Friday, October 11, 2013

nuff said

My friend Stephen is an architect with an undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics.  On one of his school projects he used fractal geometry to determine gaps and spaces between objects and walls to allow for views and provide a feeling of continuity beyond rooms.  It was really well done.  The chair of the department walked into the studio, glanced at Stephen's project, and then informed him that his work was strikingly close to Mies.  Mies van der Rohe was a giant in the field of architecture.  On the other hand, he died in 1969, thus beating Stephen's ideas by half a century.  Mies didn't use fractals as far as anyone knows but his design sensibilities were similar.

While Stephen enjoyed order and logic in his designs, the same could not be said about his self.  He created cognitive dissonance almost everywhere he went, and still does. You see, Stephen's parents were part of a group of Hong Kong residents who left prior to the handover and settled into Britain or one of her territories.  This is why Stephen, the brainy, brilliant mathematician/architect, is likely to greet you with "Wha'appen!" or "Wha'up!" when you speak to him.  Stephen was raised from the age of four in Jamaica.  He has a certain limping swagger to his step and he walks even slower than a typical Hong Kong teenager who is watching movies on his/her mobile phone in Causeway Bay.

We once traded iPods and aside from David Gray, all of his music is Reggae.  All. Of. It.  

He has risen in the ranks of his international firm faster than anyone else in our graduating class, much to the surprise of several instructors who previously despaired that he would ever stop pontificating on equations and actually build something before the term ended. He is very, very precise and accurate in his practice but he is also the guy who discovered his car under a foot of snow in the faculty lot after he had parked it days ago and forgotten where it was. Probably the only reason it wasn't impounded was that no one wanted to deal with removing the snow.

Stephen visits HK from time to time for his job but during his last visit, he was part of some sort of reunion of his parents and their friends. For a week, Ma On Shan was inundated with a group of thirty-something Chinese men all doing the homey limp and speaking in Jamaican Patois. Stephen said that it caused a lot of heads to turn.

No comments: