I usually don’t tell people that I cut my own hair. I’ve been doing it since last summer, and it’s been a real journey of self-discovery. I like the feel of having short hair and of being able to run my fingers through it. Feeling the breeze on my head when I walk or ride my bike is very liberating.

At the same time, long hair is very stylish. Having a long head of groomed hair seems so majestic and free. Having short, buzzed hair seems to imply a militaristic or Spartan reserve. A buzz cut is the sign of a man who is regulated, either by his own will or someone else’s.

With all this in mind I found it very strange when my roommate, after watching me cut my own hair, asked me to cut his as well. Now, to set the record straight, my roommate has a lot of hair. I could never imagine having so much hair in a this hot New York summer, but he manages to pull it off pretty well and so I was shocked when he asked me to cut most of it off (firstly because I think longer hair is stylish, and secondly because I’ve never cut anyone’s hair but my own!)

Nevertheless, I took on the challenge and gave him a haircut. It was a really strange experience – I was altering the way he looked in a very permanent way and he trusted me to do what I thought looked fashionable and feasible. I don’t often have that kind of responsibility. Or do I?


I see all sorts of parallels between cutting hair and architecture. A haircut is like the design of a building – the client puts his livelihood in an architect’s hands and expects the architect and his (or her) team to create a space that is both beautiful and pragmatic. Essentially, architecture is like a very permanent, very expensive haircut.

How does this play out in the built environment? Just like hairstyles change over time, so do building types. Some buildings can be very clean-cut (compare Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House to a buzz haircut) while others can be very formed and sculpted compare Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall to the “Big Hair” styles of the 70’s).


As an architecture student, I am essentially learning how to “cut hair” and develop a style at a slightly larger and more permanent scale. I think New York is a great place for seeing a whole range of “styles”, but every place has its own vernacular design and its own culture to convey. I need to learn how to take what I see from nature and the built environment and craft it into buildings that are responsive to the physical and ecological themes of the place. I need to learn how to create something that exemplifies utility, commodity, and beauty. And maybe I need to give a few more haircuts too.



For the past week my boss's keyboard has been broken. He always writes his emails giving me recommendations and advice for what to do on the projects at hand, and I find his messages very helpful. However, his computer is very old and his keyboard is currently broken so that the caps lock cannot be turned off.

Normally if I receive an email in all-caps I delete it as spam, but I have been living with my boss's emails flying at me in all caps for the past week. It's a really weird phenomenon, but for some reason, CAPS LOCK IS GENERALLY PERCEIVED AS ANGER AND AGGRESSION. Plus it's just poor typographical form. Anyways, I've been a bit on edge at work when I receive his "angry" emails, (but just to set the record straight my boss is a great guy).

This brings me to my main point. New York is a city with its caps-lock key stuck on. Almost everywhere I've been and almost everything I've seen is either superlative, excessive, over-sized, or overwhelming. The buildings are bigger, the people are more forward, the culture is more diverse, and the lifestyle is WAY more fast paced. I enjoy it, but just like my boss's emails, it certainly has been keeping me on edge.
Times Square is a perfect example of this kind of "Caps lock" lifestyle. I commute through the square every day and recently I made the mistake of walking above ground during peak operating hours. Here's a photo of what it looks like.