Does it seem like there has been a lot of news lately on the sad state of the architecture profession? Maybe it's because I have submerged myself into social media, so I am more aware of these things. But, I just feel like every time I turn around there is another article highlighting the failures of architects.
Apparently it's pretty bleak out there.
And the thing is...a lot of this bad press is coming straight from us.........the Architects.
And I get it. Architecture is a tough profession and the recession and slow recovery has made it even tougher.
But I'm concerned about the effects of all of this negative press. And it makes me wonder:
As Architects, are we our own worst enemy?
Lets me ask you. How many times have you heard one of these complaints?
Complaints about the profession.
Architects don't make enough money.
Architects are forced to work long hours.
Young architects and interns complain about being pigeonholed and forced into doing bathroom details....ughh!
We often fault Architecture School for not adequately preparing us for the Real World.
Why did they put so much emphasis on teaching design rather than practical occupational skills?
Why didn't they teach us more about the Business of Architecture?
Did it have to be mandatory that everyone left architecture school with some sort of wound from an exacto or wood shop accident?
And why did they teach us Rhino when what we really need to know is Revit?
We love to complain about our clients.
And their finite budgets.
Can you believe they change their minds?
They said it was too Modern!
And why do they read Architectural Digest when we read Architectural Record?
We like to complain about the AIA.
What has the AIA done for me?
And why does the AIA have to cost so much?
And TV Commercials........really Robert Ivy?...I mean really?
We are critical of the famous architects of our generation.
Why do Frank Gehry's buildings all have to be so curvy and say 'Look at Me?'
Why do Daniel Liebskind's buildings all have to be so pointy and say 'Look at Me?'
And did you hear about the obscene budgets on Renzo Piano's projects? The nerve!
We also like to highlight the failures of the architects of the past.
Did you know that Corbusier's famous Villa Savoye leaked after only 2 years?
I heard that Frank Lloyd Wright never listened to his clients.
And did you hear the one about Mies Van der Rohe. I heard that those I-beams on the exterior of the Seagrams building are not even structural...they are fake. Less is more my ass!
And how about those Architects portrayed in the Movies and on TV Shows. They are nothing like us.
We aren't super rich.
It is unlikely that we live in an amazing modern house that WE designed.
Most of us don't drive fancy sports cars.
But we are super creative, mysterious and sexy though. That part is true....just sayin.
Frankly, I've been a little ticked that people have stolen our look.
Used to be it was only architects that wore thick-framed nerdy glasses. The other day I flipped on ESPN and saw Lebron James sporting horn rimms at a press conference. Hey Lebron, Corbu wants his glasses back!
And every one of my professors in architecture school had a beard and wore elbow patches on their blazers. This was way before it was a hipster phenomenon.
And the list goes on.
I don't blame people for being critical and challenging the profession. The fact is that there is a kernel of truth in every one of those things above. And it is healthy and productive to be critical.
But are we complaining too much?
I am concerned that when we broadcast these failings, we are doing ourselves and the profession a disservice.
I worry about the young kid considering a career in architecture who stumbles across this article:
I worry about the intern architect that gets ahold of this rambling:
I worry about the potential client who is considering hiring an architect and reads this:
If I read those things I'm not sure if I would go into architecture. I probably wouldn't look forward to an internship. And maybe I don't need to hire an architect.
The #ArchitectsRule Challenge
So I have a challenge for architects out there. Let's flip the script. I challenge you to make sure that at least 51% of the content you share paints a positive picture of Architecture. I don't want you to hide the challenges or to sugar-coat stories or fabricate anything. I just want to hear more about those wacky stories and amazing memories that you had in architecture school. I want to hear about the little victories you had at your first internship and the advancements you have made in your career. I want to hear stories that have made you proud to be an architect.
I want to hear why #ArchitectsRule
We can help the profession by sharing all of the wonderful things involved with Architecture.
Please post your stories to this site or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or tweet to @sramos_BAC with #ArchitectsRule
Here is my contribution.
I was fortunate enough to weather the recession and remain employed at LS3P. In the southeast we are seeing a resurgence of the building design and construction industry. And in Charleston we are seeing an unprecedented population increase. As a result, architects are in high demand and my firm LS3P is kicking ass!
I have really enjoyed my career so far and am excited about the future. I have designed a few bathrooms in my day...but they were awesome! Have you seen what a bathroom looks like in a high-end hotel? I wouldn't let an intern anywhere near that design. (just kidding LS3P interns)
This past year I have been able to see some pretty significant projects be built that I had a major hand in the design. It is an amazing feeling.
In 2013, my wife and I bought our first home. We did a pretty extensive renovation and are currently developing plans for an addition. Therefore, I will be able to say that I do in fact live in a house that I designed....or if you want to get technical, 50% designed...wait scratch that, 51% designed.
But is hasn't always been gravy.
Architecture school was a struggle. I mean I barely made it through my thesis.
My internship and path to licensure was grueling. I HATED being called an intern. That demeaning job title was my biggest motivation for racing through my A.R.E.
Defining my role and climbing the corporate ladder at a large firm has been a big challenge. I still have a long way to go.
Nothing has been easy since I first decided I wanted to be an architect, but these struggles are what defines me.
I love being an architect.