Tonight I know that i will leave
The fight is done
And slowly as i say goodbye
I need to speak
And say my love for close-knit friends.
Support, support was what they gave
They made me live.
To die, not old, cocooned in love
Transferring through a point in time
To somewhere else
A gift we have no right to ask
And its mine.
My brainwaves span the cool night air
And tap goodbye to friends unseen.
Will they go on and span in time
My after life
I’d like to know.
an engineer imagines – peter rice 1992
i got the sad news right after i checked my messages following my second week of teaching. after initial disbelief, i was overcome with a warm feeling and tried to remember why this news touched me so deeply. the first time i met jim was for a project meeting for a native student dorm and learning center for alaska pacific university in anchorage. that must have been around 1999 and i was tasked with working out the details for some skylights and bridge structures within the building. i remember being deeply impressed by jim’s quiet and gentle way to guide us to a solution that would work with the goals set out for the particular spaces. the entire architectural team was positive surprised to have found a structural engineer that we could work with in partnership and someone who was willing to advance our vision with us. these project meetings would always end up being a well cherished regular all day event with many times adjusting his return flight to fairbanks to accommodate our progress. ( i am sure eileen can attest to that…..)
i don’t really remember if i gave jim my book about peter rice, an engineer imagines after the project ended, but i think the story of this irish visionary, that had passed away by cancer all too soon, cemented our bond and became our foundation for the work that followed. we enlisted jim’s expertise and services for some of our best work. we shared a common belief in that how we construct our build environment, our values and aspirations for future generations are exposed. many times we would compare notes after the alaska design forum lecture guests had long left the stage and nurtured our faith in what at times seemed impossible in our daily pursuits. i am particular fond of two projects that we worked on together. our first residential commission as a young firm, features so many fine details that bare jim’s influence, in particular i remember some arm wrestling about the smallest stainless steel column size that we could get away with for the support of one of the house corners. the other project is the “house for a musher” where jim gave us the option of resolving all the lateral loads in two concrete pillars set back to have an unobstructed view of mount mc kinley. an excellent example of jim’s thinking, where with modest ways and without drawing attention to it you can resolve all the forces beautifully.
we will all greatly miss jim. our condolences to eileen and family.