So: I am researching Royal W. Lescher, a 20th century architect who takes credit for many landmark civic buildings in and around Phoenix. I am building a case to stabilize a certain historic building that he designed in 1912.
I am at a loss for uncovering personal background on Lescher. He was an architect the same period as Frank Lloyd Wright. You can find out what cape Wright wore to a ground breaking ceremony but there is not one photograph of Lescher. How can this be?
He listened to his client.
I did find some answers in a field of alfalfa on Tuesday. Lily my 9 year old had an assignment in social studies. Instead of trolling the internet I put on my Tevas, filled up my Nalgene bottle and we drove out to the vast fields of agriculture that is a minutes' drive from Serbin Studio. We pulled off into a dirt entry by a canal with a head gate. There was an old tire covered in bird drops under a gigantic shade tree that had branches like a living room touching the dirt. Lily had on her plaid Bermudas and tan tiny cowgirl boots. We tromped along the densely packed field of green looking for an opening to find some black birds. Red winged black birds are a great way to learn about social networking. The field acted like an ocean in a dry desert. The wind would push out pockets of cool earthy breaths of air. We sat and waited on a dry cracked piece of ground and were surrounded by green stalks. We could hear the chucks and konk-la-wees of the red winged blackbirds calling to each other.
A couple birds flew overhead and I had my camera aimed and ready. The General and a couple of lieutenants with bright red epaulets flew overhead to check us out. Lily found a black feather on the cracked brown earth. It is a good day when you can stop and hide in a field of green.
Royal could have stopped on this same dirt road to add more fluid to his sputtering Model T Ford. He could have taken his leather bound journal and walked into the field searching for a cool place to sit. Black birds have a way of answering questions when designing something so rigid like a courthouse, where gravitas is expected.
Neoclassical Revival Style is what he chose for the courthouse. This means throwing out fancy details that don't do anything but look cute. Fancy cherubs hide the structure and pure lines of how the building is supported. Lescher was about simplicity and truth, wanting to express only what was needed.
Simple ideas are beautiful.