I recently read this article about the possible development of Mumbai, both in infastructure and in better housing conditions for those currently living in slums.  Currently there is some resistance tot eh plans, mostly because residents in certain areas fear they would be disadvantaged by any redesign.  And why not?  The history of architecture is full of hundreds of examples of idealistic central city building projects that didn’t pan out.  At the forefront of my mind is Pruitt-Igoe, which was a ‘landmark’ in my architectural undergrad career.

Most successful projects are those that are employed over a small scale, that provoke real human interaction, or are used for only a limited time.   The very idea of redeveloping habitation for all of the inhabitants of Dharav, as mentioned int he article, puts me ill at ease.  Any kind of large-scale project like this is not going to please everyone, no matter how much the developers listen, or how much community participation is welcomed.  And we’re talking a serious large-scale operation here – there are 600,000 people you have to please.  That’s approximately the same as the entire population of Montenegro.

There are reasonable concerns over what form the multi-storied new buildings might take, and reasonable concerns over how infrastructure changes will alter the face of the city.  Ultimately Mumbai has to change with the times, but it’s always dangerous to have the world watching your metamorphosis.  Who knows?  Perhaps we’ll be shown entirely new models for urban life.   Perhaps there will be some elevated pedestrian network that keeps the vibrancy of the current diverse community alive.  Or perhaps we will simply see another designer’s vision stillborn.

The Perils of a REAL JOB

For those of you who don’t know, my job is mostly boring.  I spend the majority of my days online, interspersed with answering the phone when it rings, opening the mail, and maybe running a few copies if necessary.  There are occasional projects for my boss, some of which I actually enjoy, but really there’s not that much for me to do.  Which is a little annoying, considering everyone around me at the office is so busy and pressured.  But that changes for a period of about 2 weeks every quarter with our Board meetings.

I get to be in charge of editing and compiling the reports on everything we’ve done for the past quarter.  This includes all the financials as well as the written documentation explaining our decision-making process in depth.  I love this part of my job.  I get to do a little bit of editing, and a little bit of layout and design to make things pretty.  And these are all things I’m good at.  Sure, it can be a little grueling to shift gears from extreme down-time to super work overdrive.  And my writing certainly suffers during this period because my free time at work is gone.  But it does really break up the monotony, and I enjoy that.

So today is the beginning of the end.  It marks the first part of my two-week disconnect from my usual lackadaisical work attitude.  Probably my blogging will go down, as will my Scrabulous scores.  Still, without a little actual work once and awhile, I probably would be someplace else now.

Oh my WUSTL Archies!

I may not know what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I’m pretty sure of a few things I don’t want to do.  One of the primary ones it took me three years to realize was architecture.  I do not want to be an architect.  Sure, someday I may do something involving architecture or design.  I do have some knowledge and experience in those areas.  However, I will never spend the time or effort needed to become certified as an Architect.

Still, there are times when I wonder what my life would have been like if I had stuck it out and become certified.  Times when I see new products and buildings and I think “Oh cool,” or “I could do that!”  One of those times was yesterday, when I discovered this article.  In looking through some of the furniture, I was fondly reminded of my sophomore days in studio, when I too had the chance to design cardboard furniture.  For those of you not in-the-know, it’s uncomfortable.  Room-saving, trendy, and recyclable, yes; but also pokey in all the wrong places.

Still, it brought to my mind an important question – why aren’t I a designer?