pye,brown: Under Contstruction


The Harmon was supposed to be a 49 story reflective gem in CityCenter, Las Vegas. Unfortunately, halfway through its construction, inspections revealed major structural issues. As it turns out, the framework could only handle a building half the size. Adjustments were made, but as more and more structural issues were found, MGM eventually decided to cut their losses, implode the building, and start over.

Trashing something you’ve invested in, financially, mentally, or emotionally, can be really hard to do. But, as Mike Monteiro advises in his “10 New Year’s Resolutions for Designers,” when you try “to save bad work” problems are created, not solved. Certainly, there are instances where persistence is necessary, but sometimes, you’ve got to destroy one thing in order to build something better.

Las Vegas is a town that knows how to do this.

There is an almost Zen-like quality to the architectural flow: one building down, another comes up. Rinse. Repeat.

There are, of course, many arguments to be made against this cycle of destruction and rebirth. For one, it’s a monumental waste of resources. Also, destroying a thing that was working just fine to create a new, but not necessarily better, thing is probably not what Monteiro meant. Still, when you figure out that your first plan won’t hold up in an earthquake, maybe it’s time to order the explosives.

This all might seem a little bit strange for me to be writing on the one year anniversary of my marriage to Brown, but I like to think of it as the natural extension of the message that that started us down this path.

 On August 25, 2010, my friend, Alex, and I had the following Facebook exchange:


Within three weeks we were engaged, a few months later he moved to Austin, and almost exactly nine months after “the hurricane message,” we were married.

For our first Christmas, we set a $10 limit on gifts for each other, forcing us both to be creative. Knowing that he would be moving into an apartment directly across the courtyard from mine, I bought a set of walkie-talkies and gave him one.

He gave me this:


As I was looking at this poster last week, I worried that maybe it was sending the wrong message. I was worried that we were becoming too negative, too critical, too destructive. So, I suggested that we edit the sign a bit:


But, when we got home from lunch today, the Post-its had fallen down, and it occurred to me that maybe we didn’t need to change the sign after all.

We will always be motivated by the metaphor of the Hurricane, but it’s not exactly the kind of destruction we are after. We’re not interested in randomly tearing down the world around us. We just want to tear down the obstacles preventing us from building better things.

If you catch us at the wrong time we might appear to be wreaking collective destruction on our house, our websites, our Twitter feeds, etc., but please don’t take it personally. It’s not about you, and it’s not meant to send a message of any sort.

If you give us enough time, we’re hopeful that in the wake of this destruction, we’ll have built something better. We’re not sure exactly what that means, and we know we can’t always control how our actions are interpreted, but we’ve decided to construct our next year with these two mantras in mind:

1)   Minimize our consumption

2)   Maximize our production

Regarding the first one, yes, we could probably be more disciplined when it comes to recycling, we should probably walk more, and we’d like to eat better too, but beyond that, we’re going to try to consume better ideas. To do so, we need to minimize the amount of information that flows in automatically.

The second one is simple. We are going to work more and create more, more often.

Happy Anniversary to my Creative Partner.

(Awesome digital painting courtesy Stefano Bagnoli: