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Welcome to Saved by Design

April 13, 2021

New Stuff:

In A Year In Lent: Easter In August

In Random Stuff: A Year In Lent Soon Done

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


April 13, 2021


In Common Edge: Architecture and the Age of Creative Disruption

In Mockingbird: Her Grace Is All She Has

In ArchDaily: The Religion of the City: Cars, Mass Transit and Coronavirus

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


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



April 12, 2021

Slide to see 45 years time travel

HOME: Small?

April 12, 2021


The New (Old) Lure of The Small House:

A dozen years ago we had the McMansion Overdose that crashed the world economy in the Great Recession of 2008. Then we rode the pendulum swing to Love The Tiny House (until we had to actually think about how we live.) Now we have been force-fed the Stock House of the last 70 years of mass produced Suburban Homes in Covid Isolation.

Our culture inevitably rediscovers reality, despite our mood swings. The reality is that any home that grows to more than 3,000 square feet is a misfit for the classic American Dream Family. But home offices are now Normal so we work at home, all the time. People live longer, so generations combine. Children feel less need to detach, so they live at home with their parents longer, often for a decade after returning from college. Divorce is now the norm, so homes have alternating occupancies of singletons and blended families within their walls.

But we are having fewer children. But we are buying food and fungibles in bulk. We may need fewer cars. We may be creating our own energy. A Zoning Revolution is coming to suburbia where Accessory Dwelling Units are dropped onto existing single family home sites, and multiple, attached housing complexes are being proposed anywhere. everywhere throughout the country. Mixed signals have replaced The American Dream.

How Big Should A Home Be In The Change Time?

Great writers and architects Dale Mulfinger and Dennis Wedlick join Home Page with a great young architect Geoffrey Warner: Their experience and insight will give perspectives all of us in the COVID Cauldron may find useful. JOIN US!

Known Unknowns

April 4, 2021

Reuters now says that, for the first time, more than 50% of Americans do not belong to an organized religion of any kind. But a majority of us still believe that we are more than happy accidents, that there are things supernatural, not observed and not proven, that have made us.

These are known unknowns.

Twenty years ago, Donald Rumsfeld clarified things: there are things we know, things that are not known, and there are things that we know that we do not know: known unknowns. Some say that we have unknown knowns, but that beggars what understanding is.

No, there are known unknowns. Not just the future of an election, or what we might have for dinner, but full ignorance despite access to all data. We now know – after screaming effort – that 98% of what the universe is is unknown, we simply do not know what it is, even if we know it is something. About twenty years ago, science knew, completely, that 95% of our DNA was “junk”, leftovers from millions of years of evolution. Until we came to know, in the last five years, that we just did not know what was true and that pretty all our DNA has a purpose (as does our tonsils and maybe our appendix)

People die. They do not reanimate, despite “The Walking Dead”. Some are fully devoted to seeing the signs of life after death, because faith overcomes ignorance unless fear does. Known unknowns are the soul of faith and fear.

Today, this day, Easter, Christians fully rejoice in an anomaly. Resurrection. Never seen again, fully unfilmed, no evidence beyond the words of those there, transcribed a couple of generations after it happened. Atheists simply say that Christ is the projection of our fear of death. An easy out, a mulligan for our failure, a myth made justification for our lives.

The magazine Christianity Today notes that 30% of churches are ambiguous, if not in denial, as to whether the Resurrection ever happened. Easter can be seen as fraudulent as Jesus’ birthday being December 25 (it is probably in April). Some cannot see any possibility beyond what they can see. I get that.

But the Resurrection as an event is not a known known. There was no videotape, there are only words, of those who were there, then. The Greek and Roman Gods, and for me the Old Testament, are from a time so ancient that understanding them is more about where those words are in me.

But not Jesus. He was just us. Despite deniers, there is ample evidence that Jesus was a man, then. He was killed after saying things that people followed, or feared. But Resurrection as a fact is simply a fact because thousands, then millions, then billions have known the unknown of Christ, despite his absence.

Humans try beyond all understanding to understand, to project, to justify, to prove. Parents want their children to prove that they love them – and vice versa. Politics is the social reality of proving what is right before it can be known. There are known unknowns.

The reality of faith, of living the painful truth that you cannot make yourself, but that God made you (and everything else) is the essential known unknown. But something happened 2,000 years ago. If there was fraud, who did that fraud profit? If there was error, why do so many feel it, know faith, right now, despite the failures of religion? I think it is because the Resurrection is a known unknown.

Of course we are terrified of death, but it happens anyway, clearer this past year than any since World War 2. And it could well just be the flicking of a switch to room temperature for each of us. Sure. We have no choice in death. Jesus did not either.

But we can fully acknowledge our unknowns. The alternative is to invent why we are here, in a complexity that, now, has a growing list of known unknowns, where once we were in the verge of understanding why those guys made up the Resurrection. 98% of everything is, now, factually, not known.

