December 7, 2016
Amanda Rosenfeld

Hi again! This is Amanda Rosenfeld, based in our Miami Office, and currently here in the Dallas headquarters during my quarter in the Xchange Fellowship.   Born and raised in the warmth of the Florida sun, I have only really experienced two types of seasons: rainy and hot/humid.  While I have been here in “Big D,” I am starting to learn what cold is - or at least what cold is for me.  At the time of my last post, the temperature had only dropped below 70° a few times, and now I have seen the 40s. And it keeps getting colder. BRRR 

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I recently had the great opportunity to attend the AIA 2016 Leadership Institute.  The Institute conference was a full day event that was loaded with different lectures and panel discussions focused on leadership.  The event was held simultaneously in five cities across the United States, and conveniently one of those cities was right here in Dallas.  The day included three lectures that were broadcast nationwide, and then Dallas hosted two panel discussions about architects as community leaders.  In the first nationally broadcast lecture, Roselinde Torres, a senior leader in the people and organization practice area, focused on the difference between a 20th century leader and a 21st century leader.  The 21st century leader has many different challenges and opportunities to deal with, due to technology enhancements, the change in workforce demographics and new emphasis on social responsibility.  She also explained that the best leaders will demonstrate the ability to prepare for and adapt to an uncertain and ambiguous world, as we cannot predict how the work force will continue to change and evolve.  The second presentation was given by leadership and organization consultants and covered self-leadership, leadership traits and behaviors, and how we need to learn by example whether positive or negative lessons.  The last national presentation was given by Katherine Darntadt, AIA.  She began her talk with several thought-provoking statements. In architecture, we call firms “practices” and practice means we are always working to get better; Leaders will have to follow at some point; and be bold enough to care and naive enough to dare. Her presentation explained how she was able to overcome the recession by forming her own practice, focusing primarily on social architecture, and applying a philosophy of needing to break the routine and follow your passion.  The Dallas panel discussions presented many interesting ideas, such as how architects would be able to accomplish more by focusing less on who gets the credit; to using the movie Men in Black to help provide an understanding of intergenerational relationships and mentorship.

Dallas_ASR2My family and I are a pretty tight knit group, and since we normally live so close to each other, being here made me realize how much I miss them.  Luckily for me, my parents and my sister were able to come visit me and get to explore Texas for the first time.  They were here for a week, and we did so much during that short amount of time.  On the first day, I needed to work, so they spent the day experiencing all things Kennedy - Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll - where “X” marks the spot where John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the Sixth Floor Museum- where Lee Harvey Oswald sat by the window to take the fatal shots and now a museum dedicated to JFK’s life, and the Kennedy Memorial designed by Philip Johnson.

The next day, we explored the western styles of the Fort Worth Stockyards.  We also had some interesting experiences with GPS maps and Dallas traffic, discovering that it is tough to cross four lanes of rush hour traffic to get to the exit in one minute! Before we got to the stockyards, we made one “quick” pit-stop to buy cowboy boots- because who goes to Texas and doesn’t get a pair? Haha. What we thought would be a quick shopping trip turned into a two-hour lesson on Boots 101.  We learned about the different types and sizes, how to pick the correct one for us and how to take care of them. 

As soon as we arrived at the Fort Worth Stockyards, we could see the change in atmosphere- from urban city to real country.   It is amazing how this small portion of the city has been preserved – it presents a side of Texas that us “city folk” have not seen before.  The first thing we did was EAT! We went to this great steakhouse for lunch. Now for those of you who don’t know me, I have a personal rule when traveling – I need to try at least one thing new! This life style has gotten me to explore new cultures in a very open-minded way – trying things from escargot to roasted crickets! So while the rest of my family ordered steak (which was delicious), I got calf fries, but I won’t explain what that is here- if you know, you know, if you don’t, you can look it up. haha  After lunch, we went to a fun show acting out certain cultural lifestyles of the cowboys and the Indians.  We saw the Fort Worth herd meander through the main street and we walked around the shops.  We also watched an amusing “gun show” between the sheriff and deputy versus the bandits – fortunately, the gun fight used all blank rounds because they have to reuse the actors for the next skit.  My sister and I ran around in a cattle pen maze, searching for all the clues that would help lead us to the exit; finishing in less than ten minutes. Then came time to go to the real rodeo! It was such a neat experience- seeing people competing in cattle herding, bull/bronco riding, and horse riding.  Everything happened so fast, while at the same time seemed to move so slow - bull riders had to stay on the bull for only 8 seconds, which normally would seem like nothing, but in those few seconds it seemed like an eternity (I can’t imagine how the riders feel!) One of the girls riding in the barrel horse competition was only 6 years old, but she was riding pretty much as well as all the other girls three times her age, and it made you realize that this is their family sports, just as baseball is my family’s sport.

