Best way to overcome a creative block: Go around it! Don’t let yourself get stuck on one thing. Work on something else and it will often bring a new perspective and discovery. When you return it will seem much clearer. Time is valuable, why AIA? I have found that the answer is always the same. Every time I participate or volunteer time with the AIA I am rewarded. The experiences and skills of the people that I have connected with have helped me grow in my personal development and career development. This occurs while having a place to contribute my own unique skills to something that has a positive impact well beyond myself. Favorite Pittsburgh space: This would be a tie between two different memories. First, the Allegheny River near Lawrenceville early in the morning as the sun is coming up and the fog is lifting off the calm surface as the sound of the kayak cuts through the water. Second is standing in the center of the Palm Court Conservatory space at Phipps. Most significant lesson learned: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Favorite Food: Seared Salmon and asparagus cooked on a grill on a warm, breezy summer night.
Time is valuable, why AIA? I have said it before in my AIA dossier, “If a profession does not advocate for itself, no one else will.” We must have a voice and use our voice if we hope to sustain and promote our profession. Favorite Pittsburgh space: One of my favorite spaces in Pittsburgh is the Strip District. Shopping there on a Saturday morning is one of the most uniquely ‘Pittsburgh’ experiences that I have on a regular basis in our city and which I have not experienced elsewhere. Mantra: I learned this phrase from the late Dick Rittelmann, founding Principal of my former firm, Burt Hill, “Architects should not pat themselves on the back for an elegant solution to the wrong problem.” I believe in root causes and spending time investigating an issue and not rushing to a solution. In complex situations, it is easy to judge and often hard to understand. Do not jump to conclusions. Be patient. Be diligent. Listen. Then solve together.
Summer reading list: Cats Table by Michael Ondaatje, The World at Night by Alan Furst, Anarchi Feng Shui – How to Create Profane and Chaotic Spaces by Penny Chu, and Mario and the Magician by Thomas Mann.
Favorite food: Just about anything. Pig done just about any way.
Mantra: Find your intension.
Best way to overcome a creative block: Take a stroll or a hike. However, that’s not always feasible during the workday, so I’ll strike a conversation with a colleague or call a loved one to get my mind distracted. I’ve also dreamt of solutions. It’s a random occurrence and, yet, some of the best ones I’ve ever had. Time is valuable, why AIA? You get what you give. I find my involvement with the AIA community gratifying, because I’m always learning something new or meeting someone new. Favorite Pittsburgh space: There are many, but I am fortunate that I walk to work from the Northside. I stroll across the Rachel Carson Bridge and I love stopping to admire the cityscape and riverscape, no matter the time of day, weather, or season. Summer reading list: ‘Getting to Yes’ by William Ury and Roger Fisher, and half-finished an issue of the Harvard Business Review
Most significant lesson learned: Communication is essential to succeeding at your goals, whether the goal is to create a significant piece of architecture or negotiate with your child. This is a skill that is learned through experience. If only they could teach it to us in school, we could get a head start on things as we enter the professional world. Listen, ask questions, listen and follow through. Time is valuable, why AIA? The AIA is here to support what we do in our practice of architecture. It is essential to our profession to give back. Favorite Pittsburgh place: Fineview Overlook and Market Square. Summer reading list: Born to Run and The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses.
Best way to overcome a creative block: Generate random options, even bad ones will lead you out of a creative block. Time is valuable, why AIA? Because community, tools, and knowledge matter; and you get all that when you participate. Favorite Pittsburgh space: Allegheny Courthouse [HH Richardson] Grand Stair Most significant lesson learned: There is no learning without risk and error. Favorite drink: Hoppy craft beer. Summer reading list: Principles by Ray Dalio and Origins of Creativity by EO Wilson, Mantra: Deal with reality.
