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Welcome to Saved by Design

February 25, 2021

New Stuff:

In A Year In Lent: Wind

In Random Stuff: Hate Is Not Sustainable

In Home Page: HOME talking

In Absence: Easters

In Left To Myself: America

In Emily’s Days: Coda

In Not (As) Fat: One Meal A Day

In Finding Home: Walking Home In the Blizzard

In The Rules: Architecture and The Failed Model of Genius

In Silence In SpringFlaw Flourishes

In Days ’till Spring: 40 Days


February 27, 2021

The Definition of Beauty is

That Definition is none —

Of Heaven, easing Analysis,

Since Heaven and He are one.

Emily Dickinson

10 of 40

Some of us are afflicted with beauty. Not being in possession of it, we are searching for it. In effort, the desire is unrewarded.

I have that disease. If absent, hope unravels into disappointment. Whether words, pictures, dinner, a song, or even, forgive me, buildings, trying to find the spark of joy that has no recipe is often a self-fulfilling depression.

We only are depressed because we have been exultant.

After a three hour football practice, leading the team running back to the gym in full (now soaked) pads in 90F August of 1972, we were, like every day, running by a pool. I – then the team – illicitly ripped those pads and helmets off and jumped into healing waters.

Total bliss.

Because we were fully spent, then renewed.

That may just be beauty. We earn nothing, but when we are parched, we drink. When we are exhausted, we sleep. When where and who we are is drudge and worry, joy comes in.

Nice is nice, but beauty is transforming, if only in the instant that your mud and salt soaked skin hits the pool. Not sensation, but sun, sound, movement and humanity in a bliss of moment. It was beauty.

I know that some are left cold by the words of Emily Dickinson. I know that Vermeer is not thrilling to others. I know that life pollutes and fertilizes us to where I cannot see another’s giddy revel in a thing, a sound, a taste, a feeling. I will never get opera, and some, who I love, find it heaven. I also loathe cooked fish. No reason, no defense, no offense taken at others’ embrace.

The exquisite intoxication of shapes and colors and movement of other animals means nothing to them but autonomic delight or fear. There is no theory outside humans. That theory, us, can trigger delight or cause devotion. But making points is not making beauty.

It has been a year where we have denied beauty. We touch no one. We gather with few, distantly. We revel not at all. This is our Year of Lent. Puritanity has won out. No one sings in church. Very few can even go to church, or would, if they could.

But years end, but the joy of instant rapture is still there, as long as we are there. Filtered through screens, like this, or muffled in texts, the delight is without regulation. Because God is without regulation.

There is no reason in the delight of beauty, no needed calories, no intoxication, no relief, no money, no love, just connection. Apprehending the inscrutably joyous is not made by us, because we did not make us.

Guilt over unmerited joy is at every opportunity for me, maybe you. Disdain for the delighted is there, too. But all, all of us, feel that joy of connection. Because all of it, joy and humanity, is a gift.


February 26, 2021

9 of 40

I cannot meet the Spring unmoved —

I feel the old desire —

A Hurry with a lingering, mixed,

A Warrant to be fair —

A Competition in my sense

With something hid in Her —

And as she vanishes, Remorse

I saw no more of Her.

Emily Dickinson

It was below freezing this morning. It was a bit of a shock.

A few days of mud, and my mind changes – just days after shoveling snow.

The tyranny of hope compels disappointment, and it happens every day, without reason. I think of my brother who insisted on giving our father’s eulogy. My father had been virtually cruel to him, without a touch of violence or a gesture of love. My brother’s inability to be my father crushed both of them.

My mother and I had no idea why my brother wanted to speak at the funeral, but he did. A greatly theatrical (and rehearsed) speech was made: my father was in every way Perfect, Noble, Learned and Exceptional.

He was, in fact, an exceptionally intelligent man, who had never gotten over the loss of his mother at one, and, from the time he could, he drank each night after 5pm and was forced to stop in the last months of his life. And he stopped smoking, then, too.

He also was merciless in his conclusions of, well, of everything. My brother was, loudly, “a failure”. Consigned to the necessary obligations that a parent has to a child. The damage was complete and uncharted, and ended 4 years ago, 15 years after our mother died, when my now sister ended her life.

