On October 18 I laid out some goals for my series of icehouse rehab updates. I’d already been posting for about two and a half months at that point, looking in depth at the summer’s deck rebuild. I intended to continue posting for the duration of our adaptive reuse project, transforming a late 19th century icehouse into a 21st century studio+studio+flex entertaining space. Today, about another two and a half months into the journey, I’d like to evaluate whether or not I’m on target. Are my icehouse rehab updates achieving objectives?
Before revisiting the goals, I should note that I’ve neglected the serializing protocol—titling updates with sequential numbers—that I established at the outset. (I think this is only a temporary commission that I will/may update anon to help organize the posts chronologically.) This started when my updates fell out of sync with the calendar weeks which I’d initially used as an organizing principle. And subsequently I began emphasizing the discreet projects and people instead of the chronological sequence. Concurrently chronicling the boathouse gangway added to the confusion and incentivized focusing more narrowly on each notable project and progress milestone. Sorry if this has been confusing. Consider it an act of omission rather than an act of commission.
So, let’s start with my original list of goals.
The idea behind these weekly updates, chronicling our progress on the icehouse rehabilitation project is multifaceted (ie. muddled and evolving.) As I recap the second week, here are few of the underlying objectives:
- recognize/celebrate our distributed team (Trello to coordinate, @rosslynredux to showcase, rosslynredux.com to chronicle, etc),
- transparently map our rehabilitation process, accounting for the ups and the downs without “airbrushing” the journey (rehab inside out)
- document our fourth and final historic rehabilitation project at Rosslyn,
- inspire others to undertake similarly ambitious and rewarding rehab adventures, ideally with an eye to adaptive reuse of existing structures,
- and leverage this current experience as a way to revisit and reevaluate our previous sixteen years of Rosslyn rehab ad infinitum.
(Source: Icehouse Rehab 02: Adaptive Reuse)
That first bullet point was as much a personal planning memo as anything. Our use of Trello within the team isn’t really particularly relevant to readers, so I’m not sure why I included that. But I did, and we depend heavily on this application for keeping everything in sync; coordinating materials, subcontractors, and deadlines; tracking progress; etc. I’ve been using Trello for years, and it’s difficult to imagine life without it.
As of now I’m pretty pleased with the accomplishment on rosslynredux.com which I’ve succeeded in updating daily (162 days today!) with episodic, voyeuristic glimpses into the day-to-day. Although this chronicle, isn’t an unfiltered tell-all (in part because it would take too much time to record and relate in real time), it’s an attempt to live this project inside out. In other words, it’s an open door and an invitation. So far, so good. And challenge of documenting the progress on several concurrent projects happening at Rosslyn has re-immersed me in the quest—a protracted contemplation on reawakening and revival (domestic/residential and individual/personal) while exploring the role that home plays in this renewal—that I’d allowed the languish in recent years. And so it is that my daily updates are interspersed with reflections on the broader arc of our relationship with Rosslyn, wayward wonderings about the poetics of place, peripheral inquiries into homeness and nesting (and their alternatives), and even a fair share of introspection around how we perceive and remember and recount since I’m made daily aware how differing our experiences of the selfsame events and happening and conversations can be.
And then there is @rosslynredux in Instagram, a whimsical world of eye candy and creative chronicles and inquiring innovators and curious companions all around the world. Although there is much overlap with the website, I often discover a refreshing creative energy on the platform. Many inspiring connections have come out of this vast digital agora, and the encouragement and feedback have been deeply stimulating.
My second bullet above, “transparently map our rehabilitation process, accounting for the ups and the downs without ‘airbrushing’ the journey” has been mostly successful. Over the last five plus months I’ve welcomed a more collaborative creative energy to the project, encouraging others participating directly or indirectly to share their perspective(s). This has largely come with photographs and videos, sometimes words via phone calls, text messages, and emails. I am finding this level of narrative collaboration invigorating, and I’m hoping to encourage more in the weeks ahead. Diversifying the creative ingredients will likely improve transparency. That said, there are inevitable ups and downs on these sorts of projects, these sorts of timelines, and I’ve exercised restraint on several occasions when less filter might have made compelling storytelling but might also have compromised the collegial energy underpinning the many successes to date.
As such the metaphorical “fly on the wall” is more aspirational goal than reality, and the voyeuristic glimpses captured in these blog posts do not pretend to be much more than editorialized field notes. Shoot for objectivity; settle for subjectivity. (Source: Voyeuristic Glimpses & Mosaic Mirages)
In short, I’ve remained an active mediator, determining how much/little of the ups and downs benefit from 100% transparency. That said, this has been the “rehab inside out” that I envisioned at the outset, and it has added a fascinating component to the scope of our current projects.
Proceeding to the third bullet, I’m pleased with the fact that we’re documenting this final historic rehabilitation project at Rosslyn far better than any of the other three buildings. Fortunately I have years of photographs, notes, field notes, audio recordings, etc. that I’m now drawing upon to help fill in some of the “white spaces” in this nearly seventeen year adventure. There’s far too much discourse and brainstorming and troubleshooting to record it all, but I’m collecting plenty of material that I’ll post if/when time allows. I’m eager to show others what this process looks like, what a 16+ year rolling renovation project feels like, and I’m hoping that sharing this experience will also help amplify the idea of home renovation and construction and landscape design and gardening and nesting as creative arts, learning opportunities, and immensely rewarding adventures.
I’ve gotten ahead of myself, rolling right into my fourth bullet. I’ve waxed on elsewhere about the importance of embracing creative risk (especially Carpe Midlife), so I’ll abbreviate for now as the verdict—whether or not I’ve yet inspired anyone—is still out. But I’m endeavoring to immerse readers in the totality of a project like this, capturing some of the million and one small decisions that ultimately define the way everything gradually coalesces into a finished work. I’m genuinely hoping that the cost of creativity will seem paltry in comparison to the mountain of reward. If not, I’ll try harder! And the emphasis on rehabilitation, and repurposing, and upcycling, and adaptive reuse,… these are not intended to be preachy moralizing. Sure, they’re vital in this day and age, but they’re also immensely satisfying. Don’t trust me. Try it out!
My last bullet point is a goal that I’ve already drifted into. Throwing myself into the current rehab and maintenance projects, even as an ideas and oversight participant rather than a hands-on participant has reinvigorated my enthusiasm for Rosslyn Redux manyfold. I’m swimming in documents and artifacts and photographs and notes—sooo many notes—from the last sixteen years of Rosslyn’s rehab ad infinitum (and the life / lifestyle we’ve enjoyed as a result of Rosslyn’s benevolence). I’m attempting to curate the ones worth curating and attempting to dispose of the rest, distilling from a decade and a half journey the parts worth assembling into an exhibit of sorts. It’s a work in progress, and it’s still a daunting distance from any sort of unveiling. But I’m alive with purpose and enthusiasm. And the vision is clearer each day. So, I’m guardedly optimistic that a few more months on this same trajectory and I’ll be ready to articulate clearly and definitely what I’m creating. And why. If only I can maintain the level of acute attention, if I can sustain this peculiar appetite for sifting and collaging and jettisoning the sentimental that too often pervades the true and beautiful bits, then I will have accomplished my biggest goal of all. Let the journey continue to unfold…