I’ve been interested in building and buildings since I was a little kid. I have many childhood memories that involve building. Two stand out with particular vividness.
When I was 4 years old my family moved to a new neighborhood. Now, when I ran out of the house each morning, my friends from the old neighborhood were nowhere to be found. I was on my own. During that first summer, many of my days were spent sitting on a pile of dirt (scraped top soil from a construction site), watching the construction of a series of apartment buildings next door. I was fascinated. Gazing in wonder at the enormous pieces of equipment, intently following the comings and goings of the contractors and the workers, eagerly collecting scraps of wood and building materials… it was as if I had been transported to a playground paradise.
A few years later, perhaps at the ripe old age of 7 or 8 years old, I turned my fascination with building into action. I spent the better part of a week pounding hundreds and hundreds of nails into a big piece of wood. This was my attempt to create a sheet of steel strong enough to serve as the framework for a rocket ship. Although now it sounds silly—and was obviously unsuccessful—the memory of my first building project still fills me with all the thrills of young ambition! Unlike many professional experiences in my adult life, my rocket ship project was interesting, fun and rewarding.
In the youthful spirit of attempting to make building more interesting and more fun, I started collecting thought-provoking facts about building and buildings. I called this collection of material “Did You Know” (DYK). In the early 2000’s, I started to share this material, one item at a time, via the SyntecGroup website. The DYK’s typically focus on issues surrounding a typical residential building (large or small), although the information almost always relates to larger commercial and institutional infrastructure as well. The information was organized in this way because not everyone deals with large buildings or complex structures, but everyone does have a daily experience with their home, whether their home is a single-family house or a studio apartment.
In this spirit, the DYK campaign was re-booted with the goal of providing one simple and useful bit of information at a time, a bit that everyone will (hopefully) find interesting and intriguing—and, if so motivated, be able to implement in their daily life.
I figure if we can make just six useful changes per year in how we interact with and understand the buildings we live, work and play in, we will substantially improve our relationship to the built environment.
Hopefully, if I do my job well enough, you will find these factoids interesting enough to put a few of them to use in your daily interactions with the buildings closest to you.