No matter where you are in this process that I affectionately refer to as “a path,” it probably goes without saying that you’ve already realized that a career in architecture is a crazy one. It’s incredibly demanding and labor-intensive. The hours can be long and the work difficult. The rewards are often few and far-between.
My office specializes in higher-education work, and for the past two years I’ve been working on a handful of projects for Penn State. I’ve probably mentioned that I’m a Penn Stater, and I’ve never been ashamed to admit it (even though the events of the past year — during which you would have had to have been living under a rock to not know what I’m referring to — have tested that resolve a little). One of those projects — the Wellness Center, a 3,800-square-foot addition to the Gymnasium building at the Beaver campus — officially opened last week. The campus held a formal Dedication Ceremony, and an article about it ran in today’s edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It was a modest affair, but done right — over a hundred people attended, including Penn State’s president Rodney Erickson, who was on-hand for some celebratory remarks.
Somewhere in the middle of the pomp and circumstance, listening to Dr. Erickson talk of bright spots that otherwise could have been overshadowed in this difficult year, I started to feel an overwhelming sense of pride. Pride in my alma mater, for sure, but also pride in the work that I had done in the service of it. Functionally, it’s a brand-new fitness center… architecturally, it’s steel, brick, and glass… but metaphorically, the Wellness Center represents a new beginning, one that I had a hand in making a reality.
I’ll admit it — I sometimes get lost in the day-to-day minutiae, so much so that the enormity of what I do is lost on me. The project has affected the students, the campus, the community, and, by extension, the entire university. I realized that I have not only been working to create a wonderful new facility, I’ve also been helping Penn State take steps forward into its future. It’s times like these when I am truly humbled by this great profession that I’ve chosen to serve. I can think of no greater reward.