Mithun is a leading sustainable design practice that creates lasting places for people. The firm’s innovative and collaborative spirit encompasses architecture, landscape architecture, planning, urban design and interior design services—a multidisciplinary approach that unites human and natural systems within the built environment. mithun.com
This Monday 22 Sep
by Town Hall, The Project Room, Elliott Bay Book Company
7:30–8:45pm. Doors at 6:30pm.
Talk on creativity and collaboration with Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of Powers of Two, and Jess Van Nostrand, founder of The Project Room.
Wednesday 24 Sep
by Graphic Artists Guild
Workshop on using WordPress by experienced graphic designer and WordPress trainer Bob Dunn.
Friday 26 Sep –
Friday 19 Dec
by Suyama Space
Reception: Friday, 26 Sept, 5–7pm. Artists’ Lecture: Saturday, 27 Sept, 12pm
at Suyama Space
LILIENTHAL|ZAMORA’s ambitious, site-specific installation creates a powerful volume of light, full of tension and release.
Friday 26 Sep
by SAM (Seattle Asian Art Museum)
Talk on celebrated Japanese designer Saito Kazo (1887–1955) and the Tokyo-based clothing and interior designers who worked around him.
Monday 29 Sep
by Town Hall Seattle , Elliott Bay Book Company
Enjoy a conversation between Jeffrey Ochsner and Feliks Banel about the buildings instrumental to defining Seattle's built environment.
Wednesday 1 Oct
by UW Architecture Department
Talk by Chrisoph Reinhart (MIT's Sustainable Design Lab), a building scientist and educator in sustainable building design and environmental modeling.
Saturday 11 Oct
by Design Museum Portland
Conversation with artist John Grade and a look at when art, design and technology overlap.
Saturday 11 Oct
by Docomomo WEWA
1–4pm (recommended arrival no later than 2:30pm)
Tour mid-century modern homes designed by Paul Hayden Kirk in the Little Finn Hill neighourhood in Kirkland.
Monday 27 Oct
Awards Ceremony: 27 October. See detailed description/more info for submission deadlines.
NW Interior designers, architects and industrial designers are invited to submit interior spaces/products for the INawards. Award ceremony in October.
Thursday 30 Oct
Lecture by Peter Bohlin on the nature of circumstance, architectural practice and the work of BJC.
Thursday 30 Oct
Talk about how, in our digital world, architecture can reassert physical public space as a vital place for dialogue and engagement.
Saturday 1 Nov –
Sunday 30 Nov
by Seattle Central Library, Gabriela Frank
Making public a writer's methods and environment, writer Frank will work on her first novel in a recreation of her living room in the library.
Through Thursday 5 Nov
by Henry Art Gallery
Interactive art installation uses surveillance systems to create narratives with social media content matching demographic profiles of passers-by.
Through Monday 20 Apr
Art installation on Japanese design, reimagining traditional subjects in modern forms.
Through Sunday 8 Mar
Weekends only: 10am–4pm
Sol LeWitt explores the cube and grid structures which were of interest to him throughout his career in this special wall drawing for SAM.
Through Sunday 19 Oct
by SAM (Asian Art Museum)
Exhibition on Japanese Art Deco, including sculpture, painting, prints, ceramics, lacquerware, jewelry, textiles, furniture and graphic ephemera.
Through Sunday 21 Sep
by Frye Art Museum
Exhibition presenting a selection from the body of work of Seattle artist Curtis R. Barnes, including homage to the legacy of the Omowale mural.
Through Sunday 12 Oct
by Bellevue Arts Museum
This exhibition traces the rise in popularity of printmaking in postwar American art, featuring Chuck Close, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and more.
Through Sunday 12 Oct
by Bellevue Arts Museum
An art exhibit exploring a dark, yet important, chapter of American history by showcasing more than 120 items made by interned Japanese Americans.
Through Sunday 15 Feb
Exhibition highlighting the complexity of urban life in India through the lens of ten artists' sculpture and photography.
