Blog for the Aspiring Architect

Holy Hideouts Batman! # 26- #37
This weekend there was a massive snow storm during which time I only ventured out was to pick up Chinese food. While there I was lectured by a seven-year old girl whose mother runs the restaurant about what I should do when I got home, which was along the lines of: Take off your coat, put it by the fire, take a warm bath (not too hot) and stay inside. So staying in a winter hideout of sorts prompts me update the livejournal hide-outs, so here we are.


inspired by: Drop down menus


  inspired by: Cookie Monster


  Inspired by: TV static


  Inspired by: B. Tschumi


  Inspired by: LEGOS!


   Inspired by: Sandworms


   Inspired by: Richard Meier


   Inspired by: Southwestern Kivas


  Inspired by: a bear


  Inspired by: soap displays


  Inspired by: a Fox!


  Inspired by: City Scapes


  Inspired by: Chinese dragons

This week, on a very special Love Letters to Dead Architects...
Dear Eugene Emannuel Viollet-LeDuc,

You are a thief sir, and I don’t mean when you steal Gothic themes and expropriate them for new technologies, I mean you have stolen my heart. “How”, you may ask, did you come to be the reluctant rouge of my affection? Dearest, it was through that strange murky crispness, like ironed silk, that you stole it. That same organic precision you used when you stripped away the pompous neo-classical shlock of Napoleon from “Our Lady”.

There is only one issue that troubles me, it is this “honesty in architecture” how can it be, my love, that you wish for honesty but only if that honesty holds within itself cartoon-ish historical depiction (you know like that castle you worked on). But on this fault you cannot be blamed, you are an architect, not a historian and after all it is in steel you truly find your voice.

Unlike the archaic John Ruskin you do not cling to the past as a life preserver or parachute, claiming that irrelevance is the thing that will save our clearly decaying society. Instead you embrace the new with both arms going in for that French-two-cheek-kiss-thing that you do.

Teach me Eugene, teach me with spindle-legs and strong convictions, what steel can do.
With love,

Retly Corm.

Dear Aldo Van Eyck,

By the time you read this I will have escaped out the window, don’t think you can follow me, I’ve made sure that YOUR escape is out of the question.
Do you know how long I have been tracking down and systematically eliminating the members of Team X? Are you surprised? You should have know the CIAM does not stand for dissent. To answer the question I’m sure is on your mind, I am not aligned with them per-se, I just do what needs to be done.

Though I have to hand it to your comrades, Bakema, Candilis, De Carlo, Woods and the Smithsons, not a one of them betrayed your location. That accidental rendezvous in Amsterdam was more accident than my other jobs usually are.

I’m sorry Al. If it’s worth anything, I did mean all those things I said to you on the ship.

You were right, the Modernists are blinded by their own self-importance; they have lost the soul of everything they sought to bring to fruition. In creating “machines for living” they invented just that, “architecture for machines.” Their beliefs are for the impossible ideal, people will never be perfect and the idea of returning architecture to the human scale is the way of the future.

I hope you can forgive me, I know I don’t deserve it.
Always your love,

Retly Corm

Dear El Lissitzky,

It’s finished. Team X is no more. I could not stay to watch, I am ashamed to admit that I let my heart got to my head this time. You warned me that Aldo would be the most difficult, he was a charmer, yes. At first I was ready to dismiss him, but once he began speaking about the Orphanage I could feel my heart melting. I wish only that I could have had the passionate and reserved strength of your graphic work.

What is it all for? When will this schism end? Does it really matter if they disagree? Is not there room for architecture to be both epic in scale and personal in experience?

Think of the old synagogues or churches. Now I know you European modernists try and avoid those kinds of associations on principle, but I feel like if anyone could understand, it would be you. You are different from the rest of CIAM representatives; you’re not one of the Corbusier sheep. When I first saw the Proun Rooms, I saw what they really were, an allegorical landscape and a direct representation of the modern human experience. That duality gives me hope.

I don’t mean to be blasphemous, but what if we simply made that interpretation less abstract? Give the understanding back to the common man? Wasn’t that how it all got started anyway, educating and improving the life of the man on the street? Look around you, Modernism: it’s just a bauble for the rich patron and badge for the morally-superior academic.

