Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lost to the World

I found out that one of the best professors I ever had passed away yesterday.  He wasn't terribly young, but still.

Such a good, kind, thoughtful soul.

You could tell he GOT it.  He cared about his students.  He opened our eyes to new ways of seeing and understanding.  And he always, always remembered the human side.  Architecture school can be brutal. 

My grandfather died freshman year of college and I was a little apprehensive approaching Ken about missing "Contemporary Design Approaches."  But he didn't hesitate.  "GO," he said.  "You need to be with your family now."

That second semester, I had him again in studio (the hands-on class that's worth six credits rather than four, the place where, as an architecture student, you pretty much LIVE, unless you're in another class or occasionally eating or sleeping), and he worked us so hard.  Not so much demanding impossible quantities of models or drawings, but mentally worked us, really challenging the way we saw things, our assumptions, allowing us to stretch ourselves without us even realizing it.  I came out of that studio with a deeper understanding of space: form, void, scale, movement.  I think I worked harder for him than I did for any other studio professor. 

Then my second year, when I was thinking about leaving architecture, I talked to several of the faculty about it.  This man said to me, "I'm not going to tell you what to do.  You have to do what makes you happy.  You could be a very good architect, if you chose that, I want you to understand that.  But in the end you need to choose what makes you happy."  I almost wanted someone to tell me what to do.  To allow me to not have to make that choice.  If he told me he thought I should do one thing or another, I probably would have just done it.  Almost unquestioningly.  

He lost his daughter while I was in school.  He had some pretty bad health problems.  Yet somehow, he was always there for the students, for the community. 

Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up...

I just am overcome with this deep sense that we have all lost something rare and beautiful.

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