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Welcome to Saved by Design

August 20, 2019

New Stuff:

In Random Stuff:  The Unavoidable Polymath

In Home Page: HOME as Frozen Music

In Absence: Easters

In Left To Myself : Graduation

In Not (As) Fat: One Meal A Day

In Finding Home: Justification

In The Rules: Between Rocks & Hard $$$

In Silence In Spring : Astonishing…

In Days ’till Spring : 40 Days


September 11, 2019

I met my wife for our first date in April of 1980. We walked allll the way from 79th street to The World Trade Center we went to the Observation Deck and saw the sunset lights go on looking north up Manhattan. A dream come true, Love. Marriage. Two children.

Twenty plus years later, I am driving to Taunton Press to “seal the deal” on my 6th book. It was as bright as that day more than a score of years ago. But some plane had just hit one of those Towers when I left for my 10:30 meeting. “That’s too bad, some nut or incompetent”. Then another. Then that building fell down. Then the first. All on my car radio. A complete nightmare in a Saturn.

A client was there. Gone. Another across the street: Life completely changed. Forever. My career seems to simply push through all life eventualities. The book was a hit, it’s successor, the paperback, too. Now 2 more (that were not). 400 buildings, a hundred talks, building our barn, kids graduating. We are married, going on 40 years in a year.

But that was neither the first or last nightmare. It was just a very real one.

This morning, a nightmare, I guess, that was so real, I awoke thinking it was the next day. Otherwise these mind controls become versions of movies that I am in, huge errors I make, terror at some existential fear are virtually every night, punctuated by awakening, after the REM cycle completes.

“You should see a therapist.”

Sure. Why not? Well, perhaps I do not because the real terrors of things like 9-11, my sibling’s suicide, our childhood, are understood, not feared. No therapy will contextualize them, make them better than they were. After 60 years of sentience I do know myself, and know the things that are broken by acts of terror, whether by planes or childhood, are not fixed by remembering them better, only remembering them differently from reality, or forgetting them. Looking into the dark glass of age, there is a good chance both of those changes will happen naturally, without therapy.

Resignation to open wounds is not human. We, I, want to fix. Everything. Every day. I want to correct the person who mocks me for using “architect” as a verb (wrong, but vernacular, now). I want to design every building I see getting built. Every One.

And I know it is asinine.

So, in the reality of a megalomaniac who knows he is one, been given everything, deserved none of the unearned good and bad bits that befall ever human, why am I OK?

Because I know I cannot be responsible for something I did not create. Even the things I help do are not me. Because God made me, “not we, ourselves.”

Unending, unrelenting nightmares, some to the point of terror, are not understood, but not feared, either. I accept them as part of me, like the unnecessary 30 pounds that layers about my ungainly frame. I could lose those pounds, I could go to therapy about my night terrors, but what made them, and the desire to design every building I did not design (but still want to) is how I was made.

And I did not make me.

Whatever put together these zillions of cells and all the millions, nay, billions of other collected bodies of zillions of cells is as constant and as silent as my night terrors.

God, the reality so religiously denied, rejected and rationalized is just there, whether we like it or not. Our “perfection”, our justice, our “just desserts” have zero to do with the insanely complex reality that was made for us, but certainly, any reasonable apprehension has to know is fully impossible to pop up by chance.

Believing in the odds that even trillions of years can randomly design, integrate, sustain, adapt, revise and continue life is a fairy tale. One that says nothing matters. All is chance. Except maybe being loved. Or a resume. Or a bank account. Or having the next breath.

Those 3,000+ souls who simply stopped breathing were killed by such fairy tales of connection of personal, human insight by 20 men, who knew, knew, that God told them to blow up that morning. And told me I should design every building I see being built.

“No one knows God” – clearly, but the reality of our unnecessary destruction of the miracles of life is, to me and to every sentient person, heinous. Why?

Because God made the beauty that humans often wreck. And we know it is simply wrong, like those planes crashing into buildings so long ago, so fully real.

It’s Not Easy Being Fat

August 30, 2019

A dozen years ago I lost 1/3 of my mass. Since our wedding I zoftiged up to a precarious bulk. I did the math, and it was one extra Milano cookie a day, every day, for about 25 years.

I crushed the worst of the bloat in what is now called a “Keto” regime, but I knew and know as the “Stillman Diet” – a replay of my youth – water and meat only, and in full portions as desired, but nothing, zero, else, at all (save Eucharist 3 times a month).

