Transitioning Well

I don’t like change.  I suspect that nobody does.  But life is change and I’d like to suggest that change is always a good thing.


Changing circumstances keep us sharp; change causes us to hone our skills; change keeps life fresh and it can re-energize you while undergoing a bad case of project boredom or exhaustion.  In short, change causes growth and bestows many blessings affording an opportunity to start anew, to walk down an alternate path, to harmonize with life in a different octave.      


December 28 marked the “transition” of Greg Chapman, the “C” of PCH, into a different stage of life: a full-time career as an artist.  Note that I did not use the word “retirement” for a reason.  True to form, a great creative mind cannot sit idle, not even for a season, but it always transitions into a different means of expression. 


What is Greg’s [not so] hidden talent?  He is a gifted artist and extraordinary painter, merging architecture with art, creating paintings that possess an eye-popping, bold quality of color complemented by the sharp line, yet observantly respectful of the inconsistencies found in organic forms.   


Many famous people are actually multi-talented; in the theater, they are referred to as a “triple threat”, one capable of acting, singing and dancing.  Greg Chapman is an architect, artist and administrator.  Not only did he found an architecture firm, but he successfully managed it for over 30 years.  And now, it’s time for a change. 


I have noticed a set of personal qualities consistent through all of my best bosses; a calm, cool demeanor that acknowledges the difficulties of being an architect yet expects the pursuit of excellence - not perfection - in the work you do.  Good bosses are generous: monetarily and professionally; they trust you to handle challenges; they forgive you when you mess up; they don’t judge you because they are secure enough to admit that they encountered similar struggles in their careers; they dig deep alongside you on difficult projects; they let you work, letting you run with a project as far as you can without hovering; they let you excel.  Greg Chapman has been such a boss. One of the best.  And best of all, clients and consultants love him, too.


I admire folks (actors, writers, performers) who, almost unexpectedly, walk away from their lucrative, memorable and popular contributions to the surrounding social, media and cultural landscape while still at the height of popularity.  They transition, leaving ubiquitous pleasant memories in the hearts and minds of their admirers, stoking endless nostalgia, hunger and television re-runs.  I think of “The Far Side” comic strip, M.A.S.H., Jerry Seinfeld, Greta Garbo, Steven Perry from Journey – all of whom left us thinking, “but we’re not finished enjoying you yet!”


My grandmother and I had this vacation to France planned that we never took.  After my son was born, she laid the mantle for embarking on this trip upon him, and after she passed, I inherited her sewing machine that had never been operated, because she was going to “one day learn to sew.”  I admire the spunk of people who always have a goal, a destination, a skill to develop, a trip not yet taken, a future plan to look forward to.  Such forward thinking is wonderful and inspiring.  And Greg Chapman embodies this same spirit of adventure and “trips not yet taken.”


It’s been said that profound and lasting change in our lives, from year-to-year, is best produced by

the books we read and the people we meet.  The latter has been most poignant to me lately.  I have been changed for the better having worked for Greg Chapman, counting him as a friend and optimistic encourager over the past few years.  Heavens, the entire architectural community has been changed for the better! 


Good luck and God bless you, Greg!  I will miss you.