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Welcome to Saved by Design

November 24, 2021

New Stuff:

In A Year In Lent: Easter In August

In Random Stuff: End of the Age of Editors: The Internet As Reformation

In Home Page: HOME for Everyone

In Absence: Easters

In Left To Myself: For No Reason

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

The End of Memory

November 25, 2021

Yes, while I crank on my Death Avoidance Protocol every morning, I often watch The Andy Griffith Show. Fully lame. Sorry. Often everyone on the screen is long dead. (Opie is now a world-class Director).

But Aunt Bea, Barney and Andy are gray living images of long dead humans. There is no memory if there is imagery. Icons painted for thousands of years brought the important humans into a static immortality, living in our minds when we stared at the images of the dead. Today’s icons need no head space. Every phone tells us whether they are alive or dead, – but everyone, everything is alive on our screens.

We do not need to remember much.

And we will remember less. And Less. They will be no refraction of reality through the lens of our minds. The wrinkles, the fat, the age, the humanity of all the dead are no longer erased or imposed. Everyone is alive forever in the Twilight Truth of the Purgatory of Technology.

We see many, in person these months, where once Zoom and phone were our only contact. Better than nothing is a reality, but reality is a better reality. We will never need our minds again. Or icon painters.

Not human, but now, fully human.

News

November 24, 2021

READ:

In Mockingbird: The Reformation of the Internet

In Common Edge: Channeling Andy Rooney: the Cranky, Complaining Architect

In Mockingbird: The Meal That Changed So Much

In CT Insider: How ‘traditional’ CT became a hub for Modernist architects like the ‘Harvard 5’

In Common Edge: Why Teaching Architecture Is Difficult

In Mockingbird: A Lack of Earning Potential

In ArchDaily: The Impossibility of Equity

In CT Insider: The real estate boom will end; here’s what to think about

In Mockingbird: Beauty That Does Not Die

In ArchDaily: Local Can Be Universal

In CT Insider: Column: Three ways to protect your home from climate change in CT

In Common Edge: Architecture: A History Lesson on Context, Craft, Gravity and Time

In Common Edge: An Ode to the Planet’s Most Glorious Building Material: Wood

In Mockingbird: Thank You Is Harder

In ArchDaily: Before “Colonial” There Was Immigrant Architecture in North America

In Common Edge: Postmodernism and Disco: Together, Forever

In CT Insider: Are black windows out? How architecture design fads impact resale value

In CT Insider: When it comes to real estate are we in a bubble or a new market?

In Mockingbird: The Puritans Are On The Run

In ArchDaily: Is Apprenticeship the Way That Architectural Education Stays Relevant?

                                                                                                             

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.

                                                                                                             

WATCH:

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

                                                                                                             

The Gift of HOME

November 24, 2021

TODAY! THANKSGIVING! NOON! WPKN 89.5fm, Streaming wpkn.org

14 of this year’s Home Page guests from Minnesota, Los Angeles, New Hampshire, Brooklyn, and even Connecticut offer their perspective on what they are grateful for in our homes. From a window, mud room, kitchen table, history, to garden and more – the variety of love is heard in words, poem, and imagery. A great accompaniment to driving stuffing and stuff.

The noise of “The Holidays” is beginning to well up to deafening. We are bombarded with costs – monetary, emotional and physical. But we have those we love, and this week we see more of them. Rather than the absurdity of Zoom, this year we go back, we return to each other.

We leave, and come, to homes. These last two years we have come to know our home, and what we love and hate in our home. Where we live is greater with us than at any time since the automobile projected us out into the world.

Sequestration and fear of disease has meant that we know our homes more than any generation since World War 2. That means, this week, it is a good time to hear what we are thankful for in our homes. Each of us, all of us. HOME PAGE has a dozen guests, from the 36 we have heard from over the last year and we return to their perspectives.

As you drive to home, stuff a turkey, await the love of the distant, listen to an hour and a dozen voices answering:

“What are you grateful for in your home?”

The Gift of Us

November 21, 2021

I am close to nausea at the thought of another Starbucks Moment Platitude of Amoral Profit Mongering. But it is Thanksgiving.

