Looking Forward to Monday Morning
A series of essays on business, architecture, and the business of architecture.
Urgency Not Haste
by Daniel Frisch
Posted June 5th, 2018

Residential design and construction are founded on urgency.  We have not yet met an owner who has commissioned us to design sa new home and said, “no rush; whenever the house is finished is fine with me.”  When someone decides to invest in and build their dream home, yesterday is not soon enough.

A careful study of the time, quality, and money balance suggests the importance of efficiency and schedule management, and urgency equals respect.  Yet, an over-insistent focus on urgency may negatively impact a project. Urgency pushed to its limits becomes haste and invariably leads to mistakes, sacrificing either quality or design, or creating additional costs by way of unnecessary corrective work.

But that is just an analytic argument.  More significantly, haste disrupts the creative process.  A rush to finish solely to meet the schedule demands and deadlines imposed by a client or boss, or to help contractors meet aggressive schedules, produces predictably substandard results.

One Monday morning we listened to a TED Talk by Adam Grant about “Original Thinkers,” and I am pleased to report that successful residential architects may be the perfect blend of ‘pre-crastinators’ and procrastinators.  Many of our best ideas and solutions come at times when we are not specifically pursuing an immediate.  For me, I frequently wake at four in the morning with a clarity of purpose, or I mull an idea in the shower or while walking to work.  Slowing down and letting ideas percolate is not necessarily a sign of laziness or a lack of drive; sometimes it’s the most direct route to the best answer.

One of our favorite images is of the duck paddling furiously underwater just to stay afloat.  I contend the duck’s serene above-water bearing is one to be nurtured and that paddling effort goes on without the observation of others.  Speaking for my team, learning to slow down and think critically takes more discipline than driving each other to meet significant if unrealistic goals.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I –

I took the less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Roger Frost 1874-1963