Through Friday 19 Sep
by Design in Public
at Various Seattle locations
Mark your calendars for the Seattle Design Festival, the region’s largest public design event celebrating the power of design.
Through Friday 3 Oct
This year's theme, In Process, explores the concepts of conception, revision, evolution and divergence that happen before a project is completed.
Lonni Tanner. Edited by John Bielenberg
As the former New York City Department of Design and Construction’s chief change officer and founder of SeeChangeNYC—a joint (Bloomberg) Mayoral initiative—Lonni Tanner has been waiting in waiting rooms for almost four years, studying food stamps offices and shelters, senior and probation centers. We’re talking thousands of hours at hundreds of service facilities and the neighborhoods they touch: observing, interacting, listening. And then intervening—in some small but pivotal way that shakes up a place, changes behavior, makes waiting sane, pushes people forward. And then she waits some more. Intervenes. Waits. Intervenes—or not. At some point, even rooms have to live on their own.
I approached Lonni and asked her to share her “diary” about the challenges that come with making “change”—even the smallest transformations—in a City environment. Her personal journey—its ups and downs—has eventually led her to a City agency that takes to her ”wrong” thinking: the NYC Department of Probation. Meet Lonni:
I am now a baker without an oven. Mayoral support and interest for my program has come and gone. With a budget the size of an ant, I make up a better title for myself and my program and use the Mayoral “stamp” to get in front of City agency officials. I look for partners. I count on my imagination to win them over, the backing of designers, the ability to generate donations to prove I can add value to whatever problems they’re solving. Even with all that, it’s slowgoing.
I keep at it: peddling solutions—not rehabs. Maybe I need a cart.
Eventually someone has to bite. Right?
Name calling: I am the crazy one during introductions. She wants to pay clients to play Maitre D’ in the dining hall, concierge for the shelter? A sideways playground on walls at a food stamps center, is she crazy? One staffer says, Meet the woman who’s like the guy who keeps trying to roll the rock up the hill. What’s his name? I hate the word crazy.
Finally, a taker: I hear through the grapevine that the Department of Probation—already in the midst of a sea change—has money that fell from the sky at the end of the fiscal year. It’s use it or lose it. The goal: Revamp their 22 probation centers. Time to do it? Almost none. I want in.
A ticking clock makes me salivate. Is it because I want to be a hero?
The Department of Probation proves to be a rare partner in the world of City agencies. The commissioner, a maverick. We need more mavericks. Is a maverick just someone willing to fail?
I cut to the chase, bringing in Biber Architects to do the probation center revamping. Jim Biber does killer interiors, is a superb problem solver and an ace under pressure. $5k is all I can pay him, but he relishes the challenge: Turn probation centers into un-probation centers.
Biber brings on James Victore for the graphic design piece—to create new posters, new language, a new typeface, new tone. Victore is smart as a whip. He agrees to work for peanuts too.
We go on a road trip to look at probation sites. Everything is broken. And I’m not just talking about the furniture. I leave one and throw up.
Even though things are humming along, this is usually when money gets pulled—without notice, without care for how far along a project is, or understanding of how much work designers have put in and manufacturers donated. Where the money goes, why it goes, is a mystery. But it happens, often.
Here we go again: The money starts to dwindle. Overhauling 22 probation centers becomes 12, then 6, then 1. Thankfully, Biber and Victore are designing a blueprint that can be replicated if, and when, the money comes back. (It does: Later we shake up 8 more sites.)
Baby steps. Fuck that. Start small, don’t think small.
We present our plan to a roomful of probation staff. The neon sign crazy starts to glow on our foreheads. One of Victore’s posters—a riff on hang in there, with a kitty hanging from a branch—gets killed off. I see the word doubt start to glow on staff foreheads. Make it go away.