Then a decade of fat creep, then a thrombic event, then a re-loss of 25%, but still about 30 pounds north of “should”, although I consume, at most, 2,500 calories a day, and, like I am doing now, kill at least 500 of those calories a day by working out at least 6.5 days a week for about 90 minutes a day, meaning I can maintain being a near Morbid BMI at about 1,800 calories a day, complete with a full-on muscle-mass burn (because I work out).

It is sad.

Last night, on Amtrak, I unvoidably was up close and personal with 2 women who were, simply, fat. Even fatter than me. They spoke energetically about the meals they were designing and were consuming. I was silently judgmental. Just as those who see my posterior and haunches and declare me to be a thoughtless glutton.

And I am, one meal a day. Dinner. One and done: “Episodic Fasting” unless I am just too beat, then and I have a raw 230 calorie bagel for “lunch”. And water.

At 64, I am bizarrely without health issues. I had one blood vessel with a bad middle layer. I have one cavity in my mouth (filled). Eyes that are so old that was once 20/40 is now about 20/30 on its way to needing reading glasses. My non-proctoscoped/mail-in intestine test sez I have no cancer there. (Or at least in the mail). And the other zillion thrombus-induced tests a couple of years ago declared me quite OK. With 2 blood pressure pills taken daily. And a statin.

Otherwise, no chronic anything. No shooting pain, loss of hearing. My heart rate is under 60 beats per minute. But I am 30 pounds above Not Fat.

And yet I judged those women – when I am them, just 30 years older. I just pulled myself out of my Very Fat Suit, and got into a Less Fat Suit. I am amazed at my Jackassery.

Unlike most cancers, much cardio and brain issues, what I do in life every day has no bad outcomes. 2 drinks 3 or 4 days a week, one slice of bacon a year, never smoked anything of any kind ever, I even dropped Triscuits because their fat trumped their ruffage.

But first sighting of me by others (and me) yet generates the “Fat” apprehension – as is reasonable. Since I have never had any compelling aesthetic, I shrug. I look in the mirror and faintly “ugh” and go onto the day.

But I judged those women (as I would males, BTW) – (I am an equal opportunity Fat Bigot).

But I will have a full dinner tonite.

As soon as I make up the hour cranking on my recumbent that I lost to an earlier start this AM.

Hypocritical, or simply the lazy self-loathing of we who underperform our righteousness?

Out of Luck

August 25, 2019

Andrew Luck has a tough name. It can be used, misused, appropriated to make a point at his expense. And he has a second flaw we all have: We are human.

And the human Andrew Luck cannot play football any more. “I know that I am unable to pour my heart and soul into this position, which would not only sell myself short but the team in the end as well. And it’s sad, but I have a lot of clarity in this. ”

I played football, badly, in the 1970’s, but I loved it enough that I was captain of my high school team, coached in the 1980’s and was thrilled to watch my son play in the 2000’s. So I know that a basic truth is that football hurts. There is no pain free practice, game, career, in fact every aspect of football has pain as part of its extreme pleasure.

All sports have pain and pleasure, but football has pain as part of its essential reality, unlike many other types of athletics. Pain is unavoidable. But for most of us the pleasure is more compelling and the tolerance of the pain validates the power of the love we feel for those we play with. Perhaps like the brutal pain of childbirth making the joy of holding your baby elementally powerful, in a much lesser light the catastrophic pain of playing football bonds young men to each other and to the sport that is very hard for the rest of the world to understand.

But Andrew Luck is a human. And pain, after over a decade has triumphed, over come the pleasure, and even the love of being with his beloved friends in football.

A four year cycle of pain and reinjury, and more pain, and playing through it, and now, again, yet another, his ankle, is Luck’s crushing reality at 29. He probably could play, physically for a while longer. The drugs, the prostheses, the offensive schemes could allow him to move and play, but his joy is lost, it was crushed in the unrelenting realities of the pain and the knowledge of the dead certainty of more pain to come. All of the time.

You could wax philosophic and say that Luck simply got what his devotion ultimately created. Or that the huge money that he made was enough for the rest of his life. Or that the ruthless manipulations of body and mind in pro sports wrecked a pure heart.

No, it just hurt too much.

The pain, and the promise of more, overcame the deep love he has for virtually all those he played with and against, even for those who made the hurt that he has to leave.

Before all our devotions we are human. God gives us the “bags of water” our bodies all are, spiced with tiny bits of material that let me write this, let Andrew Luck play, that made the pain he feels excruciating, and let him know that that pain will simply be there, maybe escalate, maybe end his abilities in any number of ways.

But those bits also allowed him to love the old and young, black and white, smart and not so much with a passion that is why any of us do life beyond eating, sleeping and binge watching.

