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Welcome to Saved by Design

May 12, 2022

New Stuff:

In A Miracle Of Coincidence: “It is finished.”

In A Year In Lent: Only Consistency Allows Change

In Random StuffIf we had control, Prohibition would be possible.

In Home Page: What Makes HOME?

In Absence: Easters

In Left To Myself: Never Ending Motherhood

In Emily’s Days: Coda

In Not (As) Fat: One Meal A Day

In Finding Home: Occupation Preoccupation

In The Rules: Transactional Immunity

In Silence In SpringFlaw Flourishes

In Days ’till Spring: 40 Days


May 12, 2022


In Mockingbird: Consider the Bees of the Air

In Common Edge: How Christopher Alexander Changed Architecture—and Much More

In ArchDaily: “Net Zero” Homes: Marketing Morality

In Mockingbird: What Is Seen

In CT Insider: Opinion: Those boxy apartment complexes sprouting up are ‘architectural fast food’

In Common Edge: The Architectural Pandemic of the “Stick Frame Over Podium” Building

In Mockingbird: Humbled by Achievement

In CT Insider: Column: Buy, sell or build? What to do in a real estate boom

In ArchDaily: Where is Architecture Going After the Pandemic Fades?

In Mockingbird: A Devastating Act of Hubris

In Common Edge: Branding Is Not Architecture

In ArchDaily: Architecture is Human: But Beauty is Found Everywhere

In Mockingbird: Unthinkable, Unearned Forgiveness

In Common Edge: Where is Architecture Going After the Pandemic Fades?

In CT Insider: Column: 8 people reflect on what they appreciate most in their homes during the pandemic

In CT Insider: Column: Architects are trapped in a COVID-19 world

In ArchDaily: A 2021 Moment In Architecture That May Define The Future

In Common Edge: How the Pandemic Has Made Life Miserable for Architects and Builders

In ArchDaily: The End of Editors: The New Practice of The Self-Promoting Architect

In CT Insider: Column: Gaining perspective on what matters in our homes since the pandemic


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


If we had control, Prohibition would be possible.

May 12, 2022

Right now, we are all obsessed with control, and that means we have a newly fresh understanding of our lack of it.

We murder more, suicide more, overdose more, die more and now obsess with pregnancy more than we have since before the Plague Sequestration was supposed to give us perspective.

Maybe it did.

In theory, we understand the ramifications of our actions. Plan for them. And the execute them. We control life, because we can, and want to. Sure. That is the point of advertising, elections, laws.

But we suicide more, overdose more, die more and need to end pregnancy when all those actions would not happen if we actually did have control over what we wanted. There would be peace, there would be no “supply chain issues”, every child would get into the school they want, I would weigh 40 pounds less, and have hair on the back of my head.

Instead, the anger, sadness, pain of not being in control creates desperation for control. Endless political, moral, legal outrage over what is at the essence of humanity: knowing what we cannot control. And still wanting to control it.

We actually thought that our genius allowed for 95% impact on plague spreading. Vaccination would prevent infection, thus spreading, and, of course death. This morning there was an article about those who are multiply vaccinating still getting infected, spreading what they have been infected against, and yet limiting death, while still having a lot of death, just less of it. And we get more doses for a mitigation that was once a solution. Because we do not control that, either.

Prohibition was a solution.

“Just Say No” was a solution.

Laws ending the ending of pregnancy is now a solution.

But we choose to drink, take drugs, have sex, and if we had control over those decisions the solutions for them would have no problem. But we do what we should not want to do. No one I know wants to die, have an unwanted baby, be out of control in any way.

But we are not, ever, in control.

But we can offer solutions. Endlessly.

Never Ending Motherhood

May 7, 2022

No one asks to be born. We just are. Our wiring demands identity, so parents are impossibly important to our understanding. Impossible because they are us, invisible and in undeniable measure, while they are completely distinct from who we are. Especially when they are dead.