Biber makes smart but simple moves to change-up the probation center environment. Every move is purposeful and inexpensive. He removes the bolted-down chairs to increase trust, adds carpet to soften, installs new ceiling tiles to brighten, replaces bulbs instead of fixtures. Chairs now accommodate wider seats, but he cuts down the number of seats to add breathing room. Pops of color—like the bright green outdoor benches—rid the room of the institutional feel. (Green is not a gang color? Wrong. They all are these days.)
Bulletin boards are meant to display important information and discourage taping notices to walls. Sign-in boards are hung on the wall rather than strewn across a desk. Victore’s typeface creates order. His posters: stunning, original, unexpected. A new canvas starts to take shape. And it cost peanuts. Donations keep the cost down.
It’s friggin’ hard to buy things at the last minute. City Procurement is a killer.
Ingenuity isn’t expensive. Fear is.
A Welcome sign is now the first thing clients see when they walk into a probation center—instead of the word NO.
One month in: The new environment hasn’t created the expected havoc. Probation officers were leery of the lightweight chairs. Now it will be easier to throw a chair through a window, throw it at us, throw it at another client. And the benches: We don’t like people sitting across from or near each other. They’ll stare each other down, start fighting. They were right to be apprehensive, but it hasn’t played out—yet. If it does, I’ll take the hit. Can’t it be a teaching moment? Maybe I’m naïve.
Is a “nice” space a right or a luxury?
The probation center feels so different post-rehab, I wonder if clients notice or care. Some staffers say there is less acting out; clients are calmer. Some clients say, I just wanna get out of here. Some come over (as I am a fixture) and say, You do this? Yup. Thank you.
What does success look like?
When budgets are tight, where do you invest: the places where people have to be, want to be, need to be? In what do you invest?
Where does technology fit in?
Though the waiting room has changed, the culture isn’t changing at the same speed. The staff needs time to adjust. Not only to the room.
Fuck. Clients are sleeping. Do something.
I start handing out kids’ books to dads, poems by ex-cons. I walk around with baskets of bananas and bottled water. Some brush me off. Some want to talk. They want jobs working with their hands. I pretend their stories don’t bother me. The staff tell me not to believe everything I hear.
Some call the waiting room Romper Room because of the bright colors. Some say it looks like a daycare center. In visits to hundreds of waiting rooms, I see a mishmash of old furniture, a barrage of notices. Dilapidated and dreary. You like that better?
Three months in: no graffiti—yet (but gum hides under the benches). The shock of bright green brings me back to life. I think of my friend’s backyard in Seattle. A living room. What I wish the back offices looked like.
The Victore posters: I ask a client to read the Langston Hughes poem. What do you think it means? Why do you care? he asks. The guys around him laugh. A client comes over with an answer. Who knows, maybe he pities me. Conversation pieces, that’s what the posters are for.
More snoring. Wake-up, damn it.
Stale bread: Since opening, after six months the info on the bulletin boards hasn’t changed. Why?
Note to self: Can we hand over TV programming in probation centers to National Geographic or Animal Planet? Maybe Sundance: Movies about overcoming obstacles. Can clients run the show? After all, they’re the ones who have to watch while they wait. People forget: TV is a place.
I see a mom, her baby and little girl sprawled on the green benches. The girl is coloring while probation officers shout names and the security guard barks orders. Will this day stick in her memory?
Clever graphic designer Paul Sahre repeats the word well 50 times in a poster that hangs at one of the newly rehabbed juvenile probation centers (by Biber Architects). It means, All’s well that ends well. Is it? Does it? For who?
I head to the lobby—again. Dismal, me and the exit. God, it’s ugly. But that’s another project. I walk out into the cold.
