures, including the Robie House, the Larkin Building and the Unity Temple.

We spent a lot of time in the home and studio, enjoying the feeling of the space. It was warm outside and as we emerged to walk the grounds, we noted an ice cream truck conveniently located curbside in anticipation of the tourists. Following the unexpected but welcome ice-cream break, we commenced our guided walking tour of the gorgeous neighborhoods filled with privately owned Frank Lloyd Wright homes. Home01

As we stood outside one of the houses listening to our guide’s description, we observed the owner out on his lawn playing Frisbee with his dog. It was a reminder that regardless of the historical significance of the architecture, it is still someone’s home!

Our tour concluded with a visit to the Rookery building, located in the heart of Chicago’s financial district. Twelve stories tall, it is considered the oldest standing high-rise in Chicago.The Rookery lobby was remodeled in 1905 by Frank Lloyd Wright who covered nearly every inch of it with incised and gilded marble. It is stunning!


It was a full and satisfying day of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. Upon returning to our hotel, we decided to see more of Chicago. We walked to Millennium Park, a short distance from the Hyatt. Millennium Park is a public park covering 24.5-acres.  It was originally intended to celebrate the millennium, but wasn’t completed until 2004, four years behind schedule! Because the park sits atop a parking garage and the commuter rail Millennium Station, it is considered the world’s largest rooftop garden.

Sculptures, pavilions, gardens and fountains are among its attractions. I was especially drawn to Cloud Gate, a sculpture said to have been inspired by liquid mercury. It is made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together creating a highly polished exterior with no visible seams. It provides great photo opportunities, as you can see! Park01

The next morning, prior to our return train ride, we took an hour-long architectural boat tour. It is a highly recommended not to be missed look at the windy city’s many historically and architecturally significant and fascinating buildings.Appt01

We boarded the train, feeling very satisfied with our whirlwind trip to Chicago! We accomplished our goals and, like all great trips, were rewarded with many more memorable experiences than we could have anticipated.




“The good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.”