I know that a bunch of know nothings, with no power, assets, or even numbers saw something 2,000 years ago. I know this happened because the last 2,000 years happened. Pretending that billions of us are simply stupid, deluded or duped, is completely self-serving. The reality of faith has an unknowable provenance beyond the distant facts that religion tries to reconcile with our lives. Faith is a known unknown.

Christianity has spent these 2,000 years trying to make the known unknown knowable. It is like trying to translate your language into a language you have never heard, but somehow you understand. That unknown language has just enough history to make the study, organization, intellectual constructions of it part of billions of lives.

God has made exquisite beauty because the known unknown of faith is exquisitely beautiful. It is Easter. It is the Resurrection. It is truth, a known known in my life. But where it comes from, why that beauty is beautiful is a known unknown. It just is. I know that, I believe.

Happy Easter. He Is Risen.

A Year In Lent Soon Done

March 31, 2021

Life is the same, life is different. There are tragedies, pains and joys, pretty much as there have always been. But the last calendar year started with a break in the world’s normal living that is not over. But there is now a horizon. Over the last 13 months I wrote 89 thoughts triggered, based, complemented and danced with Emily Dickinson. Some are good. All are short.

Maybe you have the time, for a while, to read…

Easter In August

March 29, 2021

40 of 40

Anecdotes are history. Sort of. In theory my grandfather played professional soccer in Brooklyn in 1903. No record, but there weren’t many of much, there, then.

We are approaching Easter. Historically true that 2,000 years ago, someone was sentenced to death, along with many others, for not much. He had hundreds of followers. After the death, there were fairly full oral histories, written down scores of years after the event, that described a Resurrection. Seen by hundreds, but fully recounted by at least four of those oral histories.

You could say that history is fact checked anecdotes. But what are facts? It is a full on fact, recounted everywhere, that thousands, soon millions knew that the Resurrection happened, that it changed everything, and those who believed it happened might die for believing it. Jesus was resurrected, and they were OK with dying for knowing it.

I cannot see a video of Christ after his death. But something happened.

I cannot find any evidence that in late August of 1945: the Point Judith Country Club In Narragansett, Rhode Island had an extraordinary event, either. But my parents said they were there. Two weeks after Victory in Japan Day, at the end of World War 2.

The country, the world, had come close to complete devastation. In five insanely desperate years, scores of millions died, and fully everyone’s life was changed, as were the lives of their successors and assigns.

Those who survived had a full pivot from fear, to the future. My father and mother were at the Point Judith Club that August, my father returned from the Navy after a couple of years on Air Craft Carriers. Word of a celebration at the Club spread. A party. Of course.

But when my parents entered the Ball Room, in the blazing late August heat, they were overwhelmed. The entire space was filled with Christmas in August. Trees, fake snow, lights, everything that was, really, fully, missing from the world for the last 5 years. It completely wrecked them. Life had left. Life was back. Resurrection.

We create ritual, the rituals do not make us. But those rituals, those anecdotes, are us. They are as factual in their creation as any victory in any battle or the building of any place. There was Christmas in August, 1945.

Will there be Easter in August, 2021?

There is a tiny whiff of a distant, hollow echo approaching us, now in 2021. Millions have died, too. It has been over a year of loss and fear. We may, in fact, know that there will be an end. Perhaps in August. It is not even AAA Baseball compared to the Major League realities of World War 2. But it is the closest we have come in my lifetime.

This Year In Lent will end. But not at this Year’s Easter. The fully vaccinated still wear masks. We cannot do much, for a while, but we can do more.

These 40 pieces end today, too. 40 plus the 49 that preceded them. These are anecdotes too. But Christ is no anecdote. The reality of Easter in no ritual, despite the rituals, now, for now, forsaken. There will be a couple of score of us, for the first time in two years, in a room to say and hear those rituals this year. A whiff of Easters Past.

We do not choose the times we live in, but we should listen and express what has been given to us. Emily Dickinson did that 150 years ago. I listen to her every morning, now, in these pieces. Her mystery has not clarified but my devotion to her thought was made possible by this Year In Lent.

Twas a long Parting — but the time

For Interview — had Come —

Before the Judgment Seat of God —

The last — and second time

These Fleshless Lovers met —

A Heaven in a Gaze —

A Heaven of Heavens — the Privilege

Of one another’s Eyes —

No Lifetime — on Them —

Appareled as the new

Unborn — except They had beheld —

Born infiniter — now —

Was Bridal — e’er like This?

A Paradise — the Host —

And Cherubim — and Seraphim —

The unobtrusive Guest —

Emily Dickinson

Will Masks Become Yarmulke’s?

March 28, 2021

39 of 40

I never saw a Moor–

I never saw the Sea–

Yet know I how the Heather looks

And what a Billow be.

I never spoke with God,

Nor visited in Heaven–

Yet certain am I of the spot

As if the Checks were given–

Emily Dickinson

Theology gives cover for the supernatural. Science gives cover for the unknowable. Culture mixes faith and fact into an outcome that reveals motivations. Soon the science of masks may become the religion of masks.