I’m finally tired of the game. Join me. I will wait two hours, you know where. Don’t try anything stupid, I would hate to see you go the same way as Aldo.

Ever yours,

Retly Corm

Dear Alvar Aalto,

I must say that your reputation precedes you and you did not disappoint.

I’ll be honest; I wanted to call you an over-hyped illusion, a kitschy northern mistake. In good conscience though, I can’t. You INVENTED an indigenous style. No one can argue with that, believe me I’ve tried. The people of Finland will always be in your debt, your curving plank roof not only is an acoustical dream, it captures the imagination and the soul. .

I was also ready to call you a one-trick pony. How many different ways are there to do trees? I was certain that your obsession with wood would be your coffin…Then I saw your glass vase. You unbelievable jerk, I was wrong again.

Well, like my mother always said “if you can’t beat them, join them.” I have officially decided we can be friends. I hope you will accept my love, admiration and respect.

I have also decided we are going to the movies tomorrow. I’ll see you there at four. You bring the pop-corn money.

Your friend,

Retly Corm

How To Be in Beantown
A few weeks ago it was my pleasure to visit the beautiful city of Boston, which I had never been to. We were only there for a very short time, which is lucky for me because three of the most beautiful buildings in Boston, (I could even go farther and say they are three of the most beautiful buildings in the country) are all within the same block.


Trinity Church designed by Henry H. Richardson

Things to know about this building:

The style of this church is done in what is called “The American Romanesque” or “Romanesque Revival” and was made popular by the architect, H.H. Richardson, through this building. Many buildings were based off the style of this building; a famous example is the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

The architect, H.H. Richardson, was only the second American ever to attend the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris. (The first was Richard Morris Hunt). This was a big deal because Americans were generally seen as uncouth and uneducated and to be acceptable on the European circuit meant that you were a force to be reckoned with.

The students of the Ecole were famous for detailing, especially in masonry, something that is all over Trinity Church. When Trinity Church was erected in 1873 it was hailed as the future of architecture and so projected H.H. Richardson into the realm of the starictects, beating out names like William Morris and Frank Furness for national attention. It is still considered one of the greatest buildings in the United States.

Why should you like this building:

Unlike many other buildings that were going up at the same time, Richardson was an interpreter of Historical styles, rather that a copier. He wasn’t the first architect to do this, but he was the first to make it acceptable. A little like how Gershwin dressed up Jazz and took her to the theatre, so Richardson trussed up extremely controversial architectural motives and had those who would criticize them begging for more. They would have loved to argue with him, but he was just too good.

The form is so strong, the detail so rich, the color, texture and soul, both inside and out are terribly close to perfection. The rich warm wood and golds of the interior are meant to mimic the Byzantine, but the rough and clearly hand worked details are meant to keep the experience humbling.

The Greek cruciform of the plan allows the story to be revealed slowly but deliberately like a three act play. The characters of color, light and form all interact and eventually conclude their story right where they began, being richer for the experience.


Boston Public Library designed by the firm McKim, Mead and White – addition by Philip Johnson

Things to know about this building:

The Style of the main building is in the “American Renaissance style” or “Renaissance Revival”. This style was chosen because the design concept of this building was “a palace for the people.” Renaissance architecture was usually low to the ground and accessible to emphasize the human element. (In comparison to the far more linear Gothic Architecture which is about the glory of God, rather than the glory of Man)

McKim, Mead and White were an extraordinary firm who for about 20 years were the established leaders in architecture. McKim and White both studied under H.H. Richardson before starting their own firm along with engineer William Mead.
(This doesn’t reflect the building, but it is an interesting side note. Stanford White was a notorious womanizer who eventually got his face shot off for finding himself in situations where he didn’t belong. Though he always protested scandal during his life claiming that he “ain’t a playa, I(he) just crush a lot.”)

Though it appears that the entry hall is made of gleaming brick masonry this is FALSE! Most of this building is steel that has been meticulously covered with stucco and tile and made to look much heavier than it actually is. At the time they brought in Italian masons to make sure the arches looked believable. If you pay attention: you will see that the proportions are not right for masonry; too thin and too close together.

