Life inside the head and heart of an (unpaid and fictional) intern, on her first day at work, for a renowned architect:
Ok, am I going with the three seasons out of date flowy J. Crew panda-printed pajama pants or the structured bondage-y black dress my college boyfriend bought me seven years ago that has only gone through a few accidental wash cycles? Besides it’s not like I’ve gained more than seven pounds. And, wait, why do I care if I’ve gained seven pounds, I am about to start work for the GREATEST ARCHITECT OF ALL TIME. This is amazing! Wait, why didn’t I get a blowout? Why am I so concerned about what I’m going to look like when, seriously, this is all about the chance to finally—finally!—put all my undergrad nights in the studio wrestling with clay to use. Plus all the stuff in graduate school about space vs. spatiality and history vs. historicity and penumbras vs. penumbrality.
*looks up penumbras*
Note to self: must remember, penumbra not the same as pediment or pilaster. Why can I not remember Arch 101? Note to self: don’t casually drop Arch 101 terms unless you’re really clear you have them right. Note to self: really really really hoping there isn’t a pop quiz once I get there.
Glad I decided on the panda-printed pajama pants. Just gonna go with this and then tuck in this boxy blouse and we’re good to go. Fuck yeah Man Repeller style! Fuck yeah taking down the patriarchy! Fuck yeah I’m gonna be the most famous female architect of all time!
Ugh, forgot I’m working for a dude.
I wonder if the dude has a family.
Weird how I know all the female architects’ parental statuses but I don’t know the dudes’.
I should stop referring to GREATEST ARCHITECT OF ALL TIME as “dude,” even in my head. Begin referring to him as GOAT. (Greatest Of All Time.)
Why is the subway late? Should I walk? If I walk I’m gonna get sweaty. Ugh, remember that time I just like dripped sweat into my model and then later my advisor was like “oh, I like these little droplets of different colors that you’ve put in here, very situationist,” and I was like “oh, yes, for sure that was intentional.”
I wonder how much of everything is actually going to be intentional.
I’m here I’m here I’m here. OK, breathe, confident with panda-printed pajama pants. If Zaha could do pleats and capes, I can do panda-printed pajama pants. Ugh, why didn’t I apply to work with Zaha when I still had the chance?
Oh, I kind of thought I’d have a … drafting table? What is this desk? Why do I have three monitors? No, this is fine. Super normal. Just look at the monitors.
So that’s how Office Mail works.
First meeting of my new job as an intern at the GOAT’s office! So excited to be here, OMG, cannot WAIT to see what I’m going to be working on. Maybe the tallest tower in the world that they’re building in… shit, I really need to get my Middle Eastern geography under control. How is this the first time I’ve realized how big China is? There are a LOT of cities in China.
Oh, OK, looks like the big project on hand is a pop-up shoe store/restaurant/petting zoo in the back of a laundromat in Oakland.
Does that mean I get to go to Oakland???
RESEARCH TRIP SO MANY PANDA PANTS
Oh. We’re going to do the research from here. OK. Wait now they’re calling me a digital flaneur. I am literally doing google search but when I asked my neighbor if this was right she was like “Never admit you’re doing google searches, you are doing flaneuring.” I guess when the clients ask what they’re being billed for, it sounds a lot better?
Google search log:
“pop-up store history”
“what is a pop-up”
“what is a restaurant”
“Merriam-Webster restaurant definition”
“cool restaurants 2016”
“best restaurants Oakland 2016”
“where is Oakland”
“location of good neighborhoods in Oakland 2016”
“crime rate Oakland 2016”
“good streets Oakland”
“petting zoo laws California”
“import pandas to California law”
“zoning restrictions California pandas restaurant”
“mixed use zoning California”
This presentation board is gonna be siiiiiiiiiiiiiick.
