Fight On!

Got to thinking about next year’s 2018 high school graduates and the future of the Architectural profession. PCH Architects provides annual scholarships to several local high schools for students interested in pursuing a career in Architecture. 

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My partner asked that I start to think about the scholarships for this upcoming year. How time flies? I can recall just giving a speech at M.L. King High School prior to presenting a scholarship to a praiseworthy high school senior planning to major in Engineering.

Now, I have nothing against Engineers. We need more of them. But, where are our aspiring, next generation of architects? Unfortunately, the profession is still seeing the drought of talent that was wrought by the Great Recession. Maybe the blame cannot be placed entirely on the economy however.

Even in my generation, I heard the same excuses. “It’s too hard!” “Why should I get my architectural license?”  “I got my Bachelors or Masters of Architectural degree.” “I’m too old or too busy.” All the myriad of challenges that architectural candidates have to contend with.

I feel our profession is slowly depleting. The passion, the drive, may be a little lacking. Maybe it’s the current Public School curriculum that puts enormous emphasis on science, mathematics and technology, leaving behind art and creativity. I am not saying that is wrong or bad. I’m just trying to understand and maybe create a discussion on how we can help carry, pass along, and/or keep the torch lit for our next generation of architects.

If you have put in the time and hard-earned money to go to college, then why not complete your journey to licensure? Maybe the process is quite trying. The hours that one has to document and get approval for seems tedious.  The testing is definitely taxing. Nonetheless, as the People of Troy Shout, “Fight On!” Don’t give up or make excuses. If you say you want to, or say you would like to: Just Do It. Sounds like a commercial?

I hope, we can continue to encourage our fellow designers, drafters, CAD technicians, project coordinators, job captains, etc. to make the leap and become a licensed architect in the states where each resides.

It all comes down to you. No one will be more responsible for you than you. There should be no regrets. It’s a personal fight and struggle to please and satisfy only you.

I wish you great success as you leap along the fiery path that leads to becoming a licensed architect. Cheers to those who recently passed their last AREs or the California Supplemental Exam! Job well done!

Rendering of an entry court for a local school, by PCH Architects

Rendering of an entry court for a local school, by PCH Architects

30 Years In The Making!

PCH Architects celebrates its rich heritage of exemplary design with a contemporary new look and re-dedication to the principles that make us unique among architectural firms. 

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Our clean, modern branding will announce our identity throughout all aspects of our relationships.  Building on a solid and established foundation, we picked a bold navy background with our distinctive white logo overflowing the boundary signifying strength, awareness, possibilities, and our resolve to move forward with new firm leadership.  Our vision of enriching lives through unique solutions that create healthy, stimulating environments remains steadfast. 

Elevating the perception that good design matters, we will continue to be true collaborators, crafting projects that exceed expectations, are sustainable, and improve the lives of everyone entering therein.

  • Our goal is for our projects to leave every user, client, and community better than we found it. 
  • Every project is important. 
  • Every day is an opportunity to do good things.
  • Every relationship is personal. 

Contact PCH Architects today and experience our unique brand of quality services!

2017 PCH Bonding Trip

Six hearty souls

Six hearty souls

Another year’s PCH backpacking trip is in the bag!  This year’s trek took us to the top of Mt. San Jacinto. 

Our group of six hearty souls left the office and, after a sumptuous breakfast at Gramma’s in Banning, soon arrived at the lower station of the world-famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  The Tram is a great option to explore the high country without the arduous climbing.

Aerial Tram at bottom station

Aerial Tram at bottom station

A view of our way up

A view of our way up

After disembarking the tram at 8516 feet elevation, the 70-degree pine-studded mountain environment cooled our faces after the 100+ temps of the desert below.  We registered our permit with the Ranger Station, shouldered our heavy backpacks, and were soon trekking through the clear air and wilderness solitude. 

The beginning of the hike to camp, and 30º cooler

The beginning of the hike to camp, and 30º cooler

The 2-mile, well-marked trail climbs steadily along the banks of a small streambed and up several sets of switchbacks.  Soon, we were sweating profusely and huffing from the strong sunshine and the thin air.

