Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Heroes Have Always Been Builders

Okay, maybe that's not the best heading for a post about why I became an architect. Don't care. Makes perfect sense to me. My blog. Mine, mine.

When I was young, maybe eight or nine, I was a space cowboy lost in my own little world, and my favorite thing to do was build things with erector sets, Lincoln logs, tinker toys, and dams out of bricks and mud in the curb gutter in front of our house. You know,
build stuff.

Never got into Legos because nobody ever gave me a set. Sad, huh?

The parents found out why I was a space cowboy when I was ten -- deaf in my left ear. One operation later I could hear a bit better, but I still decided that the life of a space cowboy was the best way to go. Very few friends. The life of the mind. Introspective. Sensitive. Shy. Perfect architect material. Yeah, right.

When I was 13, I designed my first ranch-style house. Absolutely sprawling but with active and passive solar, and even a wind turbine in the back yard alongside a huge garden. Guess I was a bit of a hippy at the time. Still am.

Shortly after that, I built a suspension bridge which spanned one end of my bedroom to the other. I used rope as the suspension cables, high-back chairs as the towers, string as the regularly-spaced vertical support cables, and lots of those electric racing car snap-together tracks for the road surface. I used only the straight sections of course. This was the coolest thing I'd ever done, I thought. And then I promply forgot it.

Ten years later, after crapping out in college thinking I could major in the purest of sciences, I recalled how I always really wanted to be an architect and design cool things. So off to the library I went. (When I get an interest, I research the hell out of it. The internet has been a God-send for me.) A couple dozen books later, heavy on the Life and Work of Frank Lloyd Wright, I
knew that architecture was for me.

Before then, I assumed that to be an architect, one needed to have wondrous drawing skills and have a deep interest in
ART, which I did not have. But after reading those dozens of books, I realized that there were so many niches and specialties in the architecture profession, that I could find the perfect niche to temper my miserable drawing/drafting skills.

Also around this time, my father purchased the first Apple computer after reading that computer literacy would be a key for future generations. I glommed onto that thing and began writing games and various software for weeks on end -- sort of like today's online fantasy gamers and their terrible addictive neglect of the world around them in exchange for killing Gnomes and Trolls and Serpents and, and, and. That was me, only over two decades ago.

Fortunately, I read that computer literacy would be a future requirement for architects. And fortunately, I decided that my obsessive focus on computers could give me a headstart in a career of architectural design. And fortunately, I realized that poor drawing/drafting skills could be balanced out with brilliance on an Apple. Or an IBM. Or a mainframe. Or an Atari. Or whatever platform became the norm.

I was going to be the next Frank Lloyd Wright and design beautiful, inspiring, highly articulated and detailed houses for my generation.

It wasn't until I began majoring in architecture that I learned that 97% of the homes Americans live in are NOT designed by architects. Duh! Okay, I can be a bit slow in my space cowboy world. But I persevered.

After a dozen years of working with high-profile architecture firms in the neighborhood Megalopolis designing commercial, healthcare, recreational, ecclesiastical, and educational facilities, I have now been out on my own for over three years trying to make it as a residential architect.

Good luck with that, huh?

Dribs and drabs. But the projects I've done have been interesting, the pay has been meager but encouraging, and the future almost looks bright. At least until the American oil-dependent economy collapses, bringing down the dollar, the real estate market, and all job prospects for the building industry.

Until then, armed with a supportive wife earning a decent salary and benefits, I remain the most optimistic space cowboy/architect in my Western State (of mind).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

so in the same way that you designed programs, games, etc. that led to a career in architecture, today's generation will use the skills of wizardry and killing orcs to..... oh, gee.... that doesn't bode well for the future.

2:19 PM, February 08, 2006  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

But if today's generation turns out like my own kids, who have killed many an orc in their day... oh, gee... I guess you're right.

5:43 PM, February 08, 2006  

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