Coopers Rocks State Forest

This past June we visited Coopers Rocks State Forest near Morgantown, West Virginia. Maison Orion partner Tallulah West had been there several times before. But for me (Scott M B Gustafson) it was my first visit.

I'm a terrible hiker because I take too many photographs. They are records that are easy to share, and help me to recall the feelings I experienced while in the moment. What I saw in the forest was a whole range of architectural techniques employed by nature.

Mass & Void

Light & Shadow

Compression

Assymetry

Balance

Texture

Time

What impressed me most about our hike was walking around, between and underneath gigantic boulders. The space created by geologic fissures reminded me of experiences in the artworks of Richard Serra and the buildings of Frank Gehry. The difference is that these rocks, let loose from their ancient repose, would crush me in an instant without mercy. A friend of mine was recently telling me about the Sublime in art. It is beauty that inspires admiration and awe. When one recognizes the gap between their own power and that of nature's forces - the response is awe. That these rocks rest with such grace further enlarges their persuasiveness - they don't need to show off and they know it.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I would often visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Michael Heizer's artwork Levitated Mass pompously sits over a manmade walkway cut into the earth. It might be the single most Instagrammed rock and quite popular with visitors, but it is a spectacle that does not frighten for even an instant. As Marvin Gaye said, "Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby."

Los Angeles Hall of Records

The Los Angeles County Hall of Records, a rare high-rise by Richard Neutra (co-designed by Robert Alexander), sits in the northern end of the Civic Center in Downtown Los Angeles. An exemplar of modernist architecture, the building includes louvers similar to the Kaufmann Desert House. Additionally, the screen to the right of the louvers was a feature by sculptor Malcolm Leland to incorporate ornamentation into modernist buildings. (Source: Wikipedia)

This building is one of my favorites in downtown Los Angeles. Richard Neutra made human comfort his passion, and the numerous examples of solar control devices on this building are testament to that goal. Many modern buildings have 4 identical sides, but Neutra and Alexander knew that a different solution was needed for each face. Their design provides a wealth of detail and texture and humanizes what could otherwise be a very boring County office building. 

Michigan State Board of Architects

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I am delighted to announce that I have been appointed to the Michigan State Board of Architects. The purpose of boards, councils and commissions at the State level is to protect the citizens of Michigan through service and professional advice. The mission is to improve the quality of life for all Michiganders. This role aligns closely with my personal goals as an architect and reflects the values I bring to our clients. It is an honor to serve.

MAISON ORION North America

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In 2017 we relocated our base of operations from Los Angeles to metro Detroit. Michigan, Ontario and the entire Great Lakes region is an ideal location from which to design healthy, beautiful Net Zero Energy Ready homes.