Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Architecture Is Awesome

The Pazzi Chapel by Filippo Brunelleschi, Florence (my sketch, 1979)
One of my favorite websites is 1000 Awesome Things, a Webby Award winning blog written by Neil Pasricha. The blog is Pasricha’s affectionate, sunny affirmation of some of the awesome things that help make life worth living. He launched the site on June 20, 2008, with No. 1000, Broccoflower, counting down to No. 1, Anything you want it to be, on April 19, 2012. Much to Pasricha’s surprise, 1000 Awesome Things was an immediate hit and quickly attracted millions of followers. 

Pasricha started his blog to help counter the endless barrage of bad news we’re all subjected to on a daily basis and as a means to overcome his personal depression in the wake of the breakup of his marriage and the suicide of a close friend. He found solace in writing about the things that help make life special and worth living. Through his blog Parischa extolled “that sense of wonder and beauty in all the tiny joys in life” and marveled at how “life is so great we only get a tiny moment to enjoy everything we see.” He wanted (and wants) us all to share high fives and keep thinking wild thoughts, dreaming big dreams, and laughing loud laughs. 

I enjoy 1000 Awesome Things because it reminds me about the awesomeness we can all find in our lives if only we take the time to look. Some of the awesome things on Pasricha’s list that immediately brought a smile to my face upon reading them for the first time include the following: 

#834 Building an amazing couch cushion fort 
#355 When construction cranes get Christmas lights on them 
#166 Midnight summer walks 
#124 Babies in Halloween costumes 
#67 When cats do stupid things 
#2 Remembering how lucky we are to be here right now 

Check out his entire list of awesome things and take the time to read a few of them. I’ll bet you anything you’ll find it impossible not to smile at least a few times. 

Pasricha doesn’t claim to have cornered the market on awesomeness. He believes awesome is what’s awesome to each of us. It’s about what’s in your heart. It’s about the free, easy little joys that make life sweet. Nevertheless, he offers three secrets—the three “A’s” of awesome—to leading a life that is truly awesome in a heartfelt TED talk

Attitude: Choosing to move forward
Awareness: Truly seeing the world and embracing your inner three-year-old
Authenticity: Being you and being cool with that 

1000 Awesome Things is not only AWESOME but inspiring as well. 

I was looking for inspiration for my own blog when it occurred to me that much of what’s made my life sweet is the awe, wonder, sheer beauty, and joy I have experienced during a life in architecture. I realized there are numerous reasons why this is so—why I find studying, exploring, and appreciating architecture so fulfilling and life-affirming. There are many, many things (maybe even a thousand) about architecture I can reflect upon and share with readers of SW Oregon Architect. I can blog about why I think architecture is awesome. 

My plan is to write one Architecture Is Awesome post a month, maybe more as my time and mood allow. I’m not certain yet, but I expect the architectural topics I touch upon to be highly eclectic, from the specific features of buildings and landscapes I admire to subjects like spatial composition, materiality, and ordering principles. Each post will tend toward the pithy and the personal. Very occasionally they might even attempt to be humorous, as many of Neil Pasricha’s posts most certainly are. 

Unlike 1000 Awesome Things, my list will not be a countdown of the reasons why I think architecture is awesome; that would put too much pressure on me to meet a predetermined goal. Instead, I plan to simply start with No. 1 and go from there. We’ll see how far Architecture Is Awesome takes me. 

One of the big reasons why architecture is awesome is that the potential to make people’s lives better is inherent in every project architects undertake. More than ever before, architects must deal with the reality of today’s world, which includes addressing such enormous challenges as global warming, social inequity, and an uncertain economy. We simply cannot stick our heads in the sand and ignore such issues when it’s within our control to do something about them. I’m no Pollyanna, and I won’t let my Architecture Is Awesome series trivialize and sugarcoat the important work we do as architects. On the other hand, I do want to acknowledge the art of architecture and its power to transform the way people see the world and their place within it. I do want to stop and smell the roses, so to speak, and meditate on architecture. Most of all, I want to revisit all the reasons why I was drawn to architecture in the first place. 

Thank you Neil Pasricha for reminding us about the AWESOME things that make life great! 

Coming up: Architecture Is Awesome No. 1: Aedicula

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