I am frequently asked what inspired me to start my own architecture firm. In short, I hope to apply my Master of Science in Sustainable Design and Passive Building certification in a practice blending research, teaching, and design in ways not currently possible in traditional architecture firms in the Twin Cities.
Three resources stand out as providing the encouragement I needed to take this step. I share them with you below in hopes they will be as thought-provoking and inspiring to you as they were for me.
Leverage Points to Intervene in a System
Required reading for the Sustainable Communities course I taught at the University of Minnesota this spring, this article outlines twelve leverage points for intervening in systems, rated in order of effectiveness. Read Donella Meadow's groundbreaking work here.
This writing helped me realize that the sustainable design education in which I have participated is primarily about designing systems, and that my design approach is holistic because of this background. The article also makes it clear that the most effective (albeit most difficult) path to achieving sustainable design is changing the goals and mindset of the system itself, rather than advocacy within the "system" of traditional firm culture. Precipitate, therefore, is an opportunity to explore new models and methods of doing architecture that better promote a paradigm shift toward resilience - in our designs, impacting the greater world, and in our very practice itself.
Pine Island Paradox: What It Means to Love a Place
Kathleen Dean Moore
This piece, a list of ten characteristics that equally describe love for people and place, has been a favorite for years because of the powerful, non-sentimental way it captures the essence of love. To read Moore's beautiful words, click here and scroll down to Selections: What it Means to Love a Place.
Recently, I realized that the writing accurately defines my design philosophy. My process starts by developing a deep understanding of the people and place for which I am designing. I care deeply about the success and impact of the project. In essence, I fall in love to some extent with the projects I work on. This level of connection and commitment to clients is difficult to achieve in the typical firm, where staff are often shifted between projects to balance workload. This writing is particularly meaningful to me as I first heard it read at the memorial service for my dear professor, mentor, and friend, Jim Farrell.
The day I made the final decision to start Precipitate, my co-instructor Amir Nadav led a class for our Sustainable Communities course on Personal Resilience. Macy describes the uncertainty present in all of our lives, regardless of the safety we currently feel, and the capacity for uncertainty to bring about our best work. This was the final inspiration I needed to make my decision to start my own architecture firm focused on sustainable design for education. Listen to her words below.