Our initial destination was Round Valley Campground in the Mt. San Jacinto State Park.  Situated at 9100 feet in elevation, the primitive campground winds its way in and around majestic rock outcroppings and ancient stands of 100 ft tall pine trees.  Being careful to stay well away from the sensitive vegetation of Round Valley Meadow, the campsites are spread about a large area, giving the impression of being isolated from fellow campers.  Only the playful shouts of a nearby Boy Scout Troop and hollering of several disturbed Steller Jay birds pervaded the camp’s silence.

Round Valley; Elev. 9,100

Round Valley; Elev. 9,100

Typical wooded, rocky terrain around the campsites

Typical wooded, rocky terrain around the campsites

Once tents were erected, the relaxation that comes from being “unplugged” outdoors began to permeate our psyche.  Dinners are a good time of fellowship and, as always, Mr. Pacini’s gourmet camp meals are a sight to behold.  Afterwards, our good friend Jack Daniels, accompanied by another gentleman from Knob Creek, stopped by for dessert ensuring lively chatter long into the evening.

Lis getting situated

Lis getting situated

Base Camp

Base Camp

Mr. Pacini in the midst of preparing a gourmet meal

Mr. Pacini in the midst of preparing a gourmet meal

...not kidding about the gourmet meals

...not kidding about the gourmet meals

Up with the Saturday morning sun, we were all eager to start the climb to the summit.  After the first strenuous mile, the trail becomes exposed on the peak’s eastern flank giving an unforgettable view of the low desert, upper tram station, and Round Valley meadow.  At 10,000 feet, the trees thin and the air thins even more.  Rocks congest the trail, punishing our knees, ankles, and feet.

Crossroads, at the saddle; Elev. 9,700

Crossroads, at the saddle; Elev. 9,700

A view from the saddle, looking towards Idyllwild

A view from the saddle, looking towards Idyllwild

Soon however, Summit Saddle is reached with the peak being a short 3-tenths of a mile away.  There is an emergency cabin built from local stone by the California Conservation Corps.  Bunk beds and shelter are available should Mother Nature turn nasty. 

Stone cabin

Stone cabin

San Jacinto peak is a rugged rock-scramble to the top.  At 10, 834 feet above sea level, both the Pacific Ocean and Salton Sea can be viewed in opposite directions on clear days.  Across the Banning Pass, the imposing ridge of Mt San Gorgonio (“Old Grayback” to locals) looks to be roughly the same height although it is 665 feet higher. 

Atop San Jacinto Peak, with a view of "Old Grayback"

Atop San Jacinto Peak, with a view of "Old Grayback"

Everyone made it to the peak; Elev. 10,834

Everyone made it to the peak; Elev. 10,834

Ominous gray clouds started building during our short lunch at the peak.  Nicknamed “Icarus” after the doomed Greek aeronaut, we were certain to be drenched from the pending downpour.  Fortunately, we reached camp just before a gentle rain peppered the ground, trees, and rocks with large splashes of drops.  The musty odor of damp forest weighted the air and increased humidity drastically.  The rain did not last long however, the clouds scattered, and our camp dried quickly. 

A shot of the earliest incarnation of the cloud, Icarus

A shot of the earliest incarnation of the cloud, Icarus

On a large flat rock, impromptu yoga instruction stretched tight, tired muscles in the warm sun.

Yoga happens here

Yoga happens here

After another scrumptious dinner, Mr. Pacini regaled us with ancient stories from his youth.  The gentleman from Knob Creek and Mr. Daniels again joined us as we settled into the quiet mountain darkness for the evening.

Aerial tram, as seen from the top station

Aerial tram, as seen from the top station

Sunday morning’s trip down the Tramway and the drive home was thankfully uneventful and everyone made it home safe and sound.  Stories and memories will last a lifetime from our wonderful adventure to the top of Mt. San Jacinto peak!

July's Training Hikes

It’s that time of year again.  The dog days of summer have returned.  Not my favorite season. However, I look forward to hiking through the local mountains in preparation for our annual PCH Bonding Trip.  This year, at the end of July, we plan to summit San Jacinto Peak.

This past Sunday, our group hiked the Foresee Creek trail to Johns Meadow in the San Gorgonio wilderness, for the first of two training hikes.  

Last week, during the first of several heat waves yet to come, I noticed dark clouds surrounding the San Bernardino Mountains.  Like walking mid-day through a desert in the middle of summer and seeing a tropical body of water or mirage, I wondered what it would be like to be under those voluminous clouds.  Surely, it must be cooler than the 100+ degree temperatures in the Inland Empire.  

