Not content to order the terrestrial environment around them–from large scale (building our cities like an immense and tumultuous shipyard, agile, mobile and dynamic in every detail) to small (rearranging the tables at Panera to ensure absolute perpendicularity before they can possibly sit and consume a Napa Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich in peace)–and as not many people are aware–architects have taken on the redesign of the cosmos. Architects naturally see the cosmos as an extension of the stage on which it is their duty to direct. This is seen in the lectures presented by professionals at prestigious schools of architecture, which habitually begin with a description of the Big Bang, and then proceed to the revelation of how their recent design for an elementary school in Scarsdale is the ultimate and logical conclusion of all natural forces through history since the beginning of time. So it is only to be expected that architects would feel comfortable–nay, feel that it was their professional duty–to redesign the universe (or at least propose a new diagrammatic representation of it), which is rather messy (Just ask one to critique the design of a star chart, and you’ll see what we mean).
Of particular interest is the problem of the constellations that comprise the traditional zodiac. As with most things traditional, this is found wanting (by most architects)–and indeed, if we can trust physics, the constellations no longer represent equal divisions of the zodiac–there’s actually a thirteenth!. Also, the conventional zodiac signs no longer actually align with their constellations. (This is due to something called precession, which is a physics thing; because physics is not tasty [like all math and science, as we have noted before, it just. is.], we will not discuss and instead direct you to this link.) It is true that the number thirteen is interesting for being part of the Fibonacci sequence, but other than that, it is difficult to design with. Furthermore, if you’re going to bother with symbolism, it ought to mean something. Thus the redesigned cosmos and its related Zodiac for Architects, which identifies and organizes newly-identified constellations. Really, who wants to relate to a fish when you could instead identify with a FLAMING SWORD OF TRUTH?!
The results are shown above in the Architect’s Star Chart. (And you thought it was the latest proposal from Zaha Hadid’s office for an art museum or a hat or something.) Can’t read it? Doesn’t matter: isn’t it visually striking?
Even if you are not an architect, you can take part in their corrected Zodiac. The following is a complete list of the twelve signs of the Architects’ Zodiac. It includes the proper Latin name and associated zodiac sign for each, with a description of personality traits and brief list of famous architects who fall under each category. You may find it exceptionally helpful to increase your understanding of the behavior of architects if: (1) you are one, (2) you know one, or, bless your heart, (3) you’ve got one in the family.
Profundus: the Osmium Sphere
(20 January – 18 February; aligned with Aquarius)
At first glance quiet and even ordinary, the Profundan is actually a dynamo of massive potential who completes works of significant proportion, significance and wow-factor. Sometimes they just like to make big things that simply weigh very, very heavily on the earth. Known by the sign of the universal, endless, perfect geometric form of the sphere cast in osmium, the heaviest (and densest, it is worth noting) metal known in the universe, these people are true and truthful, with a bit of the smarty-pants and artsy-fartsy about them. Remember that simple-looking things can actually be quite complex; in practical terms: never ask them “howzit goin’?” and expect to make your tee-time.
Famous Profundans: Hadrian (24 January), John Vanbrugh (24 January) & Etienne-Louis Boullée (12 February)
Tyrannus Veritas: the Flaming Sword of Truth
(19 February – 20 March; aligned with Pisces)
From a distance the one born under of this symbol may appear quiet and unassuming. They sometimes accomplish this by spending lots of time alone reading books, scanning the internet and watching cable news programming that reinforces their commitments. They are the true believers of their causes, which they will champion to the end. The Tyrannus will think nothing of sacrificing physical and mental health to pursue their goals of Veritas, no matter the extent to which their beliefs match those of anyone else.
