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First Ink


As a licensed architect I'm required by law use a seal "to identify all construction documents prepared by the registrant or under the registrant's supervision and control for use in Texas". In other words, I have to stamp and sign my drawings.

Back in the day architects used a physical rubber stamp but today it's far more common for drawings to be issued electronically and for a "digital" stamp to be used. That's why even though I've been an architect for over a decade I never actually had a reason to use the physical stamp I purchased after I earned my license. I kept it tucked away in a drawer, it's surface unsullied by the ink that impregnated the pad sitting next to it.

As it came time to release the drawings for the project we're doing in Big Bend we realized that the National Park Service requires (amongst many other things) that a set of "record" drawings be produced with a physical stamp and signature. And so after eleven years of waiting, my architect's stamp finally was given the chance to do that which it was made to do.

I have to admit that the act of signing and stamping a set of drawings is a remarkably satisfying experience. The physical act provides a fulfilling closure to what is often abstract, digital process of working for months on a computer. 

I'll still use the digital stamp for most of my projects but it's nice to know the physical stamp is there, ready and willing, should the need arise.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

To become an architect one must complete several tasks.

One must survive five years of architecture school followed by as many years "interning" in an architecture office. One must pay vast sums of money to a quasi-governmental organization to maintain records (that one must pay additional monies to access). And then, when all that is done, one must past a series of constantly changing physical and emotional tests that have little or nothing to do with the actual practice of architecture.

If one happens to live in San Antonio, one most likely will take these tests at a testing center near the intersection of 281 and Thousand Oaks. The center itself is located deep within the bowls of a building and one must walk down a long, dark corridor before having one's person searched for contraband. Only then can one enter the sacred exam room to sit for the dreaded 6, 7 or 9 exams. 

All of this, of course, is completely absurd.

I was walking by the testing center the other day and happened to look down the corridor that I walked down so many times so many years ago. I couldn't help but smile. Then I spat upon the ground and walked away.