Thursday, February 09, 2006

Howard's Grab Bag of Fun, Part I

Since I've captured me some of that blogospheric market share after only 10 posts to The Big Archi-blog of Fun, I'm beginning to receive requests to do riffs on various aspects of The Profession. And that's nice, thank you. But I just don't have the energy tonight to write about something meaty and substantial like Why Does American Architecture Look So Crappy? And where is the country headed architecturally when James Howard Kunstler's Dire Predictions Come to Pass? And are architects and their design firms as surreal as This Guy? (click on the video titled "Architect") Okay, that last topic isn't very meaty and the answer is, "usually not, but sometimes yes." But we architects sincerely do like to wear the black spandex. That part is true. And we pout a lot. And we are all pretentious as hell, every last one, because we consider ourselves the Gatekeepers of Culture. Michael Graves designs kitchenware for Target? Game, set, and match.

Instead, I would like to start an (ir)regular series called "Howard's Grab Bag of Architecture." None of these micro-topics is worthy of a free-standing post, but all are of interest to your Blog Host:
  • I received a resume yesterday from a graduate of a two-year community college, having earned an Associates degree in Drafting. And this guy--we'll call him Stan--tells me he's been working in an architect's office in a Midwestern state since April as an "Associate Architect". Stan goes on to say that he's looking for a job as an Architect or Associate Architect in my fine city and would I be interested in continuing this fine conversation? Well, huh. Does anyone spot the problem here? Or to give a broad hint: What would you think if someone with a two-year Associates degree in physical education from Redstate America Junior College was to apply to a hospital for a job as an Associate Surgeon? I feel sorry for Stan because I doubt that his job search is going to pan out. I won't be hiring him. Heck, I may even poke fun at him. We'll see...
  • It has long been an architectural axiom that projects with the most challenging and restrictive programs (i.e. the initial conditions of a job site, budget, and the client's requirements and expectations to be met) typically result in the most remarkable and delightful design solutions. This is unequivocably true. Let me tell you that I personally witnessed this once again today on a renovation/addition project for a wonderful couple who live in an eccentric house with the worst floor plan and layout of 2,300 square feet that I have ever seen. I'm. Not. Kidding. The first floor is particularly acid-reflux-inducing. But in four short hours today, I solved all their problems. And it should be within budget too. I've been procrastinating for weeks now, putting them off and making excuses, because I just couldn't see how anything good could come out of something so awful. And yet I did it this afternoon in a flood of inspiration. All I can do afterwards is shake my head in wonder. But then I remind myself that we're still in Schematic Design phase. There's still time to screw it up.
  • Why do so many successful and famous architects find it so hard to stay faithful to their spouses? (Just thought I'd throw that out there. Attention family members: I'm not implying anything. Besides, I'm hardly successful. Or famous. Yet.)
  • The best and clearest indicator of whether your architect or contractor considers you a good client or a bad client: If a troubling issue comes up, do you delay paying your invoice for last month's efforts because you want to see how it all works out first, regardless of whether anyone's at fault? That one's the giveaway.
  • Architects don't ever retire. I haven't met one yet who just hung up his Mayline and Mylar and walked away. It's just too damned much fun! Who could give it up?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regard to Stan the overnight architect: if you've ever been to a Major League Baseball tryout you would invariably notice the 40-something, beer-bellied, barely coordinated in the first place, "never was" nevermind "has been" who still goes out there wearing his junior high "bike" baseball pants and rubber spikes. This man is the Stan of the baseball world. Does he get to tryout with everyone else? Yes. Is he going to live his dream? No. So take it easy on Stan, would ya Howard? It's his wife's job to squash his dreams and bring him back to reality.

2:18 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

I feel very very ashamed of quashing the Dreams of Stan... not.

And yeah, if this is who I think it is, you know first-hand that I've been to two major league tryouts. For your information, my junior high "bikes" stopped fitting after I turned 16 (too tall, not too wide, though the ample girth came later). When on the diamond, I wear my old trusty gray sweats -- the one's with extra elastic in the waist. My wife still smiles and waves, though I've yet to be able to read her lips as she mumbles something to herself...

6:41 PM, February 13, 2006  

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