To have thanks, you have to be given something.

Those eating Thursday spend a few hours stuffing, cleaning after if they have manners, and passively digesting. Those listening to music, going to a play, binge watching, or simply looking at an exhibit simply expose their eyes and brains to wonderful things.

But all the things we consume are almost always the end of design, planning, effort and cost. Sure, we pay for them, they are not gifts.

But they are gifts.

I have a genetic disorder. I inexplicably love football. Not watching it. Diving into it. The stands are a group video game viewing. Everyone knows everything. We only know ourselves up there.

The human reality of the illogical devotion to go beyond watching is fully there in the kitchen, the rehearsal studio, the field of play. The game is more than another exhibit, meal, or concert. All those very nice things are great to consume. But you consume them. At questions after a talk last week about making things to, a bright eyed student asked. “What is your favorite thing that you do?”

I paused, “Well, this Saturday I will be on the sidelines to watch a football game.”

Disbelief.

“Where else do humans care so much?”

Silence, then heads nodded. Humans have taken about a century to create a skin that feels as little pain possible, and use bodies to fully express what is if extreme importance. That human explosion if effort is in every sport and devotion, but football has made complete body effort as painless as possible. Until it isn’t. And that is part of it. And that essential human devotion is just not seen 200 feet up, with 50,000 others.

There, on the field, faces, voices, humans do what every human wants to do: express and be beyond ourselves. Why do we want to do that?

Sure, thousands (Thousands) of hours are spent in private effort to get better. Then Thousands more are spent working together. All that effort, focus and expression is manifest in the game. And a meal. Or concert. Or painting. But without the pain.

Like a dinner, a concert, an exhibition, a book – some humans are driven to go beyond comfort, to sustain repeated failure, to be ridiculed and exhausted, for, what?

Why do we do these fully terrifying things when we could eat, sleep, watch and just “be”? God has given us illogical salvation. The glimpse that our lives are more than what we see, feel, think in the moment – out lives, every part – can we a mission of joy via a life of effort.

It does not matter who sees it. Emily Dickinson wrote over 1,000 things and shared a few. It is the insane ecstasy of acting. Doing what God has somehow made joyous,

There is no reason in it. Those football players get nothing the day after The Game, but bruises, memories, yes, love and less. But there is no profit motive in doing what you love. That love is not transactional, or if it is, you will never live the beauty of expression God has put into each of us. If we have a plan, as the philosopher Mike Tyson said, it ends with the first punch in the mouth. And we are punched every day.

We fail, often, continuously. But we learn. We change. We adapt to create what we value. If we create because of what others value, I think we fail to recognize why God gave each of us this spark: because He loves us: without reason or transaction. I honestly have no understanding of any if it.

But I am grateful.

The full and extreme love of the men feet from me on that field was a tide of Grace on these sidelines. Tiny times far way I did those things, too, with no import or meaning, but the central meaning of all of our lives: to live into what God made.

End of the Age of Editors: The Internet As Reformation

November 10, 2021

Before the Christian Reformation 500 years ago the church was the editor of western civilization’s relationship with God. Martin Luther was just a human who saw beyond the institution that tried to define God for him, and everyone else. For Luther, and me, faith is intimately universal. Direct relationship transforms understanding.

There is a parallel happening this moment in architecture, music, art, writing and journalism. There is a direct, free and instant ability that a vast majority of those in the Western World have to connect. The advent of the smart phone, not even 15 years ago, put the world in the hands of each of us. That connection to everyone, everywhere, instantly, nearly free is ending the era of editors that prescribed what we could (or would not) see.

There are times when technology happens, and humans change. Machines not only made more things cheaper, they ended jobs and exploded cities. Transportation beyond our legs of the legs of the horses we used allowed for remote food and creation of those things the machines were making. We ended subsistence farming and making much of what we used.

Now, in architecture, the end of editors has meant that architects can now simply project who they are and thousands see it, sometimes millions, with no editor, press, magazine, galleries, university or institution to validate its worth. Architecture to the culture has just become what it is to the world we each live in: unfiltered experience.

