I spent my first year of graduate school in Doug Allen’s office.
I went there because I had questions and Doug had answers for seemingly everything. “Why do loggias exist?” Answer: having no medieval counterpart, loggias represented a change in attitude about “civic space” in Italy between 1300 and 1500 AD, possibly derived from fragments of buildings and texts. Of course. Doug would patiently lean back in his chair and answer my questions as if retelling a great story over a bottle of wine. I was spellbound. “What is the difference between art and architecture?” Doug scratched out Rosalind Krauss’s diagram with a #2 pencil to explain sculpture in the expanded field. When asked why our cities are squared off grids, Doug stood with his arms out like Da Vinci’s man and said, “humans are about so big and we need rooms so big,” motioning to the four corners of his office, “the city grows from our dimensions.” I saw Atlanta extend outward in our image.
“Doug would patiently lean back in his chair and answer my questions as if retelling a great story over a bottle of wine.”
One time I asked him which of the books on his big wall of books someone should read if they could only read one. Without sounding brassy at all, he said, “the book I plan to write.” It is a great loss that his book was never written.
And, when I finally asked Doug if I should study city planning and become an urban designer, he thought that was a good idea. It was a damn good idea and still is.
Jeff Williams, AICP
Senior Project Designer, Associate Principal