Inspiration can come from anywhere. Nearly every design challenge begins with some exploration and search for inspiration. Today, Calvin Boyd shares where he finds inspiration.
The architectural challenges designers wrestle with daily are often wicked in nature: ever-changing, chock-full of interconnected variables, and lacking definite solutions. A career in architecture is incredibly uplifting on its best day, and perhaps upsetting on its worst, and yet, we designers willingly choose to contend with it.
Funny enough, life isn’t all that different. I am sure I speak for most of us when I say life has thrown a few curveballs our way in the last two years alone, given the global pandemic, shifts in international power, and climate change continuing to rear its head. In fact, some of us are still waiting to see if the decisions made and solutions employed in crisis will yield the desired results. This is stressful to put it mildly, and yet many of us still woke up today, eager to chip away at our challenges and design more beautiful and impactful lives.
In my work, I find profound inspiration from others who design their careers with the same rigor our buildings require and meet obstacles big and small with creativity. And I have the utmost respect for those who design careers that are not easy or pursue passions that do not necessarily line up with how others see them. As I write, I am reminded of a recent conversation with Lynn Donohue, a sales manager and experienced bricklayer, who persevered through a series of apprenticeships as the only woman on the project site some years ago. It takes bravery, talent, and smarts to exist in a space others say is not meant for you, and even more so if you plan on sticking around for fifty years like Lynn did. To me, her resultant company, book (“Brick by Brick: A Woman’s Journey”), and overall success was neither accidental nor a matter of luck; it was purposeful and the product of several years of iterative design.
While Lynn does not work with us, several other remarkable professionals do. Many of our coworkers temporarily left family behind, jumped on planes, and crossed borders to study architecture and practice here. And on a lighter note, more than a few of us were probably told to drop architecture altogether during our first college semester or internship, and yet here we are thriving. For this latest installment of “Finding Inspiration,” I do not have any flashy photos or 3D modeling tips/tricks to share, and unfortunately, there is no secret stash of “design ideas” under my desk that I refer to regularly. However, what I do have is some advice. The best architects do not design buildings, they design and engineer solutions, which is a skill I truly believe transcends architecture alone.
Similarly, what keeps me going is the hope that the buildings I have worked on (whether they be hospitals, labs, classrooms, or apartments) will one day help others conquer their own obstacles and more easily design the lives of their choosing.