Where did a century of editing the architecture we see come from?

Since photography distilled buildings into Architecture the tiny number of fine artists of Taste determined what anyone could see. Where once an etching or painting created a picaresque sense of what a building was, the clear, stark, often distilled fine arts images of architecture were the cutting edge of technology used to define a human art, the art of making buildings.

The brave new art of early fine arts photography simply loved images of abstraction – and in architecture that meant the similarly cutting edge sense that context, craft, ornament, even material were distracting noise in the Truth of Architecture.

Soon editors, gallery directors, universities and institutions used these fantastic photographs to show a traditional world what architecture could be, if the world had their insight. Architects loved the vision of an art detached from all the trappings of the vernacular, hidebound, pat answers of type and style our culture had applied to a new thing, built now, freshly invented – architecture.

So these gatekeepers, the Editors of Architecture became the lens through which everyone saw what had value in design. Whatever was not the new way was simply unseen in the journalism, publication, exhibits and gatherings of those who determined what Architecture was.

Anyone can now take exquisite photographs, videos, even create Virtual Reality renderings of the unbuilt, available at the click of an icon.

Humans change humanity sometimes.

In 1500, and for a thousand years before that, the Western world was completely enmeshed with God as the fundamental reason for everything we saw. That meant that an industry of religion had a huge importance and market. That meant that God, Jesus, could be accessed through that industry. Often exclusively.

Jesus was one of us, some of us still think he is one of us, but his humanity was less important to the industry of religion than its exclusive, correct and necessary connection from everyone to God through their knowledge and insight. Just like architecture and editors in the 20th century.

That precarious human creation of exclusivity of access to the universality of God and the humanity of Jesus simply could not stand. In one century, the monopoly of religion ended. The way to be with God was not through any human other than Jesus for many.

That was the Reformation.

Even that direct connection is failing the humans who helped it to happen. In the coming disconnect between religion and faith, there is a very real lesson in this new era of universal access to the infinite. The very human reality of architecture can now be seen, felt, experienced with interpretation, selection, judgment. Architecture can simply be seen by anyone as offered by those who created it.

That Reformation is in mid formation. Magazines still try to have relevance to smaller audiences. Awards programs are exploding in the internet Reformation. Even Zoom tries to confer legitimacy at low cost when institutions select those worthy to share what they do in the instant, free, worldwide platform of the Internet.

But like the Gutenberg Bible, the Internet has broken thru the control of the High Priests of Architecture, and allowed humans to search, rather than editors to control.

The results may be odd for a century, but for 500 years the Reformation connected humanity to what some thought was privileged, judged, access to what they could not control.

Things will change.

For No Reason

November 1, 2021

It was the summer of 1959.

I know this because my father always had August off. Every New York City lawyer did, then. My father had a fully travelable family, three children, me the youngest soon or just at 5: two well dressed, cropped others, the eldest just 15, and his snappy wife.

Time for a family trip in our new, used, 1957 Fleetwood Cadillac. With an electronic eye to dim the brights at night, those inverting triangular Windows, and enough floor space that I could play with my trucks on the wall-to-wall carper as we crushed down the highway and my parents smoked Kent cigarettes.

First, to East Aurora, New York, my mother’s ancestral home, to see her Dad, Not well, and her mom, a smart former Roaring ’20’s girl, pretty snappy, herself. We stayed at an Inn, was it called “The Roycrofters”? (An arts group, whose founder, Elbert Hubbard, may, or may not, have had a scandalous moment with my mom’s mom.)

In any event, back there, in East Aurora’s, and my soon 5 year old Lind, my father was, as usual, screaming at my mother after dinner, where alcohol was fully inveighed, According to my sister I went to the bathroom down the hall, awoken from my sleep, and declared to my siblings “Dad is being ferocious!”.

We went to sleep, then drove on to Toronto, to meet the three siblings of my father’s long dead mother. We had dinner at the house of the two spinster Hill sisters. They all talked, smoked, were delighted by the full cow’s tongue entire, that my wide eyes fully scorched upon, especially when the farthest delicate tip was expected carved of its standing glory set upon Greenstein with a side of goggling aspic.

