Newsletter | May/Jun 2020

Working during lockdown

by jiane du

As I am locked down in my house every day, I feel very lucky to be healthy and working, to start in conceptual design for a Performance Arts Center at Fairfield High School. Nothing makes me feel better than to be designing a building that will house the teaching and performing of the arts for our young people. For the last two months, every time I push the NPR One app on my phone to listen to the news, I feel sad and despair. Then, I go back to my drawing board, or I should say my desk with the computer facing my woodsy backyard in Montclair, to work on the project and I feel better. I am thinking how lucky we are as architects and designers, to be able to think and envision the future, as the current environment suffers. At least, the current funding for the educational projects are still available and projects are still continuing as some other sectors have slowed down or put on hold.

It’s amazing how fast we have evolved, adopted and transformed the workplace from office-base to primarily working from home, as well as socializing with each other online. I was very skeptical at first, refusing to work from home, since my Oakland office only had five people including me. I have learned to make it work, and even embracing it at this point. I still find it difficult to communicate with my team members on the project. It is remarkable that everyone is learning how to use Zoom, Gotomeeting, Microsoft Team or Google Hangout to conduct meetings with clients like the school districts and to connect with coworkers and friends. I’ve even met with my book club and drawing group via Zoom and Gotomeeting. So, instead of drawing at other people’s backyard with friends, I am forced to sit alone in my own backyard and draw. Then, I get on Zoom and share with them my process and the joy I had in discovering the trees in my own backyard.

Jian's water color of her garden

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