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Stephen Miller is not an Architect

Not an architect…

Not an architect…

During this first month of 2019 I performed a little experiment. I set up a Google Alert to notify me whenever the phrase “architect of” was used. I did this because I was curious how often the term was used to describe an architect who designed a building as opposed to being used metaphorically to describe the designer of something else.

It turns out the term is rarely used to describe actual architects.

Below is a compiled list of all the other things “architect of” can be used to describe. You’ll notice some trends. The phrase is disproportionately used to describe NFL defensive coaches and Republican political strategists:

the architect of Train-18 retires from ICF retires from ICF

the architect of immigration policies

the architect of the foundation of Boise State's football success

the architect of it all

the architect of the strong culture of competent, compassionate caring

the architect of the ascension of the UW program

the architect of the Favre-era Packers

the architect of its progressive economic measures

the architect of a broad measure that House Democrats

the architect of much of Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda

the architect of Senate Republicans' plan to give President Donald Trump his border wall

the architect of the North's governing "juche" ideology of self-reliance

the architect of many of the run schemes

the architect of the memo

the architect of a growing program

the architect of the Saints roster that earned home-field advantage

the architect of their stylish attack

the architect of the Moody Blues sound

the architect of Australia's downfall as he ended the innings with figures of 6/41

the architect of the most successful run in the last century of Cubs baseball

the architect of both goals in his side's hard-earned 2-1 win at ANZ Stadium

the architect of India's bright start

the architect of the bombing attack against the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole

the architect of ESSA, which passed in 2015

the architect of an FA Cup giant-killing four years later

the architect of the German unification

the architect of neoconservatism

the architect of what types of customized spaces and components should be introduced

the architect of one of the top companies in the space

the architect of Finland’s golden generation

the architect of the world’s largest biometric project

the architect of undying memories

the architect of two Ravens Super Bowl squads

the architect of the NFL's 27th-ranked offense

the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks

the architect of the Renault-Nissan alliance

the architect of the Boston Red Sox team that steamrolled the opposition in 2018

the architect of the network's burgeoning Star Trek universe

the architect of the scheme used to survey about a thousand nearby star systems

the architect of Bearcat football

the architect of the Constitution

the architect of Trump's Tuesday night speech

the architect of No. 2 Michigan's lockdown defense

the architect of the law that created Medicare Part D in 2003

the architect of two Super Bowl-winning teams

the architect of Wakanda

the architect of the financial system in the fledgling United States

the architect of the best defense of all time

the architect of mega-bank mergers

the architect of Bahrain's growth

the architect of the broad strokes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

the architect of the 1985 Bears defense

the architect of building Furniture Row Racing to a championship level

the architect of the rise to power of President Donald Trump

the architect of product innovation for the California-based Deutsche Telekom

the architect of the Renault-Nissan alliance

the architect of the disengagement

the architect of a legal theory of obstruction that was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court

the architect of the 1963 March on Washington

the architect of an unprovoked nuclear attack carried out by the United States

the architect of the Environmental Protection Agency

the architect of choice for developers and luxury brands

the architect of the country's economic reforms

the architect of the Cowboys early 1990s renaissance

the architect of L.O.L. Surprise!

the architect of much of Mr. Trump's immigration agenda

the architect of the Hotshots' title triumph in the season-ending Governors Cup

the architect of unified modern India

the architect of some of the White House stiffest immigration measures

the architect of Acts of Random Kindness

the architect of U.S. foreign policy to sustain their aura of power

the architect of the currency union

the architect of the King legacy

the architect of complicated legislative maneuvers

the architect of programmatic passivity

the architect of Thaksinomics

the architect of the TPP

the architect of Robb’s brief, turbulent tenure

the architect of the cross-party move

the architect of the SNP's rise to power

the architect of their defense

the architect of the Paris Agreement on climate change

the architect of Renault's increased Formula 1 commitment

the architect of the 2019 revision of the Book of Common Prayer

the architect of a U.S. military strike in Syria

the architect of your police leadership career

the architect of the Giants' success

the architect of disinformation

the architect of his misfortune

the architect of bad governance in Kenya

the architect of a nearly $2 million real estate investment scam

the architect of Warner Bros.' stable of DC Comics films

the architect of the New England Patriots' reign

the architect of the 1985 Chicago Bears' defense

the architect of the president’s campaign platforms in its early days

the architect of the Specials and the 2-Tone movement

the architect of the Blüthner piano

the architect of an eye-popping $50 billion acquisition spree

the Architect of the Slam Poetry Scene

Fiber Huts

When news broke last week that the City of San Antonio was pausing construction on several of the "network huts" required for the implementation of Google's fiberoptic broadband internet service I was both excited and concerned. On the one hand I was thrilled to hear that physical construction had begun on San Antonio's Google Fiber network. On the other hand I was worried to hear that there had been some localized pushback.

One hut that had been the source of criticism was the one built in Haskin Park. My family actually lives less than a mile from there (the girls and I have ridden our bikes there in the past) and so I decided to take a look and see just how offensive these little buildings were.

There's not a whole lot to a fiber hut: the one in Haskin Park was about thirty feet long by about ten feet wide. The windowless prefabricated building is surrounded by a larger service yard enclosed by a cedar fence. It's pushed to the southern edge of the park and although it seems like pushing it to the rear (eastern end) of the park would have made it less conspicuous it didn't seem like its placement interfered much with how the park is used.

the current fiber hut at Haskin Park

the current fiber hut at Haskin Park

In the grand scheme of things, the hut seemed pretty innocuous and certainly less offensive than the artifacts created by the recent "fracking" boom that are now scattered throughout north and south Texas. It would be easy to dismiss this sort of thing as a typical NIMBY response but there is a legitimate philosophical concern about eroding public park space with structures that support commercial interests. San Antonio certainly is not alone in its struggle with this sort of thing.

Still, I was left with a sense that how fiber huts have been built so far represented a missed opportunity both for Google and the City of San Antonio. Rather than see these structures as pieces of telecommunication infrastructure to be hidden, why not celebrate them as opportunities to improve the places where they are located? Rather than look at these huts as a necessary evil, why not embrace them as a way for a corporate entity to reach out to the customers in the city it serves.

In other words, this struck me as a design problem; one that could be addressed by architecture.

We wondering what this sort of thing might look like and so we did what architects do: we started doodling. The current arrangement is simply a hut surrounded by a wood security fence and starting there we began to imagine how that fence could do a better job of screening while evolving into and amenity for the park itself.

Concern has been expressed about the noise that is periodically produced by the cooling units and back-up generators associated with the huts. To address this an earthen berm could be built to acoustically isolate the hut from the rest of the park. A more robust screening element could then be built to act as a canvas for graphics to imbue the structure with a an identity related to its particular neighborhood. This berm and screen could act as a framework for other activities: it could become a play structure itself or even a stage for public performances.

Keep in mind we know nothing about the actual requirements for these network huts, the agreement Google has with the City of San Antonio or the budgets that are in place. This quick design exercise was made in a vacuum merely to illustrate what an alternative approach might look like. It is but one solution to the problem. It would be easy to imagine many others. 

In fact, we were reminded of the Park Pavilion Program that has seen nearly forty new park structures built throughout the city of Dallas. Designed by multiple architects these pavilions have become an excellent example of how good design can imbue places with identity and utility. It's not difficult to imagine a similar program in San Antonio where a series of pavilions sponsored by Google screen the huts that support their network while also giving back the the community they serve.