Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Evolution of an Elevation, Pt. I

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Every time I receive an email from our architects that has a little paper-clip icon next to the subject line (which always indicates drawings are attached) I get palpatations - the good kind. The email I received 09.08.06 was no exception. As my eye moved across the screen I saw the sender's name, I saw the paper-clip, and then I saw the subject line: "RE: Some major revisions- free your mind." My heart really started thumping.

If you have been reading this blog for the past few months you, like us, have grown accustomed to the elevations that have been on the table since April. When we opend the email and saw the revisions, we were taken aback. Gone was much of what we had grown attached to: the soaring, vertical band of windows that "bloomed" just under the eaves into the two triangular windows; gone was the overall sense of symmetry and order to the facade, and in its place was the image that you see second from the top.

We hired architects for a reason, and that reason was NOT about a desire to simply pay someone to turn OUR pre-determined vision into a reality. We hired architects, who are artists who shape space (as opposed to clay or stone or paint) and we gave them creative license to invent, to shape a space for our family to reside in. Yes we let them know our hopes for this space, but we never intended to tell them how to conceive of this space. Speaking for myself here, I have been and continue to be thrilled by watching the design of this house evolve. I chose to let you all in on the process (I have been tempted NOT to let anyone see anything but the final version) precisely because I think it's such a fascinating thing to watch unfold. Keep this in mind as you look at these elevations. THESE ARE NOT completed works but works in progress, each one representing a searching, a probing for the RIGHT design. Few artists leave us record of the PROCESS that took them to their masterpiece. Michelangelo was one of the few; he gave up on many of his projects because he was a perfectionist and so we have a record of some of his unfinished works. These reveal as much or more about his genius than the final versions we have grown so familiar with.

Let me quote the architects' email to give you a sense of their justification for these changes:
"We’ve been thinking that the previous layout of windows and shapes are somewhat severe on the ends while more (randomly) or casually laid out on the longer sides of the house. In the new proposal, we’re softening the severity of the long tall and angular windows by adding a more intellectually playful positioning of the windows in the wall. The windows are more random in size and function. Some can be colored, some operable, some fixed. The kids can make special overlays or inserts for the small ones in the loft or other areas...

...To create a bit of relief from the tall, flat façade, we propose furring out the upper corner section just a little bit more than the large expanse and contrasting it with random width and random length weathered barn boards that will slightly overlap (without touching) the smooth painted panels behind. It’s a small but important “moment” of architecture, texture and interest and helps remind you of the breed of this structure. The end result is expressive of the hybrid between Barn and Farm House. Like if the two had a kid."

Someone said to me building a house is like giving birth to a child. Yes, I think that's pretty accurate. Right now we are feeling the labor pains - it's good, but it's work. The main thing is that I am loving the process. PROCESS. So often it's not about the destination but the getting there. Certainly that's where we grow most. In this case though, the destination might be just as much fun!

To be continued...

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