World Greatest Architect

I’d love to know how God ran his office in the beginning. Somehow, he
got an amazing amount done. Even a Dubai developer might think that
the intelligent design and construction of everything there is, in just six
days, was too much of a miracle to ask for.
He did have some advantages, of course. For one thing, it was about
6,000 years ago. (He’s even older than Phillip Johnson.) There were
no contractors yet—certainly none with track records, so there was no
bidding process. And omniscience meant that he didn’t have to worry
about errors and omissions. So he just took on all the liability himself,
and went design-build—which enabled him to bring the project in on
time and on budget. It’s unfortunate, though, that the water had to be
value-engineered out of so much of the Middle East. That was short-
sighted, and it’s still causing operational and maintenance problems.
On the first day, as his assistants later recounted, he switched on the
lights. Well, it was a start.

On the second day he created the Firmament, the world’s biggest roof
structure—even larger than the Millennium Dome. Then he began to
wonder what to do with the space underneath. The thing wouldn’t work,
he realized, unless he had some hot-ticket attractions lined up. It could
just sit there, vacant, for years.
On the third day he had a brilliant idea. He invented waterfront prop-
erty, which is what you get when you let the waters under the heaven
be gathered unto one place, and let the dry land appear. He called the
development Earth, and he saw that it was good. The scientific establish-
ment will try to tell you that the Earth’s coastlines, with all their beauti-
ful intricacies, resulted from natural processes. But could structures that
are so complex, and so essential for the successful functioning of the
real estate industry, have arisen through blind chance? I think not.
He also put in the landscaping—early, so that it would mature in time
for the opening. The newly bulldozed landfill brought forth grass, the
herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit. And the site supervi-
sor saw to it that it was good.
On the fourth day he created the sun, the moon, and the stars. This
wasn’t strictly necessary, but he was after the Bilbao effect. He wanted
some wow. When the zodiac lit up at night, he saw that it was worth
every penny.
On the fifth day he discovered CAD monkeys. He hired dozens of
them, and put them to work in a back room. He blessed them, saying, be
productive and multiply drawings. He hadn’t a clue how they did it, but
they soon brought forth abundantly the moving creatures that hath life,
the fowl that fly above the earth, the great whales, cattle, creeping things,
and every living creature. This includes Paris Hilton—which proves that
Darwin was wrong. How could a process of “survival of the fittest” have
produced something so completely and utterly useless? Only a designer
could do that.
On the sixth day, he got into blobs. He turned a 3-D scanner on
himself to create a parametric NURBS model in his image, after his
likeness. It had two structural supports, two horizontal extensions, and
a sort of spherical thing with six openings on top. He assigned it the file
name Adam, and made a CAD/CAM prototype. Then he adjusted a few
variables, substituted a couple of parts, and cloned Eve. The model was
mass-customizable; it could generate millions of variants, all of them
slightly different. He saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, he
was in the magazines.
On the seventh day he got a certificate of occupancy, then took a break.
I understand that there was still quite a punch list to work through,
though. Nobody’s perfect.
Following this early success, he brought in partners and restructured
as G.O.D Associates LLC, a multidisciplinary, full-service firm—a bit
like Arups. GOD competed with SOM and HOK for the big interna-
tional jobs. Enoch headed up the urban design division. Lamech was
into tensile structures and metal fabrication. Noah specialized in marina
developments and floating resorts. After a while, Cain went out on his
own. Lord God (as he had become) still had his name on the door as the
senior design partner, but the truth was that he now spent most of his
time doing marketing and pontificating on television. That’s why schol-
ars of intelligent design are often hesitant to credit God, himself, as the
actual designer of all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and
small. Most of them weren’t signature projects—just bread-and-butter
office jobs.
Not surprisingly, then, many of GOD’s projects haven’t stood the test
of time. Eden didn’t look bad in the published pictures, but it turned
out to be a sterile and boring place to live—like Brasilia, Canberra, and
Milton Keynes. Adam and Eve, the original power couple, voted with
their feet—like Posh and Becks heading for California. They met a per-
suasive Apple salesman, got a figleaf-top, Googled some brochures, and
were out of there.
God’s biggest limitation was his authoritarian, top-down approach.
He was a real Old Testament character—beard and all. He’d just dream
something up and go, like, “Let there be whatever.” He had never heard
of Jane Jacobs, and he had no idea that the most complex, diverse, and
interesting cities emerge, gradually over many years, from countless
incremental interventions and adjustments. It’s a bottom-up process,
without a master plan. One thing just leads to another, and the most
amazing results evolve in completely unexpected ways.

William J. Mitchell


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