To Pier 9, Thanks for Everything ! Answered
1. people are the greatest resource at the pier
2. sometimes it’s hard to work due to too much awesomeness
Seriously. Me and my collaborator, Radamés Ajna, had a couple of projects we wanted to do in the spring/summer of 2014, and while looking for some shop space in Oakland, someone recommended we check out the AiR program.
We applied. We thought that if we got accepted Autodesk would give us a desk, some nice hand tools, and access to their software. And that would’ve been great. Coming from Brazil, where it feels like we solve everything using hot glue, zip ties and duct tape, that would have been more than enough.
Weren’t we surprised when we visited the shop. . .
Holy crap, everything is here. Some of the machines are bigger than my apartment, and there’s even a swimming pool !
I’m pretty sure everyone has written about all the great machines, because, yeah, they are great, but to me, the most important aspect of being an AiR at the pier was the people.
The shop staff who not only teach you how to use the machines, but also have enough collective experience to help you solve any kind of material/machining/construction problem. Want to vacuum form foam? No problem. Want to glue glass to cement? Someone has done it before. Want to weld titanium? Easy. Having access to the tools is good, but having people that know how to use them is even more awesomenest.
The same is true for the CAD people who help you set up and use all kinds of modeling and design software. Not only that, but they get excited when you use their software. Not having had a lot of experience with 3D modeling prior to my residency, it was a great opportunity to learn it using Fusion 360.
Another very special group of people were the other AiRs. The ones that came in with us (Anouk, Alex, U-Ram, Adrien, Paolo, Scott, Mikaela) and the ones that were already there when we arrived (Andy, Aaron, Rima, Andreas, Ben). What a diverse crowd. It was great to get to know everybody, and also to be able to share experiences and expertise. I don’t even know how many times Paolo and Andy saved me from searching for “metal thing with a hole” or “thing with a thing inside” on google, because they knew exactly what I was looking for. Invaluable!
Sometimes it’s a bit tricky to explain your project and get everyone excited about it, because everyone has such a diverse background and set of interests, but learning how to talk about our projects from different perspectives was a challenge that I enjoyed.
And, last but not least, the IRL Instructables community; another very diverse, active and enthusiastic group of people at the pier. I don’t know how they do it, but it seems like they are always happy, and making cookies.
The sum of all of these people is something awesome. There’s always something interesting going on at the Pier (even at night and on the weekends), which sometimes can be a bit distracting, but also motivating.
I will sorely surely miss them all.