Monday, February 2, 2015

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time I was an architecture major at the University of Illinois.  Once upon a time I loved the two years of Technical & Architectural Drafting that I took in high school.  Once upon a time I had a blast at my architecture summer camp at U of I in high school.  Once upon a time I loved my first semester of architecture studio in college.

By some fluke that semester the license that we needed for the design software was messed up by someone somewhere.  So they didn't have the licenses needed for the freshman class to use the computers in studio.  Normally the first semester students spent half of studio hand drafting and the other half on the computers.  So they were scrambling to come up with more hand drafting projects for us and planned on switching up the second semester studio to give us more computer time to make up for it.

It was around this time that I had a terrifying realization:

What I loved about architecture was the hand drafting, and while we were going to get a solid foundation in school, in the real workplace world it was going to be all on the computer.

I loved spending the year designing a home in my high school class.  We hand drafted, computer drafted, and built a real 3D model of our planned house at the end of the year.

I loved spending a week (two weeks? my memory is fuzzy) at U of I one summer in high school building a real 3D model of the modern beach house I designed.

And I wanted to be an architect who designed houses.  Not office buildings, stores, theaters, or modern city living blocks (stores on the bottom!  apartments on top!  rooftop gardens!  cities of the future!).  And I knew for the next six years (architecture requires a two year masters) I'd be spending an awful lot of time designing projects and having them critiqued for a grade.  And they would hardly ever be homes so I wouldn't care that much.  Plus WOULD I be able to get a job at a firm that primarily designed homes???

So the end of my first semester freshman year I kind of freaked out.  Ever since 8th grade I had decided I would be an architect and now I wasn't going to be one and I Didn't Have A Plan. AH.  Though the fun part was registering for classes for second semester with no major.  I just took what interested me: sign language, child psychology, astronomy, foundations of education, ceramics, literature of global culture, and piano lessons

That semester I thought a lot and I realized that two of the classes I had taken completely voluntarily were specifically required of education majors.  Huh.  I had been babysitting ever since my mom let me and I loved working with kids.  When I was a kid I wanted to be a teacher.  My two best friends were teachers (or were going to be).  Elementary Education does involve a lot of hand drawing and creativity which was what I loved about architecture.  Suddenly I had a New Plan.  I took summer school every summer and caught up and graduated on time even with a major change and a semester abroad in New Zealand.  I loved my student teaching SO MUCH.  It was perfect and I was so ready for my own classroom.  I filled out over forty applications and wrote a million essays for them.  And I got a job as an assistant. Sigh.

My elementary education plan hasn't fully panned out because it is frustratingly hard to get a teaching job.  But I have hopes of getting a really cool job in a different part of the teaching world soon.  Fingers crossed!

But anyway, (I like reminiscing, you may have noticed) I am telling you all of this because I thought it might be fun to provide some context for all of my dreaming & scheming for the house.

Once upon a time we were going to buy land and build our own house (my architectural dream come true), but my then-fiancee and I realized after lots of land-hunting, that it was cheaper to buy a fixer upper house because it already came with big expenses like land, a well, and a septic system.  

This house was a dream come true.  It had really good bones from the 1920s, meaning it was well-built back in the "good old days when things were done right," but modern enough that a lot of the building standard sizes were the same as today which makes it a bit easier to deal with when remodeling.

As much as I wish it had really cool original 1920s built-ins, I secretly love that it doesn't and that I get to put them in myself.  This house is a pretty blank slate and it is so very fun for me to design the details.

So that's my little out of the blue rambling story to help explain how I come up with my grand visions for this house and why I love doing it all.


  1. So my remark long ago about architects being too "clubby" had little or nothing to do with your change of major, it was these very specific things, that you wanted to design houses not other styles of buildings. Pretty straightforward and clear as you say it now. Did it feel that straightforward back then? It is a good thing you have multiple talents and thus could so readily find your second path, and that you work so hard. Good luck with your next try at entering the education world -- they beg for good teachers, but so many cannot get hired!

    1. Yes it felt pretty straightforward back then, too. Thank you!