Place-making is among the more helpful definitions of what Architects do. Had a conversation with a good friend this week, who knows our business well, and he still surprised me by dramatically miss-understanding our work. So, let’s say that place-making is one of the first things we do, on the good days.

And there is a need for place, it’s desperate. We’re always moving from one position to another, looking for place, it’s no less than a human condition.

I’ve been going to terrible coffee shops and recently, the worst.  Been out of town for a few reasons, unfamiliar and inconvenient locations, or maybe it’s a sense of adventure.  I’m in one now.  It’s miserable. Only paper cups. Hard floors, flat paint, trim that doesn’t make sense, 2×4 lay-in prismatic lighting, round tables and miss-matched metal chairs. I’ve changed tables twice. The first open option was a too-large round table, right in the middle, next to the counter.  The second was by the window, but also next to the condiment station, microwave, and behind the bean grinders.  I’m now, embarrassingly, trying to use their “meeting room”, with large TV and marker board, surrounded by walls that don’t go to the ceiling. I haven’t escaped the conversations in the main room or the noise of the smoothie machine, but I’m less self-conscious, and there’s an available power outlet.

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Andrew Osterlund is President and Lead Architect at AOArch. He has lived and worked in Architecture in Raleigh since 1998, building and drawing from a broad base of project experience, including city-scale mixed-use development, retail, religious and institutional projects. @aoarch