Building the Future

This post was published more than a few years ago (on 1999-04-10) and may contain inaccurate technical information, outmoded thoughts, or cringe takes. Proceed at your own risk.

When I was a young boy, my mother was nearly certain that I would grow up to be an architect. She says that my prowess in making balanced structures with my wooden blocks was an amazing thing, and that she knew I had an eye for design. Well, she may have been right about the design part, but little did she know that over the course of my childhood, the personal computer would take such enormous strides and become the driving force in business --- and even in design --- that it has.

At a very early age, I started programming Apple II computers in school and the Atari 800 we had at home (one of the few Atari models that you could do more than play Pong on). My parents and I have since gone through several Wintel machines, and I have moved beyond those to my platform of choice, the Macintosh. My Dad still holds the fallacy that they’re not “real business machines,” but as a designer and content creator, it meets my needs better than any Windows machine can.

I’ve moved on, as well, from programming in BASIC on the Atari and Apple II. There are an amazing number of software programs available today that give me enormous power to design the way I want to, whether it be for print, video, the web, or some other medium that hasn’t even been invented yet. I’d like to think I've become pretty proficient at the design packages I now use, though I know that there is constantly more to learn. It’s not a question of finally learning it all, but not slipping behind the curve.

I’m not one to stay complacent where I am, though. I require constant challenge or my brain starts turning to mush. This, unfortunately, tends to make my resume look like I’m an unstable employee. It's not that I don’t do my work well, but I get bored very quickly once the job becomes routine, and want to move on to something else. Over short terms, I’ve been a graphic designer, digital video editor, salesman, assistant manager at a coffee shop, and a locksmith’s apprentice. In fact, the video editing position I currently hold is the longest I have ever held a job --- 2 years.

Recently, when I helped my parents move into the new house they had built for my grandparents and themselves, I started paging through my Mom’s architectural books. I started thinking, maybe this is what I want to do with my life... I swear… at 24, you’d think I might know already, but no. I really would love to work on feature films in some capacity, but I can’t decide which there either: as director? of course, but how about a sound effects editor? or a film editor? or go back to school and learn how to write an orchestral score? or go to a different school and learn more about digital effects?

I have been studying architecture a bit lately, and I’ve started noticing a lot that I like in the buildings around me. I live quite close to our nation’s capital, so I have a plethora of styles and designers to choose from. I must admit, though, that I'm quite fond of the Art Deco style, which seems to have mostly taken root in New York. I think the Chrysler Building there is one of the most beautiful buildings in recent history. Of course, I love classical architecture as well, leaning towards Greek and Egyptian influences. If you’ve never seen the Masonic Temple in downtown DC on 16th street (which has both), you owe yourself a tour.

My wife and I have been designing our dream home over the past few years as well, starting from some Victorian era designs that she loves, and adapting them to fit our needs using home design software. We’re also planning to have built-in convenience, through home automation. This will allow us (through the X–10 protocol) to use our Mac to control practically anything in the house from any control panel in the house, remotely over the phone, programmed in response to certain events, or even by voice command.

Even though I haven't formally studied architecture, the progressions in computing have allowed me to design my home using just my design sense. Granted, I still need to have the plans checked over by a local architect to make sure that everything is up to local code, but the power is there. I am awed that I can now use my Mac to design my home, control my home, and make a living to pay for my home --- and it’s only going to get better.