Written by Randy Deutsch, Architect2Zebras is one of the many architectural websites that I check in on but one of the few that I subscribe to. Last year he took a comprehensive look at why architects matter and was kind enough to let me re-run it here on my site. This is now by far the longest post on my site but I think it’s worth reading – a big thanks to Randy for letting me share this article with my readers.
We’re often asked to imagine life without people, life without buildings, even life without oil. But how about a world without architects? That’s not so hard to imagine, it’s easy if you’re most people. Most people never so much as meet an architect let alone engage one in a building project. It’s also relatively easy to imagine if you’re an architect because this is what we do, what we’re good at – imagining things that aren’t there – then relentlessly realize them until they are.
If architects were to disappear tomorrow – who would care?
At the moment – facing a double dip in the economy – architects feel overlooked and underappreciated.
So to say that we matter. To whom exactly? And what for?
To matter means to be of consequence, of importance (but not self-importance;) significant, relevant, worthy of note and of crucial value.
To feel appreciated and valued, not left-for-dead, abandoned or ignored.
But why ask whether architects matter when so clearly other things matter more.
The unchecked ravages of genocide, extreme poverty, child labor, AIDS, environmental degradation, Alzheimer’s disease, global warming and compulsive consumerism – these certainly matter more.
But this isn’t a contest. Architects can still matter.
Why the world still needs architects
The 107 reasons that follow may seem like overkill. A tad bit much.
But we need reminding. Really need reminding.
Some will inevitably say – tell it to our clients or convince a contractor – that we’re not the ones who need convincing.
Before we can convince anyone else that we matter we must first convince ourselves.
From the architects I’ve talked to and heard from we need a talking to.
And if we’re not going to remind ourselves – who will?
This is not a desperate attempt to justify our existence nor rationalize our cosmic importance. These reasons came easily, rolling off the pen and hammered out in an evening.
And as with most things worth doing, if I had more time there would have been far fewer.
You need to know you matter
The world may not always affirm what we do (try this: Google “architect appreciation” or any facsimile thereof and what comes up?*)
People are not born with an appreciation for architecture.
Nor, for that matter, for architects.
Your employer may not always tell you that you – and the work you do – are valued.
But that doesn’t mean that what we do and who we are doesn’t have a profound impact on our world.
It does. And we do.
In the big scheme of things – we make a difference. A big difference. The world would be a very different place – a lesser place – without us.
And our interventions. Our ideas and ideals.
Think of these as the gifts architects give to society.
Think of these as The Gifts of the Architect:
How a Tribe of Tectonic Nomads Changed the Way People Everywhere Live and Feel.
Think of these as – in the spirit of Yale’s Why X Matters series
107 Reasons Why Architects Matter
(or the 107 Things I Like About You)
Reason 1: Architects are optimists.
So what? Otherwise we couldn’t survive, anticipate and prepare for an unknown future and imagine what is not there. Imagine a world of pessimist designers, planning for the worst. That’s the world without architects.
Reason 2: Architects balance multiple intelligences.
So what? It’s a job requirement and for some a liability. Architects use all of their faculties when they design and document – including spatial intelligence.
Reason 3: Architects are wired to care.
So what? Architects naturally empathize. We have the empathy gene. In abundance. More than our fair share, allowing us to put ourselves in other’s shoes. Others may be in it for the money – we’re burning the midnight oil because we care.
Reason 4: Architects are strategists.
So what? We ask tough, penetrating questions, seldom taking assignments or answers at face value. We reframe questions that are lobbed at us. And go about our work less as object designers than chess players or basketball coaches parlaying the playbook.
Reason 5: Architects think in terms of systems, not just things.
So what? Because we understand that the world is not made up of individual, disconnected things. And that everything is causal, interrelated and connected. We design the spaces between things as well as the things themselves – and help others to see what they were formerly unable to see and was certain wasn’t there before we gifted them with a new pair of eyes. We’ve all done this for someone in our lives.