It is said, “no good deed goes unpunished.” Simply put, good actions may result in unwanted or negative outcomes. While the sentiment is a warning to the well-intentioned, it also underscores the hesitancy of individuals in our society to act freely on their benevolent impulses. Sure, unintended consequences are a fact of life, but a culture that inhibits transformational ideas is the death knell for many of our greatest social innovations. So why not be optimistic rather than pessimistic about outcomes and fervently challenge prevailing views? After all, optimism loves company just as much as misery does. In the ARCADE feature, “Empathy, Fire and Spades: Design for Social Innovation,” we examine the inherent, powerful role community plays in the design process. We find that through a potent mix of collective action, creative thought and unbridled experiences, we can inspire each other to reach higher levels of social consciousness and ingenuity.
Albert Einstein said, “It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.” This quote from a 1949 New York Times article about scholastic endeavors provides commentary on the state of education at the time. It also reminds us how far we have come in redefining curiosity, passion and resourcefulness as important means to challenge, deconstruct and reimagine the status quo. In the realm of design for social change, a case in point is the work of firebrand Lonni Tanner. In her ARCADE essay, she shares how she immersed herself in the world of NYC probation centers and inspired a team of designers to reimagine what a waiting room could be.
Yet, to define “design” by its physical end-product is limiting. Though not always included as part of the formal design process, a transformational experience is often the source from which great design blossoms. Select articles in this issue explore ideas of collective experience that are shaping a still unwritten future. Sebastian Jones recounts an outing with the Midnight Ridazz, a growing community of Los Angeles cyclists in it for the thrills but aware of the influence they have on the city. In Greensboro, Alabama, we discover how “thinking wrong” at Project M leads a group of young designers to imagine bikes as engines for social and economic progress.
We also learn of communities where people are rolling up their sleeves and taking spade in hand to realize challenging projects together. In one article, we visit Braddock, Pennsylvania, once the model for a company steel town but now down on its luck. In this hardscrabble community, we find the old Carnegie Library standing in all its faded glory, simultaneously telling a story of the past and inspiring a new generation to remake the town. Just a short walk from the library, Kevin Sousa’s Superior Motors is shaping up to be the sustainable model for revitalizing this Rust Belt community. In another essay, Lauren Iida shares how she inspired her artist friends and colleagues to work side-by-side to design culturally relevant reading material for a small Cambodian community she knew and loved, helping students gain important English language skills. And from close to home in Seattle, we hear a story of hands-on commitment and dedication in designing and building housing for the homeless—where common decency and long-term thinking is putting the cycle of homelessness to the test.
And in the spirit of solidarity, in the issue we’ve included a look at the design manifesto. Andrew van Leeuwen’s taxonomy of 20th-century architectural design manifestos provides a glimpse into the social and cultural underpinnings that shaped design over the last century. This fold-out infographic presents in-depth research for design aficionados and the uninitiated alike. And of course, pondering this history inevitably brings into question the future of design manifestos in a time when community voice can set the agenda instantly through our ever-expanding social media channels.
As a young boy, I loved to play with fire. Though my family generally discouraged this behavior, under the watchful gaze of my grandfather, I was allowed to tend the campfire. Fortunately, his ability to refocus my potentially dangerous obsession into something useful resulted in many wonderful fireside meals and the best s’mores ever. Thinking back, his willingness to help me turn what could have been a negative into a positive was one of his ways of getting to know me. My grandfather’s show of empathy was most likely a response to a grandson’s need for attention. But more simply, I wonder if his curiosity in my plight is what transformed my experience?
So, as we gather around the fire to recount tales of derring-do and best laid plans, let’s get down to the business of cultivating our good intentions—naysayers and skeptics move aside. And if “no good deed goes unpunished,” then the optimists must prevail—fear be damned!
Join us at the ARCADE Issue 32.2 Launch Party & Community Celebration this Wednesday! bit.ly/XvrEbH
Wednesday 10th Sep 2014
5:30 – 7:30pm
Put on by ARCADE
Join us on Wednesday, 10 September, 5:30 - 7:30pm as we celebrate the release of our September issue, ARCADE 32.2, Empathy, Fire and Spades: Design for Social Innovation, feature edited by Brian Boram. We'll be gathering at Waterfront Space (on Western at Union), a place where the public can learn about Waterfront Seattle, a momentous civic project that will transform the two-mile stretch from Pioneer Square to Belltown into a vibrant park designed by James Corner Field Operations. A $20 suggested donation at the door brings beverages, light fare, your copy of ARCADE and a warm philanthropic rush—it supports the creation of our magazine and programs.
