September 23rd, 2013
By Brian Staton, CEO; Beverly Prior, FAIA, LEED AP, President
Congrats to our 2013 Xref winners Annette Lee and Karen Chan! Two separate client juries convened in Ontario and Sacramento to review all the submissions and select the winners. All the entries were extraordinary and creative—a true testament to HMC’s talented staff.
During the last seven years of HMC’s Xref Travel Fellowship program, 11 employees have had the opportunity to visit 14 countries around the world. Staff are invited to submit a proposal that explains their travel destination and purpose; two winners are chosen each year and are awarded a $4,000 travel stipend and five days of paid time off. Xref is an incredible opportunity that enables HMC’s employees to embark on adventures that they otherwise may not take, and to share their experiences with the entire firm.
Traveling in the Dark
Ontario’s Annette Lee proposed a very intriguing trip to Tokyo—she will be exploring places blindfolded. According to Annette, “Traveling in the Dark is an idea to raise my awareness of the surrounding environment by using all of my senses except vision. This will allow me to ‘see’ the world in a different perspective and be appreciative to what we have.” She will be sharing her experiences through daily documentation taken from the trip on a blog, including video footage and journals. The documentation will juxtapose the visual experience and feelings generated by other senses. The judges felt that the submittal was unique and creative and that this experience could raise the design approach to a whole different level noting that, “it could sharpen one’s skills to make environments a multi-sensory experience.”
Resilience: Lessons from Iceland
San Francisco’s Karen Chan chose Iceland for her destination—her love for wool and the process of knitting a Lopapeysa (Icelandic sweater) piqued her intrigue to understand Iceland’s cultural adaptation to environmental context. “I’m curious about the lessons that Iceland can teach us about building resilient communities. Resilience is urgent because it is motivated by more than romanticism or responsibility—it’s about survival.” The judges appreciated the relevance of this submittal to the world we live in today and felt that her appreciation for this country’s cultural traditions and adaptation to the environment could help influence her approach to projects at HMC.
August 16th, 2013
Charlie Payne from our San Francisco studio traveled to Dubai, Istanbul and Detroit to study the birth, life and death of a city. Explore the infographic below to see some of his travel stats, and click here to learn more about his Xref trip.
Click here for more Xref infographics!
July 25th, 2013
We’re celebrating past Xref trips by diving into the details! Check out the impact that Brenda Cintron, designer out of our Ontario studio, made on her trip to the Casa Hogar Orphanage in Guadalajara. Learn more about HMC’s Xref travel fellowship here.
July 3rd, 2013
Four months ago, I set off on my Xref journey to study cities as living organisms and to uncover what implications, if any, the health of the city has on its populous and vice versa. By visiting three cities in milestone stages of life I hoped to discover how exactly cities are born, what can make them survive for millennia and what can drive a city to its death. I started in Detroit, known the world over as the once great American manufacturing metropolis which has suffered a painfully tragic decline over the past several decades. What I found, in short, was that the Detroit we used to know, “The Motor City,” is most likely gone forever. But something new is growing in its place—a smaller, leaner city, steeped in the old and vehemently proud of its heritage yet moving slowly in the only direction it can, forward. The second part of the study took me across the world to Dubai, UAE, and Istanbul, Turkey, two cities drastically different from Detroit and each other in health, history and culture.
May 16th, 2013
By Brenda Cintron, Designer
My final Xref trip to the Casa Hogar Orphanage in Guadalajara, Mexico was a success! My husband and I delivered all the shoes and framed photos to the children at the orphanage this April. Read about my first trip to the orphanage here, where we photographed each child, then returned to HMC and set up an exhibition to inspire staff to sponsor a child for $25, enough to buy them a pair of shoes and frame their photo for them.
The video below documents the second trip to Casa Hogar, where my husband and I packed up all the shoes and photos donated by HMC staff and delivered them to each child.
