The process of building has evolved into an elaborate scavenger hunt. Having a family say “Let’s go!” begins a process that can take upwards of a year or more of time chasing around approvals, permits, labor, materials, and so on.At the very first, we need to have a plan to build from, so we turn to architects and engineers to collaborate with. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been able to collaborate with great professionals. My architect, Bob M, is an artist with pen and paper. He’s one of the last of the hand drawing architects. Everyone in the industry now uses CAD, while Bob meticulously crafts his drawings by hand, just as our framers and trim carpenters will measure out each of their cuts when it’s their turn on the project. Recently, we submitted one of Bob’s projects to an Architectural Review Board in a local town. They were blown away at the weight of the lines, the thoughtful layouts, the attention to detail and the quality of the work. Known for typically being hard to get along with, one reviewer commented “Well, I can’t find a single thing wrong with this”. In my world, that’s about as high a praise as we get!
What you don’t see in his plans is Bob is sick. Bob’s been fighting cancer toe to toe for over a decade. Cancer’s taken internal body parts, his ability to eat, swallow, sleep, travel, meet people, or most of the normal parts of life we take for granted as casualties in his fight. Ground that Bob’s won in this fight, though, is he’s seen his kids grow up, his daughter go to college, lived a life with his family. While his body’s been whittled away to about half it’s optimal weight, his work, his mind, his artfulness remain in full force, and his drawings show those in full bloom. I don’t know if that review board will have the opportunity to review another set of plans drawn by Bob. I don’t know if I’ll get to collaborate on another house, show his plans to another family anxiously awaiting the start of their new home. Tomorrow isn’t promised to us in life, and Bob’s fought hard to make tomorrow possible. Tomorrow, though, is populated by the things we crafted, the people enjoying them, and the lives we’ve touched. Tomorrow is populated by our dreams, and, in the case of Bob and me, the homes we collaborated on for almost 2 decades. Today, I’m just happy he’s still here.