10,000 Images


When my wife and I wed over a decade ago, we resolved that we would make travel a priority throughout our life.  With just the two of us, our life was much more portable and it was no big deal to throw a couple of things in a bag, leave some extra food for the cat and hop on a plane.  About a year and a half ago, things got a little more complicated with the arrival of our first daughter.  Initially, we imagined that we might have to abandon travel for a few years.  However, after further consideration we decided that we could sacrifice total spontaneity for the sake of adding our newfound traveling companion.  Late last year, we put our hypothesis to the test and successfully navigated 4 European cities in two weeks and are all still on speaking terms.  Thanks to the wonder of digital photography, we captured our experience with over 2,000 images.  As I was sharing these with my father-in-law this weekend, I was reminded of a challenge posed by a professor in architecture school.

The challenge was this – gather a mental catalog of 10,000 images before completing the program.  While the concept seemed a little cryptic at first, it quickly began to make sense.  As architects, our task is to start with an idea and end up with a habitable space.  To this end, the architect helps the client understand and develop particular requirements for their project and then arrive at the appropriate arrangement of spaces.  The initial set of requirements, the program, is usually a written document.  We don’t write buildings or build out of words, so schematic design translates the words into spatial arrangements.  The 10,000 images are simply a starting point for the architect to relate words to a built form.  The client’s words lead to diagrams and sketches that communicate the architectural intention and help the client visualize what they have requested.  An image can be a fantastic demonstration, such as, “I was driving around and saw this building that is very much like what I want,” or, “here is a project that used the material you requested; is this what you had in mind?”

The image continues to have a prominent role throughout the design process, identifying style and character in the design development and identifying specific execution during construction documents.  Finally, the image becomes an enduring record of the built project, which can in turn become the inspiration for future projects.

Looking back at my travel photos, there is a mix of candid family shots, carefully framed landscape and monument photos, and snaps of architectural details.  Each photo recalls a moment of our experience and presents an opportunity to contemplate a fleeting instant of time.  I encourage you to look around, see what inspires you, notice what you like and don’t like and start your own catalog of 10,000 images.  The internet is a great resource – check out the links below for a few of my favorite spots.  I am continually adding to my 10,000 images –maybe we’ll put them to work on your next project!




Spiral Travel Images


Thank you to our new blogger, Mike Nolan, who was featured on our facebook page back in October for becoming a Registered Architect.  Please welcome Mike to our blog, so that he will be encouraged to return!


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  1. […] of architecture, I quickly realized that there is very little that has not already been done.  In my last post, I challenged the reader to begin taking notice of architecture and to collect a mental catalog of […]

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