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  • Writer's pictureMehli Romero

Architecture. Me. And You.

Updated: Aug 21, 2020

What does architecture have to do with your and my life (besides the fact that it's my career)?

Warning: This is my first blog post ever. So please bear with me.

A Little of Me

My journey as a student in an accredited Bachelor of Architecture program has been interestingly anxious and wildly stressful so far. But it has also brought me great satisfaction, identity, character, and joy. I don't regret having chosen this career for a second. There are times when I am discouraged and feel I don't have the energy to go on but alas it is a moment endured by the memory of why I chose the profession in the first place.

My desire to become an architect bloomed during my fourth grade year of elementary school. My ambitions persistently grew as my lively upbringing fed the dream with sunlight and water. My childhood took place in Houston, Texas and as I entered my adolescent years I moved to Mexico City, then Germany, and lastly various cities in Arizona. At the start of my adulthood my life shifted dramatically as I found myself running about southern Italy as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In each of these cities I was highly exposed to spectacular spaces and jaw dropping facades. My mind was filled with many intriguing questions regarding architecture, questions no one could really answer because of the lack of knowledge. But the amazement striking me as I gazed upon these buildings was enough to satisfy me. And I wasn't proactive enough to go looking for an answer at the library.

My fascination with architecture really took off my senior year of high school. The year I discovered what I wanted to do specifically as an architect to help change the communities around me. My exploration began in my third period class called TOK (Theory of Knowledge). Our teacher showed us a documentary on mental illness and how depression can lead an individual to have suicidal thoughts. During the film, Boy Interrupted, several professional psychologists suggested the spaces people inhabit can greatly affect the behavior of a person. The subject of mental health was foreign to me. As far as I knew no one in my family had to battle such a brutal, masked problem. My naïve, young mind at the time did not comprehend just how real the issue was and how most people in the world come face to face with this obstacle at least once in their lifetime. Before our teacher released us from class she introduced the outline of our new assignment: a research project. The research question had to relate to the human body and correlate with one of our interests. Although the film had attracted me, especially the observations of the psychologists, I leaned towards questioning how re-establishing the design of spaces in prisons could help prisoners suffer consequences while simultaneously healing them, and most importantly giving them hope. The research project taught me a lot about the kind of people who inhabit them and why the spaces are designed the way they are for each individual. The project inspired me to change the architecture of prisons.

Shortly after I graduated high school, I left for Italy on a mission to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and what I came to learn was how valuable people are whether they do good or bad. The value of a person is determined by who they are, not by what they do. That's my belief anyway. I believe no one is perfect and, thus, we all make mistakes. Some mistakes are larger than others but the size of the mistake doesn't make any one person better than the one next to them. The worth of an individual is so great my mind can't even grasp how important each person is. And the loss of a friend or even an acquaintance has a huge effect on us and the community because somewhere in our minds we understand to a certain capacity the worth of a soul. Unfortunately, I witnessed a suicide while on my mission and attended two funerals that were a result of suicide. All of a sudden the film I'd seen back in high school peaked my interest because now I had a level of connection to the family and community in the film. Could spaces really affect a persons behavior enough to help push them over the edge? I wasn't entirely sure but it was a question I pondered for the remainder of my time in Italy.

The question became even more poignant when I returned to the states. My family had suffered a great tragedy regarding the issue of depression and life. What I had seen in Italy was suddenly in my own home and I wondered even more: HOW? How did it begin? How did it progress? How did it lead to silencing ones own life? And how could I use architecture to come up with a solution? The questions punctured me deeply and I felt a responsibility to change the architecture of our environments whether it was a home or a psychiatric ward. I felt the responsibility of becoming an architect weigh heavy on my shoulders. My will and commitment to serve my community in designing spaces which physically helped positively elevate one's mood, whether it was a prisoner, suicidal individual, homeless man, or just the "average" human, strengthened and moved me to pursue a career I realized is about people, not buildings.

You're the Reason Why

"Architecture is about people, not buildings."

Obviously when I was back in the fourth grade I had no idea what it meant to be an architect. All the inspiration I found in the structures rising above me gave me motivation to pursue architecture, but over the years I've learned its you that gives my career purpose. Your worth as a human on this earth, as a member of a community, as a person with dreams is what drives my architectural world. You are my client and as my client I am devoted to creating a space you can seek refuge, peace, hope, joy and love in. The world is becoming a darker place (excuse my pessimism) where people find endurance and motivation increasingly difficult. Thankfully, there are many people out there working together to shed light on the earth and I'm grateful to count myself as part of that community.

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