So, I have started and deleted about 3 blogs this week because none of them feel right. It’s hard to imagine with all the different architectural projects going on in our office and around the world that I am at a loss for a topic, but here I am. Searching desperately for a topic, I noticed my Rubik’s cube glimmering out of the corner of my eye. That’s right, a Rubik’s cube. Let me tell you why I have one at my desk.

Sometime in the early ’80s, when I was in elementary school, I got my first Rubik’s cube. Everyone had one that year and no one could solve it, including me. Oh, I can get one side without a problem, but beyond that nothing. Unless, of course, I took it apart–which I did quite often. Since my childhood every time I see one, I have to grab it and play with it.

Let’s fast forward 30 years to Thanksgiving 2016. My son Alex, was home from college and brought a Rubik’s cube with him. He played with it just like I had, except he could solve it–without taking it apart. For years I had struggled to solve this simple cube and now my son was easily moving the squares around while barely paying attention. I had to learn how, so I asked Alex to teach me over the break. Not only was it easy to learn how to solve it but I discovered Alex was a great teacher. He was able to break down the solution into simple tasks. Once you solve the first side there are approximately 4-6 motion sequences to solve the puzzle.

The Stages to Solve the Rubik’s Cube

How does this relate to architecture? Much like a Rubik’s cube, buildings we design have a fixed amount of 3D space (often dictated by costs) to incorporate a program, including all the rooms and special areas required by the owner. Sometimes you think Room A absolutely must go in the bottom right corner, but as you try to get the other pieces in place, Room A has shifted to the bottom left side. Eventually, as we shift things around, the schematic concept comes together and you have a finished building with all the pieces in the right spot, just like a Rubik’s cube.

The Stages to Solve an Architects Rubik’s Cube