So we now have “Siblings Day”, right now “Mothers Day” and soon, “Fathers Day” all to enable touching what is fully unknowable: where our parents end, and where we begin.

My only sibling is 77. As of this year she is alone, after almost 60 years with someone. We saw each other for the first time since the year our mother died, over 20 years ago, at the death of the love of her life. Surrounded by her love’s family she said to me “Can I email you every day, just to know that I am not alone?”

“Of course!”

So every noontime, give or take, I receive “I am still here, Love…”

Despite all around her, she is alone, again, after 60 years. The last time she was was alone was for the five years before she met the love of her life, when our childhood rendered our lives a coping survival – despite good health, fully funded and in comfort. It was survival because what love was to our parents was not what love was to their children.

Validation through your children is simply invalid.

When your children do not become you, there are two choices, acceptance or judgment. Our parents were somehow broken and needed to judge their children, rather than themselves.

Of course, drinking was part of it – it was a time when “Having a drink” was as normal as “Having Breakfast”. But one parent did not stop until he was fully drunk, every day of life after fighting in World War 2 and until he was in the hospital where he would die.

His love of his life, our mother, could not offer anything but support. To him. Her children were her disappointment because they were not what her husband had wanted. My sister, the oldest, was in every way what was good in the eyes of the world. She has never had a drink, smoked anything, or hurt anyone. But as she entered the time of judging children in mid-20th century America, the early teenage years, the grades she earned were not those our father grew up banking his identity on. She then obsessed on them, but never became our father. But worse, my brother followed, and he was not even interested in grades. Thus the loss of their parents was long and complicated.

I was simply quiet and studied. When my sister left a month before graduating from a very nice private high school and going to a very nice college to be on her own in California, and my brother descended into the mind alteration of his father, but with more varied distractions, I was left fully alone, in every way.

If a sad chapter was finished when I was shipped to Buffalo for high school, or my sister found her love, or my brother transgendered to be my sister, then the book could have been closed for each of us, at any time of resolution.

But motherhood is unending.

Our loss is still our loss. My younger sister ended a life of irrational rationalization 5 years ago, and my older sister texts me every day, and I text her back: “Love”.

When parents are consumed with themselves, there is no room for the children who never asked to be born. That disconnect from the only connection a child initially has, is forever. That break happened to my father in his first 6 years of life, after his mother died trying not to have his sibling.

But my mother’s break came when, somehow, her marriage meant more than her children. That reality is fresh with me as I type this, never ending.


May 1, 2022

Every few years it is claimed that what we are living through is completely unprecedented.

Sure. By definition each moment is new. But each moment is held by each human, and personalized. Universal and idiosyncratic.

The difference is that we can now see many of us, instantly, free, and with no more choice than seeing what is on the screen we happen to be viewing. So the trillions of idiosyncratic reactions to universal realities are now, themselves universal.

Cancer used to be scary. It was mysterious, and universally fatal. Somehow people who some feared to be dangerous were loath to admit they had it. Some still direct judgment of cancers that are often caused by what people choose to do. But understanding has made cancer a very bad thing that often can be made benign in people’s lives. No bizarre mantle of vague danger or culpability or weakness accompanies it’s discovery.

Growing up, there were those who were “troubled” – they lived with their families beyond childhood because they had to – or were sent to warehouses of other humans to “protect” them (and us). Those prisons have been illegal for a couple of generations, and the “troubled” became understood as the victims of health realities.

Knowing more does beat back fear. But knowing more also liberates constructions of our own making. Where once a distant, benign, God or distant malevolent Devil carrot and sticked human behavior based on conjectured outcomes of punishment and reward, now this generation increasingly believes in its own agency.

We can cure COVID with inoculation. Inoculations infect us with State Sponsored Terrorism. Fully contradictory constructions are simultaneously determined, disseminated and believed by disparate humans, believing opposite realities, where one means the other is fully false.

