—an interview with Epicenter Principal Jack Forinash and incoming summer intern Ryan Baxter
Photo: Ryan Baxter at Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite.
This May, Ryan Baxter will finish his final year of the five-year professional Bachelor of Architecture program at the University of Arizona’s College of Architecture, and then he’ll join Epicenter for the summer! Although he thinks he could live and work anywhere, he only see himself staying somewhere where he “can daydream effortlessly and where inspiration is as expansive as the skies.” Sounds like he was made for Green River, right? We think so.
“I haven’t made the same career plans that many of friends have made. In fact, I’m not sure where I’ll be in five years. I do, however, know that I will be working at a firm where I am engaged in every part of the design process. I have a never-ending interest in the field of making things and in the people who have the same desire to make our daily life a little better for all peoples.” –excerpt from a letter from Ryan to Epicenter.
Jack Forinash: Let’s start with your name. Who are you named after? If not anyone in particular, why did your parents chose this specific name?
Ryan Baxter: My mom says that my name was given to me because my dad insisted. My dad has no memory of this. My best guess is that it has something to do with the names of my brother and sister: all of our names start with an “R.”
J: How does this internship fit into your big picture/career/life?
R: This internship fits my belief that architecture (and all fields of design) are of public domain. The ideas that can give people a better life and enhance their experience of built and non-built environments should be available to everyone. Good design doesn’t need a large pocketbook when designers make good decisions based on intuition and understanding.
J: What about the natural landscape around Green River excites you most?
R: The skyscraper-lined street canyons of Manhattan and Chicago have nothing on their analogue. The way the sun bounces across the rippling rock walls and disappears to an early sunset, giving the twilight another hour or more to the canyon’s inhabitants is remarkable. I grew up hiking in Arizona’s canyons and it is clear to me that Green River has no lack of this fantastic beauty.
J: What would be (or what is) your superpower?
R: Flying and teleportation have their advantages sure, but the superpower that I have wanted for quite some time is the ability to instantly understand and speak any language (see Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “Babel Fish”). This power would not only be the ability to comprehend but to be essentially native, with all knowledge of idioms and dialects for the complete grasp of cultures, people, art, and love.
J: What book, movie, or person is significant to your work/process/life, and why?
R: It’s difficult to parcel out my library into only a few books that have inspired me the most; however, Ray Bradbury must be the author to whose stories my mind returns the most. His evocative landscapes, sculpted with a flowing poetic prose, may be the settings for his wonderful stories, but for me they are free-standing environments where things lay halfway in shadow and halfway in light.
J: What were you for the last Halloween?
R: My girlfriend and I went as Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi’s Duck and Decorated Shed (I was the shed).
J: What’s your favorite card or board game, and why?
R: My favorite board game would have to be Cranium; just as you get bored of Charades or Pictionary, you get to do a word puzzle or play with some clay.
J: You’re a Taurus. Do you invest any credit into the typical attributes of a Taurus?
R: I am a Taurus, but to be honest I never knew more than that until now. I suppose that I do exhibit some of the attributes assigned to the typical Taurus. I am loyal and dependable and I don’t mind taking the long way around if I think it’s the right way to do it. Though I normally wouldn’t associate myself with a bull. Really, if I were an animal, I’d be a wolf: independent and fiercely loyal to his pack. In this way, the description of the Taurus and the Wolf fit quite well together.
J: What are most looking forward to in your work with Epicenter?
R: I can’t wait to work with the people of Green River to develop a plan for downtown revitalization. I know that everyone will be bring a lot of energy and ideas to the table and I’m excited to be a part of the team that helps Green River plan its future.