From Boram's feature introduction:
"In 'Empathy, Fire and Spades: Design for Social Innovation' we examine the inherent, powerful role community plays in the design process. We find that through a potent mix of collective action, creative thought and unbridled experiences, we can inspire each other to reach higher levels of social consciousness and ingenuity."
Thank you to our event sponsors:
And to grantmakers:
Another ARCADE issue is just around the bend!
This fall, we bring you ARCADE Issue 32.2, Empathy, Fire and Spades: Design for Social Innovation. In the issue, we’ll look at community projects, groups and individuals that are striving to make our world a better place through collective action, compassion and creativity. As feature editor Brian Boram writes, we’ll explore the “inherent, powerful role community plays in the design process” and discover how we can “inspire each other to reach higher levels of social consciousness and ingenuity.”
You’ll find articles on redesigning probation centers in NYC and creating bamboo bikes in Alabama. You’ll read about group bike rides in LA, children’s books in Cambodia, reviving a Rust Belt town and more. As Boram writes:
“To define 'design' by its physical end-product is limiting. Though not always included as part of the formal design process, a transformational experience is often the source from which great design blossoms.”
The issue also includes a special fold-out infographic tracing the history of the architectural manifesto, perfect for seasoned design aficionados and curious newcomers alike.
Also, in our regular columns, you’ll find articles covering a wide breadth of design topics. You’ll read about how timber technology can transform Seattle’s urban environment, hear about Peter Miller’s new cookbook, enjoy an interview with design-and-concept firm AvroKO, learn about advances in AI from “Geek of the Year” Oren Etzioni, and more.
Subscribe today to receive ARCADE in print. As you might imagine, producing an independently funded magazine is a massive undertaking. Your subscription makes every issue possible. It also keeps our website fresh and our events fun and engaging.
And join us as we celebrate the release of Empathy Fires and Spades at the ARCADE Issue 32.2 Launch Party & Community Celebration on Wednesday, 10 September from 5:30–7:30pm at Waterfront Space. Located on Western at Union, Waterfront Space is a place where the public can learn about Waterfront Seattle, a momentous civic project that will transform the two-mile stretch from Pioneer Square to Belltown into a vibrant park designed by James Corner Field Operations, a leader in sustainable landscape architecture (read more here).
Thanks to Friends of Waterfront Seattle for hosting us in their new space!
So join us as we raise a glass and toast our creative contributors, financial supporters and all who believe in design’s ability to impact our world for the better! A $20 donation at the door will bring you drinks, light fare and a copy of Empathy, Fire and Spades. You’ll also help support ARCADE’s ongoing work—our magazine, events and website.
See you there!
The ARCADE Team
Tactile is a high-touch product and interaction design studio in Downtown, Seattle. We partner with influential and emerging brands to craft industrial, medical and consumer products with lasting relevance. Join us September 17 for a Seattle Design Festival event exploring the convergence of physical and interactive design. Tactileinc.com
Several summers ago in 2004, with a video camera in hand, I chased the childhood of the architect Omer Mithun through South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. Omer died in 1983, well before I joined Mithun, and I was in the process of documenting his legacy. In this pursuit I inadvertently encountered the meaning of his profession, and mine. On the floor of an RV in Rock Rapids, Iowa, it hit me.
All architects spend boundless personal energy looking for the elusive architectural epiphany, and I still hadn’t found it in any of my travels. I was surprised to achieve total tectonic consciousness in the far northwest corner of the Hawkeye State on the banks of the Rock River. That fateful RV evening in Iowa, Roscoe “Jiggers” Pettingill walked me down to his newly constructed pride and joy: He had just completed a dock that snaked through the brush and onto the flowing estuary. His architectural inspiration was someone he had not seen for over 30 years—his hometown buddy, Omer Mithun.
