Side Yard is ARCADE's regular humor column.

With the last issue of ARCADE we celebrated our 30th anniversary! This got me thinking a lot about the implausible eight-year run of my Side Yard column.

The goal from the beginning has been to peer into the ironic and curious side of architecture and to poke a bit of fun at a profession that often takes itself VERY seriously. When I started I honestly didn’t think our profession was that quirky, and I never considered myself a writer.

Over the years, virtually all of my Side Yard stories have been at least semi-autobiographical. Many of our readers have helped me along the way, too. I actually get great suggestions from fellow designers with curious experiences or observations. I have come to recognize that architects aren’t as tedious as I thought. Pompous, yes, but not that dreary.

The toughest part of writing this column is typically selling ideas to Kelly Rodriguez, ARCADE’s editor. I keep lots of notes and reflections in my journal that are often the beginnings of these columns. But as fluidly as the ideas might flow, I must be prepared for Kelly’s heavy hand of denial. In fact, included here is a sampling of valid ideas that she has discarded.

Lawyers Are Destroying Architecture

I had just experienced a few tough run-ins with lawyers and sincerely wanted to get my jollies off on them with this article. Kelly put the thumper on this one, but I still think this topic is quite pertinent—because lawyers really ARE killing the profession or at least taking all the fun out of it.

The World’s Worst Client

I tried getting this article through the editorial chopping block three times! It is about a neurotic and sexually obsessed client who almost drove me to insanity early in my career. Kelly thought I was making the story up and called it “preposterously sophomoric.” I finally convinced her that this was a true story, but she still rejected it because she thought it was too creepy.

Branding Your Own Firm

Because so many of my laid-off friends have been starting small firms during this recession, I thought it would be helpful to explore some DOs and DON’Ts about branding one’s new company. Kelly thought this topic was too depressing. Suggestions like: No more than three last names in a firm moniker no matter how many unemployed buddies you started it with. Why can’t more firms name themselves like rock bands? Stay away from iconic images like golden sections, Fibonacci spirals, Doric columns… Seemed funny to me…

Bull Market Christmas
(Sung to the Tune of White Christmas)

Kelly thought this song would kill the holiday spirit. Are you kidding? With verses like:

I’m dreaming of a bull market Christmas,
Just like the one in ‘08,
With a steady job and gifts I didn’t rob,
And overtime I really used to hate…

I’m dreaming of a bull market Christmas,
Just like the one in ‘06,
When my clients had the cash, until they had to dash,
Cause the feds found out their dirty tricks…

For this article I even proposed an annual “ARCADE Economically Challenged Holiday Virtual Sing-along,” but you guessed it… another Kelly reject.

Should Bad Designers Have Their Architectural Licenses Revoked?

Over the years I have taken potshots at different design firms in the region. I like to think that I am only putting down in print what others tell me after a few beers. In this article, I would inevitably have to point some fingers, which would make Kelly cringe, so we both have been procrastinating on this one.

Bar Pick-up Lines for Architects

Though I have been happily married for over two decades, I admit that I have considered this subject. If I was a single architect and wanted to pick up a hotty designer, how would I impress her? “Hey, come over here and let’s increase our urban density?” “No, that’s not a Mayline in my pocket, I am just excited to meet you.” “You look so good you are increasing my carbon footprint.” OK, I get the message, pretty “preposterously sophomoric.”

As much as Kelly can be a Side Yard killjoy for me, this column owes everything to her. She has given me the structure, grammar, the tough love and encouragement to keep nibbling at the paradoxes and quirks of the architectural profession. No, architects aren’t riotously funny people, but I think there might be a few more good topics in me for Side Yard. Now tell Kelly you want to hear about the world’s worst client!