20 years ago part 2

Today I moved the humming bird feeder since several wasp had found it as their new hang out spot. We learned that if you paint the yellow petals on the feeder red to match the other parts of the feeder the birds will find it and the bugs will not. These are the things you learn and the activities you do on a Sunday afternoon at my age.

I also watched online yesterday a series of online hackers present their work at the first AEC Hackathon Online event. I feel like it was just a few years ago, (7 years ago this winter) that it all started. Kudos to my boy Damon for keeping it running all these years and the global reach it now has. I think there were over 600 people active in the slack channel during the event. Check them out and support the efforts https://aechackathon.com/

I want to pick up where I left on with my story, but I wanted to give a few more bits of context. Before I started summer school at Southern Poly in 2000 to study architecture, I had always had a passion for design. I feel I might have been misguided when I enrolled at Georgia. You see, UGA is not where you go to school to study architecture, it’s Georgia Tech. One of the best programs in the country. In fact, there are several schools just in the southeast to study design and architecture. I could have gone to Clemson, just 73 miles further east of Athens. I just did not think about what I was going to study, I just went to Georgia since I got in. I don’t even remember applying to other schools. I am sure I did since it would have been wise to do so, but maybe I just stopped looking once I got into Georgia. Architecture for me started much earlier when I would draw buildings during Sunday service. When I too old for the young kids Sunday school, but not old enough to sit with the teenagers; I would kneel at the chair next to my mom (with my back to the stage) to use the chair as a drawing table. My mom would give me a sheet of graph paper from her organizer and a pen. She taught me two-point perspective using the ruler that came with her leather organizer and pen. Since the church was downtown Atlanta I got to see the high rise buildings every week and would try to replicate what I remember seeing of the great city. I can’t help but think that seeing Atlanta grow over the years had to influence me at that age. As I continued in my interest, I got a job from a friend of the family (and church) working with John in the summer. At 16 I could finally drive to work and did not need to work cutting grass each summer (in the heat). I could work inside with the air conditioning. What does a 16-year-old kid do at the architecture firm? I remember having a really important job organizing the material library, putting ArchRecord magazines back in chronological order, and scanning old hand drawings into digital format. The second summer I was working on a computer using a digitizer tracing hand drawing details into CAD. I have no shame putting that job on my LinkedIn profile since it really was my first job in the profession. I got pretty good at using the computer and owe a lot of that to John for giving me that awesome job so long ago. I knew I could always call John for a short stint each summer helping out where I could. I met so many wonderful people in that firm. It was John who asked me one Sunday why I was at Georgia and why was I not studying architecture. I had no good answer for him. That summer I did reach out to John and he helped me to come to the decision to go to Southern Poly. I got it, it was affordable and it really was something I was interested in and had been interested in for most of my life.

Thanks John!

Southern Poly is in north Atlanta, just north of Georgia Tech. I learned after I got it and started talking to professors that many of them also taught at Georgia Tech. So, you could argue I was getting the Georgia Tech education without having to pay the premium and living in downtown Atlanta. After going to Georgia it is nearly impossible to go to Georgia Tech. Talk to anyone who has gone to either school and they will confirm, the hate is deep. We should be looking out for each other like sister schools, but no – when Georgia plays Tech, the gloves always come off. Southern Poly was very much a commuter school, meaning you would not see people on campus after class – they all went home right after class. But, in architecture school, you don’t leave. I was introduced to studio life at Southern Poly. I remember one late night passing out to the sight of blood when a classmate took a small piece of the finger off with an X-Acto blade. It happens more often than you know at 2 am working on a model. There was one student there that was inspiring, I wish I remember his name. For his final project (graduating project) he did it all his drawings by hand and on a single piece of paper that was the full length of the room. He worked on it for weeks pinned against one wall. You had to walk right up on it to see the great detail. He would hide a few nuggets in the drawing for others to find. Like a naked woman in the foliage was a common hard to find, but funny where’s waldo type of moment. The school was small and I did not get close to many of the students while I was there. I would use my weekends to go back to Athens. Yes, I would drive 90 minutes one way to see people in Athens, go on dates and see Georgia play, then truck the 90 minutes back. I do not want to know how many miles I wasted in my car going back and forth. It did not last long since I only went another semester before making a really big decision to move, again. This time I was getting serious about a girl and studying at a bigger school. I missed the big school feeling and was getting tired of Atlanta. I needed an escape and following my girlfriend to Iowa made sense to me and no one else in my life. My friends and family had no idea why I was moving to Iowa and had little time to convince us otherwise. I applied to Iowa State knowing nothing about the school or the weather. Moving after the snow melted was well-timed. I think if I had visited or moved in the winter I would have never stayed. I loaded up my car, left what did not fit with my parents, and headed north to Ames Iowa.

I’ll pick up next week on becoming a Cyclone and what school was like in the midwest. I can tell you that it was in Iowa that I build my character and the struggle got real. I spent three years between Des Moines and Ames and when I look back, I am glad it went down the way it did for me.