The UCs: Editor’s Comment

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[Originally published 1st quarter 2007 in arcCA 06.4, “The UCs.”]

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A colleague of mine from my days on the East Coast once observed that a messy desk has its own order, if not a visibly obvious one. Certainly, I know people whose desks are, to my eye, impenetrably cluttered, but who can nevertheless lay their hands on a particular item with no problem at all. The amazing thing to me about some of these desks is that they seem to remain at the same steady level of clutter, unchanging, month in and month out, while projects smoothly proceed.

My mode is different. My desk piles up to a certain point and I have to stop what I’m doing and clean it up, or I simply can’t go on. I suppose it’s a mild form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but I find it useful. Whatever time I lose tidying is quickly made up in the more productive pace of work that follows. And getting the small, lingering tasks out of the way makes room for more important ones.

Here at the end of 2006, I’ll pause to take care of two things that I should have been doing all along, but haven’t. Fellow Bay Area architect Bob Hermann, FAIA, has pointed out to me that, while we list our authors’ email addresses, my own has been difficult to find. (It’s been buried in the masthead.) So, here it is, below; I invite you to use it. (Remember: the editor’s garret is a lonely place.)

I can also share our editorial calendar for the coming year. Our first quarter (professional practice) issue will be on patronage—from the classic, individual patron/architect relationship, like that between Phoebe Hearst and Julia Morgan, to institutional structures like the GSA’s Design Excellence program. The second quarter (architect in the community) issue will look at the many forms, motivations, and consequences of design review. In the third quarter (AIACC Design Awards) issue, we’ll compare a range of awards programs, teasing out the divergent values represented in them. And our fourth quarter (works/sectors) issue will be on prefabrication. The first quarter issue is pretty well assigned at this point, but if you have suggestions for the others, please let me know.

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Tim Culvahouse, FAIA

Tim Culvahouse, FAIA, is Editor-in-Chief of the AIA California Council and an architect specializing in the public communication of design ideas through his firm, Culvahouse Consulting.

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