Reason 6: Architects think laterally and simultaneously – not linearly.
So what? The very thinking skills that we need to nurture in others as we move ahead into the 21st century.
Reason 7: We do more with less.
So what? So there will be more for others – including our children – when they need it. Earth will thank you for it.
Reason 8: Architects design outdoor spaces.
So what? Think Central Park. Designed by a landscape architect (architects of all stripes.) Architects gave the world outdoor rooms, helping people to feel comfortable in their surroundings, to feel as though they belong, and on a good day, to dwell poetically.
Reason 9: Architects are well-educated.
So what? Who is most qualified to lead integrated project teams? (Those who deem this elitist need not respond.) The person trained to think of other’s needs before their own, the person who is licensed to protect the health, safety and welfare of the project’s inhabitants. The person dedicated to continuous learning.
Reason 10: Architects are T-shaped – both deep and wide.
So what? More than mere experts at what the do and know, architects – due to their training and education – are able to see through other’s eyes, empathize and understand what is important to others at the table. We have deep skills and wide wingspan breadth.
Reason 11: Architects are “keepers of the geometry.”
So what? Form-givers, architects give shape to our world. Who else provides our buildings, cities and lives with a sense of continuity and coherence?
Reason 12: Architecture, of all the arts, is the one which acts the most slowly, but the most surely, on the soul.
So what? Life speeds by fast. We need to slow down. Architects design places that help us to slow down, look around and take in the view. And then, before we realize it, we’re no longer in the place but of it. Architects have the ability to design places that touch the soul.
Reason 13: Architects transform chaos into order.
Reason 14: Architects give the world meaning.
So what? So what? Architects may be involved in only a small number of projects, but just think of places where you have been happiest, felt most at home, felt a sense of purpose and accomplishment, at ease with yourself and your surroundings – and more than likely an architect was involved.
Reason 15: Architects uplift the downtrodden.
So what? Architects raise not only roof beams but eyes up toward the sky, and awareness to a higher plane altogether. We provide worthwhile, heightened experiences, naturally. (Ever walk across the structural glass floor to the outdoor amphitheater overlooking the Mississippi on Jean Nouvel’s Guthrie Theater? Then you know what I mean.)
Reason 16: Architects think differently.
So what? Yes, Apple thinks differently – but what of what Peter Bolin FAIA and his cohorts did for Apple? For Apple! In NYC. It’s no easy task wowing Steve Jobs. Architects do so on a regular basis.
Reason 17: Architects are masters of branding.
So what? Not corporate branding, but identity, genus loci and place-making. Branded environment architects give places identity – to orient, so that you know where you are in the world and, in the best of places, why you are there and why you’ll return.
Reason 18: Architects traffic in beauty.
So what? Beauty is perhaps a dirty word these days – but we cannot live without it. While nature does her fair share, architects – in their riffs off of nature – certainly supplement in wondrous ways.
Reason 19: Architects provide the wow effect.
So what? Because life is not just bread and water. That sense of awe when standing before something man-made, masterful and inexplicably beautiful or grand. That’s the gift architects give to the world.
Reason 20: Architects create the places that inspire – and where we live out and realize – our dreams and destiny.
So what? You are here, on this planet, for one reason and one reason alone. And more than likely an architect was involved in helping you to recognize this. Just think about it.
Reason 21: Architects are technologists, artists and craftsmen.
So what? Architects learn with their hands, create with their imagination and put the human touch into technology. This assures that what we help to create will be useful, bring about joy and remain for some time.
Reason 22: Architects serve the underprivileged.
So what? Architects have a reputation for pandering to the wealthy. Creating low income housing is a higher calling for many architects where good works are the ultimate goal. Fee-wise we may take it on the chin, but the work we produce means a great deal to the people who live there.
Reason 23: Architects are custodians of the built environment.
So what? If not architects, whom else?
