23. Home Tours

Some people collect coins.  Others collect stamps.  Some have collections of old movie ticket stubs or other event tickets and can tell you about each experience in great detail.  Architects are a bit odd in that they collect many things that have no use.  For instance, they’ll have a drawer full of pens that are all but dried up, yet they won’t throw them away because they claim the intermittent ink supply is great for drawing dashed lines…never mind the fact they don’t draw on paper anymore.  Some architects collect books.  They have a library filled floor to ceiling with publications that address all topics of architecture, design, structures, and more.  Let’s be real:  how many architects have the time to actually read books?  Most of the books architects ‘read’ are the ones with lots of pictures, and even then, those books get a quick browse with the occasional pause on really interesting or shocking photos (S,M,L,XL anyone?).

Stamp Collection

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Architects collect many things, but perhaps the most perplexing is home tour memorabilia.  Tucked away in a folder or forgotten drawer, you’ll find a mountain of colorful brochures, informative pamphlets, ticket stubs and receipts that indicate exactly where the architect’s last paycheck went.

Home Tour!

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Home tours are wildly popular among architects and self-proclaimed designers, as indicated by the quantity of tours offered.  In Houston alone, there are five advertised tours, as well as individual tours provided by a guide (most likely intended as a tourist excursion to show off great architectural mysteries such as the beer can house).  We have tours based around holidays, and surrounding the blooming of plant life.  We have tours that focus on historic homes and micro-neighborhoods that we never realized went by a separate name.

Home tours appeal to architects for a variety of reasons:

– Innocent intentions:  you pay a hefty fee to view great residential designs by local talents; the price is worth it to see such great architecture.

– Cynical intentions:  you pay a hefty fee to critique the latest designs by local talents; the price is the next thing you’ll be critiquing.

– Devious intentions:  you pay a hefty fee to stew in public about why your project wasn’t selected for the tour, under the guise of ‘critiquing’ the local talents; they should have selected your home for the tour AND let your whole family in for free!

– Lofty hopes:  you pay a hefty fee to buddy up to other architects in hopes of forming a partnership; subsequently you get to stew about how they didn’t go for the idea and how their practice won’t last ‘til the next home tour because of it.  You spend the next several hours wondering if the architects on the tour get a cut of the entrance fees.

– Two for one: you pay a hefty fee to fawn all over the home’s architect in hopes of getting a job offer, and you get to write off the cost of the tour as a job hunting expense.  Who cares how much it costs?  The benefits far outweigh it.

– Philanthropic ideologies:  you pay a hefty fee to spend a Saturday engaging in ‘cultural’ activities while supporting your local AIA chapter; money is no object – you’re doing good things.

– (Subconscious) Narcissistic tendencies:  you pay a hefty fee to see and be seen; especially by anyone who might hire you for a project or think you’re awesome for being a designer.  Soon they’ll be paying you to come to the tours!

– Free design and decorating ideas:  you pay a hefty fee to get ‘free’ design ideas from your neighbors.  Never mind the fact you’re still unwilling to shop anywhere except IKEA because everyone else is ‘price gouging’ you.  That $50 entrance ticket was worth it.

– Eco-consciousness:  you pay a hefty fee because you’re itching to discuss the latest LEED home requirements and how the home’s underground water cistern is saving the earth from peril, one drop at a time.  The earth is priceless; no fee could keep you from raising awareness!

– Hoarding:  you pay a hefty fee to collect business cards of designers you’ll never contact.  Somehow it made sense to go on the tour, but that thought has passed…at least they’ll be a nice addition to the rest of the home tour memorabilia you have in that old drawer.

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