Want to learn more about Casa Hogar? Visit my blog: www.onehundredfaces.com
March 30th, 2013
By Charlie Payne
In early February I traveled to Detroit to embark on the first leg of a three-part Xref journey to study cities as living organisms in various stages of life, and the role that architecture plays in those stages. Detroit, of course, has fallen on extremely difficult times. It’s often regarded as one of the worst urban tragedies of the nation, perhaps one of the worst in the world, and thus the city was (originally) representative of the “death” of the city organism.
Michigan Grand Central Station, an iconic symbol of the Detroit’s grandiose past and troubled present.
February 19th, 2013
By Brenda Cintron, Designer
I recently returned from my Xref trip to the Casa Hogar orphanage in Guadalajara, where I was able to get to know new faces at the orphanage and photograph each child, most of whom have never had their photo taken. The majority of kids arrived at the orphanage for one of several reasons. They were either severely abused, abandoned, or their parents had passed away. The age of children here range from 1.5 years to 16 years. They all go to school during the week and occasionally have field trips around town on the weekends.
November 26th, 2012
By: Charlie Payne, Designer
Detroit: February 8-13
Dubai: April 12-18
Istanbul: April 18-28
Hurdles in Planning:
Such a large endeavor involved careful consideration of time and budget. I found that tickets to the middle east purchased within 6 months of the trip were prohibitively expensive, so the earliest I could leave would have been December. However, Istanbul is also known for its dismal winter weather. Records indicate precipitation for around 80% of the days from December to February, with temperatures averaging in the upper 30s to mid-40s. This left only a short window of time between the winter months and next year’s X-Ref competition, which the journey must be completed before. Thus I decided on two weeks in mid-April for the trip to the middle east.
This left limited options for the journey to Detroit. In order to establish an effective comparison between the cities, I needed the Detroit trip to be relatively close to the middle east trip without taking too much time away from the office at once. June would be too late, so the only months left after the holiday season were January and February. Detroit winter weather is almost surely as bad or worse than that of Istanbul, but options were limited and the middle east trip was far more expensive to plan. What will be interesting is the impact the season has on the perception of Detroit as a living organism; will it appear cold and dead, or will the life of the city stand in beautiful contrast to the stark winterscape?
November 15th, 2012
By: Brenda Cintron, Designer
The date is set, the first flight has been booked, and now I anxiously wait for January 23rd to make my first trip down to Guadalajara, Mexico. For those of you that don’t know about my xref project, the idea is simple but very personal to me in many ways. I will photograph one hundred faces of children and gift them a framed portrait so that when they leave the orphanage they will have something to look back at and share with their future families. The best part about it is that I will be bringing all those photographs back and our HMC community will have the opportunity to sponsor a child with a pair of shoes.
These children don’t have parents that go around and photograph every milestone in their life. We know that most parents now have their phone full of family photos that tell stories of their child’s first step, their funny faces, school art projects, pumpkin carving, the list goes on and on, but these kids don’t have anyone to record these moments for them.
The hardest part of planning the trip has been communication. Even though I have talked to the director and we have planned time set apart for activities, I sometimes wish that communication was as quick as it is within our social networks. The funny thing is that many times when I ask questions they reply sooner or later but never seem to answer all of them. The good thing is that in our last conversation the director said, “Our doors are open to you and we are at your command.”
I don’t know what many of these kids have gone through, or are going through, but my intent is to share a little bit about every single one with you. I would like for many of you to be part of this journey with me, and I will try to make it as easy as possible for you to follow in hope that when I return you will be forming a line to sponsor a child with a pair of shoes. I have created a blog and even though there is not much there right now, make sure to come back to it in January as I will be posting about the trip and sharing a few photos of the children while I am down there.
February 14th, 2012
By Kaysha Bucher, Interior Designer
One year ago, I submitted a proposal for HMC’s Xref travel fellowship to realize my long-awaited aspiration of making a difference. With a love for children and a dream in my heart to see schools built abroad, I took a leap of faith into an experience that has furthered my passion to see change across the world. For me, this leap started in Haiti. Now back in the states, I’m thankful and appreciative for this opportunity to travel and make a difference.