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Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI
Senior Member
Username: rliebing

Post Number: 1045
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - 07:57 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

by Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI
Cincinnati, OH

We need to say a little more than what would fit on the one sheet.

There was a fellow in the office where I was weaned by name of Bernie Shorr. He was a registered architect, but found his niche in the very same venue that I now find mine-- detailing and specifications. Bernie talked to the vendors and reps [mainly manufacturer’s reps at that time, in business for themselves and peddling various products-- some were good, some did lie a lot and didn’t know their products!]

Bernie gathered information and then as projects evolved he was able to apply that information. He was a partner—the firm being Pepinsky, Grau, Schrand and Shorr. Small outfit with each partner “in charge” of one part of the practice; Mr. Pepinsky was the “older man” with the contacts and wherewithal to garner work and projects; Grau started as Pepinsky's office boy, got his degree and registration and did all the field work [and he was good!, so good that the unions used to run their jurisdictional squabbles by Fred, because he would give them equitable decisions; Schrand was the designer, and rather typical with a single mindset, some elbow bending [an organization man- AIA local, state, etc.]. Bernie Schorr did the rest.

Now the individual legacies of these gentlemen have become part of my legacy [I hope]. And I’ve been thinking that I don’t want to give that up-- I want to give that!! There are experiences from that period [1957-1974] that none of today’s young architects may ever experience! I was able, and encouraged to do things that they may never “see”. I was exposed to information, techniques, attitudes, and solutions that are afar from them-- and they may choose to dismiss them. Too bad! A lot of good lessons.

Legacy I think is not about what “I” did, but more about what was done, and the circumstances why and how it was all done. Do you just give that up? Why do we set some many things out in reference to Wright? Meis? Johnson? Richardson? Wren? Corboo? etc. Why now? Those folks finished their practice years ago! They had no CAD, no word processing-- and no air-conditioning!!! They did things we’d never think of doing-- and did them as we would never approach or accept. Yet, we relish their stories and their, dare I say it……………..legacies!!! What they GAVE to us! The past is available and not all bad!

I’m not peddling it here [because it is not for this audience] but I just finished a book [424 pages] on detailing. You ever have a text like that? You ever have any instruction directed at how to detail-- and why? Or were you too exposed to a Bernie Shorr who made his living and career on detailing-- on putting building together; of getting a “rush” [we didn’t have “highs” in those days] over solving a problem created in design, so the design element was built as it was intended! But now, the book, “giving back”! See? Easy!

When you leave your job and stop working, what will happen to your files [on your computer, in the desktop drawers, and yes, in your mind]? What do you know that is worthwhile, learnings for the future [if they are wise enough to accept it? What have you learned, developed, used, inspired, garnered,-- OK, stolen/ gleaned/absorbed from others that you adapted to your use and techniques, that remain viable and strong; that still teach good, sound lessons despite whatever machinery and electronic magic is involved?

We all hate to give-up, per se! Also, we are “asked” to give so much-- what about what we willingly give over, in good faith, to others that we feel will benefit? Like your professional approach and example [professionalism itself is a personal attribute and not transferable]. Like lessons learned, war stories with valid points, insight, overview, different perspective, flexibility—and hey! new problems solved in old ways!

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