This is another in my series of posts inspired by 1000 Awesome Things, the Webby Award winning blog written by Neil Pasricha. The series is my meditation on the awesome reasons why I was and continue to be attracted to the art of architecture.
Like most creative pursuits, the practice of architecture is fundamentally a process of discovery. Each new project seduces us with its promise. Inherent in every design problem are possibilities, inventions, and an order of systems waiting to be revealed. The means of their discovery necessitates the exploration and study of concepts. Ultimately, the process rewards architects who embrace opportunities, brave the unknown, and dispel preconceptions.
Paul Laseau described the process of discovery as consisting of two parts: 1) invention; and 2) concept formation. In his book Graphic Thinking for Architects & Designers, he explained how invention seeks the basic discovery—the original idea for the project—whereas concept formation converts the discovery into a graphic and verbal statement that can give basic direction to the full development of the project.
But the process of discovery is much more as well. Its course is seemingly capricious, full of twists and turns. There are often surprises along the way. Some are welcome epiphanies. Others are roadblocks, obstacles that momentarily frustrate progress. Along the way, the journey is its own reward, its route marked by leaps of understanding and creativity. There is a great deal to be learned, and the learning is achieved by doing.
The greatest thrill comes to us when the process suddenly reveals a clear and obvious path toward the solution we have been seeking. What was previously inscrutable swiftly and surprisingly becomes a simple, elegant, and robust design concept. This is our eureka moment, that exhilarating instant of the judged truth being laid bare. The process of discovery has coupled the thrill of creative effort with the joy of achievement.
Because it can so often be unpredictable, exasperating, and difficult, the process of discovery is inherently challenging. Then again, it is also a voyage every architect willingly embarks upon. Like inveterate explorers, we repeatedly seek knowledge, insight, and answers to questions of great importance. Architecture is as much about how we arrive at our design solutions as it is about the designs themselves. We trust the process of discovery to get us where we want to go.