This terror was soon matched by the calm, even, often detached recounting if my father’s 5 years living in Toronto, with his aunts. His uncle Hill was there, two, and at one point he looked at my Dad, and when my father asked why he spent those years, when he was between one and six in Toronto, when his father was in a Brooklyn, his uncle simply said, “We are pretty sure that Lucy (his mom) died while having an abortion. She never wanted to have another child with you Dad.”

Perhaps it was the death of my father’s father the year I was born, or that he was simply a nasty man who buried all three of his wives, but my father returned to Brooklyn at 6 to be reunited with what he thought was his mom, and then have two other siblings. At 16, he cycled home from high school and found his mother, or so he thought, in a game of tears, where she blurted it out that she could not pretend to be his birth mother, that his mom was dead,

I do not think my father knew how his mother died, in the effort to limit her connection to his dad, until that evening in Toronto.

The Hill dusters then went in to add, “Georgie was always wandering off. We could not find him for hours. We came to look for him on the docks in Late Ontario, near our house, and once when we found him, he said ‘I was looking for my Mum.'”

He was the age I was, theme, sitting and listened no with eyes as wide as those looking at the cow tongue.

Why do I remember this?

Why did this happen at all?

Why were the kids there to hear it?

The break pint in a young man’s life, revealed not only to him, at 50, but to his family. The reason he was “ferocious” for the next 27 years. The reason my siblings were who they became, my mother cooed, and I simply watched.

Why did this happen?

After 60 years I can only think, God was opening a life to itself, and now, that life to my life. I came to understand the tragedies, the anger, the damage of a man whose triumphant life after Toronto was only matched by a broken recognition of his own pain, that he avoided with alcohol.

There is no reason in some things. No rational typical truths that make sense. Bringing up devastation so simply, in front of children to a man they must have known was ultimately broken by the simple facts they told, was unnecessary.

An remembering them when maybe five, completely not reasonable.

God is unreasonable, because He is not made by our reason, He just is.

I understand that I do nor understand. Is that enough?

NEW WAYS HOME

October 23, 2021

GREAT PODCAST https://soundcloud.com/wpkn895/home-page-radio-new-ways-home/sets

The last year has seen the Real Estate Industrial Complex on Blast: Sell, Sell, Sell – a seller’s market, a housing consumer nightmare. Costs, always high in northeast grew far higher. The traditional ways of making a home, owning a home, even envisioning where a home could be were thrown out, in favor of a crazy bubble.

The way we think of homes is not static, homes are the direct extension of us, each of us, and collectively as humanity. So there are alternatives to how we envision how we live, where we live and what we live in – our homes.

Three guests are deeply involved in how homes are created, and can be part of Home Page this week to tell how they are working to open up the housing market, and respond to how the world has changed, and will change. Joining us is:

Pennie Garber is a licensed architect located near Staunton, Virginia. She has owned and operated a small architectural firm for the last 20 years. She is now working with a business incubator to build a new company, a benefit corporation called Plans for Good, that can hopefully address the needs of the families she hasn’t yet met who currently don’t have the resources to own their own home.

Susan Ingham is a licensed architect practicing in Seattle, Washington. Her firm, KASA Architecture specializes in residential design.  The main focus of her work is to try to create environments with beauty. She is a founder of the Building Beauty program in Sorrento, Italy, and teaches a difference way of creating home design, a way of the place and person, not the product.

Ben Ledbetter is an architect grew up in the South, received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Auburn University then went Harvard University, where he received a Master in Architecture degree Ben now directs the architectural studies program of the Wesleyan University Art Department, teaching architecture as well as drawing courses. Ben is part of a new program with Yale to create homes.

 

Motivation & Outcomes

October 23, 2021

A simple post revealed how we think about buildings.

On my way home yesterday the AIA Connecticut’s “Best Office Building” for over 50 employees from about 8 years ago had incredible light. I snapped a photo and posted it.

