I had the pleasure of attending my first ground breaking last week. It was for a significant new academic building on a local college campus that I have been very heavily involved in the design and documentation of over the last year. What really sticks out in my head, after all the speeches were given and the ceremonial photographs were taken, is just how amazing it is to see and hear how many people really "get" the building.
As architects, we have spent a considerable amount of time listening to our client's wish list and understanding their program, getting to know the particular site, its challenges and opportunities, generating concepts, debating their merits and flaws, thinking about how people will use the spaces and going through the challenging task of attempting to deliver the best building while remaining on budget. As I listened to the various speeches being given, it was truly humbling hearing how many people were looking forward to the opening of this building some 2 years from now. What was really great was hearing that, months before even a shovel has truly gone into the ground (ceremonial shoveling of dirt aside) people were beginning to get excited about what this building meant to the University. It was not just that it is a new building with more modern facilities, the future users (students and faculty) seemed to understand that this building will be a place for the campus to come together and collaborate. Hearing the student body president talk about how he looked forward to the campus having a new place to meet and study and about how his favorite feature would be the terrace and green roof overlooking the campus where anyone could go sit and study was an incredible feeling. I look forward to being able to update more as this project progresses.