Love at first site

I went to my first major construction site a few days ago – it was awesome. Cement dust in the air, the smell of mortar and tar, the sounds of jackhammers. Our firm is the Architect of Record for the Comcast Center in Philadelphia – the project on which I have been working for the past ten months. We are getting very close to completion and I was fortunate to go to the site with my manager to do the “Punch List” – making sure that certain rooms have been completed as designed.

People ask me from time to time what I do and I think I finally found a way to describe it that might make sense to those who are not familiar with architecture. Our firm does *not* do the original design – that task is performed by the Design Architect. We do the technical design – not the engineering, that is done by Civil, Structural, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

We prepare drawings to a level of detail sufficient for the contractor to construct the building – it’s like playing Tetris in three dimensions all day long. The Design Architect draws their intention, we figure out the nuts and bolts and make everything fit with everything else in the building – we are like the backstage crew of a theatre production.

I had waited for this moment for a long time – ever since I was a little boy, my father would take me to construction sites. I have vivid memories of the slender, brown, glazed tiles in the stairwell of the seven story office building my father built in Tehran more than thirty years ago. I have vague recollections of him and his architect trying to figure out how to add a second basement after the building was nearly completed – something which they did while everyone held their breath.

I remember going to pick out land with my parents and my sister for a house in a new development west of the city – Tract 103. I remember going to the Design Architect’s office with my dad. I remember when the site was marked for excavation and then playing in the sand that was to be mixed for the concrete of the footings. I remember building cubes with the small pieces of stone that would be used for the base of the walls (I may have even broken a couple of pieces!)

I got sidetracked as I became older and came back to architecture only a few years ago – I had talked myself out of going after my childhood love.

Not too long ago, I met a young lady who is completing her medical internship in Dermatology. We were having lunch with a few people including one of my best friends who is a Radiologist – when she found that out, her eyes began to glow, she talk about how when doing her rotation in Radiology, her heart would throb every time she touched an X-Ray. I pointed out that she was, of course, completely crazy, but I completely understood – majnun crazy.

I get the same feeling sometimes when I see the cross-section detail of a curtain wall. She had decided to pursue Dermatology because she thought that she would miss out on the joys of the doctor-patient interaction if she was to become a Radiologist. Then she found out that my friend was an Interventional Radiologist – no, they don’t confront stubborn people and tell them that they have to have an MRI right away… they do image assisted procedures. She’ll end up an Interventional Radiologist, sooner or later, I am sure.

I wish I could see my father’s eyes see me now – I miss you Baba.

Find your passion, do great things.

Saman Ahmadi lives and works in Houston, Texas. You can read his weblog at

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Meet your Persian Love Today!
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