Yesterday after work, James and I left the office and went to the Discovery Museum in the Rivermarket to attend a memorial service for a friend. Rick had a lot of friends, which was pretty evident from the packed house. Rick Redden was one of the most influential architects, if not the most, working for downtown of our time. Together with Jimmy Moses and John Allison, they formed AMR architects in 1982 and from then on, set about reshaping and reinventing downtown. And when Jimmy and John eventually left the firm to continue their passion for downtown on their own, Rick remained as the face of AMR. Rick was pivotal in the creation of the Rivermarket District that Little Rock enjoys today as well as many other projects downtown, from the high rise condos to the interiors of local restaurants and businesses that were eager to set up shop and contribute to the excitement of downtown.
The summer of 2005, I was lucky enough to be hired on at AMR as a summer intern. I got to work on the 300 Third Tower some, and other smaller projects around town. I also came back that following winter to work during the Christmas break where I got to participate in the brainstorming session for the Rivermarket South District, the area around the new Rivermarket Tower building.
My favorite (or at least most memorable) story at AMR though didn’t have anything to do with any of these projects. One morning I was working on a model and while I was cutting a piece of museum board with an x-acto knife, the tip of the blade broke off. Now don’t worry. Everything turns out fine and this has a happy ending, but the microscopic tip flew up and into my eye! My eye started tearing up, trying to remove the foreign object but it wouldn’t come out. I started to get a little panicked and told Laura at the front desk what had happened. She pulled Rick out of the middle of the meeting and he immediately took me to the eye doctor. I felt pretty bad. I knew my boss had just left a client in the middle of the meeting to run my stupid self to the doctor. The eye doctor called us in and sat me the chair and he put his microscope up to my eye and just said “oh wow! Rick, do you want to see this?” All I could think was please get this*#@$! thing out of my eye now!!!!! He finally to a cotton swap to my eye and the blade tip floated right out with the tears. I can’t remember exactly what the doctor said but basically the floating shrapnel had almost severed something in my eye and I was lucky I wasn’t blind! Before I sat down in the chair, the doctor had dilated my pupils so Rick had to lead me out of the doctor’s office while I wore those huge black glasses they give you. I was sooooooo embarrassed. But Rick had a way of lightening the mood. and drove us back to the office. After much gasping and laughing from the rest of the office, I went back to my desk to finish the day wearing those huge ugly glasses.
It was after that that I knew, Rick wasn’t my boss, he was my friend. And I contribute my passion curiosity and excitement about downtown to him.
My only regret is that we never got to have that banjo bongo drums and fiddle jam session we talked about.
Thanks Rick for all you have done. You may be missed but you’ll always be remembered.