Tuesday, July 20, 2010


"Universal concern is essential to solving global problems.
Each individual has a responsibility to shape institutions
to serve the needs of the world."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

So....what is my philosophy? What are my ideals? On architecture or on life?

Well, lately they have become one in the same, and I am enjoying that; and though I have yet to apply and execute my ideals outside of student projects, I can tell you that they are not static, they are ever-changing, growing with each new experience. And, to me, that is exciting.

Here. Now, as I am sitting down this morning, typing to muted SportsCenter, at this moment everything seems so very clear, so very simple. Lucky you. Lucky me. Let us start at the base of all things.

[...if a bulleted list is more your cup of tea, I won't judge, just scroll to the end...]

We humans are driven by purpose. Daily we strive to define ourselves - with education and knowledge, with responsibility and order, and with collection of material possessions - hoping to appease our mind into believing we have a reason for breathing. Therefore, a measurable unit has been bestowed upon the purpose we seek; as all the emotion that lies within that of joy, peacefulness, comfort, and ease become condensed into one all-encompassing unit: Happiness.

As we search for purpose, we discover glimpses of happiness which in turn births desire. Desire is the map that leads up back to those happy moments. Our true Self is revealed in the route we take to return to those moments.

Now I understand that this psycho-babble may sound a bit flaky to your ears, so let us "cut the bull" as they say, and talk like 'normal' people. Let us be honest with ourselves. As long as we are human, one fact will always remain: We could all live better. There is no denying it; you and I are not the best stewards to a planet that has given us everything.

Every being is an equal part of this great ecosystem, with each action affecting one's surroundings and one's neighbors. There is a give and a take. And frankly, the way we humans live now is despicable. All take, no give. Little to no concern of other beings. Some days I dream of being another species so I could guiltlessly blame the humans, however I am indeed just as much of the problem as you and everyone else.

The bottom line is this: We all carry a responsibility to our Self, to our neighbor, to our earth, and to the universe of beings we reside within, to hold our each and every action accountable; whether its result be positive or negative. Everyone is presented with millions of choices a day; each of us being exactly where we are in life because of the decisions made from these choices and for no other reason. Blame and excuse are useless endeavors. Hold accountable your actions. Be responsible for your life.

That being said, living in a life that means nothing and everything at the same time, I find my enjoyment within the sub-worlds of architecture, design, and nature. As I search for happiness in these worlds, I have discovered that it usually arrives when in the company of friends, like-minded souls, and souls conjoined by an experience. The pleasure comes from being able to exchange existing knowledge for new knowledge; pleasure is growth. Growth in this manner is essential to sustain life.

I feel this idea is very true with architecture as well. As an architect, one holds a unique power to sculpt and mold the physical environment that we live our lives within; a profession not to be taken too lightly or too seriously. It is important for those which design to understand and respect the responsibilities of their role, to not promote their power to create, but to aide, guide, and engage their client with the proper exchange of knowledge to perpetuate further growth, and inevitably, further happiness. The architect's role is to consciously guide.

"So you are saying....we live horrible, destructive lives, struggling to find happiness in all the wrong places....and architects can save the world."

Yep! That's pretty much it.  :)

Look. We sprang from this Universal ecosystem and were living just dandy. Somewhere along the way we started idealizing one being to be better than another. The "I am better than you! Me Monster mentality can be very hard to control; its display being a sign of mental lapse / weakness.

I am better than you? No way! There could not be a greater mistake. I am you. We are each a cell in a much larger organism; each of us with our own life-sustaining task. Fighting against this nature and the natural way of things is not going to get us anywhere.

As a designer, I feel it is necessary to mirror this idea in my work, not to fight nature, but to follow and expand upon the cues of natural systems; creating circulation that follows the flow of the site, letting its context define the parameters of materiality; striving for balance in all phases of design.

We have all the proper ingredients for happiness in life | architecture, we must simply use them correctly. We must live more responsibly, more consciously, becoming a more sustainable society if we wish to last long enough to enjoy our life's efforts; as our current trajectory is not one of much promise.

I feel that those who call themselves mighty Architects, those with the power to create, should lead the way; it being their responsibility as a human being and as a designer to guide others away from mindless, monotonous despair and toward creative, meaningful happiness. The growth, that knowledgable exchange, must begin in and around the  spaces we inhabit. What a grand opportunity we have been given. Let us not waste it.


Ok, so that was a long version. Believe it or not, there is a longer version - case in point: my MArch Thesis.

"How about a short version? Perhaps a synopsis or a greedy little list of wants, wishes, and thoughts?"

Sure, how about this:

  • I think we can all live better lives than we are currently. I don't know exactly how to change that just yet, but I am eager and willing to find out how. Our lives kind of depend on it.
  • I like architecture, in particular its play with light and material. It can be beautiful, moving, comforting, and, at its best, invisible. I think it is a very misunderstood and under-valued resource. Quality design can save lives in more ways than one.
  • Simplicity and complexity need each other to exist. Balance is the key. Let's take a break on the complex for a bit and see what happens. Unplug yourself. "Do you think that is air you are breathing?"
  • I wish to live a happy life; sustained through a natural means and not through waste and petty greed.
  • I wish to help others however I can. Money and fame sound pretty cool, but I could not care less about attaining them. Happiness exists not in them, but in a balance of equal parts love, work, and play. I wish to spend my days seeking this balance.
  • If when we wake in the morning, our first thoughts are not of humility, - a  thankfulness to be alive, to be seeing the daylight, to be breathing the air - then I suspect a changing of perspective is in order.

Sounds simple enough, right?

"The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life.
It is so easy to make it complex."
Yvon Chouinard

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