Are You Experienced?

Kris Barkley

October 7, 2014

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”. – Winston Churchill

Kris Barkley, AIA, is the Design Director at Dreyfuss + Blackford and the current president of the American Institute of Architects Central Valley chapter.

Are You Experienced? No, I’m not referring to the iconic album released by Jimi Hendrix in 1967. And, this is definitely not a pick up line or an attempt to pry into your personal life. It’s about architecture. And the question is… have you truly experienced architecture?

Of course, the simple answer is yes. Unless you’re a hermit residing in the woods, you live, work and otherwise “experience” architecture on a daily basis. But are we really paying attention to the quality of that experience? There is so much going on around us that much of it becomes background noise; we often are significantly unaware of our environment. Our surroundings get lost in our focus on personal interaction, technology and, well…life.

From October 10th through 19th, you have the opportunity to change that when the American Institute of Architects Central Valley Chapter (AIACV) is hosts their third annual Experience Architecture Week. The purpose of this 10-day long series of events is to help people more fully understand the impact of architecture on their lives. By demystifying the practice of architecture and design, everyone can participate in dynamic conversations and become more aware of their environment.

As current President of the AIACV Chapter and Chair of the Experience Architecture Week Committee, I am a small part of the greater effort to stage the festival. Thanks to many, we are offering an opportunity to “experience” architecture in several ways:

Tours – Through the “Top of the City and Beyond Tour”, “Valley Home Tour” and two separate “Tour d’ Architecture” bike tours, there will be an opportunity to gain insight from architects and building users about the thoughts behind the design and function of several important buildings in our region. As an alternative to the tour experience, there will be a “Drawing Safari” where participants will learn about modernism and detail through sketching.

Talks/Discussions/Films – Two speakers will present on different evenings. One presentation is part of the ongoing “Visionary” series featuring Arlene Blum, Ph.D.; the second is a discussion about “Design Thinking” led by Scott Peterson of IDEO. The topic of design thinking will also be part of the ongoing design dialogue series titled “Architecture Matters” and don’t miss the screening of “The Vision of Paolo Soleri: Prophet in the Desert” that will follow a short presentation about the Del Paso Design District.

Competitions/Exhibitions – Seven teams will be competing in a “Canstruction” event where sculptures are created from canned food that is later donated to feed the hungry. The “Architectura Obscura Architectural Photography Competition + Exhibit” will be staged along with Canstruction, offering a unique look at buildings through the eyes of photographers. Wondering what it takes to hire an architect to design your home? If so, there will be an opportunity to find out at the “Residential Architecture Showcase.”

To find out more about these events or to register, please go to

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