The addition by Philip Johnson was somewhat scandalous at the time of its construction. Johnson had taken a fancy to being a post-modernist at the time. Post-modernism in architecture is very similar to post-modernism in literature; it’s usually about irony. Johnson copied the pattern of the fenestration but rather than making it welcoming he made it menacing. The controversy came from whether or not this was intended as a shot at McKim, Mead and White or in honor of them. Johnson was intentionally vague when cornered.

Philip Johnson recently died and was one of the most prolific architects of the twentieth century. He worked with some of the biggest names in Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies Van de Rohe, Ed Bacon, Louis Kahn, Frank Ghery, Zaha Hadid and many more. He changed his style very frequently but regardless of the philosophy or aesthetics the work was always top-notch.

Why you should like this building:

You are looking at American architecture in motion. Some architectural theorists believe that is a frozen moment in time, where beliefs, ideals and souls are suspended permanently in steel, glass and brick. Like a Photograph. If that is true, then looking at the building and the addition is like looking at a picture of someone who is 10 and then that same person 15 years later, at 25.

The original building is clear, concise, charming and maybe just a little precocious. There is a clear and a forthright layout of spaces. In comparison, the addition by Philip Johnson is much more complex, much more dark and much more confusing. Growing up is hard and American Architecture had to go through a lot before it came back to the Boston Public Library. This building is proof that you can never go home again, not really. But then again, why would you want to, let the past stay past. It will always seem a little bit better than it actually was.


The John Hancock Tower designed by I.M. Pei.

Things to know about this building:

If you live near Boston I’m sure you’ve noticed this building; I don’t think you would be able to avoid it if you tried. The most beautiful thing about the Hancock is how well it works with the surrounding buildings. I.M. Pei knew that the building he was commissioned to design was going to completely dominate the skyline and being in such close proximity to two of the greatest buildings in the United States drove him to choose a humble solution. The glass was specifically chosen to reflect all the buildings around it and the angle of the building is such that depending on where you are in the city it will seem to be a different shape rather than many other sky scrapers being built at the time which were tall and square and boring.

However not everything about this building was great: From the very beginning there were terrible engineering problems with the Hancock tower. The foundation became warped in building and significantly damaged the sidewalk and the surrounding buildings (including, much to I.M. Pei’s horror, Trinity Church). Then, the infamous glass had a tendency in high winds to fall out, apparently some people were either hurt or killed in the 1970s. The engineering was difficult because the glass was the largest ever used on a skyscraper and the engineer had forgotten how heavy glass actually is. Glass falling out is no longer a problem as they reinforced the curtain-wall system to accommodate the weight. Finally the upper floors of this building swayed so much they required a “damper” which is essentially a huge weight that counter-balances the sway of the building. I have seen a video of this damper in action and it is pretty awesome. I don’t know if they let people coming to visit the building see it in person but if they do, I think you should.

Here’s how a damper works.

Why you should like this building:

This building is the final jewel of the crown. In this building we are finally seeing the old traditions die away to reveal something new and exciting. Yes, the Church, the Library and the Addition are all beautiful in their own way. But the Hancock tower shows a unique and clear vision of what architecture can be without any forced and unfeeling tribute to a ghost no longer feared. The ghosts of Europe finally released their grasp and only through this shedding of old skin did American architecture emerge as it’s own legitimate art form. It earned that position by playing second fiddle and paying it’s dues all the while irritating and amusing European architects with their adorable attempts. Of course, American architecture didn’t need to all that; validation from others is not necessary. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.

In conclusion, Boston is beautiful and I promise next time I won’t drink too much and get thrown out of a bar…I take that back, I can’t make that promise. I’ll try though.

Love Letters to Dead Architects: Love, Lies and Murder.
I swear I'm going to take a break after this. They are just so much fun to write.

Dear Le Corbusier,


Was it all a lie? Like “The Styles”? What about the weekends in Paris, the jetting off to India, the conveniently being Swiss whenever a World War breaks out, did it ever mean anything?

