How Bruce Brought my Brain back

by Beat Baudenbacher, Partner & CCO

I was a little irritated when David Erdman, Chair of Graduate Architecture and Urban Design (GAUD) at PRATT, introduced Bruce Mau at last night’s PRATT SESSIONS by rattling off a list of Mr. Mau’s numerous awards. For the better part of my award-eligible design life, I had used no.26 of his Incomplete Manifesto for Growth as a rational backbone for my argument not to play the awards-circuit-game.

Well, it looks like Mr. Mau isn’t the first person in history not to follow through with his own manifesto. Which makes him human. And actually, makes me like him more. Even though I really loved having an imaginary ally in not playing the awards game!

But I feel like I have gained a much more important intellectual ally last night. The one that says: It’s ok to think. It’s ok to question. But most importantly, it’s ok to express this stuff. Unanswered and all.

For the first 3 months of what is shaping up to be a much shittier year for humanity than 2016 (and that’s hard to do!), I feel like I have been in an exhausted physical and numb mental state. For me, this new reality we live in has been, as I assume it has for many people around the world, extremely difficult to cope with and accept. What has been the most exhausting, besides the perpetual replay in my head of “HTF did we get here?”, is the threat of tearing down nearly EVERYTHING I have come to base my rational and emotional existence on.

That human progress is based on learning from our mistakes once we are able to intellectualize them. That an open, educated and liberal society is the goal of all democracies. That democracy itself is, with all its inherent flaws, the most achievable, human and humane form of societal organization. And that design in all shapes and forms is the underlying visual and conceptual framework that shapes and structures and beautifies the human quest for progress.

All of that is in question. And as I try to find coping mechanisms, besides, you know, coping substances, I have realized that what can’t be in question is to keep doing what drives us. Even, or especially, in a world highjacked by small-minded people hell-bent on setting up roadblocks (and walls!) for all of humanity.

Thank you, Bruce Mau, for mapping out an escape route.


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