Among the thousand things I’m learning, one is big picture perspective. Last month, our firm wrote a series of very interesting proposals. I haven’t met a project I didn’t like yet, but some opportunities get the heart swooning a little farther than others. This month, we’re realizing that none of last month’s proposals have connected – yet. As fear, and worse, started to creep in, I was glad to take phone calls today from two would-be clients who are in a hurry. We have no problem working in a hurry, especially now. Every month, I’m learning to step back a little further, trust in Providence a little more, and let the hills and valleys flatten a little further with a wider view.
A non-profit organization I support routinely advertises opportunities for architects and engineers for humanitarian projects around the world. One appealing opportunity this month was for design of a technical college in a country I had to locate first on Wikipedia. US Consular Affairs’ website lists a recent travel warning to this country, right after their warnings about Afghanistan and Nigeria. It’s significant to realize that appeals for architecture can carry with them cautions from national governments.
One of my first proposals was written to a property owner I met at my regular coffee shop, here in downtown Raleigh. He described himself as Persian. He would never sign my proposals, he continues to give me advice on my pricing, and we’ve never done work together, but we stay in touch. Over the last several months, he’s emailed me from his home town overseas. When we talk about our working relationship now, he maintains an interest in stateside development, but our conversation includes phrases like “frozen assets,” and “the Carter administration.”
Even as I write this, I’m conscious (or paranoid) that I may be triggering an international investigation through the power of Google and government software. Let’s hope this simply leads to cheap marketing.
Our staff includes an intern who has done design work abroad, well within those boundaries that elicit government warnings. She talks quickly about the adventure and about serving the needs of the people. I had opportunity to hear a few more of her stories in today’s staff meeting. After remembering, she said, “Now, back to these apartments . . .”
Within said perspective, I would like to understand whether our work (e.g. sustainable private houses, mountain apartment complexes, cultural restaurants, and ambulance service centers) can carry the same definition of architecture as what my friends use, in harm’s way, on other continents. I think it does: my world view is vague. Work simply, try to be beautiful, serve the needs of the client and the community. These goals work in any circumstance.
There were some traffic hazards en route to today’s new client meeting, but my little orange Audi skirted those risks and brought me back safely to the office, in time for a free hot dog and Coke in Moore Square. My Minnesotan family likes to say that it could be worse, and of course that’s an understatement. However, I do like to remember that perspective of urgency and economy, even as we do our work here, hoping to help others and to not be a non-profit.
Andy Osterlund AIA | LEED AP
Andrew Osterlund, Architect, PLLC
GREEN | URBAN | SMART ARCHITECTURE
313 S. Blount St., Suite 200A | Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 889 6823 | www.aoarchitect.com