Thursday, August 27, 2009

From our Virtual Office...

Salt Lake City with the boys. Girls have girl-talk...and boys definitely have boy-talk!! Let’s see I was newly pregnant and not telling anyone yet. I was exhausted, nauseous, and easily irritated. But I tried my best to smile through it all during a 2-day design charrette for the Almaty School project in Kazakhstan. I was thrilled and excited to be apart of the project! It was my first true design project with FNI. It was going to be hard work and the concepts that Jeff and Randy had developed already were truly inspiring. But little did I know that I would have to spend the next couple of days with two cerebral, babbling men - Bert and Jeff. Oh, the banter! Oh, the scientific jargon and talks about black holes and 5th senses and whatever else they ranted on about (I think I blocked it all out!). My tired, cranky, and constantly starving pregnant self was about to reach the end of the rope with these two going on and on...and on and on and on! They were truly acting like little kids in a candy shop! Giggling and bantering back and forth. And at dinner, they must have thought I was such a stinker because I wouldn’t have a beer and was actually starting to doze off! Did I mention that I was pregnant at this time?! But regardless, a few weeks after the trip, I started to tell people the news - and I hoped that Jeff and Bert would understand my cranky behavior. We went on to design a beautiful school with a river running though it and large balconies all within a glass box. It was my first true design project with FNI and Jeff was a wonderful teacher and guide. Working directly with him on that project, I really came to understand what the principles were for this 21st century school design - and how the design patterns were being interpreted creatively and functionally. I have truly learned from the best - through his humor, sincerity, and patience. Thank you, Jeff! I do want to mention one more thing - because there have been so many changes at FNI in the last year. My first year at FNI was so different than it is now....and I know it was because of Jeff’s involvement. We were a smaller group then and there was always learning and discussions and lengthy intellectual emails circulating....Jeff was always sharing something for or an interesting article or a video of a lecture from a conference he had attended. We would all join in and comment and add to these discussions. This made FNI such a great group to work with - we are constantly learning and sharing. Since Jeff has had to focus more and more on his health this past year - that piece has been missing. I hope we can regain that piece! You are truly an inspiration and always pushing those around you to think bigger, think grander, think of more possibilities and more ideas and more about how we can transform they way we think and view the world. That’s the Jeff I know. And I miss you in our little virtual office! Come back and visit.

-- Jen Lamar

1 comment:

  1. I am sorry I never got to meet Jeff in person since I started working in our virtual office last January. I did have the honor to collaborate with him on a project in Abu Dhabi in which he amazed me. I could barely keep up with him. He did an extraordinary job of taking data, synthesizing it and then illustrating it deliciously to create a visually appealing user-friendly book of guidelines for the Abu Dhabi Educational Council. I learned so much from him on that project and felt so inspired by his rigorous approach to his work.

    His passion and vision for creating beautiful spaces for students to be able to thrive is evident in the huge body of work he has left behind. Reading his 2003 paper – 33 Principles of Educational Design also blew me away and I understood how much he really contributed to FNI’s progressive philosophy of school design.

    As Jeff grew more ill, and continued working on one of our projects, the depth of his passion for good design was evident. Not only did he keep working, but he also found time to share his thoughts during his illness and disseminated valuable information on his blog, which I once shared with a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unlike many a traditional architect who tends to be competitive, his work was about sharing information with the world to make it a better place. He loved his work and believed in it. He lived, ate, breathed visionary school design and this kind of devotion is what really can make a difference in the world. I will miss Jeff and will do my best to keep sharing the legacy of progressive school design he has left us with.

    My deepest condolences to Jill and Nick who must miss him terribly and are left with fond memories of who I imagine had to also be an extraordinary husband and father.

    .:Mariana Boctor:.