When I was in high school, I read a book that changed my life. It was Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead." Among other things, it was about an architect who designed absolutely original, and highly functional, buildings: private residences, housing projects, gas stations, skyscrapers.
You wouldn't think reading about that stuff would be thrilling. But it was.
Man, I wanted to be an architect. I even got a summer job in an architect's office.
Alas, much like another career plan that didn't pan out (theoretical astrophysics), I just didn't have the genetic predisposition to succeed in that field. Imagine: they wanted me to have artistic and mathematical ability. Who knew?
But I do have an appreciation for art and math. And in architecture, I think I've learned to figure out when something is derivative, or unique, a mishmash of conflicting and poorly articulated aims, or an elegant and incisive solution to real problems.
I've been reading lately about the latest round of CSAP scores -- the state mandated tests that rank schools by student test performance. The consensus seems to be that scores aren't moving up fast enough.
It reminded me of a session I attended last June at the American Library Association conference, held in Washington, D.C. A former school librarian and now consultant, Dr. Michael Schmoker, is part of the school reform movement -- from inside the profession. He called his talk, "The Opportunity: From 'Brutal Facts' to the Best Schools We've Ever Had."
Douglas County Libraries are the windows to the world, generationally.
Elsewhere in today's paper, you'll read about the results of our architectural competition for a performing arts center and library in Parker.
The town and the library district teamed up on this project to get some help in crafting a vision -- and nailing down the costs. By getting not just one but three architectural teams to tackle the opportunities and challenges presented by the program and the site, we hoped to wind up with several independent estimates. That, in turn, would give us an intelligent range of choices.