Models on display in the lobby of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill-Chicago's studio on Michigan Avenue.
Models on display in the lobby of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill-Chicago's studio on Michigan Avenue.

On day in 1999 as I arrived for a visit to the offices of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, I was delighted to find an exhibit of SOM building models in the ground floor lobby.  Suddenly, I was a kid in a candy store. The light was subdued and I didn't have a tripod. All of the glass made flash photography impractical.  I did the best I could to capture not only models, but the mood.

On this indoor, remote island of ideas were primitive shapes, rough concepts, more fleshed-out ideas and very intricate designs that took me across a whole spectrum of the thought process behind supertall skyscrapers. To complete this world-in-a-bubble, the island even had its own floor of textured metal tile.

My 35mm camera was woefully inadequate for the job. I wanted to preserve as much of this experience as I could. This is exactly the kind of mental space I go to when I write and produce media, the foggy island where ideas are conceived and built upon. Some don't get very far, some see the light of day, many more do not, but all are equally important in the creative process. Thoughts and ideas that don't make one project may find life in others.

I wish I could have planted my desk and workstation in the middle of this, but really, in a way I already do.