Daily Archives: October 14, 2017

questions answered, part three (profession)

R: Why did you want to become an architect?

L: What other career would you have chosen if you hadn’t pursued architecture?

When I was in seventh grade my parents built a new house. In the years leading up to that point, we constantly toured neighborhoods with homes under construction. We’d spend a lot of Sunday afternoons driving around and had no qualms about getting out and walking right into and through homes that were being built. My parents loved it and I loved it… and my little sister hated it! She was outvoted.

We walked through freshly poured basements and predicted how the upper floors would be laid out. We walked through houses with the studs in place, but nothing else – we’d announce the various rooms as we walked through them. It was like figuring out a giant puzzle in three dimensions. We’d call to each other from different “rooms” of the house what we’d discovered – and we’d discuss what we liked and what we didn’t like about each of them.  We could predict the layout of a master bathroom or a kitchen before a single piece of pipe was laid. We’d revisit favorite houses several times, until that fateful day that an actual front door was installed along with a lock. (Sometimes you could still walk in through the studs from the garage!)

I still love walking up a sloped 2×10 “bridge” from the ground to the top of the foundation wall – over the ravine between the two that wasn’t backfilled yet. When I walk across one on a job site now, it brings back memories from those days.

I always loved art, but in middle school I started sketching out floor plans and elevations of favorite buildings – and lots of fantasy houses. I noticed things on construction sites that worked into those drawings. I’m really detail oriented, and loved the physical act of drawing wall sections and details and perspectives. I taught an Architectural Graphics course for eleven semesters, and still miss the work of pencil on mylar. I’m comfortable drawing in the computer, but I still want things to look the way I’d draw them by hand. I want things to line up a certain way. I want them to follow traditional conventions – something that gets lost when you can always edit and move and shift in a computer program until the very end. Drawing by hand forces you to really think things through early on, and organize your drawings in the most straightforward way. I have several sets of my old hand drawings in my file cabinet at work, and I look at them often. I miss that part of architecture so much.

I miss creativity at the small level – practicing architecture feels like a lot of rigor and monotony to get to the point where I start to feel like I’ve created something. I’ve been sitting with this for awhile. I have other passions in me that might take over at some point. I’m trying to be more open to opportunities that might lead me there.

I loved teaching, and would love to do that again at some point.

If I could stretch this to fantasy, I could list a few things. I’d like to take an extended leave – like really extended, maybe a year or two – and I’d like to focus a serious chunk of time on one interest during daylight hours. Just to see what might happen. I feel like I crowd so many things into the after hours, and as I get older, I don’t have the kind of energy and stamina required to do that.

I’d love to study under a real genius in some highly particular food area – like a pastry chef or a cookie or cake decorator. I love the repetition of highly detailed work. I wonder how much more I’d love it if I had the space and the energy to do it on a big scale.

I’d also love to be a tour guide. In fact, I’d love the challenge of creating really unique tours centered around a certain theme. I think learning about something and then creating an experience around sharing that with others could be really exciting.

There are many jobs I’d be terrified to even try (Surgeon. Helicopter Pilot. Police Officer.) But the weirdest one is probably Hair Stylist. I can’t imagine someone sitting down in front of me and expecting me to know what to do with their hair, while watching them watch me do it. Yikes.