Reason 24: Architects keep moving the ball forward.
So what? Neither sentimentalists nor futurists, architects as optimists recognize that humans are still evolving. And so too their work.
So so what? With each commission architects attempt to push the envelope just that much farther, to do their part to advance things. That is how the world progresses – and architects share in this movement.
Reason 25: Architects bring poetry out of doors into the world.
So what? Art and poetry reside almost exclusively indoors. Museums and libraries may contain these – but architects work hard to bring their qualities to the design of the outdoors, through their sensitive integration of their buildings into the landscape.
Reason 26: Architects are master shapers of light.
So what? Kahn in particular was transfixed by light: The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building. Nor did anyone else for that matter.
Reason 27: Architects are for the most part fascinating people.
So what? My uncle, when I was 5, told me his best friends were architects: they’re the most interesting people I know, he’d say. Architects try to live their lives by this credo.
Reason 28: Architects are intrinsically motivated.
So what? It’s better in the long run for all involved. As “I Types,” architects are not in it for the token gift card. We do it because we love it, because it is the right thing to do, because – we trust – it makes a difference in people’s lives.
Reason 29: Architects operate from both sides of the brain.
So what? Neither exclusively right nor left – architects are the original whole brain thinkers. In doing so, we help to keep things whole.
Reason 30: Architects are practical dreamers.
So What? Floating ideas like prisons in the sky. This is how we’ll solve large-scaled, complex and intractable problems facing millions: through the persistent application of our imagination, looking at things sideways until they appear to others right side up.
Reason 31: Architects get design.
So what? An understanding of good architectural design is vital for creating livable buildings and public spaces and architects understand how to design buildings. We make a difference to the positive outcome of the design of our world.
Reason 32: Architects give others something inspiring to aspire to.
So what? We have all heard someone say that they would have liked to be an architect. Going about the world as an architect is one of the last callings commensurate with our ability to imagine and to create.
So so what? Architects have one of the few careers that guarantee that, while practicing, you will remain a lifelong student.
Reason 33: Architects involve all of the senses.
So what? While we’re lampooned for wearing all black – we know the value of color, the meaning of light, the importance of involving all of the senses in our work.
Reason 34: Architects consistently provide people with what is important to them.
So what? Some people know what they want while others look to the architect to tell them. Architects adapt to the client – and make it their goal to meet their needs. Sounds simple enough – but this in itself is all-too-rare in the business world, let alone the arts.
Reason 35: Architects take ideas and pay it forward – by giving it a twist.
So what? In doing so, we create something new. What we produce fits – because it gives the impression that we’ve seen it before – but at the same time it is fresh, unprecedented – keeping life interesting. Architecture, not variety, is the spice of life.
So what? Don’t take my word. Take Ellen Dunham-Jones’ word. Click on any of these links or read a sample chapter – and argument for doing so – of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs here.
Reason 37: Architects are sexy
So what? The world has become increasingly bland, globally with little that distinguishes itself. The architect, in the midst of this sameness, has retained her appeal. Why else would we be chosen as the number one career for lead roles in movies? Far from superficial, architects manage to keep things both relevant and interesting.
Reason38:, Architects are problem identifiers.
So what? Not only problem solvers, architects recognize that identifying the right problem to solve is often 80% of the solution. Often, the problem they have been assigned is not the one that truly requires addressing. Architects work efficiently and effectively to make sure that everyone is focused on the most pressing, pertinent problem.
Reason 39: Architects’ small acts have huge impacts.
So what? You only have to think of the Bilbao effect. Don’t let statistics that architects design or impact less than 5% of buildings built. The buildings that count, that create a sense of place and pride of place, the places we take visitors to see and inhabit when in town, that best represent us – public places large and small – these are the buildings we remember and return to. And these are designed by architects.
Reason 40: Architects got your back.
So what? Architects assure that someone is watching out for you. We make sure you are safe by watching what’s behind you when you’re busy looking ahead. Who else besides the architect watches out for the health welfare and safety of society?