Famous bearers of the Flaming Sword of Truth: Louis I. Kahn (20 February), Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1 March), Michelangelo (6 March), Albert Speer (March 19)
Exquisitus: the Cravat
(21 March – 19 April; aligned with Aries)
Cravat people are confident people. Who else could pull off that look—be it the actual cravat, or whatever is the favored foppish-cool architect-cult accessory du jour (round horn-rimmed tortoiseshell glasses, lace cuffs, bow ties, artfully-but-casually-draped scarves)? This confidence comes from the Exquisitus’ natural creativity, intelligence and a very strong sense of self-worth. They may have been their parents’ only child, or maybe were mummy’s favorite (and really, who can blame her?). They are ambitious and driven to succeed and see their plans through, always with the aplomb that encourages (don’t say “manipulates”–such an ugly word!) others to join them. You may find them imperious, but that’s only because you aren’t as swish as Jeremy Northam.
Famous Exquisitases: Jules Lavirotte (25 March), William Lescaze (27 March), Edwin Lutyens (29 March), Raymond Hood (29 March), Henry van de Velde (3 April) & Thomas Jefferson (13 April)
Subverto: the Wrecking Ball
(20 April – 20 May; aligned with Taurus)
Subvertos are driven in a way to accomplish great things with practical efficiency. At first that sounds great, but keep in mind that they are the Shivas of the Architect’s Zodiac: they come to destroy. They don’t mean to be mean; they think they are cleansing the world of negative energy and bad stuff. When their energies are directed toward such housecleaning, they are a mightily positive force for good, since their bull-like will and strength simply mows down anything in their path. Unfortunately, as often as not, they are on the wrong path and will not budge from it. If you are on their side, bully for you. If not, you’d better take cover.
Famous Eradicos: John Russell Pope (24 April), Antonio Sant’Elia (30 April), Hans Poelzig (30 April), Walter Gropius (18 May)
Materia Divinus: the Sacred Log
(21 May – 20 June; aligned with Gemini)
This sign is the most metaphysical of the Architect’s Zodiac. Architects born under the sign of the Sacred Log have a strong sense of oneness with the universe, love for nature, and a need to find significance in everything. Everything. (They would think nothing of addressing a G.C. thusly: “There’s a double knot in that 2×4? What does this mean? It’s so intense!”) They will sometimes need help remembering to eat, since they get distracted reflecting on the mystical beauty of their tuna sandwich. Not surprisingly, these highly imaginative folks can be moody and changeable. They tend to have highly attractive personalities, since spending time with them is sort of like watching the meerkats at the zoo: what will he do next??!!
Famous bearers of the Sacred Log: Charles Rennie Mackintosh (7 June), Bruce Goff (8 June), Frank Lloyd Wright (8 June)
Optimus Maximus: the Gold Star
(21 June – 22 July; aligned with Cancer)
These architects are driven to push themselves, the field and the world to new places from a firm foundation in the best of tradition. They are steadfast and unchanging in their pursuit of excellence and awesomeness which they only fail to achieve if some dork (probably a Tyrannus or Audentia) gets in their way. Optimusses do everything to the utmost extreme; they want to know the beginnings of all origins and imagine the final conclusions of all ends. They will climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, go to the mat, grab the bull by its horns and turn every knob to 11, as long as the goal is something important to them. If it’s not, good luck getting them out of bed in the morning.
Famous Optimusses: Robert Adam (3 July), Otto Wagner (13 July), Inigo Jones (15 July), Jacques-Germaine Soufflot (22 July)
Fortis: the Kodiak
(23 July – 22 August; aligned with Leo)
No one overlooks the terrible awesomeness of Fortis; they do not allow it. This bossy sign is dedicated to grand displays of power. They have strong opinions and like to be in leadership positions. To more deliberate and thinky types they can appear to be rash in judgment, but usually this is a result of keen and quick analysis. They are strong leaders but can be a pain in the butt for those in a position of followership. They appear to have big fat egos, and may, but sometimes it’s well-earned. Underneath they have a soft underbelly and are really just great big teddy bears; but be careful where you tickle them. To be safe, make sure there’s a tree nearby that you can climb. Fast.