Well, I tell you, it was AMAZING.  During our Sunday morning hike,  the trails came alive.  I am not speaking about the sounds of our labored breathing, neither the souls of our shoes stepping over the earth nor our occasional chatter to each other.  Instead, we heard the sky growl and the trails chime with barely visible droplets of precipitation that thrummed on the foliage in nature’s concert hall.  I tell you again, the trails came alive like a philharmonic tuning up before beginning to play Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565.  

We had concerns that the elevated temperatures would follow us up the mountains and make the hike a hot, muggy slog.  However, to the contrary, the cool moisture that came down from the clouds was refreshing.  The damp ground absorbed the sound of our footsteps further elevating the vibrant acoustics of the tree leaves applauding as we walked by.

After  completing the six-mile hike, with just over 500 feet of elevation gain, everyone felt good for our first training hike.  There were not too many aches to fuss about.  For our well-deserved celebration afterwards, we were treated to ice tea, beer, chips and homemade salsa at the Pacini’s.  Ralph makes a good salsa, sort of a tradition.  The training hikes most often begin and end at the Pacini’s mountain residence.  What a great half-day to spend with good friends.

As our sore feet rest and our haunches recuperate, we look forward to next Sunday’s training hike following the San Bernardino Peak Trail up from Angeles Oaks to Manzanita Flats.  It will be around 8 miles round trip with just over 1,500 feet of elevation gain.  Definitely a great test for the old knees and glutes.

Looking forward to it.  Keep climbing!

ENCOURAGING FUTURE ARCHITECTS

End of the school year is always a busy time in the office.  Construction projects are primed to begin work during the summer season when school is out of session.  Staff members have children graduating, promoting, and receiving awards.  It is a time for both past reflection and anticipation of a future that has not yet presented itself.

Since the early 1990’s, in the spirit of “giving back” to a profession that has enriched our lives, PCH continues to bolster young people interested in pursuing a career in Architecture.  This week, Pedro and I presented our annual scholarships to admirable students at our local high schools.

At the local Redlands high schools, we have sponsored the PCH Architects/Stephen J. Lenholf Memorial Architectural Scholarship.  Initially, awards were presented at Redlands and Redlands East Valley High Schools.  A few years ago, Citrus Valley High School, was added when it opened.  These scholarships are presented to deserving students intending to pursue a career in Architecture.

Mr. Stephen J. Lenholf was a well-respected drafting and architectural instructor for many years at Redlands High School.  His memory as a trusted friend and excellent teacher lives on as an encouragement to the younger generation of Architects.  For many years, his wife assisted with presentation of the awards.

For the first time this year, we are pleased to sponsor the PCH Architectural Scholarship at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside.  It is presented to a deserving student of good character who will be pursuing a Bachelor of Architecture degree at an accredited college or university.

Initial student candidates are screened through the Redlands Community Scholarship Foundation (RCSF) or the Riverside Educational Enrichment Foundation (REEF).  Candidates’ transcripts and essay compositions regarding their interest in Architecture are personally reviewed by the Principals of PCH Architects prior to making a selection.

While the amount of the scholarships has varied with the uncertainties of the fluctuating economy, we are proud to have awarded individual scholarships to over 65 praiseworthy students throughout the years. 

In keeping with the principles of PCH’s Vision and Mission Statement, we believe that “giving-back” to the future generation not only enriches their life but that of our Team as well. 

GIVING BACK

A recent occurrence got me to thinking about the idea of “Giving Back”.  It made me reflect upon the individuals and couples that I’ve come to know through volunteering. 

Sometimes in our lives, if we are lucky, we will be asked to volunteer or help with our child’s school, fundraiser, scouting, church function and/or various other organizations.  It is my belief that each event’s success rests solely on the shoulders of its volunteers. 

A good six out of the past eight years, I have been involved with my children’s High School Band and Color Guard.  Going in, I did not realize how much work and funding it takes to sustain a successful, and highly competitive, Band and Color Guard organization.  

I remember my first two years of sitting curb-side with my wife, watching our son march by.  Such a thrill!  However, I noticed the volunteer parents; most smiling, some sweating, and some with serious faces.  Now I understand what it feels like to be on that side of the street or field. While physically demanding, we don’t regret giving up our comfortable stadium or curb-side view for a chance to work in the trenches, near to the action!  The student’s smiles were rewarding and enough to give purpose to our actions.  Another unexpected reward, was getting to know the people: parents, who are now friends, in a joined comradery that we would never have known nor experienced otherwise.

