Sunday, May 1, 2011

Second Acts

On Saturday, Melvin, Norton and I saw the Chicago Cubs play the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Given the Cubs' long history of losing, perhaps they might want to consider the approach of Arcosanti and Taliesin West, which we toured earlier in the day.  Surely Wrigley Field has enough character and history to simply re-invent itself as a tourist destination without the endlessly futile playing of unnecessary baseball games.

The Cubs and Diamondbacks records were even going into the game, 11-14, and the game was tied 3-3 going into the ninth inning. The line on the starting pitchers, Matt Garza for the visiting Cubs and Ian Kennedy for the D’backs, was almost the same as well: eight innings pitched (7.2 in Kennedy’s case), six hits, three runs, all earned. Garza was a bit sharper, striking out ten.

With D’back closer J.J. Putz on the mound, CF Marlon Byrd singled to center. He was thrown out at second (maybe) when C Geovanny Soto grounded into a fielder’s choice. From our seats close-in on the "Insight Diamond Level" it looked to us like SS Stephen Drew wasn’t on the bag. It also looked that way to Cubs manager Mike Quade, who got thrown out after arguing the call. But bad calls, if that was in fact what it was, often have a way of not mattering.

Tyler Colvin, pinch hitting for Garza, worked his way from 0-2 to a full-count walk. Colvin was thrown out on a grounder by RF Kosuke Fukudome, who out-ran the potential double-play and advanced Soto to third. Then the young middle infielders came to bat.  2B Darwin Barney singled to center, scoring Soto, and SS Starlin Castro singled to left, bringing Fukudome home. The 5-3 score stood up to the home team’s final at bat.
MLB Wrap-Up

It was a fun game to watch if you were rooting for the Cubs, as perhaps a third of the stadium was, including us. Although Arizona scored the first run in the bottom of the first, the Chicago fans saw the team score in the second, fourth and fifth. And it was very exciting to watch them pull ahead late in the game, especially after what appeared to be a blown call.

Construction began on the Paolo Soleri-designed Arcosanti in 1970. Envisioned as a union of architecture and ecology, Arcosanti was planned to one day be a live-work community of 5,000. However, four decades years later the small campus is home to approximately 65 permanent residents and we saw little evidence they are in any rush to realize the original intention.

Norton asked about the use of solar power and I inquired about gray-water management but neither of these not very cutting-edge technologies are in use at the “urban laboratory.” Arcosanti appears now to be an artists colony where residents are able to follow their bliss when not casting expensive wind chimes for sale, teaching workshops and performing communal chores. Sustainable design has left Arcosanti in the desert dust, but tours of the handful of buildings and overnight stays bring in over a half-million a year.

Taliesin West was the summer home and workshop of Frank Lloyd Wright, once the most well-known and prolific architect in America. After the death of the architect in 1959, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation transformed the facility over time.  The very small school—my section of studio was 40 percent as large as the combined enrollment of the undergraduate and graduate programs—is now accredited and the residence converted to a shrine to Wright, who has a popular appeal even to those not generally interested in architecture.  On a beautiful weekend at the end of April, our tour consisted of approximately 25 people.  All I ask is for Joe Ricketts to give my idea some thought.

On the way to the baseball game, we stopped to check out the Phoenix Financial Center (Wenceslaus Sarmiento, 1968 and 1972), proving we are interested in architecture. Having previously confused the Broadmoor, in Colorado Springs, with the Biltmore, in Phoenix, I now learn that neither were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Isn't travel edifying?

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