Design is a verb not a noun... - 03/28/2012
“I seem to be a verb” (Buckminster Fuller)…is a simple response to a fundamental question of contemporary design practice – how can young emerging architects become transformative forces for good? If design is seen as both product and process these need not be mutually exclusive propositions, but I would argue that as an architect in an industry that is deemed a professional service — the process does seem the non-negotiable portion of the equation and the elusive differentiator. Let me explain…
PAST IS PROLOGUE
It began innocently enough, just a simple drive to a museum and then to the airport. But that was only the itinerary; it by no means describes the implications of that day in May 2001, Nor where I would find myself almost ten years later…and thankfully a few pounds lighter – but I digress…
I picked Mr. Libeskind up at his hotel early the morning of his flight and proceeded to drive. Admittedly, I thought I would find myself at a loss, but the conversation steadily grew to a frenetic pace. Stanley Meisler in an article for Smithsonian later described ”An interview with Libeskind is more like a conversation, and his good humor and mischievous smile are so infectious that you cannot help liking him and wanting to be liked by him. (Smithsonian 3/2003)” I wanted to be liked by this passenger of mine. He asked about my experiences and relayed tales of his own defiance of the establishment and desire to push himself into the void of practice. Recalling later in the aforementioned interview, “Ever since I began working, I have had an abhorrence of conventional, pristine architectural offices.” At some point, Libeskind predicted, I would find myself with a similar restlessness. We toured the Kimbell, he made his flight and I thought more of the connection that day.
Before we exited through the gift shop, I realized my penchant for studying emerging architects and their connection to the academy was not a fools errand. It was more a means to design a future and connect to a new life.
I did not grow up in a family of architects (though interestingly my daughter has) and I more than empathize with the plight of an immigrant wanting to realize their own individual American Dream. When my family moved to this country we left our own network behind and learned to connect with this place. I credit my parents with my innate curiosity. Whether it was the family trips to American monuments, historical markers or places none of us had ever heard of or studied, the curiosity of place, community and the power of education were ingrained in me at an early age. Likewise, as witnessed by my #coffeesketch, I have always been encouraged to express my creativity through drawing. Thankfully these moments shaped an appreciation for a profession I was fortunate to find as well as a realization that education was intrinsically tied to it. Amidst these ideas, I would soon find myself leaving practice to teach full time as a Visiting Professor of Architecture. In the classroom, like in practice, design fostered connection -- a language to build from, or merely a means to view the world differently and ask what if. A world of possibilities... A world designed... A world connected...
In my Ford Explorer, deep in the heart of Texas — unaware of future events, Libeskind sat attentively and described a passion for design and humanism, of teaching, and of challenging accepted notions of architecture. Time would flow in two directions from this event horizon. inadvertently I would establish a similar intermundium – a world of academia and practice of my own design eventually leading to the re-launch of an architecture studio. But that day I was merely driving Mr. Libeskind, the future architect of Ground Zero prognosticating my own ground zero.
This is my own ground zero, this will be different…HA does not just ‘think outside the box,’ we deconstruct it with every intention of designing our work and sharing our experience through dialogue. HA is built on a desire to CONNECT with our clients, our peers as collaborators and the places where we are fortunate to visit and work. This is the time and it will be different…thanks Daniel.
To design is to embody a dialogue of wishes, ideals, images, forms, functions, fictions, materials, processes amidst a management of constraints: time, budget, quality, regulations and decision making. We are trained as problem solvers, synthesizers of information with an apt for creative and aesthetic solutions. We are in an eternally optimistic profession that revels in sharing our theories and work, often in dialogue with ourselves. But, the advent and proliferation of social networks allows us to engage a broader dialogue, filtering the stream of irrelevant information and building networks of actual people with thoughts, feelings, and ideas -- about us, our families, our friends, our companies, and the world around us.
*** VIEWS: Is a series of ideas and work that inspires our studio. Today, Jamie Crawley, AIA contributes to The American Institute of Architects inaugural blog-off series bringing together architectural bloggers March 25-31 to discuss how DESIGN CONNECTS ***