One parent, who happened to be a brain surgeon, once said, “I plan my work schedule around the band’s schedule.”  He and his wife continue to help the band years after their two kids graduated.  

Another couple, who ran their own business while providing immense support to the band, had almost two full-time jobs.  He literally worked himself into nearly leaving this world.  While recovering from a heart attack and shoulder surgery, he was back assisting the band way before the doctors would clear him.  

Another fine gentleman put in a full day’s work and then came straight out to help the band.  I can go on and on about many wonderful examples of parents and individuals who give selflessly.  

Recently I was brought to deep sadness when one of our dearest Band and Color Guard parents passed away.  He was half of a loving couple that gave selflessly of their limited time and energy to help our students succeed.  Their two daughters had already gone through the band, and beyond, into adulthood.  Life, taken so unexpectedly, does not seem fair.  I can’t imagine losing my spouse.  I am saddened and cannot completely comprehend her loss.  She is someone who has given endlessly and yet, now has had so much taken away.  It brings me to a loss for words.  I hope that someday she can smile again with the knowledge that there are hundreds of parents and students deeply indebted to her.  I know my family’s time with the Band and Color Guard has been that much more memorable and fulfilling because of her leadership.

The Band and Color Guard’s success is greatly indebted to the couples and individuals that have sacrificed time away from their families.  

Remember to “Give Back”.  You may never know the magnitude of how your sacrifice will affect others, but it will.

Thank you!

PCH Welcome's Pedro Jaramillo as New Partner to the firm

Pedro writes...

When we are challenged, there is an opportunity for growth.

I fear, therefore, I climb a mountain.

Climb a mountain and find out something about yourself.

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I was tasked to come up with a marketing e-mailer to announce my promotion as partner.  I could have gone in numerous directions:  project images, cleaver graphics, a large head shot with a fading phrase, a deep meaningful word cutting across the page.  But, instead I visualized the first of the many hikes with my fellow office comrades through our local mountains here in the Inland Empire.  Fresh from the thought of being a business partner and feeling the lack of air in my lungs, for some reason my mind went towards the trails that lead to the mountain peaks.  Maybe it was the fear of the unknown and not knowing if I could physically hike up to the top of a mountain.  Growing up in Hollywood I had never hiked or camped for the first 35 years of my life. The walk up to the Griffith Observatory was maybe the hardest climb I had ever done.  However, all that changed when I arrived at PCH over 14 years ago.  The Principals, Greg Chapman and Ralph Pacini, offered me a job and an opportunity to experience the PCH culture beyond the office walls.  Greg enjoys running, Ralph enjoys cycling, and together they enjoy conducting annual office hikes.  Back then the majority of the office had not hiked before, but we collectively agreed to experience this new endeavor.  We all came from different backgrounds, various levels of physicality, experiences and talents.  Ralph and Greg scheduled, plotted and prepped us for the challenge ahead.  Our first hike was a three day two-night trek up to San Bernardino Peak and back.  I had many doubts.  Am I ready for this?  Did I prep enough?  Do I have enough supplies?  Do I have the right equipment to make this trip?  As the doubt and fear crept in and the lack of air in my lungs became inescapable, I learned to inhale and steer my mind towards an encouraging yes!  I had my friends and experienced leaders to guide me towards the summit.  I look back at the other hikes that my dearest comrades at PCH and I have been able to experience and accomplish together.  We all agree to take a journey, collaborate, and accomplish a goal. Our challenges have taken us up and over San Gorgonio and San Jacinto Peaks and to the depth of the Grand Canyon and others to the summit of Mount Whitney.  I never imagined myself hiking to the top of a mountain or becoming a partner at an architectural firm, now at its 30th anniversary. There are mighty big shoes to fill, much to learn, and new challenges to experience and surmount.  I think the photo captures the philosophy and the culture of PCH. There will always be challenges, but together we collaborate, mentor, and encourage each other to achieve and conquer our mountains.  I look forward to being called to lead.  We have a great team, a family, and I see us continuing to provide excellent personal service to our clients, while enhancing and changing lives through architecture.