All the other animals are blissful simply being. They like eating, sex, safety, and they fear the moment, the pain, and the threatening, but they have no idea that there is anything other than existence. The meaning of things is simply not there beyond the day they are in.

God gave us a spark of something. That spark makes all the unnecessary: it makes one play football, another music, still another make buildings beyond shelter. Andrew Luck may do that (he was an architectural engineering major at Stanford.)

But he may just know God well enough through his devoted friend and back up Matt Hasselback, a devout Christian, to know the one reality that keys living life beyond ourselves: in the end, the pursuits of the moment are just what God has allowed us to do.

In the end the reality of all of life around us, including the realities that those bits of material we have in our “bags of water” bodies allow us to do any of it, and to simply live. Those bits are not made by us. We, every bit of us, is a gift from God.

There is no rationale or equation why the violence of football, the cruelties of human anger, the unnecessary suffering of the innocent, the extreme pain that kept Andrew Luck from pushing his body until debilitation ended it, why any of this happens.

But we want to know Why all this happens. Why some of us devote to some things, why some simply do not care, why any of it means anything. Right now Andrew Luck has answered a central part of his purpose, and it is painful in every sense of the word.

But the inevitability of end is just a matter of time in every life. The meaning of that time you have been given means that you need to understand what has been given, and where it came from. And the answer is not on your cell phone.

The meaning that forced Andrew Luck to leave what he loves comes from a place that every one of us can access, but all of us fail too often to address: that what we want is often not what we have, that what could be is not, in the end, up to any of us.

We need to understand what we cannot reason. Some say that is prayer. That, to me is listening to God. I think Andrew Luck listened, and heard.


August 22, 2019



America is 87% air conditioned. The government says 48% of all energy consumption in homes is due to heating or cooling the air, including Air Conditioning. We are also told we have 12 years to resolve carbon emissions before the world will permanently change. Reports are the electrical draw for air conditioning of developing world will have a 300% increase in the next 11 years. Our computers now require it. Our bodies are becoming less tolerant of heat.

What has changed? As of this week, my wife and I have lived in our home with no AC for 35 years. Why can’t others? Joining us are a group who deal with AC every day, a remarkable group:

Shane Cashman’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Atlantic, BBC Travel, Penthouse, and VICE. He teaches Narrative Studies at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. His latest stories can be found at But most importantly for this program, Mr. Cashman wrote the piece “The History of Air Condoning – calling air was once seen as sinful. Maybe that idea wasn’t entirely wrong.”

Stephanie Lesnik. Owner and farmer of Field House Farm in Madison. Mom of four and registered nurse. Stephanie has scores of animals: How does she she deal with the heat as it affects humans and beasts?

Curtis B. Wayne is a storyteller, a voiceover artist, a former radio producer and host, author of an architectural manifesto, and incidentally happens to have been a licensed architect since 1979. He has designed highly energy-efficient houses that do not require AC cooling.

Leigh Whiteman is born to a real estate family in Guilford, now 3 generations, is a Real Estate Broker and leader of a full-service real estate team, The Whiteman Team, at William Raveis Real Estate: Leigh, a 30 year real estate veteran is a “Luxury Properties Specialist” and went to school at Mount Holyoke College and Sarah Lawrence College. Is AC our future?

Mission Without Portfolio

August 21, 2019

35 years ago, to the day, Liz and I first awoke to our home. Two years in creation, 10 months in building, the sun streamed in a one bedroom home, and a childless couple started the first day for the next 35 years.

It was also my 29th birthday. My wife’s half birthday. Dates do not care about you, you care about them. And I do not care about them, I care what they mean to others..

Career Launched before 30. The American Dream.

1000 projects, 800 built, a two bedroom addition, 2 children, a barn, 8 books later, I now have another irrelevant Birth Year. 29 was on the verge of something. Now 64 is on the verge of something else. But all in the continuum of this time each of us has.

The “success” part is never understood by me.

I made payroll last week, but need a bunch of checks to come in to meet the next. And I dropped off a crew to measure a church, pro bono, yesterday. “Time and Money” is the secular mantra of all profane life, but Mission is the metronome. Time is circumscribed by forces we do not control (our parents’ passion, the beating of our heart). Money is really at the mercy of others. But the force to make things happen was given, or infected, into me from a quietly terrified childhood. It was a Mission Without Portfolio.

That baseline, Mission, is now a word becoming as hackneyed as Beauty. Like all cliches, Beauty and Mission start with a black letter reality of what no one understands, let alone controls: who we are. As dates pile up, the resume gains weight, love should be the frosting that connects and creates every confection, but it’s mystery is confounded by its primal importance. I, no one, earns love – it simply is. Given or it is unknown. I do not choose to love, love chooses me.

