Category Archives: Architecture

A Library with a Great Big Heart

photo by Pasi Aalto

Knowing how much I love libraries, this morning my architect husband showed¬†me an article from an online architecture journal he receives every day, ArchDaily. The article was about an amazing and beautiful library designed for the Safe Haven Orphanage in Thailand. It’s a must-see for all of us who love books and libraries, and children.

The project was designed by a group of architecture students in Norway, affiliated with the non-profit humanitarian architectural firm, TYIN tegnestue, a firm that specializes in building projects that improve the lives of people in difficult circumstances. It was built over a two-week period of time in January, 2009.

The beautiful photos are by Pasi Aalto, who was one of the student architects on the project. He kindly gave me permission to show some of them in this post, but be sure to visit his own web site to see more photos of the project. ¬†Also, click on the link below to see the architectural journal article about it. And then, just for fun, click on the YouTube link to see a time-lapse film of the project being built. It’s quite an amazing structure, a wonderful humanitarian project, and a beautiful little library with a great big heart.

photo by Pasi Aalto

Bibliotek, Safe Haven Orphanage, Ban Tha Song Yang, Thailand, photo by Pasi Aalto

Seattle: EMP/SFM

Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum

Experience Music Project designed by Frank O. Gehry

One of the things I look forward to the most during my summer break is having the opportunity to meet my husband in downtown Seattle for lunch or dinner. We always add some special event to the lunch or dinner date, and yesterday afternoon we added a visit to the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum.

Seattle's Science Fiction Museum

Seattle's Science Fiction Museum

I enjoyed exploring this amazing building that houses both museums (designed by architect Frank O. Gehry). And I was surprised and delighted by the Science Fiction Museum — it really was a homage to books and the big ideas in them that spark our imaginations and help shape our culture. Each exhibit included books and information about the authors and their ideas. If you are a science fiction fan who loves books and movies, then I recommend a visit to this museum.



The SF museum is divided into three sections: 1) Homeworld which “explores the foundations of science fiction–its big ideas, its relationship to culture and science and the qualities that make it unique.” I loved looking at the costumes and scripts and memorabilia for some of my favorite Sci Fi movies and TVseries. And I was so impressed with the books that were displayed — many of them signed first editions!

Flying saucer from The Day the Earth Stood Still

Flying saucer from The Day the Earth Stood Still

2) Fantastic Voyages “with exhibitions and activities devoted to technologies that have been imagined, such as spaceships that travel faster than the speed of light;”

Costume for Sebastian in Blade Runner

Costume for Sebastian in Blade Runner

and 3) Brave New Worlds where you can learn more about the “strangely disquieting societies” for which science fiction is known.


Michael Jackson's glove - Experience Music Project

When we arrived at the museum yesterday afternoon, we found numerous news reporters outside the building interviewing people. We didn’t know what was going on until we got inside and were told the breaking news– that Michael Jackson had just died. It was an interesting day to visit the museum, but today would be even more interesting! Today the place is crowded with people who need a place to listen to his music and remember his talent, and the curators even put his black sequined jacket and one of his sequined gloves on display for all those who have come to remember him.


My husband turns 60 years old today. He says it’s not a big deal birthday, but that it makes you realize that you don’t have that much longer to live. That’s not the usual happy birthday celebration thought, but it is a reminder to enjoy each day and every moment because life is short. Where did the time go? I just met this wonderful, gentle man…38 years ago!

B is an architect, an avid reader, and I would also have to call him a “philosopher” with great insight. He’s been reading a number of books recently that he has really enjoyed, and today he explained that the books and the birthday have come together in his mind in what he calls an “intersection” of ideas and life experience.

First, turning 60 definitely triggers a new look at oneself and one’s past experiences. Secondly, B has been reading a book called Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, and he found some of the ideas in the book quite intriguing. He’s not sure he agrees with everything in it, but it’s certainly causing him to think about experiences from a different angle.

Is it true that all of us, not just poets, speak in metaphors, whether we realize it or not? Is it perhaps even true that we live by metaphors? In Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff, a linguist, and Mark Johnson, a philosopher, suggest that metaphors not only make our thoughts more vivid and interesting, but that they actually structure our perceptions and understanding. Thinking of marriage as a “contract agreement,” for example, leads to one set of expectations, while thinking of it as “team play,” “a negotiated agreement,” “Russian roulette,” “an indissoluble merger,” or “a religious sacrament” will carry different sets of expectations. When a government thinks of its enemies as “turkeys” or “clowns,” it does not take them as serious threats, but if they are “pawns” in the hands of the communists, they are taken seriously indeed. Metaphors We Live By has led many readers to a new recognition of how profoundly metaphors not only shape our view of life in the present but set up the expectations that determine what life will be for us in the future.
(from the introduction in The Conscious Reader)

B has also been reading a new book by an architect whose work he admires, Steven Holl, and discovered that not only do they share certain ideas/beliefs about architecture and creativity, but that Mr. Holl will also turn 60 in two weeks. Kindred spirits…

So we’ve had a lovely morning talking about this intersection of new ideas and old memories triggered by a birthday and two books, and together we took a different look at some of the incredible experiences we’ve shared in the last 38 years. What metaphors have we lived by?…and what new metaphors will we create to guide us through the later years of our life together? Just some thoughts…

B and I don’t read a lot of the same books, but we talk a lot about what we read, share ideas and passages that impress us, and process together through some of these powerful book encounters.

Happy birthday, B!

Oh yes…just for the record…B also makes the best lemon meringue pie on earth, an absolutely delicious deep-dish apple pie, and the most sinful brownies you can imagine.