But why should I be surprised, I mean whenever you decide that architecture is going to be the embodiment of technology that’s when you spit it all back and say “nope, never mind. Now everything is going to be rough and” …ugh, what is that stupid word you use? Oh. “Primitive” You are a complete schmuck Corb. Look at you, pumping out self-congratulating books, one right after the other.

Then why do I still care about you? I guess it’s because you don’t settle for anything. Flying which ever way you want, and somehow everybody follows you, oh raven-like one. I guess you’re like a less handsome, bespectacled Ferris Buller.

Oh I can’t stay mad at you. What with your bastardization of the Vitruvian man, I mean really? Isn’t it a little convenient that the perfect proportions of the Modular man are your measurements? Scrawny and a little on the short side?

I know you cannot possibly belong to me forever, but we’ll always have Paris, well outside of Paris. Poissy-Sur-Seine. We’re always have there.


Retly Corm

My Dearest, Loveliest, Sweetest Jane Jacobs,

Where to start? Should I tell you how you came into my suburban life and swept me away into a world of non-compartmentalized urbanist bliss? Should I mention your connections between biospheres and the booms of cities? No, that will never be enough for me to express my love.

Oh Jane, Jane, Jane.

After all that we’ve been through, why all of the sudden are you throwing this all away to be negative? I mean I know it’s trendy to predict doom, but seriously Jane,
Dark Age Ahead. A little grim don’t you think?

Listen, Random House Publishing is no place for you to grouch about those damn kids and their music. I know you hate that they get on your lawn and leave their Frisbees on your roof. That they have no respect and that they topple the five pillars of society upon which we stand. (The nuclear family, education, science, representational government and taxes, and corporate and professional accountability). But you’re being a real drama queen.

Oh my love, can’t we go back to how things were? You and I going antiquing in the Village, blaming the “Ozzie and Harriet” lifestyle for all the problems in the world and just sitting for hours just gazing into each others eyes?

I miss you Jane, I miss us, please come back,

Retly Corm.

Salve Publius Aelius Hadrianus,

As your beard, I’m very concerned about you.

I mean your behavior has become increasingly erratic. Now, I love how experimental you are, what with stealing other culture’s ideas then infusing them with your own squash-oriented thoughts and all.

I don’t even mind the “stoic” moping or the almost excessive traveling, but it’s the killing honey, the killing is getting ridiculous.

Could you please stop murdering people? I’m tired of taking cartfuls of so-called incompetent staff to dump in the Tiber. Everyone in Rome has to drink that water baby and I don’t think the lead in our pipes is going to get rid of all the diseases. I know you don’t really care because you can just pop over to the villa in Tivoli, which I will admit is totally sweet, but please try and be more considerate?

I don’t say these things to nag, but I want us to work. I want us to keep restoring and enhancing important structures, to order northern walls be built and, Gods willing, be buried in a monolith castle together. None of these things will happen unless we happen.

I love being with you Hadrian. When I’m with you, things are thrilling and new, even though I’ve seen them all before. You have so much spirit, but I’m not going to be mowed down and be your servant, I mean, mostly because you haven’t ordered my death, but still. Let’s be partners. We can be powerful and evil. Together. Let me walk on the rope bridge to your heart.


Retly Corm

Love Letters to Dead Architects: Caught in a Bad Romance

Dear Frank Furness,

Oh Frank, why does everything good and evil begin with you? It’s like you have two sides, and I can’t tell you which one I like more. The Jekyll-Hyde-ness of it all...sometimes it’s almost too much.

You’re a real bad-ass. I mean, winning the Medal of Honor during the civil war as a union solider, by crossing enemy lines to retrieve ammunition…oh FRANK.

But I know you, I know you’ll never care for me the way I care for you. You’re the kind of man who will never speak unless it is to insult.

Your buildings are heavy and difficult, brooding and complicated. Unlike those overly cheerful glass boxes that persist in their need for attention, you’re buildings frown at those smiling villains with a clear contempt of their lies. You’re not afraid to mix styles, your Fisher Fine Arts library was the bastard child from a one night stand with Violette-Le-Duc and Ruskin, you don’t know who the father is, but it’s all you baby.

