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.