“Omer would have loved to see this dock,” he declared, as we fought our way through summer mosquitoes to its edge. “He taught me how to see things even before they got built. Omer would say, ‘See it, enjoy it, or stop what you’re doin.’’ And I never forgot that. I saw this dock before I built it, and I enjoyed every moment of building it.”
Jiggers explained that the spirit of Omer was in every piece of salvaged metal and grating that led us down to the water. He held the back of my shirt as I leaned out to film his creation. His wife, Nadene, laughed as she watched from the mosquito-free safety of the riverbank. They both nearly fell into the water when I mentioned that their small town friend’s firm employed 160 people.
We talked into the night, both on camera and off. Jiggers and Nadene demanded that I spend the night in their driveway so we could continue our Omer discussion in the morning. When Jiggers stepped into the RV to tuck me in, he whispered that he thought about Omer every day, and that he was looking forward to seeing my film. Nadene promised to help us greet the day with an endless flow of Tang in the morning.
As I lay on the floor of my temporary home, I reviewed Omer’s life as the lead architect of a prominent firm, a popular professor at the University of Washington and a strong family man. Suddenly the stories of his famous smile and laughter replaced the stacks of architecture slides I had uncovered in my research. The relationships he had built with his friends, family, students and employees supplanted his award-winning buildings, which dot the Pacific Northwest. Omer’s chuckling curiosity for life had infected all the people he met and this, I realized, was his far-reaching architectural legacy. The man, gone for over 20 years (30 today), was still alive in countless hearts.
Jiggers woke me up the next morning to share more stories of his childhood friend. “In my eighty-odd years,” he said, “I have never met a greater man than Omer Mithun. And you won’t either.” Twenty-one years after his death, I had finally met him.
Just sent the ARCADE Issue 32.2 files to the printer! "Empathy, Fire and Spades: Design for Social Innovation" releases Wed., Sept.10th!
“Nothing is higher than Architect.”
—George Costanza (alias: Art Vandelay), Seinfeld
“How should I put this delicately, Mike? Your designs are from another time.”
“That’s kind of you to say, Mr. Phillips. I’ve always thought of my style as classic as well.”
—Mike Brady having a conversation with his client, The Brady Bunch
I have always been interested in the cultural and psychological forces that influence one’s decisions to enter the architecture profession. To look at any recent list showing the worst college degrees to get in the country, one understands it’s got to be an almost completely irrational decision.
I would imagine that, like me, the television set has had an inordinate amount of influence over almost everyone’s vital life decisions. Early on, I used TV to help me explore a broad range of future career options. They included everything from being first mate of a shipwrecked boat on a deserted island living with two gorgeous single women (Mary Ann or Ginger?), to being an astronaut living with a stunning genie in lingerie. I was going through puberty in suburban America and the possibilities were endless!
At work recently, I found myself daydreaming about TV’s subliminal influence on our desire to be architects. After pondering this for a bit while my permit deadline waited, I decided to survey architects in town with a simple question:
Who is the greatest architect in the history of TV?
I actually received more than 200 fervent responses (there must have been a lot of delayed permit submissions!). The following is my top ten list:
12. The architect from “Architects Sketch,” Monty Python
This was only one skit in a Monty Python show decades ago, but it is still hugely influential. The sketch is introduced by a group of five “gumbies” who keep shouting, “The Architects Sketch!” An architect who designs slaughter houses proposes a tower of “flats” that slaughters people. It’s funny, in that Monty Python, ‘60s, English sort of way. Most modern Americans now don’t get it. I don’t...(Episode 17 of Monty Python Flying Circus)
11. Frank Gehry playing Frank Gehry, The Simpsons
Marge asks Gehry to design a concert hall for Springfield. Gehry refuses at first, but is soon inspired after he crumples Marge's letter and hurls it to the ground.
