window in a tall building

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My mind tends to be over-introspective by habit, and a new year is the time to endorse that habit, to hide away in a warm corner of a quiet house, maybe find a fire and a small table, a cup of something hot to drink.

I stare out windows: Airplanes, tall buildings, landscape views.

Our portfolio has grown. We did more than forty projects last year – we’re thankful for the opportunities, new clients and repeats. Just getting work on the website has been a project, and now it’s time to clarify and rebuild the list we’ve posted online.

At lunch, in a tall building now, I know the owners of almost every building within walking distance. Thankful for relationships with many of them. This is why we think Raleigh is a small town – despite its growth, despite its ambition, despite its notice around the world, we still know each other’s names. Every building has a story, and they’re not hard stories to explain.

However, looking at these buildings is like flipping through a yearbook – most likely to succeed, class clown, bff. I’m looking at a lot of opportunity, I’m remembering a lot of ambition, but I’m not seeing much change.

I’m looking out this window at three beautiful projects where our office was involved personally, that didn’t happen. Each one started with unstoppable ambition, full force intention, executed with creativity and necessity, and collaborative design, and then stopped unbuilt. Our city is still left staring at the green-metal storefront indecisions on Wilmington Street. Taz’s is still the only retail market in downtown, all credit to Mr. Taz himself – thank you, sir, for your follow-through, and for serving the community.

But what about the other ideas we had? What about the goals we had during coffee shop conversations, when all we could do was dream? Those weren’t empty dreams. They were real, and necessary, and beautiful ideas.

We still want to build this city, and we want to be the ones to do it. Before we wait for council to motivate outside industry, before we resolve ourselves that the new ideas probably aren’t worth the ROI, let’s go back to that yearbook and re-read those scribbled song lyrics, friendship promises, and remember those visions for the future.

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