I flip fast through architectural magazines stacked deep on the back of the toilet. There is little of interest to read and fewer interesting photos. One thick magazine doesn't last five quiet minutes. I should throw them all out. I know I will never look at them again. The slick, glossy paper won't even light the fire in our wood fueled hot tub.
I find the architectural content:
But really, who am I to criticize?
The first ten year period of my architectural practice was laden like a sad little Christmas tree, hung with too much tinsel to see its green; too many shiny glass ornaments, too many sugarcanes, popcorn and cranberries and too big a star on top stuck. My first ten years of architectural practice were covered with too many accolades, too many awards, too many sugary congratulations for too shiny a reputation. I was too big a star for the tree that was me. My green could not be seen.
I designed differently simply to be different. I started trends so I could be first. I took on commissions so I could say I had. I received awards and was published because my goals were to see my buildings in magazines and to see my name in lights. It was a stunningly dark beginning. I was attached to the decoration of being an architect.
The second ten year period of my architectural practice was a decade of escape, a decade of experiments and failures, of discoveries and decisions, ten years of growth not into a bigger boss man with a bigger practice but into a smaller, humbler, more honest practitioner of all that I discovered is real.
I dropped out of the "club of architectural practice" and wandered around the world a while, wondering how the rest of humanity, the world underneath the world of money and developer driven consumption-ism, existed.
I found Living Architecture.
A Living Legacy of normal and adjacent and common things found, whittled and chiseled and set with care into place; these places I find feel like home.
Honest, indigenous, holistic and living architecture ... these turn me on.
This doesn't mean I don't sometimes enjoy looking at the pictures of what other architects vote as good architecture. I do look at them, especially when I'm in the bathroom with little else to do. But this slick architecture has less and less an ability to pull me in. This "heavily dependent on dependents" architecture bores the heaven out of me. Buildings that are designed specifically to excite don't excite me at all. They are like the pictures in the magazines; experienced too quickly. There is no Living Experience.
And essays on new materials that require incredible resources and energy to manufacture scare me because I see young architects believing that to be a good architect means you have use all the new things.
It all feels too much like Wall Street and University Avenue are the same and one path.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost admitted to taking a road less traveled.
So too do I.
So too should you.
Living one's architecture is like being the little Christmas tree that never got cut, that lives a thousand years and finds its ornaments are squirrels and birds and its tinsel the morning dew and its star the milky way roaring above the forest.