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Older, Better, Faster, Stronger


Those words are stamped on a gold ring that I wear around my middle finger of my left hand.  I had the ring made for myself after my 52nd birthday, to remind myself that I am where I want to be and just getting better each year.  A few men joked about me being 29 on my birthday, and this year it really got to me.  Why is being 29 better than 52?  I’ve been studying and practicing architecture since today’s 29 year old was a baby. I’m going to celebrate that!  

We’ve got an issue with anti-aging in this society, and I wonder why it serves anyone to keep feeding that idea.  If today’s 29 year old doesn’t die first, she will eventually get to be 52, and lucky her.  52 is experience, strength, gaining on wisdom and speed.  

How does Older, Better, Faster, Stronger translate into a design philosophy?  Anyone remember the Six Million Dollar Man?  “We can rebuild him…better, faster, stronger”.  What would the bionic treatment look like in a house?  Pretty exciting to contemplate.  Reviving old houses with the latest technologies and setting them up to protect, inspire and comfort for the next 100 years, that is a fun career. 

Since I was a little girl I’ve loved old houses. I grew up in houses from the 1700s that had been modified and expanded through the years. I don’t just love the old grand ladies with their curved doors, stained glass and turrets, or the ones with the wide pine floors, hand forged door latches and windows’ walks. Just a regular old house steals my heart, the kind that has been around for a while and seen generations of families come and go, each leaving their mark. These solid and hardworking houses deserve a new life, and my mission is to give it to them.  Older, Better, Faster, Stronger.

There is nothing I like more than meeting a house that has been neglected for a while, or lived in hard.  The rugs are almost liquified and a nondescript grey.  The wallpaper is peeling, often several layers.  Turquoise or pink toilets and tubs are hard to look at for all the grime. Sometimes there are holes in the flooring, birds nesting in the soffits and 50 years of tobacco stains on the ceilings and walls.  The new owner is excited and hopeful, and I’m there to help her every step of the way from imagining an expanded floor plan to finding and securing a builder to planning her housewarming party once the project is complete. 

Other houses aren’t as down on their luck, they just need an expansion and a face lift. Their owners want to bring the house into the 21st century and be ready to face the future.  The future of the family might require reconfiguring and adding space while the future of humans living on the earth requires added insulation, alternative energy sources and an environmentally friendly renovation. 

Older, better, faster, stronger design approach looks at the existing building and site and determines how it can best serve its people using sustainable practices and advanced technologies. The process respects an older home and her history, and acknowledges that although they are older, the houses can keep up with the times.  They don’t make them like they used to, as they say.  With some attention to detail, her best assets can shine.

I have plenty to say on this subject, so stay tuned.

On my right hand I wear a silver ring stamped BADASS, but that is a story for another day.