When I was around 5 years old I was given a cassette tape by one of my parents' friends. It was a recording of Bob Moawad speaking to an elementary school. The title was 'Say No to Stinkin' Thinkin.' Because the man was hilarious I listened to the tape often throughout my childhood and I absorbed one of my most important life lessons from it. CAN'T is the dirtiest four-letter word in the English language. Think about it- As soon as we say aloud or even to ourselves "that can't be done- or- I can't do that" We subconsciously give up- Life becomes like striving for mediocrity.
I found myself thinking about this concept throughout many conversations on my recent trip to Spain. I grew up as an only child to an architect and interior designer so the peer-group that I spent my time with was mostly my parents friends... architects and designers. I felt immediately at home among the group of architects with us. Throughout my childhood and now professional life I have spent countless hours speaking with design professionals and 'Can't' is a word I have heard a lot in North America. To be fair, in most cases the can't comes from an outside influence-
By-laws, zoning, budget, lawyers or government say (x) can't be done.
How many projects do you know that have been mediocratized by enough people telling the architect that something can't be done? I don't know another profession that has so many chips stacked against them achieving their purpose. Unfortunately much of the field is left spending countless hours and creative energy working to minimize negative effects of this imposed Stinkin' Thinkin' rather than doing what they do best- creating.
Many times walking through the expo grounds at Zaragoza, one of the architects would point out an interesting detail and say to me:
"Look at that... We could NEVER get away with THAT back home!"
What if Stinkin' Thinkin' weren't forced down the throats of our architects? What might be possible to achieve if we embraced the profession in a more encompassing way? 'Tube Tuesday' this week showcases a few architects that have found a way to slog through the Stinkin' Thinkin' arriving at a place of
"what if we could do anything?"
Imagine where architecture would be if the word can't wasn't thrown at them 10 times daily.