If I want to buy a car, I am at least allowed a test drive. 

If I am going to rent an apartment in an unfamiliar city, it behooves me to negotiate a week or more on a trial basis to discover things like noisy trash pickup at 4am. 

" house walkthrough" courtesy of  techfun
But, if I buy a house, I get to walk through once or twice, get an inspector to tell me if it’s going to fall down or not, and then I must decide.  
The arduous process of ownership transfer begins. No test drive. No invitation to sleep over or even bake some cookies to see if the oven works. 
The biggest purchase most people ever make, and it’s made on a walkthrough and some faith. But at least you get the walkthrough! 

Typical Architectural Process

Architects expect their clients to hire them on faith alone. (and not faith in Jesus!)

Faith in:
  • the architect’s and contractor's portfolios of previous projects
  • their own ability to read & understand plans, sections, elevations, renderings & specifications
  • the general- & sub-contractors' ability & desire to read, understand & follow the same
  • the building looking like it was pictured and feeling like it was hoped
  • etc. etc.
Ain't nobody got that much faith.

The Logical Test

  The opposite of FAITH is DOUBT.
  DOUBT + spending lots of money = STRESS.
  STRESS leads to an early DEATH.
  ARCHITECTURE, practiced in the typical way, leads to DEATH.


p.s. I suppose, practiced in an atypical way, it can also lead to death, as illustrated below.  Happy Halloween!


I want to have my cake and eat it too.  Been fascinated lately by lots of things that are supposedly "either/or" when they can be "both/and."

Things I want:

  • medicine that is both holistic and scientific;
  • spirituality that is both inward and outward;
  • an identity that is both Mommy and Ally;
  • nature that is both protected and accessible; and
  • architecture that is both tasteful and charming.

That last one came from perusing architecture-themed posts on Pinterest.

The architectural posts on Pinterest don't really cover the gamut, but there are definitely lots of posts that are in the vein of high taste and plenty of other posts that could best be categorized as charming.  There are also plenty that can most easily be categorized as boring, but we don't need to talk about those today.

a selection of images from Pinterest when I searched the term "charming"

a selection of tasteful design pinned from dezeen.com

It is my considered opinion from my very own objective 100% scientific poll that folks want BOTH architecture of high taste AND architecture that is charming, but they are seemingly impossible to marry to one another.

The Futility of the Case:

Good taste is generally purchased, while charm is typically home grown.

Good taste tends to minimize sentiment; charm tends toward excessive sentiment.

Good taste is largely the realm of old money.  Charm is the province of a comfortable middle class.

Good taste is often accomplished with professional assistance.  Charm can be easily ruined by professionals.

Good taste is BEAUTIFUL on many levels, and charm is COMFORTABLE on many levels.



Clients are often encouraged to clip images from magazines or create Pinterest boards to better communicate what they want. Images are a better language to use than words, because most people cannot put their environment into words. Why would they need to?

But there’s a drawback: every image is layered and filled with impressions and memories and taste preferences. It becomes a little like internet dating.

  • That person is appealing because of their infectious smile;
  • This one is interesting because they show a love of travel. 
  • Another fascinates because they show affection for a pet, or 
  • they remind you of a favorite fictional character. 
image courtesy of  Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
"Internet Café, after Jean Béraud"

I hope none of us would ever take a collection of images that piqued our interest and then expect to find a cohesive person who looked like all of the people pictured (creepy facial morph). And yet, this absurd approach is taken all the time with architecture. It should not be attempted because it is a bad idea!
I suppose some clients have enough budget to afford the architectural equivalent of a harem, all connected together in the same sprawling building, but it's still a poor design approach.

My vote, whether internet dating or planning a home: pretend you’re writing for J.Peterman’s catalog. Narrate lavish captions for every image you pin, describing exactly why you like something or what it reminds you of (that trip to the Amalfi coast....).


p.s. Pinterest is also addictive.


It's somewhat ambiguous, but the definition of affordability has to be related to income, right? Income as well as other debt & ob...