But at my dad’s death our father was, for my brother, A Perfect Man.

Spring is the hope of leaving winter.

We are given that hope, it does not derive from anything other than history and nothing. We are also given fear, of what has not happened, but is hard and real and controlling even if it is not true. I think if we could control anything, we would have less hope and fear. But we do not control who our parents are, what season it is, when and how we die. Unless, like my sister, you give back what you have been given.

We cannot give back the spring. It will be there, seen in the mud and melt and touch of temperate breeze. This season of inoculation is that spring in This Year of Lent.

Millions of Springs will happen for 6 months. We gave these springs to ourselves, but we did not make the intelligence that made vaccines, or the plague which crushed a year. No, God sourced pretty much everything that is not us, and, oh, us too.

In a season of hope in control, it would be nice to have faith in the good, My brother never had faith in the love of his father. He hoped that God, in the form of religion, could be that father. That, ultimately, did not happen.

In Lent, religion tells the shrinking few who listen that removing a thing we love and control, teaches us that God lives beyond our control. I think it works two ways, If we try to create an image of Our Father, when He is dead to our understanding but useful to it, we absent ourselves from the “grace that passes all understanding”.

Unlike our vaccines, we do not know when or what Spring will be. We do not know who our parents will be. Like God, both just are. And they are not us.


February 25, 2021


In Mockingbird: Wind (and God)

In Mockingbird: A Year of Lent (and Counting)

In CT Insider: The Next Generation of Architects Will Remake How We Make Things

In Mockingbird: Now What? On the President, the Pandemic, and Love

In CT Insider: How COVID-19 ended the 20th century architecture

In Mockingbird: Before Christ

In Common Edge: Paige Rense, Architectural Digest, and the End of 20th Century Architecture

In ArchDaily: 2020: The End of the 20th Century in Architecture

In Common Edge: Maquettes in Architecture: The Forgotten Joys of Model-Making

In CT Insider: Time travel at home in the winter of COVID-19

In Mockingbird: Work is All We Have

In CT Insider: Aesthetic concepts and their impact on charity homes in New Orleans and New Haven

In Common Edge: Architecture Misses Charles Moore

In Mockingbird: Can Zoom Be Sacred? The Architecture of God

In CT Insider: The blight fight in Connecticut’s neighborhoods

In ArchDaily: “Make It Right” Goes Wrong in New Orleans

In Mockingbird: On the Cusp of Humility


Recent Images



 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.



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



February 25, 2021

8 of 40

The Wind — tapped like a tired Man —

And like a Host — “Come in”

I boldly answered — entered then

My Residence within

I awoke to predawn wind, in no way but noise. There is no sound like it. At night it is only shown in our home’s diversion of its way. The home has only translated the wind when it is intense and from the right direction. As I typed this the front door popped open, sucked off its repose – I had not latched it. Like the trees, only other things show wind.

A Rapid — footless Guest —

To offer whom a Chair

Were as impossible as hand

A Sofa to the Air —

Wind begins and ends, but it has no origin or destination. It is life itself without sentience – aimless beyond direction, no point, no inspiration. Like the sea it is local in force and measureless in extent. We know it will stop, but we are surprised at the silence when it does. It is, in these ways, like our Year In Lent.

No Bone had He to bind Him —

His Speech was like the Push

Of numerous Humming Birds at once

From a superior Bush —

Action with life is a reality for those who are alive. When existence is primal, and definitely not discretionary, survival trumps understanding. My father once tried to tell me about water, that when we used it, it did not go away, like a death, just a bit of its enormity did what we wanted it to, and then was excused to rejoin the rest, and become rain, a pond, the ocean. I did not get it then. Like the wind.

His Countenance — a Billow —

His Fingers, as He passed

Let go a music — as of tunes

Blown tremulous in Glass —

In that dark of night, the sound of wind resonates through what is in its way, a way that we are completely ignorant of beyond the sound. This is, for me, the Devine truth of what we cannot know. We are in the path of a wind that is everywhere, silent, until it touches us, and when it touches us it is undeniable, invisible but as real as rain, or heat.

