Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summertime is an interesting season for architects. While the academic population breathes a collective sigh at the conclusion of yet another school-year, architectural practice is revving its engines for an upcoming sweaty season of production. Staff sizes balloon with summer interns. Principals previously distracted by academic calendars give focus to practice with a new urgency. Clients eager to spend weekends (or weeks!) by the beach pull the contract trigger, if anything to finally clear that task from their to-do list. After all, who wants to worry about architecture over the summer? Except for architects...

"Summer architecture," not unlike the summer of love, is an interesting phenomenon, where it is simply too hot for the black suit, and the concept of a casual Friday claims more and more of the week's other days. Mondays are often buzzing with the download of weekend adventures, followed by a check of the inbox (not much there, of course, since everyone else was also away), and a rallying of the troops. Everyone has a bit of sunburn on their nose, plus a smile and a burgeoning air of eagerness. The workshop is buzzing and the double-click of the mouse has a noticeably bouncier rhythm, as if architecture in the summer has a healthy, restorative power. Some days in the office it feels like a yoga studio, or worse, a Silicon Valley start-up - a far cry from the fall, winter and spring when the atmosphere aspired to be a sophisticated 1960's ad-agency, replete with pocket-squares and meeting-martinis.

Architecture in the summer has its tell-tale signs: big models, bright colors, weak plans, v-neck t-shirts, and at least one odd romance or two. The summer then drags on and these things slowly develop (models, plans, romance...). The worst part of summer architecture is the end, when time runs out on not only the summer itself but also the work, and although it is the last thing we want to do the final week before it all ends, we charrette. Interestingly, this seems to be a fuel of its own right - much like the weekend trip to the ocean - and as we slip back into our autumnal alter egos, that final intensity is what we share on a Monday morning (most likely, after having worked Saturday and Sunday). And before we know it, we're back to pocket-squares, and the plans are looking a bit more robust.


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