Reason 41: Architects wow.
Reason 42: Architects draw by hand, mouse and by wand.
So what? Creatively ambidextrous, flexible and agile, we are not stuck on any one means of communication or delivery. Architects make the best use of available technology to get their point across – but we are not above using a stick in sand, rock on pavement or a burnt piece of charcoal in order to connect and help you understand.
Reason 43: Architects design like they give a damn.
So what?We care. We make a difference. This matters.
Reason 44: Architects give something back.
So what? Architects don’t go into architecture to take or even to make money but to give something back. We’re continuously giving, whether going the extra mile, burning one more end of the candle, or by putting their talent and resources in the service of those who need it most. Such as the The 1%, a program of Public Architecture, connects nonprofits with architecture and design firms willing to give of their time pro bono.
Reason 45: Architects are change agents.
So what? Not merely open to change, we assist in moving change along. No matter how traditional or conventional the assignment, architects make great strides to incorporate the latest advanced technologies. For example allowing for earthquake resistance in tall buildings or in the case of Wright’s Tokyo Hotel.
So so what? But at the same time expressing and infusing local or regional character so that the buildings appear to belong to the place where they reside. We may be comfortable with changebut recognize that we first have to make it palatable and acceptable for others.
Reason 46: Architects – by just being architects – give hope.
So what?This is something we do for others. So many aspire to do something interesting with their lives, belong to a profession that offers endless opportunities to challenge yourself. Being an architect is one of the last callings that matters.
Reason 47: Architects work in all media and dimensions.
So what? We model in clay and digital clay.
Reason 48: Architects serve as role models.
So what? Citizen architects, such as Sam Mockbee of Rural Studio http://citizenarchitectfilm.com/ , urban activists, getting involved at the grass roots level, some going as far as government.
Reason 49: Architects make connections.
So what? As systems thinkers, by connecting elements in a project with its surroundings, architects create a social fabric: the semblance of a cohesive, consistent and meaningful world. Architects create worlds that hold a mirror up to life.
Reason 50: Architects rise to a good challenge.
So what?We challenge ourselves – and each other, our organizations, the profession and industry – to keep moving the ball forward. Improve,, improve, improve.
Reason 51: Architects draw crowds.
So what? Imagine the world without Frank Lloyd Wright, Antonio Gaudi, Frank Gehry, Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Alvar Aalto, Louis I. Kahn, Tadao Ando, Renzo Piano and Herzog and de Meuron. Doesn’t matter to “most people?” Think again. Then why are these (in order) the 10 most visited architects in the world..by non-architects!
Reason 52: Architects are driven from within.
So what? No carrot? No stick? No problem. Architects are self-starting, self-motivating and self-activating. That’s why architects like to think of what we do as an inside game.
Reason 53: Architects are linchpins.
So what?And being so, are an indispensable part of the design and construction process. We are at the crux of real estate, development, concrete and plumbing. On projects where there may be well over 100 independent entities – from interior design to energy analysis – all pass through the architect. Architects are the common link between project constituents.
Reason 54: Architects see the big picture.
So what? So many it seems have a difficult time seeing the forest from the trees. Not architects. As I explained here, Malcolm Gladwell in Blink called this ability to see information in its wider context: coup d’oeil or court senseor “giss,” the power of the glance, the ability to immediately make sense of situations.
So so what? Architects may not be born with this all-too-rare and exceedingly important ability, but by the end of their formal training they’ve got it. In droves.
Reason 55: Architects are meaning-makers.
So what? While many make it their job to provide meaningful work for their employees, or to help people find meaning in their own lives, no one but the architect is dedicated to making the world – the built environment – meaningful and coherent.
Reason 56: Architects make the world a better place for all.
So what? Making the built environment useful, safe, comfortable, efficient, and as beautiful as possible is the architect’s quest. No one else makes this their ultimate goal. The world is a better place for our having been there.