Famous Audentia Fortises: Richard Rogers (23 July), Konstantin Melnikov (3 August), Joseph Paxton (3 August), William Van Alen (10 August), Peter Eisenman (11 August) & Eero Saarinen (20 August)
Mens Mentis: the Brain
(23 August – 22 September; aligned withVirgo)
The Mens Mentis lives for the light-bulb moment: having it themselves and inspiring others to achieve that aha! that changes the way everyone sees everything. They are charming speakers and elegant companions who can impart almost as much information as they can draw out of their companions. They are intuitive and have good memories, can be very analytical. They work well with others as long as the others do not provide resistance. They’re not afraid to share their opinions, with an emphasis on the “share” part. There’s really nothing funny here since these people would be great collaborators.
Famous Brains: Ödön Lechner (27 August 27), Louis Sullivan (September 3), Daniel Hudson Burnham (September 4), Thomas Ustick Walter (4 September), Sebastiano Serlio (6 September), Charles Follen McKim (August 24)
Novitas: the Inventor
(23 September – 22 October; aligned withLibra)
Novitans have a strong desire to find balance through beauty, however they may define it, and they are willing to go to great lengths to discover or make a world that reflects their inner vision. In an effort to create this harmonious world they may upset the proverbial apple cart. With lack of support they can be very shy and withdrawn, with too much attention, they turn into egomaniacs. Novitans need frequent reality checks, and reminders that their creations may take on a life of their own.
Famous Novitans: William LeBaron Jenney (25 September), Francesco Borromini (25 September), Henry Hobson Richardson (29 September), Giambattista Piranesi (4 October), Le Corbusier (6 October), Christopher Wren (20 October)
(23 October – 21 November; aligned withScorpio)
These bold personalities are masters of organization and can overcome virtually any obstacle, no matter the scale. They go big and they go alone. Among all of the signs that describe personalities with strong drive, the Sumptus is the one that most covets luxurious spoils of their labors. But do not confuse this with being materialistic. Stuff is the physical, tangible, result of hard work, and beautiful stuff is in the world to be enjoyed, so why not? Instead of an unfinished vault, they envision a surface waiting to be gilded or frescoed; where others see plastic extrusion, they imagine material that can be spun into a $250 pair of shoes. Their vision and efforts ornament our world, and fill their own pockets.
Famous Sumptuses: Paul Philippe Cret (24 October), Richard Morris Hunt (31October), Zaha Hadid (31 October), Charles Garnier (6 November)
Dramaticus: the Spotlight
(22 November – 21 December; aligned withSagittarius)
Dramaticans are deep thinkers, sometimes bordering on the philosophical, as long as they have an audience. This tendency does not guarantee that they necessarily get things right, but they do like to think, and talk about what they think about. They focus on the big and small ideas in life and can be very intense with what they do about it; they flourish when praised and work hard for recognition–they are grand self-promoters. Lots of energy that requires focus in productive venues and they like fast results; they don’t stick with one idea for long since the philosophical breeze blows them this way and that. This is good when they have latched on to a bad idea–it may not last, but too bad when they give up on something with real potential.
Famous Dramaticusses: El Lissitzky (23 November), Michel de Klerk (24 November),Gottfried Semper (29 November), Andrea Palladio (30 November), Gianlorenzo Bernini (7 December), Adolf Loos (10 December), Gustave Eiffel (15 December), Lluís Domènech i Montaner (21 December)
Uomo: THE Man
(22 December – 19 January; aligned with Capricorn)
No one on the corner has swagga like the Uomo. Given their posing and preening, you’d be surprised at how smart they are. They like to focus their intellectual skills on solving practical problems, and enjoy stability and order, systematic action and purpose. When attacked the Uomo will ignore the criticism or crush it immediately. They like solving problems for other people and keep their own to themselves; they keep their inner sadness locked far beneath their imposing shells. Often provoked to challenge authority, they love nothing better than becoming the authority in turn. Inside every Uomo Architect is a 98-pound intern architect. Uomo is The Man.
Famous Uomos: Joseph Maria Olbrich (22 December), Vladimir Tatlin (28 December),Victor Horta (6 January), Phillip Webb (12 January), Claude Perrault (12 January) & François Mansart (13 January)
The fractal image at the top comes from this site
The one on the bottom comes from this site