Tooldom

I found an excerpt from this graphic story (is “comic” an insult?) called 976 sq ft. at Life Without Buildings, which “tells the tale of a modern residential tower rising in a quickly gentrifying neighborhood” and it’s detrimental psychological impact on a couple across the street, and I felt a little guilty. Half of my work time is spent on a new tower in a gentrifying area, and while I am neither the developer nor the architect, I’m still somewhat culpable in this excess of capitalism.

Though a “professional,” I’m still fundamentally in customer service. My customers are architects and they want math. I no more can tell them what to build than a cashier can tell you what burger to order. I just serve up the calculations, your way, in thirty minutes or less.

But everyday I want to say: “Your designs are fucked up.” You don’t put a 700-foot tower in a neighborhood where every other building is two stories. It’s stupid. It’s disproportionate. it completely changes the character of that place. You don’t improve a neighborhood by replacing dilapidated housing with luxury condos; kicking out poor people and shipping in rich people is colonization, and labeling that ‘redevelopment,’ ‘revitalization,’ ‘renewal’ is down right Orwellian.

But what does one do? If I didn’t have this job working for developers, I’d be serving them food or checking them into hotels. How does one avoid being culpable in devastation? How does one live as a conscientious objector to an economic system?

All I want is a cooperatively-owned design firm that works for communes and non-profits. Is that too much to ask?

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