Design Consultation . Santa Monica, California
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Plan Obsession

Unless there has been some accident or misfortune, you have two eyes in your head, set on a line perpendicular to gravity, a certain distance apart. They allow you to perceive depth. We have worked for the smallest giant (someone 6'6" or taller is technically a giant), but most people experience architecture for a pretty narrow range of heights.

If you stand at a point at the entry to a courtyard and if we draw an arc fifty feet out from that point and place ten columns along that arc, you will stop right at that point. Your primordial brain will tell you that all the columns are equidistant and, we're not sure why, you pause to reflect on this little pattern recognition trick.

You look out the window while doing dishes in the little sink in The Slammer kitchen and the edges of the big red structural fins all line up and point right at the center of the door from the garage. You remember how you walked in last night, right through that door. Somehow, this etches something (a plan, an experience, a sequence, a collection of episodes) in your mind. It happens in a flash. You are helpless, it happens in an instant and probably has something to do with keeping track of migrating herds that you needed to hunt on the plains a while back.

Place. Path. Distance.

We can record, or dictate, a vast amount of it and orchestrate a stunning amount just in a plan. That's where we can see the largest portion of the building at a single time. Most importantly (to us), we can see sequences, episodes as someone will move through the spaces. You will see this, you turn, that's a center (click), you turn, it's dark here and light over there (click), and you are drawn along, or stopped, or your perception is strobed as you walk along the catwalk and you glance at the sun on the mountains in the morning.

All that is in the plan.

So it is easy to become obsessed with the plan. And dangerous, because in the end the building is an object, a series of faces, a set of volumes, a collection of verticals and horizontals which might not come across exactly the same in plan as they do in model, or in a tiny thumbnail perspective.

So we discuss constantly how to stay out of the plan, how to keep swapping back and forth from the plan to little sections, looking at what else was seen, up and down, rather than just on the hypnotic horizontal plain from a single (albeit moving) point. The computer has been a huge improvement in facilitating this early in the process.