This presentation board is fucking garbage. I am going to be fired, I am going to be fired on my first day—before 10am. Why did I sign up to do the preliminary research for the pop-up store/shoe restaurant/panda petting zoo? Oh my god I’m already totally confused. It’s not a shoe restaurant/popup store, it’s a pop-up restaurant in a shoe store. With pandas. Are the pandas real? When the GOAT turned vaguely to me and all the other interns and was like “HMMM, I WONDER WHAT WE COULD DO WITH PANDAS” was this an elaborate joke? Is this some kind of theory? Did I take something literally that was meant metaphorical? I can never tell with these guys.
Just gonna do a quick run through of the usual suspects:
“architecture theory pandas”
“thom mayne panda lecture”
“eric owen moss panda building”
“will alsop panda structure”
“daniel libeskind panda theorem”
“david rockwell panda bar”
OH GOD HE SAID PENUMBRAS (NOT PANDAS!)
ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh redirect.
Is it lunchtime yet?
I need a snack.
Wait, there’s no snack bar in this office? I knew I should have gone to work for that startup designzurhouz. They had a snack bar.
Why did I do this instead of disrupting architecture?
Everyone here says they’re disrupting architecture but it looks to me like they are doing a lot of google image search and putting a lot of pictures in a document and then suddenly we’re architectural surgeons doing extremely precise reorientations of the urban form.
OH MY GOD HE’S COMING THIS WAY! LOOK DOWN, LOOK NORMAL, LOOK SUPER BUSY GOOGLING PENUMBRAS (NOT PANDAS!)
No one can hear me hyperventilating. He was just like, “Oh hello, show me what you’re working on,” and I feel like I just went into this trance and said everything that I’d learned in architecture school, which if I can remember came out something like:
“I’m currently investigating the possible materiality of the penumbra-like shading effect caused by a non-material interrogation of my essential query—what is a penumbra?—also, this delineated articulation is rich with a potential openness of closure” and he was like:
“Great. Great work. Keep it up.”
OK, I can do that at least twice a day. I can do this job. I can win. I am whole and lovable no matter what I say about penumbras. I am whole and lovable no matter what I say about penumbras. I am whole and lovable no matter what—
—he’s back. “I did have a thought about the openness of closure.”
“What if we thought instead about the closing of openness.”
This is not a joke, right? This is a joke. This is not a joke. I’m trying to read his face. His sweater looks so expensive. It’s so black and pretty. It’s like a sweater that has never ever ever ever ever faded. When does he find the time to work out? Why does he look like he never eats but he must eat? I’m not saying to this to get fresh, but there seems to be this sort of Architect Body. Also why does no one ever write about what he looks like but everyone all the time writes about how Annabelle Selldorf wears clothes or Jeanne Gang’s hair?
Why did I wear these pajama pants again?
LUNCH BREAK. THANK GOD.
Group lunch. OK. I can do this. GOAT isn’t gonna be there so it’s just all the other interns. Ugh, they’re all wearing like slim fit black and black glasses. I thought that was so 1999, but I guess we’re still doing this in 2016? I thought I was like being beyond-advanced but apparently not. Why did I invest so much in contacts and all that time in learning how to be OK with something touching my eyeball when everyone here seems to have Warby Parker on rotation?
I should have gone to work for that startup.
Do you think they track our browsing?
Private Browsing: “dezignzyourhouz open jobs”
Ugh, nothing. I’ll keep trying here.
ALL HANDS MEETING. OMG, there are so many of us here. I didn’t realize it’s like 150 people in this office. How many projects are we even working on? I see like four thousand drawings on all the walls but who is paying for this? What’s even happening? I thought we were doing an opera house in Madagascar but that’s a paper project, but not even on paper because everything’s models now? Why are everyone’s fingertips covered in band-aids? Oh, I totally forgot that GOAT grew up in Koolhaas’ office, so that explains the blue foam everywhere. Wait, did I know I was getting into a post-proto-OMA thing? How is it that everyone has worked in Koolhaas’ office? And how is it that GOAT has this accent that is like suppppppppppppper evocative and intriguing but his bio says he grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona? Where did he get this accent?
1:25 pm, outside
“I’m invested in notions of plurality within the fixed singular.” Where is that accent? OK, I’m going to try again. It’s not straight-up Dutch or English. It’s like a mix of English and Dutch and then there’s this total cadence lilt at the end. Where did that come from?
