in construction: WHY?


for a number of years i worked with a contractor on a whole range of projects.  we would be talking about the preliminaries of a project-- what the homeowner wanted, my ideas for how to achieve it-- and i would be rambling on about some idea to move walls, create new spaces, and maybe add all kinds of windows.  my contractor friend would hear me out, listening and asking questions, and then, at some point, he would stop me short with the question: WHY?

he just didn't see any point in building something unless we could answer that question clearly.

it was both a great exercise and a great lesson for me as a young designer.  my answers to the question WHY? might range from something about structural integrity TO the use of a space TO beauty-- but i had to justify every 2 x 4, every pane of glass, every collar tie-- not in a mean, creativity-crushing way-- but in a good, constructive way that strengthened my design ability enormously.

because in construction, you really have to have a reason to build things.  a creative spatial mind like mine can and will think up just about anything-- when i let my mind run on about my house, for example, i have skylights, dormers, a sunroom-- the list is fairly endless.  the creative part of the design process is good and fun and necessary.  but whether it is really a good idea to spend time, energy, money, and the earth's resources to build whatever the thing is comes back to the question of WHY.   and then the series of questions that follow-- can we achieve our goals in a simpler, more efficient way?  how will this project improve the life of the structure or building, and the people in it?

i think it is a good lesson for life-- simplify.

-mary-moore.

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