Why does this happen? The Crusades were fraught over centuries due to events than happened 1,000 years before they did, because those defining events were seen differently, to the fighting parties, absent facts. Humans created facts, then and now, and many dedicated lives, and ended them, because of those believed facts.

The truth of our desire for Truth to the point of inventing untruth and believing it is not new.50 years ago Walter Cronkite, and a few others were the news. Then Cable television. Then the internet. A few “anchors” became scores of voices, then thousands, then, in this last decade, a few views emerged as exclusively true, because algorithms could be made to direct outcomes of Tweets, Facebook posts, even Google searches.

New “news” sites – on all platforms – came to offer no contradiction, only consensus. That imbalance created enough reaction, that Elon Musk decided to break the attempt at control that was being imposed, to inveigh his own control.

The freak out or ecstasy over Musk’s buying truth says one thing: We want to define reality. Either we block a reality we think is dangerous, simply because we can on some venue – or we scream out the reality we know, just know, is the truth. With listening to anything but that creation.The individuals who leap to block or inveigh sometimes are just the loudest voice.

Alex Jones is just a blowhard: finding support by being loud and proud at voicing what others feel, validating them and himself. There is a seed of reality in everything, but invention is the soul of many convictions, and Jones invented much, and others listened, sent money, wrecked the truth to prove their righteousness. The point came where Jones took a simple fact, the murder of children and their protectors and the suicide of their murderer, one who would have been called “troubled”, and denied it. Said that it did not happen. And that non-reality was not incompetence it was conspiracy, the malevolent, controlling invention of others, to control us.Completely, fully absurd, wrong and, well, evil in its dismissal of the death of innocents.And in the reality of reality.

Why did this happen?After a decade, after losing court battles that confirmed the reality he tried to wish away into his victimhood, Jones could no longer lie. Instead, he he declared his invention was due to the “trauma of the media and the corporations lying so much” that caused him to distrust everything, “kind of like a child whose parents lie to them over and over again.”

“So long before these lawsuits I said that in the past I thought everything was a conspiracy and I would kind of get into that mass group think of the communities that were out saying that,” he said. “And so now I see that it’s more in the middle… so that’s where I stand.”

The media made me do it.

Like most things, there is a reality in that reality.

Is our culture, vectoring from consensus to contradiction?

50 years ago Walter Cronkite, and a few others were the news. Then Cable television. Then the internet. Each decade saw the fractionalization of what was seen, the atomizing of ideas. A few “anchors” became scores of voices, then thousands, then, in this last decade, that wildly disparate chorus of contradictory voices began to coalesces into two raging bases of view.

It came to be that a few views were presented as exclusively true, because algorithms could be made to direct outcomes of Tweets, Facebook posts, even Google searches.

A person became President because of the fear of so many saying that the realities we see mean far for that what is being revealed. Most overlooked a long history of egomaniacal self-serving rampaging against anything but his own entitlement. But others were fully convinced that The Newtown Massacre was faked, as was 9-11, as was an election.

Or, others full-throatedly believe that if everyone had a guaranteed income, or cancelled debt, or reparations, or control over all content to prevent fear and provide safety, all would be in balance, in fairness. We could end a disease through science, while the reality was far more ambiguous and still uncertain.

We have left listening to anything that disagrees with our truth. We have found consensus, and we are, mostly, living in our our chorus, signing to ourselves. I think this is largely do to the fact that that there are “news” sites that offer no contradiction, only consensus. That imbalance created enough reaction, that Elon Musk decided to break the attempt at control that was being imposed.

In truth what do I know?

Well, I do know the world of architecture. And not just the designing reality, but the presenting, recognition and teaching realities of a tiny profession, whose results we all live with.

50 years ago, there were 2 architecture magazines – Architectural Record and Architecture, with Progressive Architecture was a young upstart. Then the internet exploded venues, all paper magazines went into a full-on collapse, and in a decade, there were dozens of venues, hundreds of competition, then in the last years, virtually thousands of private sites, blogs, chat boards.

