No one in my family was an architect or even in the building industry, yet as a kid, I was always building things. My materials: Lincoln Logs, Kenner Building sets with their plastic columns & beams used to build skyscrapers, and even encyclopedia sets when nothing else was available. At my request, my mother would wake me up at 5:30 in the morning before school to watch a program on PBS that featured architectural students presenting their design projects. It was only recently, during a trip to Montreal, that I realized how the Expo 67 World’s Fair influenced my early thoughts on architecture; specifically Habitat 67, designed by Moshe Safdie, and the geodesic dome, designed by Buckminster Fuller.
But that’s not all. On Sunday visits to my grandmother’s house, I could always be found with a pad of paper and pencil drawing something. It will come as no surprise, then, that I was still in grammar school when I knew I wanted to be an architect. A local office supply store stocked the necessary tee square and drawing angles. At about that time, architect Frank Lloyd Wright joined race car driver Mario Andretti as a hero in my world. There was even a time when my mother wanted to renovate our old and dated kitchen. My father could really care less, but I found it magical to see the design process play out and the ultimate transformation during the construction. It was really a very simple project, but it had a lasting influence on me. During my first year of architectural school, however, I almost quit.
Designing buildings was my interest, not designing and building containers to protect an egg from cracking when thrown off the roof of the architectural building (an early assignment). What they were actually teaching us was how to problem solve and develop design skills. The ultimate lesson of that exercise serves me well in what I do today: Problem-solving, looking for alternative solutions, understanding our clients before we start designing, and always learning more about how to build things. We love working with people. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing how we can transform that all-important part of their lives: their home or their business.
You never know what will influence the decisions and direction of a child’s life. Studio21 Architects holds an annual Gingerbread House building event before Christmas every year for neighborhood kids. We enjoy their creativity and enthusiasm and I sometimes wonder if this may spark one of these kids to become an architect. Time will tell.