Reason 57: Architects are rare.
So what? At a time when it seems like there are too many architects for the work available – an imbalance of supply and demand – architects make up just a tiny percentage of professionals, let alone the workforce. Architects are a rare but powerful breed.
Reason 58: Architects represent and serve all clients – paying and non-paying.
So what? Architects matter because they are the only entity who serves not only the paying but non-paying client (society-at-large.)
So so what? Who else is going to represent the needs and wants of the neighbors, community, stakeholders – while balancing the client’s wishes? Architects respect the needs and aspirations of both the individual and the community.
Reason 59: Architects are a luxury.
So what? Admit it. Human beings the world over have built homes with nothing more than their own two hands. Up until recently, the world existed for millennia without architects and can very well do so again. But why do so? Architects – for all we do – are a luxury that most cannot live without.
Reason 60: Architects understand the patterns of everyday life.
So what? Architects get urban design. Architects know that the design of cities and buildings affects the quality of our lives – whether this is acknowledged or appreciated is another matter. The bottom line is this: When it comes to creating urban form, places where people live, work and play, architects matter.
Reason 61:Architects are influencers.
So what? Not everybody has their own ideas for how to live, work, shop and play. Some architects, such as Christopher Alexander, not only influence their own tribe but worlds beyond their own (i.e. urban planning to software engineers. The adoption of Alexander’s pattern language by the software community is one such instance.)
Reason 62: Architects keep things whole.
So what?Since Deconstructivism died, architects – irrespective of style – one way or another have focused on whole building and holistic design. Our hemisphere needs architects to keep things whole, to distinguish east and west while acknowledging the best of both, much as the Olympics have.
So so what? To keep globalization from creating an indistinguishable world. To provide order but also character and pride of place.
Reason 63: Architects look to the beyond.
So what? Beyond the immediate problem. Beyond the immediate issue at hand. Beyond their immediate surroundings – to look at the impacts of what they’re creating on the world beyond. The universe needs architects…to explore how to inhabit other places beyond our planet.
Reason 64: Architects touch so many walks of life.
So what? The world needs architects – the earth, our continent and country needs architects to address national issues. Our region needs architects – to represent what distinguishes one locale from another, to make sure that our work belongs to specific place and time, so that we might place ourselves in it. Our state needs architects, our cities needs architects, and especially our suburbs.
Reason 65: Architects save lives.
So what? And not just hospital design architects. “Architecture can save lives”— Newsweek. Just look at what we are accomplishing in Haiti. Producing housing structures for displaced and disadvantaged populations, rethinking humanitarian assistance and pursuing innovative solutions to contemporary housing crises. Focusing on disaster relief and inexpensive and affordable design solutions.
Reason 66: Architects work at making stronger communities.
Reason 67: Architects are as diverse a group as those they design for.
So what? Some will try to tell you that architects have a diversity problem. Forget the stereotype – it doesn’t exist. Architects themselves are a diverse bunch making them particularly effective at designing for diversity. We champion the values of diversity in a beautiful way — values essential to creating livable cities and housing.
Reason 68: Architects give good design. Daily.
So what? Architects, some may feel, are a luxury. So be it. But architects, as purveyors and perpetuators of good design, are truly needed. Good design is not a luxury, but a necessity.
Reason 69: Architects have respect for the past, perform in the present and aspire to have their work help create the future.
So what? Architects work attempts to represent the time in which they build – which for us, today, represents turmoil. As Frank Stella said: Architecture can’t fully represent the chaos and turmoil that are part of the human personality, but you need to put some of that turmoil into the architecture, or it isn’t real. For many architects it is not enough that their work represents a specific time and place – they strive to have it belong to both their time and all time.
So so what? It matters because our work will not look dated and have a sense of permanence and inevitability, not leave the user with a sense o f otherwiseness. As another Frank has said (Gehry): Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.