Then in these last years, just like “news”, the radical distillations of perspective “Modern” and “Traditional” had their language turn as hostile, personal and absolute as “news” has become as extreme as those antipodal scream feasts.

But most architects simply do not care, they work to express themselves and those who use them, and earn a living. But those are quiet. The voices are the screamers, like me. But I am screamed at, too, naturally.

I am screamed at by both angry wings of a tiny place. Modernists are said to hate humanity and inveigh ugliness as a means to impose power. Traditionalists are decried as fascists, using history to control humanity in the lock-down of creativity, limited to what has been done in the past.

Evil Architecture or Fascist Architecture. Trump as Savior or Trump as Devil. Either way, instant rejection of any belief but your own – because it is defined as true: by you.

Some “Modern” architecture is painful to see and use, and often is removed over time. Some “Traditional” architecture is brain dead replication, serving only fear, not invention. So Elon Musk is propelled by these types of extremes to exert personal power to end a culture’s power over individuals.

Will architecture have its Elon Musk Moment?

What Makes HOME?

April 24, 2022


We are emerging from COVID. Movies, planes, restaurants, even public events. Once such event is the first gathering of those who are fully engaged in making homes: “Builders, Architects and Designers” (BAD) (!) had a series of events in full swing before the plague, and is now coming out the virtual to be existential: and having a full on conference in Boston, involving a woodworker, scientist architect, city planner, and …me (the architect)

This old/new focus has a universality that is what HOME PAGE is designed to address, so we will have The Entire Panel on to broach this mission statement:

“What Makes A Good House – and Why?”

How we experience the built environment is influenced by history, tradition, style, and fashion, but it is determined by the long evolved sensory and emotional adaptations to our human habitat.  

The largely unconscious determinants of our experience and measure of the places we live and work are being disclosed through neuroscience and evolutionary biology. This Talk will explore the hardwired filters of experience and help us understand WHY everyone loves a symmetrical façade and is happy to nestle down on a window seat.”

Architect/Scientist Ann Sussman, City Planner/Moderator Ted Landsmark, Cabinet Maker Paul Reidt and I will address the seminal reality that our homes are our central physical focus on many levels. JOIN US!

“It is finished.”

April 11, 2022

It is what is called Holy Week. We do not confer holiness, but we call things names. When I googled “Easter” almost all the images were bunnies and chocolate. We define the word “Easter” this way, now.

This is the 47th of these pieces. There are 2 more poems in the rota I chose as the prompts for these mornings, but they are virtually essays. Nothing I could do except print them. And it is Holy Week.

I do not know, really, what those who do know define as Lent. It was said “40 days, without the Sundays or Holy Week.” Sure. For me, for a decade it was a Mite Box. Then a basket next to my bed. A plump boy’s gorging validated by the Resurrection, then the Grey Lamb and Bright Green Jelly and movie of Hollywood Jesus. That was Easter.

But in a long dead time, that decade from 4 to 13 of my years, which bent me, and everyone else, Easter was different. I was alone with the basket. I was quiet. I knew that I was not alone.

But the context arose, again, after those moments. The screaming humanity of its moment saw two very unhappy people, one unto drinking to drunk every day I knew him outside a hospital, the other coping, one left without he who worshipped her, the other rejected, me left alone. Three are now dead.

Families are what we make them, their gift is what we have, not the outcome of who we want to be. The break for me was not the tension and performance of Christmas, which was a huge Thing Fest – starting with a much screamed-at tree, then greed engorged gifts and, of course, more screaming.

No, Easter was just a gift. A basket I could eat, guilt-free. An unrequested gift or two (one year a skateboard!) and then a service, and Aunt Fanny’s Grey Meat. It was a day of relief. Eating at Aunt Fanny’s (after I ate all I wanted to) meant no screaming at Aunt Fanny’s. Then to bed. With just a little screaming in the car, sometimes.

