"Make no small plans for they have no passion to stir men's blood."
The famous Chicago architect named Daniel Burnham said this and we love him. It's a great approach but it's not always what our clients need.
"He was a first rate noticer."
That's how Saul Bellow describes Charlie Citrine, the protagonist in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Humboldt's Gift. It is also one of our favorite books. In order to observe you need to have what the ancient Greeks called sympátheia. It is the ability to look at the look at things from another's point of view. That's why a a good architect asks a lot of questions and doesn't shoot from the hip. The silent genius of Mies van der Rohe is an unproductive example for a student or young architect to follow. Better is someone like Philip Johnson who engaged people or Rem Koolhaas who today has assumed his mantle of being the most influential architect in the world. They both are known for their conversations.
The architect Glenn Murcutt has said that the process begins by asking the question, "How do you want to live?" He then observes everything in sight and interviews all of the principals involved.
How do you want to live?
Here's Bellow reading from Humboldt's Gift at the 92nd Street Y in New York in 1988.