Reason 70: Architects are gifted.
So what? Not a wrapped keepsake voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation but a notable capacity, talent, or endowment. Whether born with talent or acquired along the way, architects are made, not born.
So so what? We owe their many gifts to their professors, educators and trainers along the way. Everything they need to know they learned in school.
Reason 71: Architect’s work is a gift.
So what? No matter how much they are paid – or whether they are paid at all – what architects leave behind outlasts them. More time is always put into a project’s design and making than our fee could cover.
Reason 72: Architects give it away.
So what?Architects worldwide regularly provide pro-bono services to communities that have survived war, government oppression and natural disasters. It’s also an antidote to apathy.
Reason 73: Architects create nations and destinations.
So what? Architects gave the world the Roman Coliseum, Sagrada Familia, Fallingwater, Pantheon and Guggenheim Museum to name but five. Creating timeless destinations serve as evidence of some of man’s highest achievements and something for every artist and architect to strive for.
Reason 74: Architects get sustainability.
So what? We not only get it – we act on it. We knew long before the recent revelation that location of a green project mattered as much – if not more – as the project siting, orientation and inclusion of systems and products.
Reason 75: Architects make connections II.
So what? Another sort of connections – we’re literally connectors – but also associative thinkers. The world needs more of us – to feel less isolated. Our product – buildings – may be one-offs, but not the way we design or plan them. We’re always linking and making connections between things. We can’t help it – it’s the way our minds work.
Reason 76: Architects make cities real.
So what? Architects have given the world the best architecture cities in the world. Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and they had vanished. Barcelona, Spain, Beijing, China, Istanbul, Turkey, Chicago, USA, Athens, Greece – Parthenon vanished. Millennium Park and FLW home and studio. No more. Sydney without the Sydney Opera House? The work disappears – but so does its host.
So so what? Architects create works that are inseparable from their environments –and the way we think about them.
Reason 77: Architects listen. And listen.
So what? People are helped when architecture is democratic. Take the underprivileged. Three past and present California architects come to mind: Michael Pyatok, David Baker, Charles Moore – all as well-regarded for their exuberance as for their participatory design approaches.
Reason 78: Architects need to know it all.
So what? Architects work with what they know, creating a harmonious balance our of disparate parts. As Vitruvius wrote over 2000 years ago: An architect should be a good writer, a skillful draftsman, versed in geometry and optics, expert at figures, acquainted with history, informed on the principles of natural and moral philosophy, somewhat of a musician, not ignorant of the law and of physics, nor of the motions, laws, and relations to each other, of the heavenly bodies.
So so what? A career in architecture, as one parent of an architect put is, is a never-ending learning experience with a myriad of “career spokes” springing from the hub of the core disciplines. The architect takes it upon herself to continually learn and grow, remaining throughout their career a student not just of architecture but of life.
Reason 79: Architects are lifelong learners.
So what? And not just because they’re required to gather tally, and document their continuing education credits. We’re curious types – in the best sense of the word. We want to know it all – everything – and are thirsty for knowledge. Which is a good thing – because we need to know it all.
Reason 80: Architects are all alike.
So what? There has been some grumbling that there are now too many architects – software, enterprise, business– and not enough design architects. Or that design architects aren’t getting their fair share of the airwaves. So be it.
So so what? The bottom line is this: all architects is alike. We share similar values, obsessions, fixations and interests. We can learn a great deal from each other. So stop complaining – and join the tribe.
Reason 81: Architects are action-oriented.
So what? Remember Mies’s “Build – don’t talk.” That’s not just a Chicago credo. Architects design to build – with building in mind.
So so what? We use words, images and action to get our ideas across and accepted. But in the end, most want to get their designs out in the world, for others to use, live in and among and yes, even critique and judge.
Reason 82: Architects are master puzzle makers.