But I have known the unloved. It is as inexplicable as the gifts that do not need birthdays, but have to be received to exist. Fear can make any gift a threat.

My inabilities are stepping stones. To what? I certainly do not know more than the Next Thing. And gratitude. The inexplicable grace of being given pretty much everything, is hard to assess in a world of time and money.

12 years ago, after a loss that lost all chance our son’s team to have a season of Record, where those awards, so often impossible for the overwhelming majority of everyone doing anything, would simply not be possible for these dedicated, good, young men – because they failed – the coach said a simple thing.

Failure happens. Loss happens with every win. You are never adequate to your hopes, you can lose, lose, and lose again.

“But you can work.”

‘You can get better.”

“No one can take that from any of us.”

Perhaps my Mission is work.


August 20, 2019

Recent Work

Progress in Greenwich


 The outdoor chapel at Incarnation Camp in Ivoryton, CT

Click here to read about the project.



CEPHAS Housing 25 Years Ago in Yonkers NY

Click here to read about the project.



In Mockingbird: I am Only as Happy as My Childhood Allows Me to Be

In CT Insider: Architecture Is Forced To ReBrand

In New Haven Register: When The Heroes of the Last Century Pass

In CT Insider: Is Beauty a Dirty Word?

In New Haven Register: Happy to be part of this piece

In CT Insider: WALKABLE: What does it mean?

In New Haven Register: New Haven approves plan that will help house homeless young adults

In CT Insider: Home architecture: ‘Traditional’ and ‘Modern’

In CT Insider: In a time of climate change, CT homeowners embrace the old-fashioned screen porch

In Mockingbird: When Football is Over, It Begins

In Common Edge: The Two Most Dangerous Words In Architecture: Style and Beauty

In Common Edge: In Architecture, Silence is Anything But Golden

In Mockingbird: For the Love of Money: The Metronome to Human Life

In Mockingbird: Is Nothing Sacred?

In Common Edge: Hudson Yards and Notre-Dame: A One Two Punch of Megalomania

In Common Edge: Notre Dame: An Architect’s Notes on Building, Belief and the Power of Architecture

In Mockingbird: Rebuilding What We Never Made: Notre Dame

In Mockingbird: REPENT!

In Mockingbird: The Death of Control

In Common Edge: Is the Culture of Architecture Becoming More Profane?

In The New Haven Register: Gehry Turns 90 and New Haven Rediscovers His Presence

In Common Edge: Style Wars Are Increasingly Irrelevant As Things Change

In Common Edge: Confusion of the Vanities: Why Architectural Style Wars Are Becoming Irrelevant

In Mockingbird: I Am Not Karl Lagerfeld

In Common Edge: Why “Zaha Hadid Activewear” Feels Off-Brand

In Mockingbird: We Are Suddenly Surrounded By Dead Trees

In Common Edge: Why Do Architects Remain Obsessed with Flat Roof?

In The New Haven Register: The Yale Armory is No More

In The New Haven Register: The ‘Story of Church Street South’ in a Yale exhibit

In Covenant: The Next Church

In Mockingbird: Aaron Rodgers Failing at Family

In Common Edge: When Buildings Are Shaped More By Code Than Architects

In Mockingbird: The Canon That Crushed Richard Meier

In Common Edge: The Kids are Alright: How the Great Recession Shaped This Generation’s Entry into Architecture

In Mockingbird: A Message From Jesus

In Common Edge: Life, Death and the End of the 20th Century Architecture

In Common Edge: Architectural Criticism That’s Not Just For Architects

In Mockingbird: The Undeserved Vacation: The New Sabbath

In Mockingbird: Bedside and the Lord’s Prayer

In Common Edge: In the Era of Artificial Intelligence, Will Architecture Become Artisanal?

In Mockingbird: The Gift of Profanity

In Common Edge: An Architect’s Devotion and Determination is Often a Project’s Make or Break Factor

In Mockingbird: Violence & Faith

In Mockingbird: …Mistakes Were Made…

In Common Edge: What a New Botox Commercial Says About the Public’s Perception of Architecture

In Common Edge: Architecture Ignores History at its Own Peril

In Common Edge: Why Homes are the Original Architecture

In Mockingbird: A Letter of Recommendation

In Mockingbird: Nothing Means as Much

In Common Edge: Michelangelo’s Lesson: Specialization in Architecture is Not the Only Way



On WTNH News:  Madison Architect Sheds Light on Solar Solution for Homeowners

On Common Ground with Annette Ross:  She asked “Where is Architecture?”, I answered

On HGTV:  Mercedes Home Diaries       Password: mercedes