How I Fell in Love with Design
Last week the American Institute of Architects hosted a “blog off,” which caught my eye. Their invitation to architecture bloggers was to write about “how design connects you to people, places, and ideas.” I missed their deadline to contribute — but I still wanted to write something because I love this topic so much.
I’ve been curious about “cities” my whole life. It might have something to do with my suburban Ohio upbringing. Growing up, my family would sometimes go to downtown Akron and Cleveland. These were interesting places, but I always wondered what it might be like in the “big cities” I had seen on TV and in movies. During one family vacation to the Jersey Shore when I was small, I saw a sign for New York on the highway and begged my parents to redirect the car — I didn’t understand we were hours from Manhattan. I imagined seeing New York would be an almost religious experience — an experience I imagined from every angle but did not truly know what to expect.
My first experience in a “big city” came when I spent a summer term in Boston during college. That’s when I truly fell in love. Boston opened my eyes. It had a bustling downtown with buses and subways and winding old roads where thousands of people lived and worked. I spent countless hours wandering and trying soak up everything. I was convinced when I left that I would be back.
I have not been back. Instead I have traveled elsewhere, exploring cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, New York and now Washington, D.C., where I have lived for three years. During my travels, I’ve come to understand and admire the power of design and planning. I believe buildings are not just functional places where we live and work — but also important examples of our city’s personality and creativity. They are public art, meant to uplift and hopefully challenge us.
But there would be nothing without us — the people who add soul to these structures. It starts with the people who physically build them and continues with the people who populate them. And that to me is why designing and building is so important. They connect us to each other. People add the character, the stories, the music. There is no building, no city without people.