Immediately architects screamed “GOTCH’YA! LOW HOUSE! MCKIM MEAD AND WHITE!” And posted the smoking gun photo multiple times, never seeing the other joyous outings.

Um, no.

Sure, the chevron profile. But that’s about it.

So, once again, 2D outcomes over-road any interest in motivations. That is the way we have been conditioned to think, to design, to evaluate, to judge. I am, at that instant, a copycat, a pretender, a thoughtless mimic, doing a mediocre easy answer.

Well, this is the largest building in our town, over 20,000sf. It had a stringent, but flexible design code and zoning format. It is an “out building”, so:

Its height, mean grade to mean high roof had and extra height limit, it’s first floor had to be fully limited, here to about 1,000sf. A walk to the street had to be direct.

It is commercial, so it needed a lot of parking spaces. So we parked under it.

There was an aesthetic code of roof pitch, material and window type.

And voila, a 4 story building that fits. And, after 9 meetings with the Madison Advisory Council on Community Appearance we agreed to make a place.

Not a Low House.

With a street connection

With descendants

But no matter the months of design and thought, This Is The Low House

Despite a central public entry, parking under, horizontal banding, color, with sides of street facing intention, urban site planning, zoning fit and creating a civic place – this is a copy, because one profile is like another profile. No interest in “how” or “why” , just definition – just “what”. No thought, just reaction. No questions, just declaration. A single, hard, dismissal.

No, it’s the Low House.

Hatred In Architecture

October 21, 2021

Hate and the internet seems to be peaches and cream: a marriage made in heaven.

Politics is the screaming freak show of indictment, anger, accusation, insult and hyperbole, but that is not the limit.

Virtually anything anyone posts, says, or comments on anything and trolls can rise up out of anonymity and scream a fully livid scream of outrage, in righteous accusation over, well, anything. Last week IU wrote a completely benign 700 word piece on the early embrace of Modernism in the tweedy state of Connecticut. I was immediately berated for not including the racist laws of Connecticut and Nazi leanings of some of the architects that I referred to.

I said that was a terrific article, and should be written. I was then told that I was wrong in not including it, Others chimed in. A simple popular press piece became a forum of righteous indignation over my lack of sensitivity to the need to educate the world on antisemitism.

This attitude, of noble reaction against an oppressive or victimizing mainstream, of gaining control over powerful inhuman oppressors. The housing industry is fully flamed by Kate Wagner and McMansion Hell. But with no insult, shrill accusations or broader hate. Another wildly popular site “That’s It, I’m Architecture Shaming” randomly affords Facebook Friends to post images they hate. Often humorous, some even quite lovely, but no rancor or outrage beyond the image offered.

This spirit of righteousness creates hits, and justifies itself, creating its own truth in the passion of its advocacy. Of course there is some reality of every angry protest, but the extrapolation into worldwide conspiracies and unjust oppression of the victims of evil in our culture. But that is tame compared to Patrick Webb’s Facebook page. There, many times a day, the decorative plasterer posts images of nightmare development and architectural excess and says simply “This is Modernism”. Hideosities are full throated declared to be directly caused by the architecture Style of Modernism. Long screeds often follow of the literal evil of all but the ancient ways of living and making. It is a world view some have, but without the near hysteric state of hate for the world that has moved in larger interests of profit and power.

Rather that response to factual questions raised in the reactions, like every good political cite, on the internet those posting their anger summarily dismissive different perspectives as part of the conspiracy to subvert human dignity and beauty. Insults soon follow (to me, I never attack the messenger, just the message) like this exchange:

I expected nothing other than this sophistry, but the recent extension into create a worldwide boogeyman of Modernism is a natural result of the frustration and alienation many feel with the fresh sense of connection found in the internet. The tragedy is that this connection should promote dialogue and sharing, but as with politics, COVID and puppy videos, anger overwhelms.

Hate and fear found in the way a style of architecture takes an aesthetic and turns it into a symptom of the darkest parts of all humanity, ruining the world for the innocent. Absurd, if it was not sad.