So what?Architects are needed because they can put it all together. We fix what is broken and repair what’s been devastated. When given a 500 page program containing 1000’s of input and data – it doesn’t even occur to us that the end result will be anything less and a complete, cohesive and coherent work of whole building design. Bring it on!
Reason 83: Architects are pleasers.
So what? Architects are comfortable with ambiguity. We keep everyone’s needs, wants, aspirations and wishes – their ideas and ideals – in mind throughout the design process. With many balloons in the air you’d think it would be hard to make everybody happy.
Reason 84: Architects are in it for the long haul.
So what? Architects matter because they know what they produce will be around for a while – and therefore carry the additional weight of responsibility for their choices and actions.
So so what? For, as Lord Byron said: A man of eighty has outlived probably three new schools of painting, two of architecture and poetry and a hundred in dress. Architecture changes a lot less frequently than trends. This means that architects cannot be at the whims of fashion – what we do, what our designs look like, have to make sense and last for many generations.
Reason 85: Architects are never satisfied with good enough.
So what? Why settle? Life is too short. If you can give everybody what they need and want – and at the same time, through trickery or talent, perseverance or insight – find a way to deliver more, why not try to do so? No architect strives to do good enough design – but rather, good design that is enough.
Reason 86: Architects use what they got.
So what? Architects try to make the most with what they have and are given – even if it is not expected or asked for. Had they not – the built world would be confined to making shelters. Like Helmut Jahn, we strive for an architecture from which nothing can be taken away.
Reason 87: Architects, ever patient, persevere.
So what? Architecture takes a long time to plan, finance and build. It requires not only the long view but the vision for the long haul.
So so what? The architect has the perspective to provide this. Who else on the design or construction team can same the same?
Reason 88: Architects work in flows.
So what? Architects not only improve the build world and environment but also design in order to improve processes. Architects understand it’s not about the building – it’s about the business and the people and what they do when there. Upstream, downstream and throughout the project – architects follow the flow of movement and energy to and from their projects.
Reason 89:Architects put it all into perspective.
So what? Architects know the price of their art – the hard work that goes into it, the sacrifices they make, often impacting their family life and sleep. They’re willing to put in the extra effort, to go the extra distance, to pace ourselves over a long career. We truly are the change we want to see.
Reason 90: Architects pay the price.
So what? Architects work hard, very hard, at achieving their goals. FLW said: I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.
Reason 91: Architects are of two minds.
So what? Architects are able to think in both business and design terms, to use their design sense to further the business ambitions of their clients. Call it design thinking. Architects are leaders when it comes to design thinking – the ability to apply design sense to help others with their business needs.
Reason 92: Architects envision what is not there.
So what? But it doesn’t stop with sight or foresight. Architects are trained to be creative thinkers. We see things others don’t or can’t and are able to describe and explain them in ways that help others to understand and act.
Reason 93: Architects make others look better.
So what? Architects matter because they are there to help their clients succeed. Architects and our professional services firms don’t succeed unless the client does. Architects love to help others achieve their goals and reach their dreams and find imaginative ways to help them get there.
Reason 94: Architects learn by doing.
So what? Architecture is too broad and deep of a subject to ever really know it all. Continuous learning – there’s always something more to learn – keeps us perpetually on our toes.
Reason 95: Architects thrive on less.
So what? Our’s really a case where less is truly more. Architects recognize that in tough times such as the current one we’re facing better architecture can be the result. That tough times may in fact lead to better architecture.
So so what? This is important because the opposite could occur – where fewer resources result in lesser buildings, less pride of place, and all of us being the lesser for it.
Reason 96:Architects are here to serve.
So what? Despite the reputation of some, architects exist to serve others. Except for the occasional architect-designed museum, it is what happens inside their buildings and spaces that matters – not the building itself. Architecture is basically a container of something. I hope they will enjoy not so much the teacup, but the tea. Yoshio Taniguchi.
Reason 97: Architects operate both in the world – and outside it.
