Architects Anonymous

“Go on” Richard said

“It’s time”.

Richard had only been my sponsor for a few days, but we’d known each other since we were in Design studio together. Man, I was wild in school. My thesis project was unnerving. All angles, and patterns and overly complex order, with a poetic sense of place. The project was completely uninhabitable, but striking. The final crit. was a love fest. Professor K. called it inspired and elegantly confrontational. I graduated with honors, and awards, and quickly found work in Vinoly’s New York office. I worked 60 hour weeks for years there, aligning stainless steel brackets with polished concrete planes, perfecting every detail, refining the craft of isolation. I was beginning to lose myself in the work. My few remaining friends finally gave up and left me. My family seldom called anymore. I couldn’t really blame them. My mother would call and ask how my day went, and I would fly into a rant about heirarchy and design intent and then scoff when she’d say “that sounds nice dear, but, are you making any friends?”.

Architecture was slowly taking over my life.

Eventually, I left Vinoly’s to go to Grad. School. In an office setting, there was always a degree of reality to keep me somewhat grounded. I mean, occasionally a client would come by the office, or we’d have to sit in on a Planning Commission meeting, or we’d need to clean out the refrigerator. But, when I got in school..? Jesus… Architecture was just everywhere. My peers, and professors were always carrying. And, it was the hard stuff, more and more theoritical, more and more obtuse, more and more self-indulgent. I was completely hooked.

It wasn’t until my final year at GSD that I realized I had a problem. After a 5 day run in the studio, I woke up in the middle of the night, covered in shavings, and saw-dust from the laser cutter, blood caked on my forehead from banging it against a desk. I was convinced that hip-hop could be given a physical form. Confused, I ran into the quad screaming about Michelangelo and Biggie Smalls. The campus police picked me up eventually, I was trying to push a statue of H.H. Richardson into the trunk of my car, muttering something about brick corbels and how I was gonna cut a brotha.

Richard picked me up that night, cleaned me up, and told me about AA (Architects Anonymous). Richard had been clean for over a year. At first I resisted, because, “I didn’t have a problem.” “I could quit if I wanted to”, “I only take as much as I need, man, no more.” “it’s just a little symmetry, man”. Then Richard pulled me in front the mirror in the bathroom and said “look at yourself”.

I don’t think I’ve seen a more filthy turtleneck sweater. I knew… I needed help.

“go on” Richard said again…

So, I slowly walked up to the podium, pushed my dark-rimmed glasses up on my nose, took a breath, and said,

“Hi, my name is Jody”

<“Hi, Jody”>

“… and I have an Architectural Addiction”




photos are of “Alcoholic Architecture with Bompas and Parr” from Food Stories’ photostream on Flickr (used under creative commons license). Apparently they turn Gin and Tonic into a fine mist which you inhale while in the “bar” Seriously, I am SO going, who’s with me?

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