I guess what I’m trying to tell you is: you and your buildings don’t care if anybody likes them and that willful independence is too sexy. I hate you Frank. I hate that you don’t care what I think.

Let’s run away together. We can be in Mexico by nightfall.

Love, Hate, MARRY ME,


Retly Corm

3 Men and a little late.

Dear Standford White,

I think you’re pretty great. Do you want to go to formal with me? I have a car so you wouldn’t need a ride. On the way there, you can tell me about the principles of the American Renaissance. Oh and fill me in on what Henry Hobson Richardson is like in person. Is he fat? I bet he’s fat.

Hopefully yours,

Retly Corm

Dear William Rutherford Mead,

Thanks for everything last night! I know I can always count on you as a shoulder to cry on. After Stan left with the tramp, I cried in the bathroom for, like, twenty minuets. But there you were, ready to hear about what a jerk he was. I couldn’t have asked for a better bench in the cafet-orium. You’re such a good friend. I’m glad we’ll always be great just friends. See you in engineering class next week!

Love (J.K.! :P)

Retly Corm

P.S. Can I borrow your notes?

Dear Charles Follen McKim,



P.S. Did you REALLY go to the Ecole de Beaux arts? I hear it’s awesome.


Retly Corm

Dear Ludwig Mies van de Rohe,

I do not oppose us, but I oppose the of “us” as a goal

I’m only saying this because my heart has been broken many times before. By you.

When we focus on being a couple we forget to actually “be a couple”.

We try too hard on making sure we act the part, communicating, talking about our days,

Then in all that chit-chat we forget to talk about our lives. There is a difference and you know it.

Only intensity of passion can breed passion.

Every When is carried by a Now

The un-informed is not worse than the over-informed.

The former in nothing, the latter is cliché

Real passion drives real love

And something that lacks real love will never inspire real passion.

Here lies the criterion.

I need you to be real. I need you to feel free. Don’t be in this relationship for its own sake.

I left Walter for you because you had a mystery that he never had. Maybe that’s why we have to try so hard now, because now the mystery is gone and when I look over the table at you I see a slightly heavy-set German yearning to breathe free that just plain refuses to.

That’s why I think the letter is so essential.

You, for me, have become the decisive factor.

You know why you need to just be yourself.

I know you pretend to be aloof and uninterested because you’ve been hurt in the past too. But I will never hurt you, just stop smothering me. Why not just let love lead the way?

Must we not just leave everything to our own hearts?

To quote you, “not yesterday, not tomorrow, only today can be given form”,

Retly Corm

Love Letters to Dead Architects: The Good, The Bad and the Bucky

Dear Giovanni Battista Piranesi,

            I have tolerated your special kind of crazy long enough to know that we are meant to be. I think for me, at least, it was love at first sketch. But I have some beef with you too, I mean you just lope around Rome with your paper and pencils and think you can do whatever you want. Sketching the classic remains and using them as a metaphor for human endeavors and I know that next time you leave (for Venice), you’re going to take my heart with you.
              You can be dark. I’ve seen the Carceri designs. Seriously, you’re like the Bat-man of the Baroque. It makes you dangerous and I’ve always had a thing for bad-boys. Well, bad-boys who design prisons, like that one tv-show from 2006… except I don’t know if you have a bunch of tattoos. Though you probably do, you just seem like the type.

            Maybe, if we work together, we can finally get something of yours built. I may not have the answers now, but if you and I connect the pencils to our brains we can draw our way out of the hypothetical world and into the building world.

Stay safe you nutbar.
with Love,

            Retly Corm



Dear R. Buckminster Fuller,

            You, out of all of the men I write letters to, break my heart the most. We were so close Bucky. I mean you only died two years before I was born. I know quotes in love letters are cheesy, but hey, “I’m never going to know you now, but I’m going to love you anyhow.”

            I remember the first time I saw your Dymaxion house. I was like, “Hey, it looks like the Jetsons.” But no. It was the Jetsons who looked like you. That’s what I love about you, sure some of your ideas are overly-idealistic, hopelessly technical and blatantly impractical. But for every inch there is of flaw there are miles and miles of benefit.

