My grandfather was an architect but I didn’t know.
It wasn’t until I was about 17 that I discovered reading. Being dyslexic and having very few books in our home, reading for me was a school based obligation. I was more interested in doing things and spent most of my time wandering. A great deal of time was spent exploring the shoreline of a lake near our house. In wintertime a stand of trees resembled Van Gogh’s drawing of bare apple trees, sculptural. On hot summer days I would visit a very small branch of the town library—not the library itself—but a water fountain on the exterior of the building in back of the library. It was where the park maintenance workers would store their equipment. Next to the fountain was a back door to the library that led to the stacks. One day I stepped inside to use the bathroom and walking through the stacks on the way out stopped to browse through the bookshelves. Most of the books were intimidating to me but there was a shelf with small paperbacked theater scripts. The entire script might have been thirty pages. I started to read.
Today, fifty-five years later, I am often accused of being a voracious reader of both fiction and nonfiction.
The summer after my senior year in high school I had no idea what I was going to do, nor did I seem to care. A meeting requested by a concerned summer school administrator was arranged to include my mother and me. Through a process of elimination and a survey of what I was capable it was determined that perhaps my interest in drawing might indicate an interest in art. My mother then mentioned that her father had graduated in 1902 from the Rhode Island School of Design in architecture. (Then known as the Building Trades).
Recently I read an article about research and the idea that the Internet has much enhanced the acquisition of information about any given subject but as with any advance in technology something is lost. It leads to narrow areas of the subject entered for a search. The author regretted losing the chance occasions in which browsing through library stacks allowed for something unrelated to the original area being researched, often led to new approaches and discoveries.
I have never been to the northwest. If I were to go…Somewhere in America…I would visit the Seattle Public Library designed by Rem Koolhaas. Their collection of non-fiction spirals up a ramp through four stories of the building on a continuous series of shelves and allows patrons to peruse the entire collection.
And then there’s the coffee.
New York, NY