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The following day was back in Dallas, for another full day of fun! The first stop was Pioneer Plaza to run with the cattle and explore the Pioneer cemetery, where we learned about some of the first people who moved out to Dallas.  We then headed into Deep Ellum to wait 45 minutes for some delicious BBQ at Pecan Lodge.  After wandering through the streets of Deep Ellum and finding all sorts of cool murals and sculptures of traveling men, we found our way to the George W. Bush Library and Museum.  Here we sat in the oval office and acted as President and First Family, learned about the past president’s policies, and saw the notes from many of his speeches (which I took a keen interest in, as I continue on my Toastmaster’s journey).  Before my family headed back to Miami, we were able to go back to Fort Worth one more time and get all you can eat BBQ beef ribs, go to the Fort Worth Museum and learn about its history, pet and take pictures on one of the Fort Worth herd longhorns.  We also went to the Red Museum to learn about the history of Dallas; have a “chicken and waffle” dinner; and go to the Reunion Tower where we watched the sunset reflect on the city.

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The following weekend I was off to Houston where I visited the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.  The first thing I did there was go on a tour to see the old Mission Control room. The tour guide who drove us around the campus provided us with many interesting facts, such as that the scientists shared this area with longhorn herds, and that there is a tree planted in honor of every person who helped advance the research of space science.  When we arrived at the old mission control—and it like a step into the past, with everything carefully preserved just as it was in the 1960s.  We learned that the screens in the room were not computers but just monitors relaying information from one computer that was the size of a room, and that the little speaker box on the Public Relations desk was where all of our famous space quotes were heard from.  I also happen to sit one chair over from where the Queen of England had sat in the mission control viewing room!  We also watched a live feed of the current mission control room for the International Space Station. Another highlight of the Space Center tour was to see a Saturn V Rocket that was used in a NASA Apollo mission, and is on loan from The Smithsonian.  This rocket type was used to take astronauts around the earth and to the moon.

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Getting back into our project at work after days of adventures, the week days seemed to go by faster, and all of a sudden it was Friday again.  This past Friday was an exciting day because I got to visit the Union site.  The Union is a mixed-use residential, commercial, office, and parking building; and when we arrived there the construction team was just pouring concrete to form one of the columns in the residential portion.  Our group saw the beginning of the concrete basement walls.  Saturday was a fairly wet day, so I went on a long excursion to experience some of the malls of Dallas.  My first stop was the Galleria.  Here I wandered aimlessly around floors of shops and snack places.  I was also (after a 45-minute wait) able to go ice-skating around a huge Christmas tree in the four story atrium space. I then went to North Park Mall, which has a great combination of shops and art.  Sunday was a much dryer day, so I walked around the city, going from Pegasus Plaza to City Hall and a few more cool places in between. And, luckily for me, the weekend’s fun didn’t end there, because on Monday, Chang Guo invited me to a Dallas Maverick game.  They played against the Charlotte Hornets, and even though they lost, I had a great time seeing them play and having great conversations with Chang.

The rest of this week should be interesting, leading up to our HKS holiday party, with our Miami office and the rest of the Southeast regional offices arriving in town to celebrate a year of accomplishments, but more about that next time!

Tagged @HKSXchange, Amanda Rosenfeld, Dallas, HKS, HKS Architects, HKS Xchange Fellowship, Miami, Xchange

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