            You were the first to realize that we didn’t live up to our “modern” claims. You were the first to try and re-invent the tri-beam truss as a self-sustaining orb. You were the first to arrange a house with a garage designed to hold a small one-to-two-man airplane. Granted that last one was a little weird. You once told me, “I Seem to be a Verb.” Well, I think you’re wrong there, You seem to be nothing but adverbs. Here are just a few: fascinating, cunning, charming. However, I will agree with you, you are not a noun. You’re too cool to be a noun. 

Keep the faith Tribtab
All my love,

Retly Corm 

Dear Walter Gropius,

Walter, Walter, Walter. The pedigreed monster of modernist perfection, the sharply shaven prophet of doom for your fastidious forbearers I love you. I want you to be clear about that. Unlike Edward Abby, I will never refute you, (or Bucky or Soleri) I will always be with you.

 For you, it’s not enough that a product can be readily made and reproduced. Terrible products do that all the time. You demanded more, not only must they be reproduced but those reproductions have to have soul, determination and clarity of vision. You did that the Fagus Factory with such precision that you gave that factory a song (and not that creepy oompa-loompa number they usually sing).

That same vision is what the Bauhaus was all about. I remember our summer in
Dessau, don’t you? Right before the Nazis kicked us out? What a glorious time that was. Do you remember? Me, in my yellow sun-dress as the light flickered off of my chestnut brown hair streaked with blonde and You, telling me to go away because you had work to do and couldn’t be bothered by incessant chattering…ahh memories. Also, whatever Mies told you about that night we walked down by the woods is a BIG FAT LIE. I only have eyes for you darling.

Ever yours,

Retly Corm



Dear Ebenezer Howard,

I have two truths for you, Beezie. Firstly, you are great. Secondly, you look like a disapproving rabbit sometimes.

Let’s focus on the first part. You’re great because you always surprise people; I mean a Londoner shop-keeper’s son goes to Nebraska to find himself? If that’s not out of left field I don’t know what is. For you, Mr. Howard, Paris is old hat, Rome is passé, and Nebraska is the cutting edge of civilization.

What’s that you say? You want another surprise? Here’s one. While most architects selfishly claim all the glory for the rich or themselves, you hand it out for everyone to have. (Maybe this is because you’re technically not an architect.) Your humanist ideas INVENTED an entire movement aimed towards making sure people lived better, cleaner lives. And unlike the Modernists, who wanted the same things, your ideas actually worked.

Because I care for you so deeply, I won’t go into depths about the failures of the Garden cities. But you can sleep at night knowing that through your work, every kid who ever grew up bored in the suburbs can thank you for their adolescent memories.
I thank you for my adolescent memories Ebenezer Howard.


Retly Corm


Halfway Hideouts
The Hideouts CONTINUE I'm about half-way done with all 50.

Hideout #17

Inspired by

Hideout #18

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Hideout #19

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Hideout # 20

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Hideout #21

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Hideout #22

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Hideout # 23
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Hideout #24

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Hideout #25

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Love Letters for the Dearly Departed
So I'm taking a little break from The Architect in Fiction mostly because I can't think of anymore Architects in Fiction. (If you can think of any, by all means let me know and I'll check them out) However, Steve Martin is going to play one in an upcoming movie, so I'm thinking then? Maybe? We'll see.

ANYWAY. There have always been a few things I have thought that Adults should have and once I obtain these things, I will officially be an adult. They are mostly small things, like Potato-Chip Bag Clips, napkin rings, feather dusters, etc. But the big one was a Rolodex, which I bought the other day, mostly because I'm on a kick of where I write actual letters to people.

So now, Rolodex on desk and stationary with my name on it printed, I felt like it's time I write letters to some of the people who I spend a lot of time with. That is people who died over 150 years ago. The curse of history fans is that you know so many cool people have already left the party before you could even park the car. This is, I hope, the remedy to that.

So here begins a new string: Love Letters to Departed Architects.

Dear Francesco Borromini,


I hope you know it’s not as bad as it seems. Sure, you’re a frumpy, whiney, smelly, poor kid, but you’ve got something that Bernini will never have: CHARACTER. Bernini is like that guy in high-school who never had to go through an awkward phase and therefore all of his friends are dicks and he has, like, no personality.


