Crafting a Legacy

What are the markers of a fruitful life?  Is it what you earn?  What you collect?  The accolades that hang on your wall?  If you ask fifty people, you're almost certain to get fifty different answers.  That's what makes humanity great.  That's what makes our world interesting and rich in diversity.  While many answers would align with the descriptions above and they would be right, many others would proudly proclaim that material things don't matter; that the more meaningful indicators can be found in the human traces of your lives - people you have impacted in positive ways, contributions to culture, the virtues instilled into your children or grandchildren.  These people would be right as well.  All things matter.  Everything we do, everything we touch, the people and things with whom/which we surround ourselves, those on whom we lean and those who lean on us - these are the fibers of our human existence.  The energy contained within these fibers and the spirit with which their impact on the world lives on in our absence - this defines our legacy.

As human beings, women and men in this world driven to make a meaningful difference and to instigate productive change, we take accountability for what we do.  As architects, designers and creative motivators, we are ever-mindful of the ownership we must take for our actions and the responsibility we must assume for the alterations we make to the world.  If a painter disgraces his/her canvas with a poorly-considered painting, nothing is lost but time and pigment.  A new masterpiece can be painted atop the failure and that painter has been redeemed.  For architects, the impact of our failures can reach far beyond the walls of our studios.  A bad building or a poorly considered public space can damage people's lives.  The viability of businesses can be threatened, the interactions among families can be set askew.  We design human environments and we therefore embrace the responsibility for not simply protecting these precious things but enriching, empowering and motivating them.  For architects, what we create has legs and the changes we make to the world are long-lasting.  They exist and assert themselves long after we have moved on.  These things we set into motion - together, these are OUR legacy and we should never take them lightly.

In addition to those whom we affect, our legacy is imprinted with the marks of those things from which we choose to draw inspiration.  Every so often, we are lucky enough to encounter a source that provides us with a renewed excitement in our everyday professional pursuits.  At Ellipsis, our pursuit is design; to make meaningful impacts on our clients' lives and on the built environment in which people of the world coexist.  Our renewal comes in many forms as we work everyday in the ever-inspiring City of Chicago.  The energy of people constantly moving, the sound of trains overhead, the impassioned coffee shop conversations.  It never disappoints.  One of the great bright spots in our city and in our local design culture, however, arrives quarterly in the form of MAS Context.  The brainchild of our multi-talented friend/colleague Iker Gil and his incredible team of collaborators, MAS Context "addresses issues that affect the urban context. Each issue delivers a comprehensive view of a single topic through the active participation of people from different fields and different perspectives who, together, instigate the debate."  The work of this thoughtful publication lights a fire in our professional community and motivates rich dialogue toward the productive evolution of our craft.  

In their most recent Issue, Legacy, they focus "on the buildings, places, books, ideas, and proposals that have left or will leave a strong mark on our urban environment."  They ask "Which are the buildings and proposals that have influenced our understanding and approach to architecture? What can we learn from those that are no longer standing? How are these legacies carried forward, from the formats that are used to the validity that those legacies may have across generations?"

Their issue explores the theme of legacy and becomes another in a mounting collection of meaningful fibers in their own legacy.  For that legacy and the inspiration it carries, we are very thankful.