Preparing to Not Be Prepared…

The last few weeks have led me through a wide range of emotions.  Last Tuesday, it was desperation and confusion.  Thursday, it was exasperation, hope, and by Friday, relief and exhaustion!  Today, I am the perfect picture of a brunette Zen Buddha, or more realistically, someone experiencing a delightful calm before another (welcome?!) storm.

Sorry to disappoint, but I was not in the process of falling in or out of love, nor was I listening to the Les Miserables soundtrack on repeat or reading Where the Red Fern Grows from cover-to-cover.  In reality, I was finishing up yet another set of construction documents—a process, as an Intern Architect, that I find simultaneously humbling and satisfying, intimidating and exciting.

At this point in my career, I’ve worked on a handful of construction document sets.  With strong mentorship, a fair exchange of witty banter, and a large well of red ink, I can now say that I feel relatively confident in my ability to accurately convey the design intent of a project through the drawings, notations, and code/specification information required to have lines on paper become permit-worthy, and-wait for it- three-dimensional spaces and experiences!

With that said, construction documents remain the stage in the design process that I find the most sobering/challenging, despite that fact that it might also be the most exciting.

While grad school well-prepared me to explore and indulge in conceptual thought and the “what if’s” that make life worth living, it admittedly did not prepare me to draw an under-mount sink detail, nor did it prepare me to understand how to successfully articulate how a light fixture might nest within a drywall ceiling to accurately wash a wall with light while remaining invisible to the human eye.

These aren’t huge design problems.  They are pretty simple-even old hat. For the more technical-minded, you might be scoffing at this blog post while readjusting your tool bet. But in my creative, pie-in-the-sky case, until the human mind can begin to access telepathically a collective wiki of information, these things need to be learned.

And so with each set, I prepare.  And by prepare, I mean I get ready to “not know everything.”  I prepare to learn. I prepare coffee, and perhaps a fist-pumping mix on Spotify (and by fist-pumping, I probably mean mellow and slightly emo).  I prepare to draw a lot.  And then draw some more.  And then make revisions. And to ask questions.  And then prepare coffee.  And then I prepare to learn more.

In a few weeks, I will begin the Construction Administration process- an opportunity to revisit the 90-page stack of drawings now seated quietly and reassuringly caddy-corner to my computer. Concurrently, I will prepare by not preparing, but rather like all love/hate relationships — just jumping head first into my next project, complete with its unique set of parameters, challenges, and learning opportunities.

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