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Posts tagged ‘good design’

Failed First

I learned the hard way that buildings, especially the ones you don’t like, don’t go away.

The good news is, you can bury the incriminating evidence. Before starting my firm in 1986, I worked for and with other architects. And while my name and signature are somewhere on those drawings, drafts and contracts, I’ve been assured that they are deeply hidden in a storage area of pre-electronic files.

One of my very first moonlight projects was with my good friend Kent Macdonald and it was as a remodel. The project included a revamped façade.  I’d like to think that the project’s final appearance was a result of naiveté (I was paralyzed by excitement and fear) and some stubborn clients.

It has an unfortunate composition that includes two different materials that step, something we would never do today. A clumsy balcony hovers overhead. It has been repainted in the ugliest cold color that emphasize the clumsy composition.

Luckily, for a period of time, the evidence was located on a sleepy San Francisco street. Unfortunately, a popular store opened half a block away and now my abomination is passed by thousands. Worse yet, by the time I opened my own firm five years later, I was living within walking distance to the project.

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Bad Design in Our Daily Lives

People have asked me if having a discerning, if not critical eye, for good design is exhausting in a world I tout as poorly designed. The question is usually good natured but it is certainly true that I spend a lot of time thinking about how something can be at once easier to use, nicer to look at and simpler to build. It isn’t a theory I only apply to architecture but day-to-day designs. It seems that things in my everyday life are always more complicated than they need to be.

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