But you Mini, (its ok if I call you Mini right? I’m just going to do it anyway) you understand things that Bernini never will, things like how advanced geometry is more organic than simplistic Vitruvian forms and have a greater capacity for light and shape. Or that Vatican Hill is structurally unsound and can’t support ridiculously large bell-towers. You don’t need those phonies; you’re not part of their system because you’re your own man. Bernini will get his; he’s been stealing your ideas for years and claiming them as their own. First there was the Baldachino which was so unfair and don’t get me started on San Carlo alle Quatro Fontane and Sant'Andrea al Quirinale I mean that was just blatant.


Remember that I believe in you. You can change the world. That is, if you can get over this obsession you have with Bernini. Just let him go, you’re better than that. And whatever you do, DO NOT impale yourself on a sword to prove a point. You did that when you were 14 with that pencil, it didn’t work then and it won’t work now.


I love you,


Retly Corm.

Dear Benjamin Henry Latrobe,


I saw your portrait by Charles Wilson Peale and I hope this doesn’t weird you out but ME-OW! I mean, I knew you were a great architect, but I never knew how good-looking you really were. Where you been hiding? (And don’t say a Moravian Colony , nobody really knows what that is)


I know you’re technically English, but when our young nation needed someone to pretend we were ancient Greece, you were ex-patriotically there for us. When people said “You can’t put a dome and turrets with a hexastyle portico” you were ready to push the envelope. You were there, to design banks in Philadelphia, to build cathedrals in Baltimore, to revive the hell out of the Gothic Style in houses and to fight in the Prussian Army for some reason.    


Listen Trobey, I have to tell you, there is no-one who does Federalist Neo-Classicism better. I’m so glad you came to our shores, even though you may have set our own indigenous architectural style back 150 years…not important. We can move past it. Anyway. I still love you.


With all my heart,


Retly Corm


The Architect in Fiction: Battle for the Ultimate TV architect

Ted Mosby Vs. Mike Brady Vs. Marshall Darling

Let's look, first, as to why they’re similar:


They are all men and TV Dads who are all the ultimate authority when you’ve accidentally stolen something, or have hit your sister with a football, breaking her nose and ruining her chances for romance at the dance (or did it?). While they all proudly state they are architects, we rarely see them working. A little odd, since architects LOVE to work and rarely do anything else. When we do see them working, the work is beautifully crafted or impeccably drawn and pretty much finished. In my limited experience, that is pretty much impossible on a first go.


Ok so that is how they are similar. How are the Different?


Contestant Number One: Ted Mosby How I Met Your Mother


            How do you make holidays special?

·        I watch my friends slap each other


            What do you look for in a woman?

·        I always ask is she the kind of woman who I could marry and discuss constantly but never meet until my show is no longer profitable?


            Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

·        Oh My God I want to be married.


Ted Mosby is a funny dude, and out of all three of these men, most blatantly carries on the quirks common amongst architects. Ted is equal parts neurotic, egomaniacal, earnest and sneaky. He will a become a Mike Brady but he is still in the early stages, making mistakes and finding his Carol. Ted is more ready to geek-out then his rivals, I think my favorite moment being when he goes on and on about the 5 architects he would like to have dinner with, I realized I had done that myself, many a time.


Contestant Number Two: Mike Brady The Brady Bunch

You need to cancel your weekend plans because of rain, what do you do instead?

·        Might I recommend a house of cards to settle a family dispute?

What color best describes your personality and why?

·        Either Burnt-Sienna or a Chocolate Brown. Neutral, safe and probably smells like meat-loaf.

Your work let's you out early, what do you do with this free time?

·        Potato Sack Race, Bitches.

Mike Brady, The most stereotypical TV Dad available just happens to be an Architect. He does that thing where he pauses before speaking, as if what he is about to say is the smartest thing you have ever heard, even if it doesn’t make any sense. Throwing Latin around all willy-nilly and yet we still believe him. Unlike the other two, Mr. Brady is a vague architect, never really showing any interest in his work, which is understandable, because, well, he has 6 kids.

