I recently attended a press conference announcing the impressively long list of companies and organizations that have joined the Made in New Haven campaign. We are so proud to be connected to such a strong, passionate, growing community.
We love New Haven. We love makers. We are makers. As I watched the slide show display maker after maker, from jewelry designers, to bakeries, to rowing racing shells, it made me think about how making can take on so many forms, and how an architect’s role in making is so unique.
We make places. Places that can support and respond to those who work, play and reside within them. And we don’t make them alone. All of our work is born from collaboration. Collaboration with engineers, craftsmen, and most notably – our clients. All of our work is “commissioned” – genuinely tailored for each unique client and circumstance. We never make the same thing twice. Our work is created with a high level of intention with each collaborator infusing the project with his/her own passion and energy that lives on far after the project is complete.
While our role as architects in making is more like writing and conducting orchestral music than playing in the symphony, we have a deep respect and admiration for those whose hands create the physical manifestation of our collaborative ideas. We appreciate the inherent qualities of materials, obsess over details and drool over great craftsmanship. Here’s what some of our team has to say about being a maker:
My favorite part of being a maker is that the energy and excitement I feel while exploring, testing, adapting, and resolving design problems “lives” in the solution. For example, I’ve had people see something I have made (a painting, a model, a building) and actually comment that the design “feels” this way or that. It’s astounding, but 8 times out of 10 they are picking up on a thread or an intention that was running through my head while I was working! In experiencing a common feeling, we become connected in discovery, even over periods of time. Nothing better….
“Leave it a little better than you found it.” - everyone’s Dad, when they were young
Things are made and people can make, but Maker implies so much more to me. No matter what the Maker is making, there is a sustained effort – a substantial amount of energy is invested into the subject of the making (makers don’t just make objects). Makers have to be creative –whether to bring something into this world from seemingly nothing and/or to figure out how to make it. It’s personal. It might require love. Maker does not discriminate based upon a physical characteristic nor does it acknowledge class or wealth. But all Makers do care – a lot. And I think we do what we can to leave the world a little better than we found it.
What excites me most about what we do is developing connections with the people who are crafting what we design. For me, this includes investigating how things were constructed in the past. Coming from generations of builders, going inside to work on a drawing board seemed to be a natural progression. However, my genetic pull toward crafting the built environment still remains. It takes true craftsmen to bring our ideas to life; and when I see it happen, I feel a deep connection to my own history and an appreciation for the skill of those craftsmen.
The act of making generates new ideas and reveals the identity of the maker. Every individual and community has something unique to contribute. Supporting making in New Haven has the potential to enhance its distinctive identity contributing to a larger sense of place and belonging. This support also helps create jobs within our community, supports our local economy, and increases transparency about where and how products are made. On a personal level, my husband and I make Christmas gifts every year instead of buying stuff. The gifts are more personal, and it gives us a chance to design something together.
Architects are considered to be master builders, having sufficient knowledge in all related fields needed to create shelter with dignity. We build to respond to our client’s vision with a deeper intention that the project will add social and economic productivity to its local community. For me, anyone who converts ideas into reality is a maker, and all makers have the potential to stimulate their society and provide a sense of pride to their neighborhood.