We name things, but mostly we do not create them. It is odd for an architect to say, but I reveal mostly, I do not invent. But we try desperately to name, control, derive worth in us from what has has been given to us.

A little like Lent.

I sit, biking at Level 25 (Level 25!) and look up at the barn I helped build 20-some years ago. An old red oak beam smashes into new Douglas Fir. Until this moment I thought nothing of the wood posts used 2,000 years ago, as raw, dense and large.

Those beams were used to suspend a person in a way that caused a person’s body weight to prevent breathing – once he was exhausted enough that he could not lift himself up up to get enough oxygen any more to live. Oh, and the nails through the wrists holding him up may have bled him out before, too.

I wonder, what were those posts used for after all those men died?

What are all these words to be used for, after Easter?

All the letters I can write
Are not fair as this —
Syllables of Velvet —
Sentences of Plush,
Depths of Ruby, undrained,
Hid, Lip, for Thee —
Play it were a Humming Bird —
And just sipped — me —

Emily Dickinson

“The nearest Dream”

April 10, 2022

The nearest Dream recedes — unrealized —
The Heaven we chase,
Like the June Bee — before the School Boy,
Invites the Race —
Stoops — to an easy Clover —
Dips — evades — teases — deploys —
Then — to the Royal Clouds
Lifts his light Pinnace —
Heedless of the Boy —
Staring — bewildered — at the mocking sky —
Homesick for steadfast Honey —
Ah, the Bee flies not
That brews that rare variety!

Emily Dickinson

Dreams should be our best hopes, but most, for me, they are my worst fears.

Awaking this AM, I was trying to get to La Guardia Airport, and my mother texted me on this IPad (although 20 years dead) asking where I was. I was walking the two blocks to the airport from midtown Manhattan, thru a stiff hedge, as it was on the Hudson River. And there was 15 minutes until my plane took off. And my father (35 years dead) was asking where I was…

Then I awoke to this poem.

2,000 years ago Jesus was living the dream. He was coming into the biggest city around. Many fully lauded him, and knew, just knew, that he was saving them from oppression. It was a full acclamation after three years living on the grace of strangers. It was the honey this bee sought.

But soon, a few days, Jesus was arrested, because he was seen as the honey that worker bees cannot have, and oppressors of all kinds just wanted this flight of fancy to stop. Jesus would not stop being Jesus, so he was stopped. Dead.

No honey, no freedom, no justice – and as it turned out, no peace.

Our dreams are just that. Not real, often immediate to waking, but still quite distant. We know what we know and want more. But that is not up to us. The wanting is, the effort, the flight we fly to get want we hope. But hope is not faith. Lent is not hope, either.

Hope in the unknown is fully a dream. Faith is what we have because we have been given it, unearned, undeserved, even despised. In the end Faith is all we were given. And, for me, and the devil, it is sufficient unto the day. Fear does not end with faith. The failures that promise fear just keep on coming.

But faith looks beyond that.

This day is the day we have been given, and given 2,000 years ago, and we receive it in fully false hope, mostly absent faith. Faith comes when we know that we are not alone in our dreams, that those dreams come from beyond the memory of my mother, or La Guardia airport. But that is a hard flight.

Substantiation is just manufacture, hope is just a dream. Faith is the foundation of this moment, sitting on the edge of spring. In Lent.

Such a Little Boat

April 9, 2022

Twas such a little — little boat
That toddled down the bay!
‘Twas such a gallant — gallant sea
That beckoned it away!

‘Twas such a greedy, greedy wave
That licked it from the Coast —
Nor ever guessed the stately sails
My little craft was lost!

Emily Dickinson

Things usually start, or end, with a singularity.

A case in Wuhan China. A shot fired in Ukraine. A crucifixion in Palestine.

But then, plague, war, faith overwhelms that moment and we go beyond it, forget it, even denigrate it. But the grandparent who dies, the crying child, and Jesus make what was was molecular and make it all matter again.

