How did I end up staying in flyover country to pursue architecture?  Let’s begin with a bit of contextual history (archispeak for “where I grew up”).

The town I still call home is smaller than where I currently reside, and even by Iowa standards is considered the middle of nowhere.  There is no Google street view of my boyhood home.  I grew up surrounded more by landscape than structure.  The word landscape can elicit many images, but the image cast here is one of well ordered fields spread out in a never ending grid as far as the eye can see.  Two planes merging at the horizon, broken only by the trees of farmsteads or grain elevators.

This landscape informed me about space, and the way structure can change its character.  I witnessed cornfields slowly hem in our yard making an acre of land feel closed off to the rest of the world.  The play of early morning light filtering through the slats of a corn crib rivals Gothic cathedrals.  The strong afternoon sun blazing through the dusty haze of a single open door of a dark hayloft rivals the Pantheon’s oculus.

This is where I grew up.  This is what I experienced.  These are many of the things I didn’t appreciate at the time.  I grew up amidst agrarian, before it became a buzz word abused by the architectural elite in the Heartland and kitsch pockets of urban America.  As adolescence progressed I began to see home as nothing more than a stepping stone.  It became a means to an end to start a much more important loftier journey.  One entirely too prominent for a place like Algona, Iowa.  I turned to the foolishness of youth and desired nothing but to begin college and be away from that place.    …or so I thought.


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