Oh, I also need to practice the hand movements. We didn’t learn how to do architect-talking-hand movements in school. The sort of pinch your hand together and then move it side to side. Like Architect Tai-Chi. OK, I’m getting better. It looks more natural. I got this.
2:00 pm, back inside
Do you think anyone will notice if I start talking in GOAT’S accent?
I just noticed that the reception desk is slanted. I noticed that when I put my (fourteenth) cup of coffee down and it started sliding down towards Constantine. Where did they find Constantine? He’s like the perfect architecture office receptionist, plus he has this Australian accent that is like TO DIE FOR. I know they had him record the phone greeting just to show how super rad and cool and “cosmopolitan” we are. Wait, is GOAT Australian? No, that doesn’t make any sense. He’s from Arizona. I’m so confused.
Poetry reading time? I did not realize GOAT wrote poetry. This should be good. This is better than google searching penumbras and trying to find someone who’ll lend me an X-Acto knife without looking at me like I’m a fucking murderer just because I’m not like “on staff at the model shop.”
I would much rather be google searching penumbras and being looked at like a fucking murderer. This is not…poetry.
Only two hours to go! I’m doing super super great with my googling! I have like forty-seven pictures of penumbras and now I just have to put them into an Illustrator file and make them look good and sort of bleed into each other.
Is a white background best?
Oh, yeah, no, this needs to be a black background.
Oh wait what if the pictures ARE the background?
Oh yeah now I’m really rolling.
This was literally the worst idea I’ve ever had. Thank god GOAT is currently entertaining a Vanity Fair reporter and isn’t going to wander over here and ask me how my articulations are going.
OK, done! Super amazingballs presentation. I’m just going to pin this up over here on the wall of “inspiration” and listen while GOAT talks to Vanity Fair about growing up playing with Legos and how “completely reductivist” it is to talk about an architect having grown up playing with Legos.
I miss Legos.
MY CO-INTERN JUST SAID SHE LOVED MY PANDA PANTS. I HAVE WON THE DAY FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRR!
Oooh, we’re doing a pin-up! Vanity Fair reporter is gone. OK, now’s my chance to shine.
Can’t believe I just said this:
“This collection of images of the penumbra both itemizes the potential of what it is to be shaded, and also calls into question the possibility for true shade. Following the work of Donald Judd, the post-urban grid of my gridlocked image here is at once responsive to existing conditions and fully emblematic of past conditions no longer remembered because they are also the future.”
HE LOVED IT.
AM I GOING TO GET PROMOTED ON MY FIRST DAY?
Oh my god it’s going to be amazing when I get the Pritzker. I wonder if they’ll interview me about my first day at the office. They’ll be like “What do you remember most?” and I’ll be like “Talk to me about panda pants.”
Ugh. I kind of wish Zaha were here right now. Everyone kept asking her about her pants and capes all the time. GOAT is getting asked by Vanity Fair about penumbras and interpolations and I swear every single Zaha obituary was like “she wore great clothes/delivered withering criticisms/was actually super nice!” I wish I’d applied to work with Zaha, I could have learned like some actual stuff maybe about shapes and buildings. Or maybe we would just have talked about panda pants. I have a feeling she would have loved these.
GOAT doesn’t like my panda pants. He said they were “super super fun.” Ugh.
HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT — GOAT has just been awarded a contract for a Museum of Non-Narrative Stories and they’re gonna need me to shift from researching pop-up pajama parties to looking at how stories get told in a non-narrative way. I guess it’s like possible to have a thing happen without there being a super regular front-to-end narrative. GOAT came by my desk and said he wants me to stop looking at pictures and just start reading—apparently we now need to be literary experts too? Something about Barthes. Which one!? I can’t tell if he said Barth or Barthes and there are like four thousand of them. Whatever. I’ll go read John Barth and do some drawings on my Windows Paint.
I’m done! Good job me! Can’t wait for Day 2 to see what other adventures will happen. And I’ve just been invited out for celebratory drinks in a service elevator underneath the High Line! I never thought I’d be this cool. Pandas rule.