Great stories of life occur all of the time. Sometimes these stories are blatantly obvious, and sometimes they are not. I don’t know all the particulars of this story, but I do know of the best part and it has provided a lot of laughter from all involved.

I had a group of very close-knit friends during my time at Art Center and there are awesome stories that transpired from every single one of them. We were kids in the broad scope of life essentially, and of course we travelled through our days as if we knew everything and could handle anything that came our way. We had been, after all, ‘accepted’ into Art Center which is no easy task. Stories about these close friends will no doubt help to populate the pages of the Art Center tab on this website.

Not in any particular order, my ‘group’ became: Elizabeth, Elaine, Lexi, Mike, Dean, Kevin, and Hollie. The group of us all came from different parts of the country, which was awesome in itself. We all had our own stories. These peeps were my very closest ‘besties’ and all of them are still on that ‘bestie’ podium to this day. Point of disclaimer…in the early to mid 80’s the term ‘besties’ did not exist.

Environmental Design was not my Major at Art Center, but it was part of the Industrial Design trifecta that included Product Design, and Transportation Design as well. Environmental Design was focused on the art and architecture not only of the building itself, but also the surrounding grounds on which the architecture was a footprint.

Long before simple electronic transfer of money that anyone could do at anytime, and when people still needed to go to a physical bank for withdraw and deposit of funds, there was the advent of the ‘Automated Teller’. Wow, was that a strange concept but we could all see that more and more bank institutions were beginning to include them as part of their available customer service resources.

A project that was assigned in one of the Environmental Design classes was to design a bank and its new automated teller ‘experience’. Not sure if the project had included the entire bank and its front Elevation, or just the front elevation of the bank itself along with the newly added automated teller, and its entrance. This added feature is something that most people do not give second thought but there are a lot of design considerations that cannot, or should not, be ignored.

As most all general public was yet to step-up to the convenience of a Debit Card, the automated tellers were required to include a writing surface for use by any patron who approached this newfangled electronic ‘teller’. Art Center projects had multiple requirements that must be met in order to fulfill the necessary assignment parameters. A specific requirement for this project was to include an available surface area for check-writing. One of the project deliverables for final presentation, and (critique) ‘crit’ day, was a rendered elevation of the bank and its featured automated teller.

Lexi was a wonderful friend and still is to this day. Alexandra is her full first name but we all knew her as Lexi. Quite possibly there are family and friends that might call her either/or Lexi, or Lex. In my family we were used to shortening everyone’s name and I was called Rud. It’s pronunciation sounds derogatory but it was never meant as such, and I never took it that way. Pronounced ‘rude’, it was just part of my name. Therefore it only made sense for me to call Lexi, Lex. She was, and still is an ‘artsy chick’. I really liked that. The silly goofiness in all of us at Art Center was simply who we were, and it was always oh-so-fun to be silly and goofy together.

Who knows the level of physical exhaustion and lack of brain power any of us had on any given day, and on this particular day when ‘the project’ was assigned. The instructor had stated the words ‘Check-Writing’ along with “Make sure to provide an area for check-writing in your final rendering”, apparently all Lexi heard was the word Chuckwagon. Awesome. Anyone familiar with American History is well aware of the absolute necessity of a Chuckwagon during the early days of exploration and migration, so perhaps Lexi thought by including it somewhere in the design would pay some type of homage to the past.

How eclectic, a bit of America’s past history all rolled up in a modern day bank concept.

And so Lexi made sure to include a Chuckwagon in her final design and presentation.

On final presentation day everyone proudly affixed all their pencil and marker sketches onto the whiteboard lined room. An expected and very significant piece to any presentation would always be a final rendering of the project that would be be placed on the narrow shelf at the whiteboard’s base.

I’m not sure what everyone else in the class must have thought as they perused the room of final student presentations and renderings, and I am not sure if Lexi thought twice of anything different of hers from the others. Something different there definitely was.

‘Hmmm…No one else included a Chuckwagon in their presentation’….

Miscellaneous thoughts that possibly entered Lexi’s mind: -Why did everyone else besides me not follow all the assignment requirements? -Am I the only one who heard the required element to include a Chuckwagon in my final design? -Maybe the Chuckwagon is part of everyone else’s design but will be showcased as a ‘special feature’ that is only displayed seasonally, like Santa Claus and other Christmas decorations. -Oh I know, no one else was as confident as I was to render a scale-model Chuckwagon so why even attempt it? -Wow, I’m really going to get the additional ‘Bonus Points’ for my project now!

The bank’s elevation rendering, with its automated teller in perfect view of the bank’s front face had a Chuckwagon. Just……………… there.


It wasn’t until the actual crit, when asked by the instructor in compete puzzlement,…”What is this?” Still not without doubting justification, Lexi replied that it was a Chuckwagon. And when the instructor asked “Why is it here?”, Lexi innocently responded with “I thought we were to make sure to leave room for a Chuckwagon in our final design.”

And that she did.

Man was our ‘group’s’ laughter later in the day just bursting as a result of Lexi’s misinterpreted faux paw! I doubt the final rendering still exists in physical form, but I can still picture it’s image in my head, and that alone brings back many fond memories of my years and lifelong friends at Art Center.

We love our wonderfully silly and lifelong friend, Lex!

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