From Tahoe to Rhino
Before studying Architecture at RISD, Joshua Bohar MArch 16 traveled the world as a professional snowboarder and photographer.
After shredding the slopes at Lake Tahoe, a younger Joshua Bohar MArch 16 and his snowboarding crew made their way to a nearby lodge and casino to try their luck at the crowded poker tables. At the time, it was bitterly cold in the western ski town. But, wearing furry gorilla suits and monkey masks, the band of riders remained toasty as they got into the game. The silly exhibitionism was an attention-grabbing ploy meant to drum up support for the apparel company Bohar had started several years earlier with his close friend Joshua Hudson.
During the height of its success, the company sold hoodies and tank tops out of a spray-painted trailer at the base of the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships, an Olympic qualifying event then held in Stratton, VT. Even though the entrepreneurial venture folded years ago, Bohar says the life lessons gleaned from running a small business will prove handy – especially after he graduates with a master’s degree in Architecture. “The company was a highly successful social experiment,” notes Bohar. “We’d attend each snowboarding event wearing ridiculous costumes to get people to spread the word. It was a spectacle that turned out to be a surprisingly effective guerilla-marketing strategy.” The experience also taught him that veering off the beaten path can yield unexpected discoveries.
This is just one of a seemingly endless list of stories the lanky athlete can recount about his past exploits. Some of his most thrilling accounts date back a decade or more, when Bohar was sponsored by NITRO, Morrow and FLOW to shred in global snowboarding competitions as a C-grade rider. During his international travels, he also photographed his peers’ snow stunts for Carbon Magazine and other publications.
“At the height of my professional career, I was paid in free travel, free lift passes and free team house living. A lot of my friends went on to establish really successful snowboarding careers,” he notes. “But competitions weren’t really my scene – photography and film were.”
Despite the jock exterior, school was ultimately always a part of Bohar’s game plan. Prior to moving out West, he completed an associate’s degree from Johnson State College in Vermont where, not surprisingly, he was the president of the campus snowboarding club. In 2008 he left Lake Tahoe to enroll at City College of San Francisco and later went on to study cognitive neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. There he worked as a research assistant in the Perelman School of Medicine’s Unit for Experimental Psychiatry.
For Bohar it wasn’t much of a mental hurdle to acclimate to RISD’s creative culture – though he finds the coursework plenty challenging. In the fall, he learned about the origin of contemporary design and construction processes in Architectural Projection, a course taught by Architecture Critic Nicholas Brinen. For his final project, he built a schematic rendering of a double helix using Rhino to showcase his mastery of spatial manipulation and computer modeling.
“We’re learning how to take our ideas and communicate them to the world,” notes Bohar. “That’s an imperative skill to have because, as architects, we’re not designing in a vacuum. Our manmade constructions influence society in both obvious and imperceptible ways.”
Bohar also found his faculties tested in The Making of Design Principles, a course taught by Associate Professor Hansy Better Barrazzathat explores design principles common to architecture and landscape architecture. “I’m surrounded by gifted artists who are phenomenally creative,” he notes. “We’re constantly pushing each other to make better work and I hope to continue to learn from everyone here.”
During Wintersession, Bohar is exploring the finer points of transhumanism in Human + Computer, a series of extracurricular workshops taught by graduate students working in the MIT Media Lab. The idea of the workshops is to teach relevant technical skills in electronics, digital fabrication and programming so that participants can build wearable devices meant to enhance our quality of life.
“I don't know what exactly my future holds,” Bohar admits, “but I never want to stop being curious. It would be a sad day when I stop searching for answers. To me it’s important to continue asking questions – because life’s beauty lies in the unknown.”
· RISD’s department of Architecture
· MIT Media Lab