He visited — still flitting —

Then like a timid Man

Again, He tapped — ’twas flurriedly —

And I became alone —

Emily Dickinson

I am ever alone with God. In work, in play, in love and friendship, God is in the background, and is only loudly there when the noise and the action abates. This Year of Lent has been a full on distraction, to the point of obsession . But the world hits you, like the wind, hardest when you are alone. When this Year ends, and it will, God and the wind will still be there. Because they never left.

Snow and Roses

February 24, 2021

7 of 40

A little Snow was here and there

Disseminated in her Hair —

Since she and I had met and played

Decade had gathered to Decade —

But Time had added not obtained

Impregnable the Rose

For summer too indelible

Too obdurate for Snows —

Emily Dickinson

Walking to do this in the dim, I see snow that has not left us for almost 3 weeks. A near record in this coastal place, where it gets cold, and it snows, but not long for each. So three weeks seems like a long time.

Entering my office there is a patch of dirt, facing south. I looked down as I fumbled for keys, and, voila, the tiny daffodils are popped, surrounded by the relentless snow.

Forget the treacly saw metaphors of hope, future, Easter – this is, basically, what we, here, have come to know. And also the late, hard frosts that kill or maim these volunteers.

But this year, this spring, there is a truth seen because of this year. Life. The world is fully buried in a blizzard of plague, deaths, sickness, now vaccinations and all the protocols in between. But life, living, not dying, has been under all this snow.

Why? Depression in this year has caused suicides, overdoses, beatings, child abuse all in record increase, but all to a tiny minority of we, the living. Most soldier on, some game a regimen to party, to get vaccinated when the rules say you cannot, some become the harpies of judgment that declare “SINNER” at those who violate the Commandments of Correctness. Some are both of these things.

Because we are human.

And because all of this – the snow, the rose, the virus, the morning – all of this was made by something other than we ourselves.

If the other is not understandable other than documenting its particulars in complete ignorance of its cause, or even just the motivation that made its existence beyond chance – the reality is, to me, God.

But Time had added not obtained

Impregnable the Rose

We do not make the rose. It should not happen. In a time where 40F is rare, why do the tiny daffodils happen? The overwhelming power of life overcomes the snow.

Life will overcome the Plague, too.

A year in Lent was a year in life, seeing its tender thread of extreme power. We are switches that when reading this are “On”. The “Off” flick of the switch is inevitable for each, but for life itself there is no “Off”.

It may lay under the snow, unseen. But God is there, too. We just need to see that God is with us, as well.

HOME talking

February 24, 2021

Thursday, Feb. 25th NOON, LIVE WPKN 89.5FM STREAMING

Everyone lives somewhere. We all talk about where we live, but more, we think about it. A lot. Especially when we have been under House Arrest lo this entire year. There are two worlds that we go to to consider our options in creating our own home. One is everywhere, especially now in a Connecticut Covid Bounce that has seen prices jump 20%, the Real Estate world. It is a world of marketing, dumbing down everything to a “Style” or “the latest trend”. Whether HOUZZ or Home Depot, our home love is seen a Profit Center Opportunity, and the language of “Buy Now And Save” is the same as that for selling anything, hype over insight, let alone listening to our fondest dreams.

The second world of those you can talk to about your biggest asset and risk, where you live, are the designers, builders, architects who make the homes you are thinking about everyday. But a different hype happens. Rather than feign sentimental intimacy of Your “special” needs, architects and designers pose as oracles of cool, hiding their preconceptions in language that you do not understand, but, they hope, will confer wisdom, insight and value.

Rooms are “Zones”. Windows and doors are “Openings” or worse,”Fenestration”. Trim becomes “Datum”. Walls become “Planes” and doorways become “Voids”. Seeing outside becomes “Transparency” and spending less on heat is “Sustainable”.

Why can’t architect’s just talk the walk of homemaking?

Today on HOME PAGE we ask that question of three who have dealt with how we communicate in design in ways that. Give them exceptional insights.

