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about

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My favorite quotes:

"I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster and leaves less room for lies."                         ~ Le Corbusier

"A most civilized achievement, building a home is."                                                 ~ Yoda, Return of the Jedi

"When we build, let us think that we build forever."                                                                ~ John Ruskin

Don

The Design Guy

Almost everyone has had the urge to draw, but it became an obsession for me beginning from a very early age. Drawing came to me as naturally as eating and breathing. Some of us just become more creative or analytical than others. For me, that creative side of the brain somewhere along the line kicked in, and I found a way to ride that wave ever since.

Drawing is the first thing we do as children that expresses creativity, no matter how bad we are at it. The drawing was even practiced by primitive humans millions of years ago, and we have cave drawings to prove it. For children, their uninstructed drawings, even at the crudest level, if done with feeling, become an important contact for them into reality. So let your children draw and praise their work, but if your hopes and dreams are for them to grow up and be prosperous attorneys, or physicians, or an accountant, by all means, tell them how horrible their drawing technique is. If you are lucky, you will dissuade them from architecture because it is difficult to make a fortune doing it. But few other professions could ever provide other forms of gratification that could match or exceed it.

Each of us uses artistic imponderables to express, in one way or another, an urge to communicate without limiting ourselves to an oral format. We release some primordial desire to express our creativity, even simply like drawing a flower. If we do not, those thoughts or visions will remain imprisoned in our unconsciousness. So with that said, I figure since I have drawn nonstop for the last 40+ years that my "subconscious folder" must be pretty barren compared to most of yours, which may be why I'm such a well-adjusted human being… yeah, right, I wish.

The person who has not experienced this kind of "emotional release" has no conception of the power there is in it for pleasantly transcending the day-to-day impact of mundane affairs. This is true no matter how crude or amateurish your drawing, maybe because it is "in the doing of it" rather than "in the result of it" that truly matters to oneself.

Just when and why is it determined that we will become left-handed or right-handed or left side of the brain developed or right side developed; better yet, how did those lucky few develop both equally? Are these subconscious decisions, or are there other more mysterious forces at play here? If you are 'all wise' and by chance know the answers to those enigmatic questions, perhaps you can also tell me why some of us so loyally commit ourselves to a life of Modernism or Classicism as a way of expressing ourselves creatively. I have spent a 'considerable amount of time pondering that very question.

I'm on a never-ending search for the Classicism/Modernism question. I'm capable of eloquently presenting a 'reasonably' argument supporting my leaning towards Classical interests and obsessions. Still, to this very day, I'm not sure if my commitment to one team versus the other was a conscious decision or not. When I first came upon this 'fork in the road,' I wonder what made me go right [Classicism] when I could have just as quickly taken a left. For years, I thought I could be the oddity who was [design] ambidextrous, so I attempted to be both. Still, these areas of specialty are as different and divided as capitalism is to communism. Hence, instead of a career of mediocrity, I realized I had to commit myself to one or the other and apply all of my attention and study to it; and so, here I am.

I believe that my interest in Classical and Traditional architecture was a conscious decision based on fundamental principles and aesthetic preferences. Like most everyone else, I'd like to think that 'the life' experience continues beyond this layer of consciousness, but truthfully, I'm not holding out hopes and thereby accepting a life of mediocrity with the game plan being that greatness will come later or possibly the next go around in life. I'm realistic that I may never achieve success by my definition, but that's the mission I have been on all of my adult life.

I am a self-taught, 'self-proclaimed' new Classicist, and I no longer have a staff. Today I will outsource everything and anything that I believe others can do better, more efficiently, and more economically than myself. And I have a good working relationship with several notable architectural firms who fill that void.

Not to boast, but I designed and drafted every document on this website by hand, and I have created hundreds of homes and institutional projects throughout the world. Who am I? I am a humble servant who has developed a natural gift for designing and planning exceptional homes without the benefit of formal training. I am a faithful and loving husband, a master and a good friend of a 160-pound Great Dane, a friend of my neighbors and colleagues, a target of criticism, and welcome praise. So, now that you have read what I wrote and perhaps you have now thoroughly perused this website, shall we get to work and build you a magnificent home for you and your family to live in and be proud of for doing so?  

Order. Please!

The Optics for Classicism

At its purest, Palladianism describes the architectural style based on the work and theories of Palladio by his immediate successors and contemporaries. Balance, proportion, and a sense of harmony were derived from a deceptively simple play of Palladian elements, including careful attention to planning, with rooms derived from pure geometrical forms, such as cubes and spheres, creating sequences of spaces of a good variety. These were the very principles employed towards the planning and design of Villa Almerico Capra. Unlike Palladio, we are forced to limit our imaginations to zoning restrictions, which address matters such as lot coverage, building setbacks, and the dreaded subject of 'height restrictions.' No designer, good or bad, on any commission within the cities of Seattle and Bellevue and much of their surrounding municipalities will ever design a conventional structure with generous ceiling heights and soaring roofs. Zoning codes and neighborhood CC&R's were written by well-intentioned individuals, but none of them, most likely, had any design sense. Now their words have become our laws, and we remain impotent to change them. I just wish that someone would lobby to rid ourselves of this 4" sphere balustrade spacing requirement. For the life of me, I cannot design a descent balustrade spaced at suitable intervals because some baby in Timbuktu got his head stuck in one. I suppose, at the time, it was a politically correct code adjustment written by a building official with an architectural degree, no practical experience, and aspirations of political office. Need I say more. Sorry for the rant; I kept it as brief as possible.

 

One of the underlying themes in any discussion about architecture is the understanding of artistic creativity. To explain just what that is and how it is achieved is difficult. Great schools of art and design and their well-credentialed philosophic academics can't even explain it, so how can they possibly attempt to teach it? They can't, and don't! An artist in any discipline learns to design and discovers their artistic creativity through intuition and observation and 'that's that,' clear and straightforward. Indeed, some principles can and should be adhered to. However, the rudimentary philosophy governing the design of buildings still comes down to the natural elements of water and gravity. If one chooses to up the ante by being bold, then study the classics, align your colonnades, taper them, and space them properly and call it good. By doing that simple act, you will have achieved more in architecture than the entire careers of modernists who remain set on reinventing the wheel and defying gravity. 

 

Classicism is not meant to create novel forms; it is intended to respect the forms which have already been set up with careful and thoughtful manipulation to adhere to unique conditions. We have been given a gift of geometry, proportion, and a sense of harmony in design, and those combined forces took millennia to master and achieve by architects, sculptors, and artisans whose work, I assure you, cannot be replicated by anyone today. So what does that say about the artistic achievements of Western Civilization during our own time? This tremendous technological age which we live in and so embrace. Can ya shizzle me up an answer to dat? I fo shizzle you can't. 

As architects and artisans of our epoch, we have not 'progressed' the art within our art; we have instead, sadly, set to remove it. We have somehow, paradoxically, managed to digress instead. I know some will disagree with that statement and argue that technology has ushered in a better world and Modernism in architecture. Today any country bumpkin armed with the latest release of AutoCAD, and a two-week course on how to use it, can drag and click and design a building. And design them they do - structures that defy gravity and logic. Ugly buildingsmonstrosities, made of synthetic materials , the likes of which as I pass by them, I must turn my head away out of fear of cursing their architect's names aloud.

Ask yourself this: is today's [modern] architecture a reflection of our chaotic state of existence, or has the rebellious nature of today's design and planning played a [significant] role in our present state of societal decomposition? This is a question I ponder as I drive "past" Geary's EMP or "under" KoolhaasSeattle Public Library. My God, what were they thinking?

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My dog, Axel