Posts Tagged ‘spatial design’

So it seems a good time, after a long silent lull, to start a conversation about our design influences.  To kick it off, I’ll mention my grandfather, Wallis Eastburn Howe, who was an architect in Providence, RI.  He died when I was one year old, having lived into his nineties and having designed a number of beautiful buildings over his lifetime.  

I don’t know if I otherwise would have considered him an influence, given how young I was when he left this world, but as I was growing up, my family lived in a house he designed.  A church designed by Gramps stood next door to the house, and at the time we lived there, my father served as rector of the church.  The house was big, with three floors and a big basement, seven fireplaces, and lots of airy, comfortable rooms.  No constriction here; we had a big family and we filled the house, but always had space for guests.

Are we shaped mainly by nature or by nurture?  Well, of course, we’re shaped by both.  My grandfather had a beautiful hand — he drew like an angel (as an old boss used to say), and when he broke his drawing arm as a professional he learned to draw with his other hand, and became ambidextrous.  I don’t know if I inherited any of his facility with a pen or pencil, but sure do know that his drawing style influenced mine.

Living in and being in those spaces — our house and our church — and later, during grad school, learning how to analyze them, taught me a thing or two about his sense of space, his approach to design, and his appreciation of humanity.  “Commodity, firmness, and delight”, Vitruvius’s core principles of architecture, were nearly tangible qualities in Gramps’s architecture.  I try to match the felicity of his work, and sometimes do, and then I’m proud of it.  My father used to talk with great admiration of his father the man; I hope that I have absorbed some of his grace, and inherited some of his skill.

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