Peter Chapman has worked at The Taunton Press for over 30 years and is currently executive editor for Taunton Books. Peter has had a hand in most of the home design books that Taunton has published since 1998, including two from our host, Duo (Staying Put and The House You Build), as well as Sarah Susanka’s best-selling Not So Big House series.  In earlier lives, Peter worked as a house painter (church steeples a specialty), educational test compiler, and apple picker.”

Gina Calabro is the Executive Director/CEO of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Connecticut). AIA Connecticut serves as a resource to architects and the public. Its membership of over 1,500 is comprised of architects, professionals working towards licensure, architectural students, and business professionals in affiliated fields. Prior to joining AIA Connecticut, she has worked with or lead trade associations as the CEO for the Home Builders and Remodelers Association (HBRA) of Fairfield County, and as the Division Director of Membership and Marketing for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

Kurt Andersen is a writer. His latest book Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America (2020) about how U.S. society was re-engineered during the last quarter of the 20th century to serve big business and the well-to-do at the expense of everyone else. It was a New York Times bestseller, like its companion volume Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire (2017), Andersen’s prize-winning history of America’s weakness for exciting untruths. In addition, he’s the author of four critically acclaimed, bestselling novels –– You Can’t Spell America Without Me (2017), True Believers (2012), Heyday (2007)  and Turn of the Century (1999). Andersen also writes for television and the stage, appears regularly on MSNBC and contributes to the New York Times. He co-created and hosted the Peabody Award-winning weekly public radio program Studio 360, co-founded Spy magazineand was a columnist and design critic for The New YorkerNew York and Time, as well as editor-in-chief of New York. Born and raised in Omaha, he graduated from Harvard College and lives with his wife Anne Kreamer in Brooklyn


February 23, 2021

6 of 40

How soft this Prison is

How sweet these sullen bars

No Despot but the King of Down

Invented this repose

Of Fate if this is All

Has he no added Realm

A Dungeon but a Kinsman is

Incarceration — Home.

Emily Dickinson

Home is a place. But a place can be a country, a region, a community, a neighborhood, a house, a room, a bed – you.

For some, this year in Lent home has been collapsing into a room, or few. The “sullen bars” have become more of many minds than actual risk. I have a friend who will, miraculously, somehow, have gotten the second shot soon. Even after that, no eating outside at restaurants. Safety is not just The Science.

We are told to wear our masks for at least 6 months after everyone who can be immunized, is. And the vaccine is 95% effective.

No, home is where the heart is.

And the heart is full when it is first safe, then loved. The actual disease of our plague has killed one half million, and many more by its isolation of the sick, addicted, violent and predatory. So home becomes where you are safe in this plague time.

The downy prisons are everywhere, but we cannot know them, because they are safe from us. Each life is safe, often, because it limits risk.

Home is only home when you leave it. Otherwise it is just where you live. Some people are not leaving where they live so safety becomes their home. Safety is only love by denial, an oxymoron of loving absence.

That denial, I think, extends to following what you know, and losing faith beyond what you know. We “follow” the Science, but we made the Science. It is easy to declare any meaning as the only meaning, to get the miraculous injection when others are at greater risk, to stay in your bed. But if you are just you there is no room for God.

We are what we know, but we are also hope. If we are our homes, and only in our homes, in our safety, where are we? If we spend the day in our downy prison, we are safe, now, but where are we when there is hope beyond our bed?

If we are hope, we are also some tiny bit of faith. And faith is not the Science, even though we made it.

Spring will come. Easter will come. Will we leave our homes?

Bee There

February 22, 2021

5 of 40

A little road not made of man,

Enabled of the eye,

Accessible to thill of bee,

Or cart of butterfly.

If town it have, beyond itself,

‘Tis that I cannot say ;

I only sigh,—no vehicle

Bears me along that way.

Emily Dickinson

We see no bees, but we know that we will. In a year of Lent, we touch no one, but we know that we will, too.

These dark mornings I scan words of Emily Dickinson. For no reason, “A little road not made by man” hit. I read, thought, then the internet told me that a “thill” is the shaft that attaches horses or oxen to a cart, that “vehicle” is an “alternative” word (the one Emily wrote is inscrutable). And I thought.