So what? Architects practice an art that is in the world and also of the world. But at the same time – stands apart – is its own animal. As Thom Mayne has said: Architecture is involved with the world, but at the same time it has a certain autonomy. This autonomy cannot be explained in terms of traditional logic because the most interesting parts of the work are non-verbal. They operate within the terms of the work, like any art.
Reason 98: Architects are markitects.
So what? Architects help people and organizations make their mark on the planet – and do so with the widest appeal and the smallest carbon footprint. For better or worse, the first subject Prince Charles really went for as Prince was architecture. It made an impact. He was very intent to use his years as Prince of Wales to make his mark and architects helped him to do so.
So so what? Wouldn’t you rather have an architect help make built statements than any other entity? They will at least be responsible, keeping all of the factors in mind. So make your mark!
Reason 99:Architects play well with others.
So what?Architects may come across as Howard Roark types – lone wolves in sheep’s clothing. But we are all born collaborators. Architects are trained and educated to work productively in teams, and despite the current interest in autonomy know that they get the best results when involving all stakeholders and working well with others.
So so what? This matters because we live in a time of crowdsourcing, of co-creation, of participatory design. Architects are there to work with others to come up with the best solutions for all involved.
Reason 100: Architects connect the past with the present and future.
So what? Architecture serves to connect us in time – with works from the past, with past civilizations. Helping to locate and place us in time, to provide us with a sense of continuity, help us get our bearings and makes us truly inhabitants of this planet, not just hangers-on.
Reason 101: Architects work with a palette of possibility. Architects are concerned not with the necessary but with the contingent – not with how things are but with how they might be.
Reason 102: The work architects perform touches so many parts of life – and of learning. It has so many facets, it can keep a person interested for a lifetime. As Richard Rogers said: I believe very strongly, and have fought since many years ago – at least over 30 years ago – to get architecture not just within schools, but architecture talked about under history, geography, science, technology, art.
So what? Attorneys leave law due to burn-out as well as a lack of meaning in their work. Architects may leave the field for financial reasons, but few if any have done so for lack of what was found there.
Reason 103: Architects strive to heal the world.
So what? Architects still believe that their works and deeds can help to heal the places where they are privileged to work. Despite what Thom Mayne has said: I’m often called an old-fashioned modernist. But the modernists had the absurd idea that architecture could heal the world. That’s impossible. And today nobody expects architects to have these grand visions any more. Nobody expects this – except us architects, ourselves.
Reason 104: Architects hake the hard decisions.
So what?When a sales rep calls and asks for a decision-maker they hand the phone to an architect. Why? Architects matter because we have to make the hard decisions – thousands of them in every project. As Arne Jacobsen said: If architecture had nothing to do with art, it would be astonishingly easy to build houses, but the architect’s task – his most difficult task – is always that of selecting. Architects are first and last decision-makers. We make the decisions that count.
Reason 105: Architects design for the heart as well as the head.
So what? Architects create projects and places that affect us emotionally as well as intellectually. We address the whole person.
Reason 106: Architects are passionate about design.
So what? Architects do what they do because they are passionate about architecture and design. Despite the rigors of school and the relative lack of money to be obtained in the field, architects that have been in the field already for some time do what they do because they love to do it: plain and simple.
So so what? This assures that we will go the extra mile, which is often necessary, to achieve a successful outcome.
Reason 107: Architects matter because they sign and seal documents.
So what? Exactly!
about the author:
Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED-AP is a building design architect immersed in the worlds of technology, creativity, design thinking and the way all types of architects utilize these tools and processes. He is a professional thought and practice leader, instructor, mentor and writer; public speaker, contributor to magazines, newspapers and blogs, featured in Architectural Record and WTTW. An Associate Professor with six years teaching graduate-level building science/ technology, design studio, professional practice courses, AIA Chicago Executive Board member and recipient of the AIA Young Architect Award. Here is Randy’s website Architects 2 Zebras