HOW WE NAME BUILDINGS
from left to right: Carmen Joseph Vigil III, Carmen Joseph Vigil V, Carmen Joseph Vigil II, and
Carmen Joseph Vigil IV
I have one of the most awesome names in the universe. . . Velvet Brandy Delicia LeMae. My mom gets credit for the first three. She told me she found them in a book. According to her, Velvet is my “pretty” name, Brandy is my “everyday” name, and Delicia is my “lucky” name. I’ve always gone by Brandy, except for in my early 20’s when I moved to LA and wanted to re-invent myself. I tried for about 9 months to go by Velvet, but it just didn’t stick. According to my mother, my father wanted to name me Kimberly Psychedelicia. I’m glad my mom won the naming debate. By the way, I was named Brandy five years BEFORE the Looking Glass song, Brandy You’re a Fine Girl, came out (no need to do the math, just keep reading please).
My last name, LeMae, is my own invention. After briefly taking my first husband’s last name when I was just 21, I legally changed it to LeMae in my late 20s when I decided it was time to honor the women who raised me. LeMae is a conjunction of Lee (my mother’s middle name) and Mae (my grandmother’s middle name). I love my last name and feel like it really suits me. It’s my ‘brand”.
My husband has an interesting name as well, Carmen Joseph Vigil IV. While attending NAU (Norther Arizona University) I took this amazing humanities class where we studied Merimee’s novella and Bizet’s opera “Carmen” and many various versions of it including film and ballet. It was one of my all time favorite classes. When Joseph and I started dating (in 1992) and I found out his first name was Carmen, I was pretty surprised because in my world, Carmen is a woman’s name. But in his family it has been a man’s name for five generations. If that isn’t proof enough, Wikipedia confirms that Carmen is a unisex name.
OUR DAUGHTER’S NAME
When we got pregnant in 2000, I had two choices: 1) come up with an amazing name for our child that would trump my own amazing name or 2) continue Joseph’s family tradition and name our child, Carmen Joseph Vigil V. I can’t really say for sure if it was because I was worried I’d never be able to come up with a name better than my own, or because I thought it would be super cool to name our kid “the fifth”, but it didn’t take me long to settle on the later. And we are now parents of a cool chick named Carmen Joseph Vigil V. She swears up and down that the name stops with her and that there will NOT be a Carmen Joseph Vigil VI, but only time will tell.
NOW, WHAT ABOUT BUILDINGS?
I believe that buildings are like children and they need names too. Naming a building gives it a soul and a brand. Back in the day (2001) when Joseph and I first started our firm, we mostly designed houses and they have names like: Hickory House, Lab House, Courtyard House, Ghost House, The Sister, and The Brother.
When we bought the commercial building for our office in 2008, I decided to honor its history as both an adult book store AND candy shop by naming it The Candy Shop Creative Offices and giving it a logo with a sexy, vintage twist. Even though our building hasn’t sold pornography in over 8 years, this logo still confuses former patrons who are looking for a quick fix. And yes, we still get those kind of visitors, just often enough to keep things interesting.
NAMES & LOGOS
The Charmer by Jonathan Segal, image from architectlist.com
Multifamily buildings are even more fun to name than single family homes because then we get to create a logo too. But, they are also more of a challenge because its not just about coming up with a fun name, it about creating a brand and an identity for the building. I’m inspired by Architect / Developer Jonathan Segal who names buildings things like: The Cresta, The Charmer (probably my all-time favorite building name), The Titan, The Bluebox, and The Normal.
twenty37 walnut in Boulder
Sign fabrication by 20/20 Communication Signs, Boulder.
When Element Properties hired us to help them re-hab the small apartment complex at 2037 Walnut, they also engaged us to name the building and create a logo and signage. Inspired by Jonathan Segal, I suggested names like The Downtowner, The Agora, Rubi, yHome, and camp37. But the client felt that the location was the most important element of the building, so decided that we should call it twenty37. Check out the project portfolio.
The Aerie at Mariposa
Sign fabrication by Avalis Wayfinding Solutions, Fort Collins.
Would you rather live in “The Aerie” or “Mariposa Phase VI”? We got lucky with this building name; Joseph came up with it and basically informed the developer that we were now calling the building The Aerie. An aerie is the nest of a bird built up high. The building—located at 1090 Osage in Denver—is nest-like in shape as it contains a private inner courtyard. The logo was designed by Graham Bowman and is a geometric representation of a nest. The bird and nest theme is carried throughout the building in unit signage and artwork. Check out the portfolio page to see more images of this project, I just posted some interior photos of one of the units.
Spring Creek at Prairie Village
We originally wanted to call this building Maybeck after the Arts and Crafts architect, Bernard Maybeck as it is located in a Longmont sub-division that leans on the Arts and Crafts movement for its residential style and we were required by design covenants to do the same. Being familiar with the designs of Bernard Maybeck, Joseph looked to his architecture for initial inspiration for the conceptual design of the building. However, the naming took a different turn when the developer decided to ask his board members for suggestions. Spring Creek was voted the winner by the board and staff. Graham Bowman also designed the logo for Spring Creek. He was inspired by the trefoil designs found in Maybeck interiors. Spring Creek will contain a water feature and Colorado flood memorial designed by us as well.
Fall River at Prairie Village
Fall River will be located next door to Spring Creek, so it just made sense to name it Fall River. One of the consultants on the team was worried about the association with the Lizzie Borden murders, but I think the majesty of Old Fall River Road in Colorado trumps Lizzie Borden any day. Melissa McGinley developed this concept logo for the project. Check out the animation Ivan made.
Fifteen15 Flats at Sloan’s Lake
Mindmap brainstorming exercises.
Our most recent naming exercise is for a new micro-unit project at Colfax and Vrain in the West Colfax neighborhood. The site is located just a couple of blocks from Sloan’s Lake and the developer really wanted to capitalize on that proximity so initially referred to the project as Sloan’s Lake Lofts. But, I was hoping for something a little more exciting, so came up with a huge mind-map to illustrate how we brainstorm names. Some of the staff favorites were: Luna Park or The Luna, mazu, The Chester, Solstice4, and CLEO. (I was really gunning for The Chester or CLEO).
We were leery about calling the building “Sloan’s Lake Lofts” since it isn’t right on Sloan’s Lake, but the developer was adamant that he wanted to capitalize on the “Sloan’s Lake vibe”. That’s when I suggested we call the building SLOANvibe, but everyone in the office hated it and when I did a poll of my friends on Facebook, many of them said it sounded like a sex toy. (Well I do own an old porn shop after all…). So, the building is called Fifteen15 Flats @ Sloan’s Lake. We are currently working on logo and signage concepts and you can check out the animation Ivan made to see the building form.
do you name buildings you don’t design?
Well, as a matter of fact we do. The Denver Housing Authority hired us to name a couple of buildings designed by other architects. In this case we also developed mind-maps to capture all of our brain storming ideas and after several back-and-forths with the development group, landed on Arches and The Zephyr.
Arches at Mariposa
Arches (Mariposa Phase 2) by Oz Architecture. Sign fabrication and installation by Fast Signs, Denver.
The name, Arches, refers to the architectural style of the building, but I think the Project Manager at DHA liked it because he likes to visit Arches National Park.
The Zephyr at Mariposa
The Zephyr (Mariposa Phase 4) by Studio Completiva.
THANKS FOR READING
So what’s in a name? I think a lot!
Velvet Brandy Delicia LeMae
08 June 2016
COME BY AN SAY, “HI” on Thursday 6/9