Daily Archives: October 4, 2015

Lynne Dearborn

Lynne was already an architect when she arrived as a student at the UO in the early 90s. She came to further her research into affordable housing and CDCs, and I accepted her as a research advisee, as she was one of very few applicants I’d seen who had a clear idea of what she wanted to do, and seemed quite capable of doing it.  It was a pleasure having her in Eugene for a few years, as she did a great job balancing the demands of simultaneously being a grad student, a teacher, and a mom.  Lynne was more of a colleague than a student, and we were always in agreement on the shortcomings of the housing production system (and the profession).

Lynne decided to continue her research at UW Milwaukee, where she received her PhD, and she then joined the faculty at the University of Illinois – where she has taught quite a number of students who later came to the UO as grad students (and one current UO faculty member).  Her work has always involved social issues in architecture, and in recent years it has brought her to many remote and interesting places around the globe (so she hasn’t felt quite the same need to travel around in a trailer for a year).

the architecture building at UIUC

the architecture building at UIUC

We had a brief visit but thorough tour of the campus (but still could not find out why what I always knew as Champaign-Urbana became Urbana-Champaign).  Certainly the highlight of the visit was meeting her new (to us) husband, John Stallmeyer, who is also on the architecture faculty.  I inquired how long they had worked together before they became an item, and ascertained that they came nowhere near the record held by me and Linda.  We had a very interesting discussion about the current state of academic architecture, finding that the issues which concerned us were almost identical;  I think this will become a continuing theme in this blog.

Champaign struck us as quite a nice town, and as always, it was great to see an old friend living a happy, meaningful and productive life

The Africanos

We’ve been visiting old friends on this trip, but sometimes we get to visit new friends, who somehow feel like old friends after a very short time.

I had heard about Rebecca Sigler-Africano and her husband Nicolas Africano for years.  Rebecca is the twin sister of our friend Deborah, whom we know because her husband, Rob Peña, taught with us at the UO in the early 90s.  We finally got to meet them when their son, Gianni, enrolled in the architecture program at the UO four years ago, and they would sometimes head west from their home in Normal, Illinois, for Gianni’s final reviews.  We’d really enjoyed spending time with them in Eugene, so we headed south from Chicago for a short visit.

They live in one of the most extraordinary places I’ve ever seen;  years ago they bought a mid-19th century orphanage in Normal, with lots of land and buildings, with room for a residence for them and their three sons, and the studio space which Nicholas uses to create his large, figural sculptures.  Over the years they have sold off some of the property to friends, but they live in the main building, a simple but elegant brick edifice with beautifully-proportioned rooms arranged on a central hallway and cross-axis for entry.DSCF0069

The home was amazing, and so was everything else about our visit – the hospitality, the food, the interesting and lovely neighbors they invited over for a dinner party, the chance for Greta to see what teenaged life is like in Normal (as she headed out to a horror movie with their son Pablo and his friends) but mostly the chance for what seemed like a non-stop, 24-hour conversation about life and art.  Nicolas took us through the building he uses as his studio, which comprises his sculpture studio (the room where he creates the wax sculptures which are used to make molds for glass casting), the kiln rooms (where his assistant uses the lost wax method to make the molds and then cast the glass), and his private study, which is where he thinks and creates.  DSCF0048

The grounds were gracious and beautiful (no one else on our trip has told us that they’d open the gates so we could pull our camper into the courtyard), with plenty of room for Luigi (the dog) to run around.DSCF0059

As with so many other places and people we’ve visited on this trip, we wished we could stay longer, but the highway calls, and we had to bid farewell to Normal, a place that seems anything but.  DSCF0074