Why I Design

Why I Design

My interests in design, and more specifically architecture, began a few days after my eleventh birthday.  I had received the 3rd generation iPod Touch that was advertised to be “The Funnest iPod Ever.”  However, my iPod was no fun at all.  It was broken in the box when I opened it and was no better than a beautifully designed curved brick made of some of the best aluminum my virgin hands had ever touched.  This mishap resulted in a long journey to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York.  For my eleven year old self, this meant three bumpy, crowded and loud subway rides from our house to get there.  The ride there was horrific, all I thought about were the hours I had lost with my beautiful curved brick of aluminum.  These hours did not seem to faze my mother as she read on the way there.  Once out of the subway and at the Apple store, both of our jaws dropped, my eyes lit up and my mother let out a horrendous groan.  For those who don’t know the 5th Avenue Apple store is a glass cube with a glowing Apple logo that leads down to an underground store of beautifully designed bricks of aluminum.  For my mother, the 5th Avenue Apple store was just an absurd line she had to queue up in to fix something she had already spent too much money buying me in the first place.

In line, I could barely stand still.  The Apple store was like a wonderland for designers. It had small curved bricks of aluminum that played music, slightly larger curved bricks of aluminum that made phone calls, and large bricks of aluminum that unfolded to reveal a keyboard and a track pad.  In addition, these bricks were positioned with all of the negative space, even the most conceptual designer could ever wish for.  The perfectly proportioned light wood tables floated underground in a sea of neutral grey concrete and stainless steel, impaled in the middle by a spiral glass staircase and elevator.  This building was all too much for me and two hours in line seemed like seconds.  My eyes wandered around the space, stopping at every little detail I could detect, and then back over them again.  This building single-handedly forced me to fantasize over the built environment, and this was the kindling of my journey to become a designer.

My pursuit started at age twelve when I told myself I would become an architect. From this moment, which seems like the start of it all, four years went by with no serious engagement.  I was your “Weekend Warrior” so to speak of architecture.  I could build you all of the Lego architecture sets from Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” to Frank Lloyd Wright's “Imperial Hotel.”  I could tell you that AutoCAD was the be all and end all of computer-aided drafting programs.  Most importantly, I could predict the prices of mansions and apartments on House Hunters and more impressively House Hunters International.  This phase lasted about four years and ended with my introduction to Google SketchUp.

Google SketchUp is a 3D computer modeling software that is free to use.  I started with no knowledge, clicking almost blindly, just trying to make a cube.  Eventually, cube after cube turned into a cube with a doorway, a cube with a doorway and windows, and my first design.  A year later I attended Pratt’s Pre-college architecture program that drew me even deeper into the field.  The professors and the program encapsulated everything I thought and hoped architecture would be all in one simple project.  “Create a gallery or a library that integrates to campus derived from an image of a brick zoomed in 800 times.”

After this experience, I was in love with architecture and returned home as a slightly more sophisticated “weekend warrior”.  I could build physical models, I could fumble my way around AutoCAD, and I watched every architecture lecture YouTube had to offer on the topic.  I dived deeper into the field of architecture, landing my first internship at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, ironically the firm that designed the 5th Avenue Apple store.  This phase brings me up to the present and contains the entire basis for my pursuit of becoming an architect.  

I design because I believe there is immense potential for architecture to improve the environment, promote positive human interaction, and because I can’t help but stare at one of those curved bricks of aluminum Apple sells.