Rutherford, Wilson, & Peter

My next friend, Wilson, is quite the polar opposite of Rutherford. An ambitious architect for a well-respected firm in D.C. Wilson quietly dedicates himself to his work, church, and friends with a dutiful reverence. Growing up alongside him was at times exhausting. Though he accomplished his work to perfection at a fervid pace, his “to do” list never seemed to conclude. Keeping up at this pace would have buried me long ago.

“The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work.”- William Faulkner

Rutherford, Wilson, and I used to sneak into the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh to talk about life. Rutherford would blather about a Bennie Maupin’s role as an influential jazz mutireedist. I would be staring out over the city, watching the sun’s rays play among the tall buildings. Wilson, he would be staring down at the structure of the building, muttering what he would change about its design. His eyes revealed the intensity he felt when surveying the minute details of the painstaking work it took to erect such a majestic object.

Looking back, it was days like sitting in the cathedral that he knew he wanted to become an architect. With a jolt, he would come alive with his own ideas, scratching diagrams and images. Utilizing an arsenal of modern techniques and materials, he would demolish purposeless fluff, added to buildings for popular style’s sake, to pragmatically create a new beauty that worshiped avant-garde efficiency.

Being encased in stone and metal, organized and purposefully place, gave him the sense of right. Buildings to him were like a perfect finger pointing to God in a magnificent display of disciplined work. While most people loved reading in parks, Wilson preferred to read in breathtaking buildings. He always felt more alive, more real, more good, sitting in buildings reading or doing his work. He said once to me, with a wink, “Peter, read Hemingway in a well planned building and truth will fall from its rafters.” Thoughts, for Wilson, were only as clear the spatial drama in his sketches of floor plans.

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