I’ve drawn all of the places I’ve lived. These drawings, all done informally in ball point pen and within a small Moleskine notebook, were partially inspired by the small-scale architectural models placed in tombs of the Incas, Aztecs and their predicessors in ancient Mexico. Their materials, just like the buildings they portray, are simple. Buried alongside jewelry and ritual objects, these models are vital in their telling of the ordinary, everyday lives of these ancient civilizations.
This exercise also came out of a need for me to see the raw architectural data of each place that I’ve lived, and compare the design, age and typology of each. All of the places I drew I lived for three months or longer. These are the buildings of my ordinary life, all through the filter of my brain and hand.
I have lived in a total mixed bag of buildings, from a contemporary ranch in suburban Detroit, to a modernist highrise in Honolulu, to the ultra vernacular Chicago graystone. These structures range greatly in age. Many are older with a scatterbrained sense of integrity. They have missing cornices, or cheap new windows. Many have design features specific to their location, like the tall concrete wall surrounding the house I lived in when I worked in New Delhi, India, or the attached garage on the house in Troy.
What (and where) we call home inevitably shapes us, but architectural significance has no role in making these structures iconic. I have borrowed time in many buildings but have possessed none of them, and my occupation of each is only a sliver of a story that spans across decades.
The most surprising revelation is poignant and timely. These buildings display an element of undeniable privelidge, as I have always had the means to live where I have wanted. Millions of people are not in a position to ever make that choice for themselves.