Best way to overcome a creative block: Just walk away… Physical separation typically works best, with a personal preference for flat-water kayaking. Favorite Pittsburgh space: Phipps Conservatory, specifically the Japanese Courtyard Garden that evokes peaceful “found space” shaped by the metal and glass building forms. Favorite drink: Kentucky Bourbon. As a senior at the University of Cincinnati, a seminar course was comprised of regional field trips to study Architecture examples in context. After a morning of Lexington area horse stables, a group of us happened upon a road sign for a “Kentucky Bourbon Trail,” we headed towards Frankfort and never looked back. Summer reading list: “Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse; and the Race to Electrify the World” by Jill Jonnes; “Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick; and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America” by Les Standiford; and “The Whiskey Rebels” by David Liss
Best way to overcome a creative block: Get outside, or help someone else through their own problem. Anything to get my mind wandering. Time is valuable, why AIA? The AIA was a great resource for me after I moved back to Pittsburgh two years ago. Now I want to be a resource for others through the AIA community. Mantra: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney
Best way to overcome a creative block: Take a nap. Time is valuable, why AIA? To promote/inform the value of an Architect’s service. Favorite Pittsburgh space: Glass enclosed stairs at the Scaife Gallery. Summer reading list: New York Times and Washington Post (daily to get caught up) Mantra: It’s all the same (one word)
Best way to overcome a creative block: Once you understand the problem, do something else, keep forward momentum and come back to it fresh. Repeat if necessary. Time is valuable, why AIA? I find that people have a sense of what architects do that is different from reality, even architects themselves. The AIA advocates for all the capabilities that architects have and all of the ways that we can influence construction, ecology, society and even civilization. This is a really important function. Favorite Pittsburgh space: Depending on the mood, I’d say the Benedum before a good show, Market Square at lunchtime, the Carnegie on a rainy afternoon, Washington’s Landing on a sunny afternoon, and the North Shore fountain after a bike ride. Most significant lesson learned: Learn something new every day. Don’t be afraid to do something no one else is doing. To be humble is to be teachable. Not trying is worse than failing. Favorite food or drink: For lunch, any salad with french fries on it. For dinner, seafood pasta. Summer reading list: Biographies mostly, Jobs, Musk, DaVinci. Also earth justice books. Mantra: When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot. Inch by inch it’s a cinch. Plan your work then work your plan.
Overcoming a creative block: Stop all judgement and create as many options as possible. Then sit back and evaluate. Most significant lesson learned: Listen to your gut…it’s important to really listen to it! Favorite food: Asparagus from my garden.
Best way to overcome a creative block: Mind of no mind. For me, fencing is best. Most significant lesson learned: Trust your gut. It’s neither rational nor emotional. Mantra: “Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill
Best way to overcome a creative block: By forcing myself to step away from the problem and focusing on something else. The answer usually comes to me when I’m not actively thinking about it. Time is valuable, why AIA? I truly believe that we can accomplish more by working together than we can individually. Favorite Pittsburgh space: The atrium at the center of the Union Trust Building. That view will never get old. Most significant lesson learned: Being perfect doesn’t always mean you’ll be right. Being right doesn’t always mean you have to be perfect. Favorite food: I will eat almost anything. Except bananas. I hate bananas! Summer reading list: You’ve got to be kidding me. Mantra: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”
Best way to overcome a creative block: A 10 mile run along the Pittsburgh rivers. Smaller mileage doesn’t work…
Time is valuable, why AIA? Because you can connect with more people, in less time, and make a bigger impact.
Most significant lesson learned: Talk less, draw more.
Mantra: “Volere e’ potere” (Your will is your power.)
Best way to overcome a creative block: Get out of your head. Stop trying to make your brain do something and instead move your body. Yoga, cross-country skiing or kayaking tend to work for me. Another way is to cut myself off from all distractions and let my thinking be less cluttered and more expansive for a number of hours – like when walking in the woods or on a long-haul flight. Most significant lesson learned: a. Be ready for what comes up. b. Work with it. c. Be ready to let it go. Favorite food: Oysters (followed by ice cream) Summer reading list: Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain (fascinating), Why Nations Fail by Acemoglu and Robinson, United by Corey Booker, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Mantra? “Less is more!”
Best way to overcome a creative block: Swimming.
Favorite Pittsburgh space: PNC Park.
Most Significant lesson learned: Be Confident. Be persistent.
Mantra: Every day is the best day!