Carmen Arriaga-Bucher

BRS Goes To PHX: Office Retreat 2014

BRS Goes To PHX: Office Retreat 2014

The principals decided to go big this year and have the annual office retreat in Phoenix, Arizona after the retreat last year was unfortunately rained out. Thanks to hurricane Norbert, we almost experienced déjà vu. However, we squeaked by the rain and had wonderfully sunny and hot weather.

Our first stop was Kroc Phoenix. Complete in 2012 in collaboration with Dick & Fritsche Group, this 137,000 square foot community recreation centers has it all. For many of us, this was our first time seeing a Kroc Center. It was exciting to see one of our larger projects outside of Colorado. Though this building has many great attributes, I personally enjoyed the metal sun screens which are used to shade large windows while still providing natural light. The use of these shades was thoughtfully considered throughout the entire project, and we soon discovered that sun shades are a common feature in Phoenix. They are used out of necessity to keep large glass cool or outdoor spaces habitable, and it doesn't hurt that they also look great and are fun to design.

After breaking for a group lunch near the ASU Campus in Tempe, all 34 BRSers piled back into several Suburbans and headed to Taliesin West. Yes, you heard me right: we got to see Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home!  We toured through the striking complex gawking at every detail, listening to interesting stories and having flash backs to architectural theory class.  This "simple" desert camp grabs at the heart strings of any architect, but the relentless sun in this winter camp did eventually drive us way.

We took refuge from the hot sun at the Biltmore hotel, another site where Frank Lloyd Wright was heavily involved. After hearing of the building's wonderful history and experiencing some of the rooms in which it happened, we enjoyed a nightcap and then proceeded to our hotel in old town Scottsdale.

Our second day was a mad dash to see as many buildings as we could. The main stops included the ASU Tempe campus, Downtown Phoenix and the outlining suburban areas. Though most of us toured buildings throughout the day, one of the tour groups found that after their long lunch they needed to do some swinging pool design research at our hotel.

Once we were all back at the hotel, we took part in the traditional BRS retreat dinner. Unlike the stories I have heard from past retreats, there were no food competitions, or competitive games at all for that matter. Just amazing food and enjoyable conversation. The highlight of the dinner (other than the AMAZING food) was an old BRS tradition of personal awards. These awards are a great way to bond with and poke fun at your coworkers. Using clever anecdotes about each of us, Rick and his editors did a fantastic job. The dinner carried into the late night, with card games, conversation and rock pets.

The morning brought some of us to the airport and others found their way to an extended Arizona tour of the Grand Canyon or Arcosanti. I think we all left feeling pretty lucky and grateful that we work for a company that values its employees happiness and well-being.  Thank you BRS for a great retreat!

Posted by Carmen Arriaga-Bucher on September 25, 2014 at 04:07pm

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