why I write this blog

So, despite my best efforts to write about topics that might interest my fellow geeky architects, the most common question that I get is not about a specific post but rather, “why do you do this?”  Or, maybe “when do you have time to do this?”

The second question is easy to answer:  I write these posts mostly in the evenings after my kids and wife have gone to bed.  Having worked until past midnight in endless numbers of architecture studios and later offices, staying up doing something has become a habit.

The answer to the first question is a bit more complex and certainly more difficult to articulate.  In the simplest sense, this is a kind of dialogue that I would have with colleagues if I wasn’t so happy as a sole practioner.  So while I might hire someone to do some drafting, for the most part I work alone and these posts are substitutes for some kind of inter-office dialogue.  I relish the freedom and focus that practicing alone allows, and if this blog helps me maintain that in a sense then more power to it.  To be honest however, the blog is something more than that as well.  Over my career I have seen architects, everyday working architects, retreat from the public sphere.  Not that we were ever that immersed in it, only a small handful of stararchitects have ever been even at the perifery of popular culture.  But there was a time when architects felt confident in who they were and what they did that expressing that publicly was not fraught with misgivings and hesitations. The rise of a professional architectural press, more press than architects, and the increasing dominance of architecture academics in the realm of research and writing, has driven the working architect from the field.  The tools of deconstruction can too easily be used to undermine the experience and knowledge of an architect by one more deft in the execution of analysis but maybe not making buildings.  I know this makes me sound a bit like the old curmudgeon architect, without patience for critics and iconoclasts, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Maybe not all architects, but I as one, feel the need and responsibility to help explain and articulate what we do and how we do it to the larger public.  Our opacity has long ago been stripped of any claims to authority and reads simply as either hopelessly alienated or paranoid.

Lastly, and I think for me most importantly, talking about architecture helps me to step outside of the world of drawing and models and sketches and attempt to dwell more in the world of my clients.  For while reading a drawing and its implications is second nature to me, for many of my clients a drawing can be a mute string of runes.  By writing these posts, I  am forced to put into words my thoughts and impressions, give shape and form in an accessible dialogue to the  forces and forms that seem so obvious to me, but not at all to “normal” people beyond the enclosed, self-referential world of architects and architecture.  So while much of this blog is serious Inside Baseball architecture stuff, it is a step into the realm of words and writing, an alien, and often unwelcoming place for us architects.  If that sounds a bit falsely heroic I don’t mean it to be.  For while I know that what I write probably only appeals to geeky architects, my attempt here is to try, as small as that might be, to step outside it all, in form if not in content.  Oh yeah, and chicks dig it.

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