A man knew me, before I knew him. I knew his wife before I knew him. As I know Emily, he knew me from words that I wrote. But we met, we laughed, we knew each other. We were both architects, who built things.

After a decade or more of visits where I saw his buildings, I would bring the latest book, and he showed me his bees. A new obsession, he was older than I a little, so this was a nice compliment to making things. He was fully immersed in the realities of facilitating the incredibly full and complete world of bees.

In a dinner after my bee exposure, he looked me in the eye and said “I have pancreatic cancer.” He knew that I knew what that meant. He understood. In that time we talked of bees. He had come to know bees. I think he had come to know death. I am sure part of him was deeply sad, perhaps afraid, but part of him knew:

“I only sigh,—no vehicle

Bears me along that way.”

He died, along that way. Knowing bees.

To me, I think he knew God that way. His, our, passion, making things, is a touch by God of our humanity that has no reason to exist, “no vehicle Bears me along that way.” There is no understanding from me, by me, or for me. But, like my friend, I can know things.

My doctor wants my blood. Often. So I go to a place that gets it, but the place gives back infinite arcane readings of what is in that blood, 20 minutes after taking it, at 8AM on a Saturday morning and I see it, and every other test I have taken. In charts. With “normals” and their alternatives given.

Like my friend and his bees, I see the insane complexity, that I can absorb, but really do not understand. In the 70 factors, 3 are not “normal”, but they are not spikes, either.

Being like my friend, I dive into efforting understanding. The three things have one origin, kidneys. Being fat, kidneys are not happy with my BMI, I get that.

But here, in one factor, I kinda know the name of an “abnormal” look it up and it is revealed that elevation of that factor happens after exercise. And I worked out for 90 minutes one hour before my blood was removed. But my glucose is still just a little over.

Do I know why any of those 70 things are there? Did my friend know why the little roads of bees took them where they are going? Did he, or I, or you, know where our little road is going?

I know where I want my little road to go, and I know that that is not up to me. My friend did, too. There is no comfort in ending what you love, but it always ends.

But things we hate end too, like this year, but “no vehicle bears me along that way”, I try, I think, but I do not know. Like the bees. They have a faith I cannot have, I do not think I want to have.

But I do want faith.

“From Us She wandered now a Year”

February 21, 2021

4 of 40

From Us She wandered now a Year,

Her tarrying, unknown,

If Wilderness prevent her feet

Or that Ethereal Zone

No eye hath seen and lived

We ignorant must be —

We only know what time of Year

We took the Mystery

Emily Dickinson

We see what we see, not always what is there.

I make something: words, building, event, even dinner, and it is what it is, not what it is for me. Emily Dickinson wrote in ways both clear and vague, vital and sad. So when she writes a piece about absence, somehow a female, somehow a year, it resonates in 2021.

I am sure she would be incredulous at the grasp of a meaning brought forward 150 years or so. Ignorance of understanding does not preclude meaning.

I have never been in the military, or fought. Even knew someone well who served there. But I am crushed by the Vietnam Memorial.

Absence is absence.

“Her tarrying, unknown,

If Wilderness prevent her feet

Or that Ethereal Zone

Reason helps, it staunches curiosity, but this last year of our absence is still (after a year) befuddling. I have gone to every church service we have had at our church. There may have been 8 of them. In 11 months. No one was made ill by them, no one was without full caution and care. But fear won out.

Comfort wins, mostly, over risk.

I should be 40 pounds less than I am. It is comfortable to risk the annoyance of denial (I was even far fatter, so I know). So I continue to work out, eat only when hungry, and when eating, forget any limit.

But I remain absent from a body that I had 40 years ago. We all are.

Absence begs the question (for Emily, too, I think) what remains?

For each of us, each of us remains when death, divorce, adulthood, even a meal is over. And to me, me is also God. In all the changes the reality of the miracle of those surviving to see the changes, remains.

Being without – a life, a person wandering away – leaves us with us:

“No eye hath seen and lived

We ignorant must be —

We only know what time of Year

We took the Mystery”

But in a year of Lent, a year of absence of so many places and people, what remains is what we cannot lose. That may be depress, it may comfort. But it does not stop me from missing what is gone, just like Emily.