Thursday, 10/5/23 Grandad Bonded Foundation
Reading a book about Values-it started as a book about leadership, and then it turned into a book about Values, bait and switch. Part one was about leading other people, and then part two turned the focus around. Unfair – especially on an audiobook. there’s nothing you can do, you can’t skim, it just keeps playing through the speakers.
It’s easy to say we’re a values-based firm. Absolutely, go ahead and check that box-values, Raisons des être, we know why we do what we do – we’ll tell you all about it. Sometimes (often?) it becomes an excuse when we don’t make enough money. Having values should not mean were a value firm – let’s just put that out there. Having values, and having clients who share our values, should mean that we are exclusive, and we are very, very expensive. But maybe that’s a value too, all things to all men, that maybe, almost accidentally, we get to architecture that moves the city a little closer to center.
While the audiobook spun this morning, I was caught by one of our core values about “community.” We design space for people, we design space for lots of people, for whole communities, for associations of any excuse for people to get together. We love people, we love people in buildings, we love to be part of people getting together.
We enjoy churches; it’s our excuse for designing night clubs when they come around; schools – obviously; government buildings, sure; pools – lots of people at a pool; parks, well, who doesn’t enjoy people in nature? Of course we do. Give me a restaurant and tell me how many seats there are – community! We love it.
Is it January 6th that set us sour to community? There are things we shouldn’t do together, even if (especially if) we’re all into it. Are we still recovering from COVID? I’m sure we are (I hope I don’t get it again – come on, that’s not fair.)
If I read a book about values, if I have to fill in a worksheet about what matters to me most – of course, I write family, and faith, and even our staff. Sure, I would write about our staff, more and more, amazing to watch us grow and succeed together.
But then the honesty comes out, and my Scorpio nature and the tangible exhaustion I feel on a Thursday night after solid meetings and conversation, and all my (very) personal God-given tendencies to write in a dark room and photograph empty streetscapes, and dream of building a container cabin in our back woods for a little more alone-time; how, with any sense of integrity, can I say that I promote community in Architecture?
Just to drop a hint, just for my own justification, in a great democracy like ours, there is a place even for those solo people like me, thanks to the grand group of all of you. (When introverts get too much press, I get nervous.)
We met a repeat bar-client this week, (assembly space, community space, we like to say) who talked at length about every booth, about places for people, about all the reasons we go to a bar. Couples, middle-aged ladies, clientele, engagement parties – this is the place for them, for everybody.
Let’s put “community” back on the values-list. Community is all the people. How many can we cram in this place, you know we have to make a profit. And community is one-by-one.
I think intensely about my place in a place, it gets a little ridiculous, I’m embarrassed when I move seats around in a venue, and I cause my servers some trouble. But, when we get to the drawing board, I like to think it helps. Go ahead and approve that proposal I just sent, because we know what we’re doing. Community? We’ve been there.
On the other side of the tracks, were chasing a retreat center on the continent of Africa. How did we get pulled into this? It’s “know-a-guy” syndrome. It’s community on a world-wide scale. Thats okay, we’re available. A retreat center – after all you’ve been through? Absolutely. Take a break, look out the windows, let’s see if we can keep those mosquitos away.
Community – a house is a machine for living, from local bars to a retreat on a lake in Africa. People, people, people, can’t shake ’em.