Robert Clark ’17: A Tale of Two Passions
BONUS Web-Only Feature of Spring 2018 EHS Magazine:
His golf announcements at seated lunch were legendary.
“He was known to rip off his shirt and have a golf shirt underneath,” says Assistant Head for Academics Mary Fielder, remembering Robert Clark’s flamboyant enthusiasm for a typically subdued sport.
Robert started playing golf at age four — around the same time he began filling sketchbooks full of doodles. He drew buildings, cruise ships, airplanes, trains… and golf courses. Lots of golf courses. In second grade, his teacher asked him if he wanted to be an architect when he grew up. “Sure,” he said. “Why not?”
Like most high schools, Episcopal doesn’t offer an architecture elective. No course? No problem. Robert could simply create his own. A semester-long independent study with science teacher Scott Pohjola allowed Robert to get school credit for something he was already doing anyway: reading architecture books and sketching out designs. But it also pushed him to do something he’d never attempted: construct a laser-cut balsa wood model of one of those designs, a swimming facility that he imagined could elegantly repurpose Georgetown’s old Aqueduct Bridge.
In the spring of his senior year, Robert embarked on another independent project. For his senior externship, under the guidance of math teacher and golf coach Matt Fitzgerald, he designed a 9-hole golf course and practice facility that he believed could feasibly be incorporated into Laird Acres, the undeveloped, wooded area west of Hummel Bowl.
“I could have spent the month externing at an architectural firm,” says Robert, “but I wanted to design something for Episcopal’s campus.” His design took into consideration everything from cost to environmental impact, and incorporated the feedback of EHS biology teachers and administrators, city planners, and even the U.S. Golf Association’s director of championship agronomy. His final presentation to Episcopal’s CFO and athletic directors, among others, was met with enthusiasm, and his proposal caught the attention of The Washington Post
Robert, who was Episcopal’s top golfer during his senior year, is currently studying architecture and playing club golf at the University of Virginia.