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  • Writer's pictureMehli Romero

Don't Kill It Before You Try It

Updated: Aug 21, 2020

I'm constantly intimidated by the fact that what I put out there isn't good enough especially when there are certain voices screaming at me. I think we can all relate when it comes to this feeling. Thankfully, I overcome the thought and push forward by being proactive (aka JUST DO IT)… Of course its all easier said than done. We all need motivation when it comes to doing. So first things first, identify what motivates you to do. What motivates me is talking about my ideas to others who love me because I know they will encourage me. Don't present your ideas to pessimists. I'm sorry if your professor or boss happens to be one, just know we all get that person now and again. If you have a dissatisfied professor or boss talk to your friends, coworkers and others you respect about your ideas, or even your family. Not everyone you talk to needs to be experienced in architecture or in the subject of the idea you've come up with.

Thoughts and ideas are very important. And sometimes we let them fall over the edge of our minds because we don't believe they will take us anywhere. I'm a huge advocate of putting ideas to the test. In my architecture studio we are constantly being challenged to create. Our professors expect us to generate idea after idea but when doubt and fear stand in our way we hold back. And its totally normal to feel that way. Trust me, I always get that feeling! Every time I leave my studio class I'm expected to come back with a new or developed idea. Then, I freak out and worry. Mostly because time is not my friend and I wonder if I'll have time to not only generate the idea but model or draw it. And then there is the obstacle of the thought, "What if the idea isn't good enough? Then I will have wasted all that precious time." I hate to break it to you but here's a fact the world needs to get used to: I'm not perfect. You aren't perfect. No one is perfect. Thus, the ideas you produce will NEVER be perfect or good enough. There is always room for improvement. Sure some will be better than others but none of them will ever be the right one unless we MAKE IT the right one. The list of solutions out there is endless so if you are looking for a solution make what you have be the solution. Being proactive isn't the easiest but the more you do it the better you get at it. I speak from experience.

Design is a process. Because its a process you only find out if it will work or not after you try and MAKE IT work. For example, currently I'm working on a design near downtown El Paso. So here I am sitting in studio with a setting. I have tons of notes and research about the area and now its time to start designing some low income housing. But what form will it take? What geometries will I generate? Of course I want my design to be the best. Don't we all for every project? So here's how I tackle the situation. I believe a good architect is a person who recognizes the design of the building must respond to the people who will not only inhabit it but walk or drive by it. The building also needs to be cohesive with the area and kind to the earth's environment. I allow my knowledge of how to respond take the lead on shaping the form of my design. So I start to make a list of issues my design needs to respond to:

1. lots of sun

2. Mexican community (social people)

3. cool train station and Rocket Busters (expensive boot shop)

I think this is a good list to start with. You don't want to overwhelm yourself with a long list. Then you'll just blow up. Take it one step at a time unless you are the kind of person who likes a long list of issues. Do as you please. Maybe you can only handle one. Don't be ashamed of how many you can or can't handle. Now that I've got a list I begin to address the issues one at a time. I always start off by relating the surrounding buildings to each other. I draw up a site plan and determine visibility triangles and building placements. My initial geometry takes form as a result of pre-existing sidewalk alignments, building façade interactions and views, such as the station and Rocket Busters.

Then I extrude the geometry I've created and begin to hack at the form. So I take a styrofoam cube and hack away. I find styrofoam messy but flexible when it comes to producing quick ideas. I soon come to realize the mass I'm producing needs a courtyard because Mexicans love courtyards. Its a good place for them to gather and be social. As I shape the courtyard I then realize the courtyard needs light, however, I don't want any direct sunlight because the heat of the sun during the summer months in El Paso is harsh and will affect the housing units in a negative way. I don't want my units to be reliant on air conditioning either. I decide to keep the mass on the East and West sides of my styrofoam and make openings on the North and South sides. Thus, my form begins to take shape. To be honest, as I hacked I hated the form which was being produced. I was not happy with it. However, my amazing professor encouraged me to move forward. He recognized what I was doing, although not pretty, was very valuable and held potential. So I continued to hack away.

Lesson of the story: JUST DO IT! Even if it doesn't seem aesthetically pleasing at the beginning. Mine sure didn't and now its turned out to be one of my best designs so far. I'm very grateful to my support system in studio because they helped me to keep moving forward. The doubts in my mind burdened my design as I continued to model but as time passed the true form of my design was found.

So if you get an idea give it a chance. Don't kill it before you try it.

… currently a work in progress ...

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