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Architecture & Design

How Time Helped My Story About Gary “Corky” Cunningham

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
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Gary Cunningham Cistercian Burial Crypt
A look at Gary Cunningham's Cistercian Burial Crypt project in Irving. Elizabeth Lavin

A couple of weeks ago on Instagram, I saw a quote from a novelist that said, and I am wildly paraphrasing, a lot of writing comes down to luck. It immediately struck me as true. In my case, it is because many of my more successful stories—and by that I mean ones that were satisfying to me—came about because something got in the way of my original, worse idea. Call it luck, maybe. 

For example, the profile I wrote about Erykah Badu in 2017, a write-around in which Ms. Badu is never directly quoted. That only happened because what I wanted to do, and what I thought I would be able to do for several months, was a typical sort of “sit at the subject’s elbow while they make their way through their day” piece. It would have been fine, but what I ended up with was better. 

For another example: my profile of architect Gary “Corky” Cunningham from our August issue, online today. I first met with Corky in January, at the apartment he keeps across the parking lot from his Dragon Street offices, with the intention to write a quick little piece for either our March or April issues. But another story got in the way, and then the magazine’s schedule, and before I knew it, the piece had been bumped back several months.

But that delay allowed me to meet with Corky more times than I would have, including the impromptu tour of Mort Meyerson’s Power House that serves as the opening to the piece. That visit was especially enlightening, not just because it gave me a Behind the Music of this particular project, which was wonderful, but also it helped snap into place a unifying theory for his career as a whole. Useful for someone who has a professional life that extends more than four decades.

Read How (Not) To Get Ahead In Architecture here.

Author

Zac Crain

Zac Crain

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Zac, senior editor of D Magazine, has written about the explosion in West, Texas; legendary country singer Charley Pride; Tony…
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