It’s sort of a funny thing. When you’re in architecture school a studio can be a painful experience. All that creative uncertainty, all that struggle, it can all be a bit overwhelming. Then you blink and you’re out of school, you’re hopefully working a job, and suddenly you find yourself longing for just that same freedom that once stole your sleep. One more ten hour stretch coordinating door schedules and you just might break something.
Luckily a design competition can offer a return to the wider horizon of metaphorical youth. For our local design community a recently launched “ideas competition” provides just this blank canvas that apparently so many of us (currently somewhere around 40 teams and counting!) crave. For my own personal circle it has proven to be both a long sought-after catalyst for collaboration, as well as a lesson in the challenges of such collaboration outside the walls of academia.
When first propositioned we collected a total of seven dedicated and excited designers, artists, and architects. We were all ready to engage in the lively process of uncovering an “idea” for modern housing. We could meet at my studio, the costs seemed reasonable: a small entry fee and some modeling supplies…surely nothing could stand in our way!
Of course, things are not always as you remember them.
Before we could organize even our very first charrette, reality showed up. After many months of dedicated search, two of our team members (congrats!) found new employment. Only slight problem was their new jobs were in Telluride and Steamboat Springs respectively and thus required relocation. Suddenly their previously somewhat open schedule was slammed shut and they had to go to work like the rest of us.
Oh yeah, so the rest of us do have to work. That silly grown-up version of reality shows its face again. Even with two of us working at the same office three days a week, time seems much harder to come by than we all remembered from school. We all work within biking distance, and have similar schedules, but sadly also seem to work over lunch, sit on committees at night, and, God forbid, want to make an appearance at home occasionally.
So that leaves our precious weekends as our main opportunity for lengthy work sessions. But did I mention it was nearly 70 degrees this past weekend!? Plus my birthday was this month, and there are weddings to attend, deadlines that don’t budge…you get the picture.
Somehow though, we all feel this sacrifice of time and sanity is worth enduring. There is something amazing in the moments, even if they are just moments, when the room seems to buzz with a collective enthusiasm for a solution that all share authorship for. When you can share collective excitement at new thoughts, especially when those thoughts are born from struggle, you quickly remember why we all chose this wonderful profession in the first place.
Now quit reading this and get back to those stair details. There are bills to pay!