Saturday, March 1, 2014

Honoring and Remembering George Christensen & Bruce Kimball





In the last month many of us in the design community both celebrated and honored the lives of two architects who not only changed the Arizona landscape with their wonderful designs and collaborations but inspired and mentored many of us. Last month we lost one of the best free hand designer and sketcher in Bruce Kimball and this last week we celebrated what would have been the 85th birthday of the late George Christensen.

I met both of these two amazing mentors in 1979 while attending ASU. George was one of my professors and Bruce taught sketching and rendering. I was fortunate enough to get my first job in an architect’s office in 1982 when I started as a draftsman for Christensen, Roberts and Jones and ended up becoming George’s partner, along with Brian Cassidy and Kym Billington in 1987.  This partnership lasted until 1999 when George retired and I went on to open Candelaria Design. 



During all of this time we were always collaborating with the talents and friendship of  Bruce Kimball who did a lot of our quick conceptual sketches and renderings from George’s amazing ideas and concepts. All I can say – and anyone who knew these two – was that we worked hard and we played hard! We would crank all day on a design charette and then as we approached the finish line George would crack a bottle of Dewar’s and pour everyone a Dewar’s with a splash and off we went solving the world’s problems!


I learned so much from these two – of course the most important lesson – working hard and playing hard. Skills from design and sketching to just how to work with and collaborate with clients and bring their wishes to reality. These two were not only masters in the design and presentation process with their loose and quick means of communicating an idea including sketching upside down so the sketch was to the client, but they were masters in just how to deal with clients and people – always friendly, always positive and always creative. Finally, they were always giving back to the profession through teaching at ASU, to George and his involvement with the AIA , to their yearly San Francisco – ASU spring break trip! So many firms have sprung from architects who either worked for or learned from these two.

Bruce’s memorial service last month was very nice and it was so good to see friends and colleagues I had not seen in 30 years. His wife Patti is an angel and the whole thing brought back so many great memories.  Following the ceremony many of us chatted about getting together to celebrate George’s 85th birthday which we then did this past Wednesday at George’s old neighborhood pub, Feeney’s. We had a great turnout from partners from the late 70’s all the way to his final group from 2000 on. George passed away ten years ago and its hard to believe it has already been that long. It was great to share a Dewar’s with a splash and a cigar with so many from those great days.

So much of this profession is about sharing your talent and teaching others – mentoring. Its passing on the knowledge and wisdom while having fun doing it. That was the mastery of these two – Christensen and Kimball. Cheers to you both!


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