The Prodigal Blogger Returns

Hello there readers, perusers, and internet surfers. I’ve been busy with many things lately, including keeping up with Project Neon (more news on that front soon) and making another rendering for the Hypothetical Development Organization. This last week, though, I’ve accomplished nearly nothing as I’ve been in grand jury duty here in the County of Kings. I’ve got another week to go, too.

There are a lot of interesting design issues to think about during jury duty–how it feels to be in a windowless room for the duration of a lovely spring day; mixing with defendants and witnesses and wardens in slow, awkward elevators; even the size of a temporary jury badge (too big to fit in a wallet) where my title (JUROR) and number are much larger than my name (which matters to almost no one). In addition, the New York State Supreme Court Building in Brooklyn was built by Forest City Ratner, the developer  in the news lately for the Atlantic Yards fracas. Let me just say that if the design quality of this courthouse and the entire MetroTech development is any indication, I don’t have a lot of faith that the Atlantic Yards project will be a great civic center.

As an aside, if there is anyone wanting to further the cause of justice in Brooklyn, they could do worse than to set up a kick-ass coffee cart outside the courthouse. There is nothing but Starbucks in the immediate vicinity (and even that is impossible to get coffee from during our two fifteen minute breaks), unless you count the allegedly delicious, allegedly gourmet coffee that comes out of the vending machine by the bathrooms. This is the best that Brooklyn can do for people serving their fortnight of civic duty?

What I really came here to say, though, is that I’v been reading Down Detour Road: An Architect in Search of a Practice, by Eric Cesal. Reading anything during grand jury duty is difficult–we never know how long most small breaks will be (other than lunch and the two “coffee” breaks) so it’s hard to concentrate and the overlit grand jury room is not exactly restful on the eyes. The book is a relatively quick read, though, and I’m nearly done.

The book is an outline of what is broken in the field of architecture from education to practice, and the author’s suggestions of how those things could be fixed. I recommend the book (even to non-architects, though I doubt many would read it), despite the fact the writing is uneven in places, the logic is sometimes flawed, and I disagree with some of the conclusions. I recommend it, though, because some of it rings painfully true for me and there are a lot of problems discussed that it are absolutely critical we as a profession address.

Cesal has master’s degrees in business administration and construction management as well as architecture, so he has some interesting insight into the way architects frame financial questions that is worth the price of the book itself. His journey from aimless unemployed architect to [spoiler alert!] optimism will, I hope, help me get through my time on Detour Road.  I’ll probably say something more about his suggestions, but right now I need a little time out in the spring sunshine.



This entry was posted on Saturday, March 19th, 2011 and is filed under architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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