I think when people heard the topic of the new ArchiTalk #5 “Favorite Things”, and you are of my generation or older most likely you had Julie Andrews twirling around in your head. So here’s a little Julie to twirl around for you too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33o32C0ogVM
As Julie can attest to, “When I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad”. Sometimes I, like many, the daily grind can weigh heavy and now and again we require a little pick me up to lift the spirits and remind us of just what it was that made us jumped head first into this profession. I know when I first heard the topic suggestion I thought this could be an easy write, it could be a post about “stuff”. A post that sings the glories of my pen collection surely they are some of my favorite things? Or maybe my passion for sketching? A favorite no doubt? On the ArchiSpeak podcast we just had our “Gifts for Architects” show, filled with wonderful things that could clearly become objects of my favorite things. But what is favorite to me is not the stuff that fills my shelves it is the memories that fills my mind, those memories of how it all began, of what brought me here, and why I still do this even when I am feeling particularly rough.
One of my very first memories in the profession was when I was wrapping up my second year at Auburn University I was told I was too young and inexperienced to work in a firm so why bother. Listen to them? Nah, I took a job as a summer intern in an office of one of the oldest firms in Montgomery Alabama. At the time this, like many other firms, was at that crossover stage from hand drawings to CAD. Only the real draftsman worked in CAD, so I got my feet wet in the old school way, which I relish to this day, which was the now mythical event called “hand-drafting”. Even though my first foray into putting ink to mylar was a disaster, so much that the project manager told me it was utter shit and that the drawing that took me a week to draw, needed to be redrawn I gotta say that even though that event was pretty disheartening it was a positive memory. It was a lesson that has stuck with me, it was a memory that forces me even today to be very particular in what is drawn and how its drawn. Another memory was from the same project manager that would come in daily and proclaim his hatred for the profession, hated everything that came with it. Hated it so much that his attitude brought down everyone sitting next to him, or in ear shot of him. For me the young intern this wasn’t anything I wanted to hear, I just got out of the army and had spent my time in service excitedly thinking of this career that is waiting for my future, and now that I am in school and working in the profession I have this hate filled man preaching to me what a mistake he made and WORSE, what a mistake I was making. SO before you read any further I want to share with you a proclamation I made from this lesson. This proclamation was “IF” I ever hate this profession as much as he did I would get out immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.00, nothing, because I have made this a jail. I truly feel that if you hate something so much, as clearly he did, you are not doing yourself, the profession or the anyone any favors by sticking around and poisoning the well and as I continued to work at this office, and on with my schooling I remembered his disdain for architecture forced me to remember just what it was that even drew me to this profession. In high school I was know for my doodling, so much that many people were surprised that when the school offered acceptance to artistically talented program, I continuously turned down (don’t ask, I don’t know why). So much that when it came time for deciding our future I declined going off to art school and instead went into the US Army (don’t ask, I don’t know why). Even more so when I said I wanted to be an architect instead of an artist. So what was it that made me follow this path? this one instead of making a career of the army? or art? It was a feeling.
I can’t exactly remember if it was 2nd or 3rd grade, but we were on a class trip to an art museum in downtown St. Petersburg Florida. I remember that my art teacher knew that I would be excited to go because even then I was know for my doodling so much so that I spent most of my time in my other classes doodling. Math, was the class I was most proud of, I could decorate the math books with some of the most whimsical drawings imaginable. I though my art was so good that I felt I could make an F (in math) on my report card look like a B without anyone noticing…my dad noticed. Back to this class trip we were going to visit with some of the masters Monet, Matisse and Picasso and though I was amazed at the art, it was that feeling, it was that feeling that captured me, that feeling of walking into the beautiful sky lit atrium and becoming overwhelmed with the feeling of the space. Today through experience and education I can explain that feeling with quantifiable wordsmithing but at 7 or 8 I discovered the raw power of architecture, the emotion though a kids eye, not one of bloviating about that shadow play or massing, no it was raw and simple, it was from the gut. I didn’t know it at the time, but I did remember it. AND THAT, is the memory that hooked me, pushed me and kept me.
So even though sometimes the profession wears you down, sometimes you feel stressed and angered, just remember that memory, that one that kept you going through those long studio nights, or the occasional all night because of a pressing deadline. Remember that one memory that pushed you in the direction of architecture and smile…because nothing you love doesn’t come without hard work, so remember it
This was entry #5 (4 for me) in the ArchiTalks series that I am participating in with some other wonderful practitioners of this crazy art of architecture so please click the link below and read about everyone else favorite things:
Bob Borson, Life of An Architect @bobborson – My Favorite Things … again
Matthew Stanfield, FiELD9: architecture @FiELD9arch – 9 Things i Like
Marica McKeel, Studio MM @ArchitectMM – A Few of My Favorite Things
Jeff Echols, Architect Of The Internet @Jeff_Echols – How I Get Through My Day: My Favorite Things
Lee Calisti, AIA, Think Architect @LeeCalisti – favorite things (at least a few)
Mark R. LePage, Entrepreneur Architect @EntreArchitect – Six Simple Acts that Make My Day
Evan Troxel, Archispeak Podcast / TRXL @etroxel – My Favorite Things
Lora Teagarden, L² Design, LLC @L2DesignLLC – My Favorite Things: the pieces of my story
Rosa Sheng, Equity by Design / The Missing 32% Project @miss32percent – When the Dog Bites and Bee Stings; Favorite Things
Michele Grace Hottel, Michele Grace Hottel, Architect @mghottel – favorite things…a few of my favorite things…
Meghana Joshi, IRA Consultants, LLC @MeghanaIRA – These are a few of my favorite things..
Amy Kalar, ArchiMom @AmyKalar – My 10 Favorite Things
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Those are great stories – the kind of stories that every person who is thinking about becoming an architect should hear. I think most of those who have “made it” have some similar type experience that was a watershed moment that was used to propel us forward and through a moment of self-doubt.
Thank you for adding your story to my lexicon of stories.
Cormac, it was rather refreshing not to read another list of things. I really like your take on the subject. The raw power of Architecture still impresses me to this day. Before i can, or even want to, articulate what it is about a particular space, the raw power overwhelms.
Really cool take on the subject. Sometimes we all need to remember why we do the things we do.
Really cool take on the subject. We all need to remember why we do the things we do.
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