“Dry your eyes, Lebbeus Woods explains why architecture school and years of unpaid labor might be worth it” is how Architizer tweeted their recent post summarizing Woods’ lovely and concise true story, “Why I Became an Architect”. Posted in two parts on his blog this past week, the story is in actuality less about why and more about how one becomes and architect—or any creative professional, really—and therein lies the essence of its hard-won truth.
Leading off rather nicely with a Gustave Doré image of Virgil and Dante at the entrance to Hell, Woods traces the outlines of his early interests and influences in Part One, focusing on his passions for painting and light. In Part Two, Woods details how these outlines slowly began to resolve into the fuller picture of his life’s work, providing reassurance and inspiration to any creative professional who may currently be deep in the throes of dues-paying, or what one might more productively call practicing, to become a full-fledged architect, artist, designer, etc.
What heartens us most is learning how it was Woods’ dual passions for painting and drafting that ultimately translated into the expression of architectural form and light that is now uniquely and recognizably his own. Finally realizing at the age of 38, fully 20 years from the beginning of his adult education, how his interests in both art and design could at last coalesce into a singular architectural vision, Woods reminds us that mastery, or what one might more productively call maturity, (intellectual/creative/artistic) is the self-knowledge that comes from decades of successive (often unsuccessful) attempts to discover, and actually then do, what one loves—with the faith that such realization will eventually occur.
In other words, to finally be something, one first has to have the courage to become it.
Lebbeus Woods: Why I Became an Architect—Part 1
Why I Became an Architect—Part 2
Read more on the architect’s excellent blog
images, from top to bottom:
Lebbeus Woods, from Terra Nova, Korean DMZ, 1988, as shown in his 2010 post, Building Landscapes
Gustave Doré, from his engravings illustrating The Divine Comedy, 1861–1868