Masks are necessary. They may have always been a good idea. But I still eat ice cream even though it is a bad idea idea, and at some point I will stop wearing a mask even though it may be a good idea to wear one for the rest of my life. Doing what we should do has limited death this year. But soon, we will have done enough.

This is a time where unknowables begin to become known. Faith is beginning to have an outcome. We will be over this interlude of universal fear, this year. But we are yet in its tide, it’s just that the tide may be receding.

In more and more meetings, more and more people feel free to ask “Do you mind if I take my mask off?” It is also Passover, on the cusp of Easter, and religion, even in the Northeast, is lightly front and center. Well, off center. Still at center are the masks. I cannot be without one, though I am past two weeks past two shots that have rendered me 97% unlikely of infection and virtually death-free from COVID. But, it is said, I endanger others. Even if I do not, they do not know that I am inoculated. So I reflect my respect for their vulnerability in all ways by wearing a mask.

Hijabs, yarmulke’s, and any number of cultural traditions in what humans choose to wear are the outcomes of deep motivation to be with God in the world. The sacred reality of faith in some may be justified by religion, but faith is there in silence as well as bible study.

Science is there, too. We may not know what 97% of our universe is, let alone why, for now there are imponderable unknowables. But some have faith that the universe is knowable, we just do not know it yet. But faith is as real as the 3% we do know, it’s just uniquely personal in the plane of universal realities.

So some of us were yarmulkes, just on their own head, not yours. But you see it, you know it means something. Deeply important. Sacred.

Will masks mean that in a year?

Just A Little Sobbing

March 27, 2021

38 of 40

Early morning research into internet streaming outcomes in my job as the Properties Chair of Trinity Church on the Green in New Haven, led me to a recording of a service.

Upon clicking upon the last Christmas service that Trinity had in 2019, about 100 singers and 500 pretending that they could sing made beauty. I had forgotten it. In the early morning, I sobbed. A little.

Beauty is not beauty that just pleases, it incites, provokes, fully pushes you in a place you did not know you had, let alone that had left you. It is not just sound, it is life.

Both sons singing at tender ages. The spoken words of my tender age. The exquisite sound and precision of effortless gut wrenching.

This Year Of Lent has not been kind. But it has revealed beauty. Not by its presence but in its absence. Hundreds singing, together, focused, as one. No more.

This will not stand. This end will end. Humans are not going to have beauty ripped away, without getting it back. This Easter will be silent, too. I will listen to the birds, as I am now.

All given, all not enough.

Better — than Music! For I — who heard it —

I was used — to the Birds — before —

This — was different — ‘Twas Translation —

Of all tunes I knew — and more —

‘Twasn’t contained — like other stanza —

No one could play it — the second time —

But the Composer — perfect Mozart —

Perish with him — that Keyless Rhyme!

So — Children — told how Brooks in Eden —

Bubbled a better — Melody —

Quaintly infer — Eve’s great surrender —

Urging the feet — that would — not — fly —

Children — matured — are wiser — mostly —

Eden — a legend — dimly told —

Eve — and the Anguish — Grandame’s story —

But — I was telling a tune — I heard —

Not such a strain — the Church — baptizes —

When the last Saint — goes up the Aisles —

Not such a stanza splits the silence —

When the Redemption strikes her Bells —

Let me not spill — its smallest cadence —

Humming — for promise — when alone —

Humming — until my faint Rehearsal —

Drop into tune — around the Throne —

Emily Dickinson

The Absence of Light

March 26, 2021

37 of 40

The Sun and Fog contested

The Government of Day —

The Sun took down his Yellow Whip

And drove the Fog away —

Emily Dickinson

Not night, dawn or day. It’s Fog.

Yet another grinding metaphor bolted to a Day In The Year of Lent. We know light is there, we can see it, but we can’t. We know that it’s day. But not really.

We know the sun comes through. But not yet.

I hear “Congratulations!” oathed to those who did nothing, found a place, got a shot, then another. Staying alive is the Prime Directive. It is a goal, but is it a triumph?

I am, today, street legal. Two weeks since my second jab. But masked up, careful. We go inside a restaurant tonite. We feel just a bit guilty. But for no reason, beyond still being in the fog of plague.

Achievement is not survival, but both are good. We went through risk, and did not screw up enough to get sick, let alone die or infect others. Traffic jambs now happen. I go to safe, masked, distant meetings. More and more there have been shot, too. At what point is it a Memorial Ritual? We await others to tell us. As we have for a year.

We are leaving this year of fog. Not soon enough. And there will be new metaphors. But Easter is next week, made greater metaphor this year than any since 1946. Thirty years of record church attendance followed, because we touched death.

I did not touch death. And God never left. I never had patience, but I had an understanding that I did not understand. For both plague, and God, and, really, the fog.