architecture + roller coasters

rollercoaster 01

Does everything remind me of architecture? Almost, but I think no is the correct answer. Nevertheless, I had a minor revelation today as I was reading a recent popular architecture journal.

Let me digress and retreat back more than two weeks to our recent vacation and a subsequent day at another amusement park with my family and my sister’s family. Another fact I must interject here is last year my eleven-year-old son “graduated” up to larger roller coasters without warning. It was a momentous occasion since in prior years he would look at them with reverential fear. Now we spend one day of our vacation each year at a large (non-Disney) amusement park on the thrill seeker rides. It’s a different one each year. Fortunately, there are a few super-large rides he still offers a vote of refrain. He simply watches them on YouTube and on roller coaster shows on TV as a vicarious test.

As I’m waiting in line (with the recent tragic accident in Texas fresh in our minds) it dawns on me that we as a culture will continue to make larger more daring roller coasters if they can be done safely. Did you ever wonder how far, how fast or how crazy we can make a roller coaster until we say that’s enough? Where is the limit?

 rollercoaster 02

In several issues a year, we find published, a new building somewhere on the planet that fulfills some superlative on the list of building measurements.  We find the new tallest, largest, greenest or perhaps weirdest building. I suppose people want to read about that or they wouldn’t publish that right? Will that ever end? The term unique is constantly redefined. Does innovation = unique?

Another observation I share from vacation and visiting other cities is it isn’t the superlative that makes being somewhere great or enjoyable. Without another discourse on the concept of “place” I’ll just say that it’s typically something else that makes a space one in which you’ll want to live, work or return. Besides the people and the company you’re with, it has more to do with overall comfort, lighting, scale, color, smells, sounds or something else. In some cases it is just the familiar, in most cases it’s not the biggest or tallest or fastest. We had many great experiences in restaurants where the locals hang out and a visit or two where we learned a little history. Guess what, I’d consider returning.

As I think back to our two amusement park trips within a three-week time span, I believe I most enjoyed the roller coasters that I remembered riding many years ago. Not only are they classics even if they no longer rank as unbeatable, they evoke memories of past visits. That connects the current visit with the past. It creates another bond, another memory and another special moment.

How do you design that and quite frankly, how do you publish that?

rollercoaster 03

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architecture + roller coasters

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