Wednesday 1.13.10

the clouds were gray moods
falling into space
leaving a hope of color behind
a float plane on the eastern shore
brought a star sailor home
there’s a brief moment in the a.m.
when things transfer
world to world
travelers come &go
&the sky is a sieve

Document Set Organization

Drawings are how architects visualize and communicate space. They contain instructions to builders and act as cost explainers and tools for meeting design requirements and for client and community review. I’d seen the oversized books of drawings splayed out on conference room tables, groups of architects and structural engineers huddled around, pointing with red pens and rulers. The books held some mystery, I knew. I’d watched the movement of the men and women in relation to the books and listened to their language which seemed to issue from the book. I'd seen all the eyes in a room lift and return to it, but I was ignorant as to the detail and depth of the book until Duane, a Principal Architect, took me for a 2-hour tour through 4 volumes of drawings and their specifications. What a thrill to zoom in on the plans with a pro. We flipped through page after long page of instructions to landscape and building architects, civil, mechanical, electrical and acoustic engineers, elevator and concession consultants. As the pages flew by, the building grew, layer by layer.

World View

Here lives every conceivable view of the project, flattened and bound, in one place—the floor plan (God’s eye view), the elevation (from the front) and the section cut (sliced through). Here too are the dots and dashes and hashes that convey concrete, glass, dirt and guard rail. And all the bugs, those little numbers in ovals–-hear them scribbling through the halls and scratching at the doors–-going to schedules, interior elevations and enlarged plans. I got excited when Duane touched on aesthetics, the ideas behind the buildings, their intentions and social functions. Between floor plans, I asked him questions. How do you think our brains have changed since we started using auto-cad? Do we have a decreased ability to arrange and hold information or are we free now to use that brain power in even more complex ways? He suggested, as a potentially positive result, newer generations might have an easier time thinking in 3-D, then he mentioned a different kind of shift, more in the nature of the work. Producing drawings used to a visual-based activity in which the hand was busy and the mind free. Now the commands are verbal and architects must sit at their computers keying in dimensions. This moves the architect from a social space to a solitary one, which means fewer loose networking opportunities. What happens to a profession when its nets unravel?

The Sound of a Building

I hadn’t considered whether or not an architect could hear the space they were designing. Duane says that when he gets to the point where he can hear a space, he knows he’s making good design decisions. What a lovely dimension to add, sound. It makes sense that our hearing turns on as our visual confusion dies down. Isn't that what meditation is about, letting go and simply sitting in the moment? On my row to work, there is a moment in which I begin to hear, distinctly, the music of my oars. It is then I know I’m in the rhythm of my row, my day, my lake, my way. When it’s wet, the oarlock guards say “unh-huh.” When it’s dry, the locks turn and say, “ticktack.” But I only begin to hear them when I'm done with the noise.


After our meeting, I helped Duane transport the documents back to his desk. We carried them folded on our shoulders, like sails in a shipyard. I lingered, then, at a waistline window. The news there is terrible. It’s completely overcast and raining. My mood is tied to that window, that view, that weather. The windows are tall, very tall. I’ll be subject to this later. But it’s never, almost never, as bad as they say. The night is often warmer or brighter or more magical than predicted. You just never know until you're in it. What's going on in that window, in that relationship? Is there doom in that view, in that separation, or is it misinformation or exaggeration or a form of resignation?

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