Here is what Gehry himself said of his cartoon appearance: “That was just a fun thing. But it has haunted me. People who’ve seen The Simpsons believe it!” Poor Frank…(Episode 14, The Seven-Beer Snitch, Season 16)
The Top Ten:
10. Fred Sanford, Sanford and Son
Mr. Sanford was a junk collector. This show is on the list because of Fred’s passion for architectural accoutrements. He had a unique eye for aesthetics and was very articulate about his craft. He once mentioned to his aunt Ester, “Beauty may only be skin deep, but ugly goes down to the bone!”
9. The Professor, Gilligan’s Island
Again, though technically not a true architect, the professor deserves special credit for his architectural, engineering and urban planning skills utilized during his years shipwrecked on the island. The professor oversaw the design and construction of a thriving community with a complex infrastructure and social order virtually all made with coconuts. He also had Ginger!
8. (Tie) Leoncio Ariza, Por Tu Amor
You might be surprised to find a few foreign TV shows with architect protagonists on this list. I guess it reflects the current international nature of the profession in Seattle.
This Telenovela in Mexico is about as hot as my Valentina Salsa Picante! It has love triangles. Heck it’s got love trapezoids! And it has an arquitecto muy suave in the middle of it all named Leoncio Ariza. This is the kind of architecture I practice in my dreams!
8. (Tie) Pete, Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place
The show all architectural students should jump on Netflix and watch. Pete, who is an architectural grad student, is strapped for money so he takes a job at Beacon Street Pizzeria with his roommate, Berg. Pete is a bit uptight, while Berg is a free spirit. Little does Pete know, he will need this extra job most of his career.
7. Bob Ross, the frizzy headed PBS painter who was a “soft talker.”
Stretching it a bit, but he had to know something about architecture because all of his paintings had little cabins in them.
6. Elyse Keaton, Family Ties
This 1980s show smashed open the doors of opportunity of our once sexist, male dominated elitist profession for its portrayal of the first women architect on TV. Elise was an ex-hippy turned architect married to a PBS producer. It was a perfect liberal dream-come-true, except for a rebellious neo-conservative son who happened to be played by Michael J Fox. I was always a bit suspicious of her design ability based on the ornate, decorative house they lived in.
5. Wilbur Post, Mister Ed
This 1950s show is still a vital cultural influencer! Wilbur practiced architecture in a barn with a horse as an assistant. Mister Ed consistently outsmarted Wilbur. His wife never had a clue about the intimacy of their relationship. Kinda creepy.
4. Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother
He has no money, he has no girl, he has no success and he has no life: one of the most accurate portrayals of an architectural intern in the history of television.
3. Alex Fong, The Building Blocks of Life
Surprised at number 3? Well, this is a popular show among Chinese architects, and China has a lot of architects! In the first season, Alex is a rising architect about to be engaged with his lover Winnie, but he falls in love with fellow architect Freeda. He starts two-timing them and I don’t get a big enough word count from ARCADE to explain the rest.
2. George Costanza (alias: Art Vandelay), Seinfeld
George had absolutely no formal architectural training or aptitude, but whenever he wanted to impress women he referred to himself as architect Art Vandelay. Once in a pinch he was asked what kind of architecture he designed. His response was an unconvincing: huh… railroads.
1. Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch
The Iconic and timeless presence of Mike Brady is amazing. He was mentioned in the survey three times more than all the other architects combined. And this, 40 years after the show ENDED!!!!! Mike was consummately cool, good-looking, had a gorgeous wife, three hot daughters (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!), and a really groovy house. He did most of his work on a 2’x3’ drafting board in his den at home—even some skyscrapers! He must have had a huge capacity for intellectual concentration since his wife, six kids and maid were constantly interrupting him.
But man, Marcia, Marcia, Marcia…
This article has been updated from a version published in ARCADE issue 22.2 in winter 2003.