25. How to Sit in a Corner

How to sit in a corner

The context of sitting in a corner changes based on which direction you face.

25 Sit in the Corner

To sit in a corner is to listen, to look, to observe other people and things take center stage. There is a lot of listening to do in architecture, to bosses and coworkers, to clients, to sites, to neighbors, to oneself and one’s own intuition. Sketching is an act of listening, albeit one of listening, interpreting, distilling and reconstituting. (If hand written notes form stronger memories than digital ones, than sketches are certain to last longer in the mind’s eye than a photograph.)

This evening I sat in the corner of a DC Zoning Commission Hearing (live webcast available):

25 Sit in on Zoning Hearing

The architects, developers and other designers take center stage but in deference to the dais and the Zoning Commissioners sitting in judgment. Projects here are asking for exemptions to zoning regulations, and part of the grand bargain is that damn near everything is up for questioning. Materials, building usage, any issue related to building massing is open for questions. Developers are expected to offer benefits to the immediate area and the city at large in exchange for concessions. Hire local people. Pay local community groups. It’s a very interestng and compromised example of democracy. It’s a process which costs time and money, and sometimes the results are celebrated and sometimes the city might as well ask for a bigger check, decide what to do with the money, and skip these negotiations.

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