Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Lawyer Who Became an Architect

"NZ architect of the year is elevated by emotion"
Claire McCall, (April 4, 2012)

"There's a scene in the classic Coen Brothers' film The Big Lebowski when Walter Sobchak spits out that: 'life does not stop and start at your own convenience'. Architect Lance Herbst can relate to this line from his favourite movie. Herbst Architects has just been named winner in NZ Home magazine's 2012 Home of the Year awards. But architecture was not a calling.

"Herbst may be at the top of his game now but he cannot recount stories of drawing buildings as a youngster or rearranging the spaces of his childhood home in the Constantia Valley, Cape Town.

" 'At school, I took an aptitude test and they said I should be a lawyer.'

"But he left South African College School determined not to be a lawyer, and with very few plans in mind. Herbst was lucky, then, to have a number of good friends who lived in houses that captured his imagination. Built in the 70s, they were examples of LA-style modernism, all low-slung and white.

"When he was invited to architect Ernest Ford's home..."

That's when Lance Herbst discovered that architecture doesn't have to be an exercise in sensory deprivation, or a paean to blank walls and straight lines.

There's more in the article: about Lance Herbst; concentric circles; and a beach with trees. Fascinating stuff. Also, somewhat frustratingly, a photo of Mr. Herbst. But not of any buildings he's designed.

And Now, For Something Completely Different: Aptitude Tests and the Lemming

A sentence in that article took the Lemming back a few dozen years: "At school, I took an aptitude test and they said I should be a lawyer." Aptitude tests are wonderful things, the Lemming's been told, for revealing what course an eager young student should take.

The Lemming took quite a few. One said that the Lemming would make a really good Air Force officer: or hairdresser. No kidding.

So, the Lemming set forth and got jobs as a beet chopper, radio disk jockey, computer operator, historian, and writer. Among other things. Not at the same time, of course.

'And the moral of this story is - - -'

Aptitude tests are, in the Lemming's opinion, useful guides. But if the aptitude test says 'sheepskin pickler,' and someone really wants to be a floral designer? The Lemming thinks it wouldn't hurt to get a job at some florist's, and give that option a shot.

Same goes for someone who's pegged as a floral designer (DOT 142.081-010), and really wants to be a sheepskin pickler (DOT 582.685-126).

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