We celebrate firsts, we mark them down in our collective and personal histories. It’s a good thing.
I’ve been at this for the better part of my life in some fashion, so it’s hard to choose a first project. The story of my journey was graciously shared in a recent interview with Modelo in their Design Manifestos. I won’t repeat it. All I will say is somewhere in my 9th or 10th grade, I thought I was designing houses. I poured through them yesterday. They’re really not any good, but what is worse is I thought architecture was decoration hanging on program – an extruded plan with an artistic make over. Ugh.
What characterizes the project above as a first is it was the first building that had the components and methods of a process still with me today. It was technically the first building I designed in school.
My decision goes back to the Spring of 1987 at Kent State University where I was completing my first year of architecture school. I was technically a sophomore, but as a transfer student, I was a ‘first-year’ architecture student.
The reason for this departure was the root of understanding a design process. I’m not vouching for the strength of the design – say what you will – it’s OK. Even the influences are obvious. Yet, this was the first time an idea was borne out of a series of conceptual ideas, abstract thinking, and a direct response to a specific site and program given by someone else.
Furthermore, what may not be evident is in my earliest days is I was beginning to question the rules.
The assignment for the project was the house was to be a ‘single form’, not a series of complex volumes, planes or other compositional methods. This was part of the teaching method – it wasn’t a free-for-all. Most of the other students in the class had a platonic box, a literal single volume. For me the idea of a single ‘implied’ volume was my response to the arbitrary requirement, but the elements of the site and program demanded more than a single form. Artificial rules shouldn’t trump a responsive solution.
This was a real breakout for me. I can look back and see an attempt to think critically even if the result was a bit clumsy. In other words, in school, the thinking was more important than the result. It wasn’t a willful effort to make something wacky for fashion’s sake. Neither was it an extrusion of a plan with some make-up. This was a first endeavor to respond, address and create architecture that attempted to answer the better questions.
Fortunately, my instructor cheered me on and in fact hinted at a few ways to take it further. So to my ‘first’ design instructor in architecture school, I say thank you.
Read what my friends share about their first projects. #Architalks
Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
My First Project: The Best Project Ever Designed That Wasn’t
Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
My “First Project”
Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
My First Project – Again
Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
Our First Architecture Project [#ArchiTalks]
Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
#ArchiTalks: My first project
Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
The First One — A Tale of Two Projects
Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
Why every project is my “First”
Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“My First Project”
brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
I Hate Decks
Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[first] project [worst] crit
Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
My First Project – The First Solar Decathlon #Architalks
Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Daniel Beck – The Architect’s Checklist (@archchecklist)
Fake it ’til you make it
Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@thatarchstudent)
my first project
Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
My First Project
Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Top ten tips when faced with a challenging Architectural project
Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
6 Major Differences between my 1st School Project & my 1st Real Project
Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
My First Project – The Contemporary Cottage
Nisha Kandiah – TCDS (@SKRIBBLES_INC)
The Question of Beginning