Contestant Number Three: Marshall Darling Clarissa Explains It All


Your house is on fire, what do you grab as you run out?

·        Besides my children? My awards.

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

·        I would design more buildings that look like things.

What do you wish you could change, if you could change one thing?

·        I wish my Mies-esque mentor would remember my name.

Marshall Darling is a mix of Mike and Ted. He has the vague wisdom of a Brady, but the endearing quirks of a Mosby. Unlike the other two, we get a clear window into the kind of Architecture Mr. Darling works on. He designs buildings that look like things, making him an inexplicable post-modernist. Unlike Mike Brady, Darling embarrasses his children with his excitement rather than his general lameness.


So who wins the TV Architect-off?

Personally, I think Ted Mosby wins this one, even though not technically a “TV Architect Dad”, (He is a father in the show, but we never see him actually interacting with his children, as they are in the future after the story-line is concluded.) He is the best portrayed TV Architect.

So why Ted?

Because he is the narrator and protagonist, we get the most feel for him out of the three so unlike Darling and Brady, Ted is not a satellite character who is in constant but distant control. Ted tells you he is facing hardships with a rival, or that he had to turn to academics when his attempted one-man firm failed. That insecurity, timed with the Older Mosby’s witty interjections, work to create a fuller kind of depiction of an architect. Ted Mosby proves that architects aren’t born old or wise, but many become that way just because they keep finding new ways of messing up their lives and live to embarrass themselves further.

But that’s just my opinion: you be the judge, do you pick:

  1. Immature yet Sincere, Ted Mosby
  2. Boring yet Wise, Mike Brady
  3. Geeky yet Handy, Marshall Darling


You Can Find Your Secret Hideouts Here: At Retly's Hideout Discount
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've embarked on a project in which I use Google Sketch-up to design 50 hideouts. Each one of the hideouts are inspired by a different source: usually whatever I've been looking at that day. Sometimes it'll be a picket fence, sometimes it'll be a story. If I can remember what the source was when I post it, I'll put it up.

Why 50?

50 is a good number, Its the number of States. 25 is too little and 100 seems like too much pressure. I feel like by the end they would either be really good or really bad. If I want to keep going to 100, I'll just start over again at 1.

Why sketch-up?

It's easy, quick, flexible, and most importantly, free. Turns out AutoCad: the industry standard, is expensive as hell. Unless you've got more K's than the Phillies right now and are willing to donate, it looks like it's going to have to be sketch-up.

Why Hideouts?

Why Dinosaurs? Why Chilli-dogs? Why jumping over 15 buses on a motorcycle? Why anything? Because those things are awesome, if you want to me to give you a deep philosophical reason I will, but truth is, hideouts are just cool. 

If you want to join in, and make your own 50 hideouts, there are a few rules:


1. You can only do one per day
2. You only have two hours to design max.
3. While re-vamps are highly encouraged, they can not be resubmitted as a new hide-out.
4. Hideouts can be in any geographic condition and any size.
5. If you want to explain your hideout's philosophy, please keep it short. I recommend trying to do it in one sentence or less or with one picture.
        * Please try not to do anything lame, like archi-speak. I think we've all had enough portmanteaus with "arch" or "tecture" in there.
6. If you are inspired by another designer or project, you must reference that designer or project.
7. Plagiarism will not be tolerated.

Hide-outs 1-16
Hide-out #1
Inspired by: I can't remember. I think a sock.

Hide-out #2
Inspired by: Steven Holl/Moby Dick


Hide-out #3:
Inspired by:


Hideout #4
Inspired by:


Hideout #5
Inspired by:

Hideout #6
Inspired by:

Hideout #7:
Inspired by:


Hideout 8:
Inspired by:


Hideout #9
Inspired by:

Hideout #10
Inspired by:

That scene they always have when they are being chased in a hallway.

Hideout #11
Inspired by:


Hideout #12:
Inspired by:

Robert Venturi meets the Goonies.

Hideout # 14 (Part 1)
Inspired by:


Hideout # 14 (Part 2)
Inspired by:


Hideout #15
Inspired by:


Hideout # 16:
Inspired by:




Well, that's it for now. Stay posted more to follow.


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