One Million Square Foot Conversion

Angstrom stepped out of the limousine. He was greeted by a woman in a sharp blue skirt-suit and flat black shoes; even in those, she was taller than he was. Her red hair was striking, in a similar way to the top of a match.

She smiled as if on demand and said, “Good morning, Mr Angstrom. Mr Haza thanks you for coming at short notice. Have you visited this building before?”

Angstrom said, “I did many years back when it was a storage depot. I came here with my father. It was the biggest building that I had ever seen. I wanted to visit all the floors and walk every corridor, and when we had to leave, I cried.”

The woman smiled on demand again and said, “Well, we hope this visit doesn’t end the same way.”

Angtrom tried to remember if he’d visited again during the time it was a factory, but couldn’t recall. How long had it been lying empty now? He had seen the For Sale sign go up, and remain for years, before coming down. He had briefly thought of buying the place himself, but how would he raise the money and what would he do with it?

He imagined creating an artwork called Infinity by filling the whole place with mirrors. There were ten floors of one hundred thousand square feet each. It would seem go on forever. Rather than a place of economic production, consumption and child rearing, it would be a place of self-reflection. We are all nomads between lives.

The woman indicated a small room on the top floor and said, “Mr Haza would like you to turn this space into a luxury suite for his private use.”

“Just this space?” said Angstrom. “It is barely one hundred square feet.”

“Yes, Mr Haza is not an ostentatious man. His preferred style is simple. Will you consider the commission?”

“Not if I am being paid by the square foot!” said Angstrom.

The woman smiled and said, “No, there will be a fee reflecting your professional stature. Mr Haza is aware that you are considered by many to be the best architect in Arcadia.”

Angstrom started work on the job that week He designed a self-contained studio, a place of comfort and light, related to the rest of the building but apart from it, creating a harmonious juncture. It was a jewel in a trunk of armour. A soprano with her mouth closed in the sea.

When he took the plans for sign off, the woman said, “Mr Haza is pleased with what you’ve done so far. He requests that you expand the scale of the design to become a one thousand square foot apartment.”

Angstrom was used to clients testing him with a little project before instructing him on a larger one. He designed the one thousand square foot apartment, creating a masterpiece of open dynamics and gentle flow, with multi-use, multi-occupancy potential.

When he took these plans for sign off, the woman said that he should expand the scale to a 10,000 square foot home. A month later he had done so. She then requested that he scale this across an entire floor to create a 100,000 square foot legacy project This was further expanded to fill the entire million square feet. Money was no object, he was told. It should be built to last forever.

Angstrom realized that the task had changed from a physical conception of home, as a place of residence and refuge, to a virtual one, in computer terminology, a starting view. One tiny space had taken over the whole building. He had a fresh challenge now, how to keep a tiny space – say 100 square feet – of the original structure. It was important to preserve heritage.


2 Responses to “One Million Square Foot Conversion”

  1. The danger of repeating a cute phrase (“smiled on demand”). She smiled “as if” on demand, but the second time smiled “on demand again”, not “as if on demand again”. In any case, “smiled again” would have been better. One “as if on demand” is enough for the characterization of the character.

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