Taking Off…part 1 of 2

As I’ve suggested in previous posts, architecture exists as a subject of enduring interest to many people.

But it’s mostly as a wistful flight of fantasy sadly beyond the reach of most, rarely connected to ones personal life in the sense of its potential as an enhancement. Instead it remains a kind of light, spectator form of entertainment, forever distant from ones immediate reality.

Insofar as architecture plays such a central part in my life as an architect, which means for me, being dependent on having clients, not to mention being uniquely affected by what gets built out there, I’ve recently found myself fidgeting with this issue, driven by a nagging desire to improve on it, or, at minimum, to better understand it.

[By fidgeting I mean, in addition to trying to unravel just what sustains this status quo, I’m also restlessly searching (or am I just groping along down some dimly lit passage?) for shafts of light that might better illuminate the potential joys of architecture to a larger audience as a real possibility. That, and maybe to encourage, or even turn someone on enough to take the leap, to build a place – their refuge in the world – that captures the best within them, which for me is a lot of what architecture is about.]

So, what more can I add that I haven’t already said in previous posts?

There’s always the option of hopelessly subscribing to the point of view that says we’re all destined to be ensnared in a helpless world of haves and have nots. Well, as I’ve said in a previous post (see “Dystopia: an Option?“), since I reject a dystopian view of human potential – a state of being where everything is at the mercy of destiny, where no one is fundamentally free to choose, I prefer to cast my net a bit farther. But where?


O.k., if I’m going to make any progress here, I need to start with an assumption: Some of us, the relative few that by what ever means it takes, though usually by hard work and/or smart financial management, at least in the freer parts of the world, have the necessary resources to launch a quest for architecture.

What about these potential beneficiaries of the rewards of architecture, the ones who see where they want to go, but may need some guidance as well as encouragement in getting started?  As with any achievement, there’s a continuum from person to person in their readiness to take the necessary first step.

Consequently, the quest for ones own architecture occasionally aborts at takeoff, even though financial resources may be available. From my vantage point it appears that not many people who are otherwise ready, are willing to take those first steps toward acquiring their own architecture.

Given that there’s an endless stream of architectural images out there in print, film, and digital form, along with the sheer quantity of actual built work that can be experienced, certainly enough to feed inspiration, I’m fairly certain that the gap between personal response to all that stimulating input on the one hand, and actually initiating a process of acquiring ones own architecture on the other, is for some, too big to attempt the leap.

What I’m trying to say is that I think part of the process of initiating a course of action has to do with being, not just sufficiently motivated, but of equal importance, sufficiently confident of ones prospects for success, of being capable of reaching your destination, especially if it’s a long, complex  journey undertaken for the first time.

Couple that with what appears to be a kind of ennui: the low status architecture holds for many people in their hierarchy of must-have things in life and thus its absence, makes it easier to shrug off that absence. Since life doesn’t depend on it and since it’s easier to leave things as they are, the usual path is to file it away as something that can be done without. There’s just no sense of urgency driving the effort required to obtain it. The dull void left behind in the wake of never trying is easier to accept.

Nevertheless, there is more that can be done:

  • On the one hand, there’s creating a strong desire for ones own personal architecture, desire powerful enough to sustain the considerable effort needed to follow through with getting it.
  • On the other, there’s having a plan for acquiring it.

In my last post I touched on one essential part of such a plan: the subject of investing in architecture. Quite a bit more could be discussed regarding architecture as a financial undertaking, but far more suitably by those with more expertise than myself on the subject.

So, let’s assume for the purpose of making progress that the financing is, in fact, under control. What else, then, is needed? In part two of this post, I’ll offer some tips that may contribute to a successful journey.

Related earlier posts:

Investing in Architecture   Fees…Taking the Plunge (or not)   Considerations   Wanting More   Designing Your Ideal Home…Part 1   Part 2   Raise the Bar   Shelter: A Choice   Risk Taking   Missing…But Not Lost   Space

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