A very serious scientific journal of very serious scientists had an article by some of them published and then reported in a non-scientific aggregating news site, so I saw it. An experiment, one of millions, had an outcome that was, as yet, inexplicable.

The smallest of small things – a subatomic force, particle, something – literally a tiny, tiny part of the hugest of everything – was measured. The smartest of the smart built the biggest of the big things to see those, and a zillion other things. Decades of thousands of the smartest, using the biggest of things have created data, that then gets woven to a reason this universe just happens. This data was just a tiny, tiny part of this huge effort.

But something was different than constructed.

One piece, this smallest of bits, simply did not conform to the millions, nay zillions, of data projections that are applied to the idea of what the universe is. It was just too heavy. This small, small boat of reality is sailing on the vastest of seas, and we, somehow, want to be the captain and determine its voyage.

Well, not yet.

There is no explanation, yet, as so many other determinations fit into the models made to receive them. But we start with singularities. We do not know why this plague came to Wuhan, war to Ukraine, or Jesus on the cross, because we simply do not know. We think we know: eating a bat, Putin being evil, Jesus being Lord, but really, finally, we do not know many things.

But we try

That same journal, of the smartest of the smart, pulled back from the huge construction of the theory this tiniest of bits did not fit into. A throw off line from that piece describe how this full-to-enormous construction has incomplete parts of its fabrication:

“…it doesn’t account for dark matter, which along with dark energy is thought to make up 95 percent of the universe. It also says that the universe should not have existed in the first place, because the Big Bang ought to have annihilated itself.”

But we still effort mightily to know, know, about the plague, war, and dead person from 2,000 years ago. And the reality of the universe.

Most of us, all of us, really, are in the stands of our creation watch a game we did not create and try to understand it, rationalize it to us. Because we are the only ones we have. If we do not know that we are fully and in every way, part of the game that we are playing, we think we can understand it, control that truth by knowing it.

No, 95% of pretty much everything is “Dark”. The smartest of the smart have said so, and I believe them. The Resurrection is “Dark” too, it’s data as anomalous as the boson quark’s completely unexpected weight. Nothing in all the other observation predicted that reality.

And nobody thought anything lived after death. Until they saw it. And I think if it in Lent.


April 8, 2022

I awoke to a salt marsh full of water.

April showers bring morning high tides it seems. Both the water level and last night’s insane wind were just this moment’s reminder of what is fully uncontrolled.

A nearness to Tremendousness —
An Agony procures —
Affliction ranges Boundlessness —
Vicinity to Laws

There are complete documentations of what every tide was, and every one will be. We know that the moon means a lot, as does the wind, and inland, in the tidal marshes, so does the rain. Weather is fully observed, then continuously analyzed, then comprehensively predicted. And it is never perfect.

Perhaps in generations ahead, weather will be known as well as the tides are. Observation can lead to understanding, then prediction, even control. Until it can’t.

A century of vaccines and therapies have rendered any number of threats benign. Polio, measles, small pox, AIDS: but not this not-so-new plague. One we may have had a hand in effecting.

We know enough to have a greater awareness of what we cannot know.

Contentment’s quiet Suburb —
Affliction cannot stay
In Acres — Its Location
Is Illocality —

Emily Dickinson was afflicted. Her mind was like the tides and the weather, constantly moving, sometimes understood, fully observed. I am sure she woke up to weather, knew insufficiency, but thought about it. What we cannot control, we can try to know better.

In between seasons, now, we are sick of cold and fantasize about life returning beyond our heads. So some of us invented Lent, crowning a lousy time of lingering death, with a focus on unseen life. It would be hope if it were not true, so it becomes Faith.

Faith does not set me free. It bounds me in my inabilities to know and control, because all I have is Faith. You too. The break of Faith to Fact happened for a bunch of us 100 generations ago. So anomalous that it lived after a century or two of terror intended to end Faith after the Fact.

That effort, like weather prediction, failed.