The Architect (2012) January 8, 2012Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architect types, architecture industry, BIM, change, employment, marginalization, technology, the economy, transformation, transition.
Tags: academy awards, BIM, CAD, George Valentin, Hollywood, oscar contender, Peppy Miller, silent films, The Artist, the oscars
Last night I had the opportunity to see Oscar contender, “The Architect,” a film whose story begins in the late-CAD era.
“The Architect,” whether you consider it a screwball comedy, a sentimental melodrama or a spoof, is a 2D black-and-white film that has received a great deal of praise from critics.
The story is a simple and familiar one
The story focuses on a declining male starchitect and a rising starletchitect, as CAD grows out of fashion and is replaced by BIM.
A valentine to early computer-aided design and drafting, “The Architect,” stars leading man Jean Dujardin as a CAD-using starchitect named George Valentin.
At the top of his profession, Valentin meets eager would-be starletchitect Peppy Miller.
She dreams of success in architecture, invests time in learning BIM, and as her demand rises in the industry, Valentin’s shine is eradicated.
Architect Valentin faces untold obstacles: the fickleness of the public’s changing taste, the adoption of disruptive new technologies, waning powers that come with age, competition from fellow industry professionals and unemployment, among others.
Faced with the economic insecurity of the Great Recession and technological change that threatens to make him obsolete, George is being crushed in a vise grip all too familiar to mid-career architects.
Refusing to adapt to the onset of BIM, he puts all his money into one last CAD production.
George has owners in the palm of his hand, at least until BIM arrives
It turns out George isn’t well-suited for BIM, not least because of his mindset and attitude, dependence on 2D CAD and archaic drafting style.
But BIM is perfectly suited to a vivacious ingénue named Peppy Miller, who crosses paths with George, first as a fangirl, then as an intern in the office of his firm.
In 2009, just after Wall Street crashes, George’s studio stops making CAD documents.
The studio head announces the end of production of 2D CAD documents, but Valentin insists that BIM is just a fad.
It’s fitting that the next time he meets Peppy, on Rapidograph Studio’s main stairway, she’s on her way up and he’s on his way down.
When the studio head lays-off all his 2D CAD starchitects, George decides to open his own office where he could work in CAD.
His project is submitted on the same day as Miller’s new BIM project, and Valentin is ruined.
His wife kicks him out and he moves into an apartment with his valet, while Miller goes on to become a major 3D starletchitect.
“If that’s the future, you can have it!”
However reassuring excursions into bygone golden ages may be – whether drafting in pencil or CAD – they carry with them the potential for revisionism, soft-focus complacency and the refusal to embrace uncomfortable but necessary change.
This is why some critics are grumbling about “The Architect,” which has won a cache of critics’ awards and looks to be a contender for the Best Picture Oscar.
Whereas naysaying design professionals can appreciate the fond look back at the medium they adore with equal devotion, they inevitably see “The Architect” as an all too-comfortable 2D nostalgia trip that represents stasis rather than genuine innovation, provocation or artistic risk that working in 3D enables.
Those skeptics may be missing a modest but meaningful truth buried under “The Architect’s” surface and story, which is that George’s plight could easily be transposed into any modern-day profession or industry.
In one of “The Architect’s” most poignant scenes, George plays a character sinking in a cement pour, an aptly desperate metaphor at a time when so many architects feel they are in over their heads.
It’s a film that taps into our anxieties as we encounter seismic economic and technological transformations.
Having just witnessed his first BIM model, George says at one point:
“If that’s the future, you can have it!”
He could be speaking for an entire generation of architects who feel as if they’re in mortal danger of being left behind, forced into early retirement they can’t afford — literally or psychologically – or leaving the profession altogether.
At the risk of revealing a spoiler, it turns out all is not lost for George.
Disappointingly, it involves a work-around – when everyone recognizes the only way out is the way through.
“The Architect” may be drenched in the romance and visual values of CAD’s bygone era, but it’s a motion picture uncannily of its time.
(Apologies to critics of “The Artist,” which – like this post – is a shameless pastiche.)
Architects 2Zebras Top 10 Posts for 2011 December 31, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architect types, BIM, books, career, change, education.
Tags: AIA, architect, architects, architecture, influence, knowledge, Michael Graves, Myers-Briggs, Richard Foqué
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Architects 2Zebras ended 2010 on a down note and readers let me know it, many of whom came to Zebras expecting positive, uplifting posts.
Not walks down reality lane.
You made it clear: there are plenty of reminders of how hard it is out there for architects and no one needed reminding.
You needed encouragement, resources and guidance.
I heard you and responded with a year’s worth of what I hoped would be more helpful posts.
Here are the ones you responded most positively to.
Thank you for sticking around, engaging and helping to make this another great year at Architects 2Zebras!
A response to an article entitled “A Difficult Character” about how, when a leadership consultant reviewed the Myers-Briggs tests of 100 architects, he discovered there really is an “architect type” — and maybe a difficult one.
In Princeton in the ‘80s, I twice lived in – or next to – Michael Graves home and office. Here’s what it was like.
This post received a very strong response, in part because – despite the title – its message was ultimately positive and empowering for architects.
Ask not what our profession (and AIA) can do for us. Ask: What can we do for our profession?
Re-titling it turns out is no longer just for cars. Architects, in an effort to distinguish themselves in a competitive market and work environment, have started to call themselves different things.
Architecture’s Two Cultures (AND a Crucial Third)
In-depth review of Building Knowledge in Architecture is a new book and lifesaver by architect, educator, researcher, scholar and poet, Richard Foqué.
Why Didn’t You Teach Me How to Practice? November 21, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architect types, career, change, education, employment, IDP, pragmatism.
Tags: architecture education, architecture school, bridging the gap, education, IDP, Intern Development Program, law school, lawyering, training
But can it?
That’s certainly the intention of Intern Development Program (IDP), the comprehensive training program created to ensure that interns in the architecture profession gain the knowledge and skills required for the independent practice of architecture.
Setting aside the validity in today’s economy of an independent – as opposed to integrated – practice of architecture,
Is the office the best place to train to become an architect?
In firms, these days, almost everybody draws.
And everyone is as close to 100% billable as humanly possible.
No more can architects consider themselves “knowledge workers,” unless that knowledge includes working knowledge of such software programs as AutoCAD or Revit.
With many architecture firms pared down to skeleton staffs, training is a luxury few can afford.
And teaching recent grads on a client’s dime is something most clients will no longer tolerate.
Building clients have never warmed to the idea that they are footing the bill for an intern’s education on the job.
As one senior designer said to me over coffee, rather loudly with an emphatic pounding on the table:
“Work is not school! Not school! Not school!!!”
Tell that to any firm that has set-up and administered a corporate university.
Neither academia nor practice, we’re beginning to see emerging entities that are starting to fill-in the gap, gaping hole or (for those attending Cornell) gorge between architectural education and practice.
Hybrid education. Just-in-time education.
Enroll in the equivalent of a four-year lunch-and-learn.
Don’t pass go don’t collect 200 dollars go straight to jail.
At the same time, we’re seeing bridge students who take-up architecture and engineering; or engineering and construction management; or architecture and an MBA, to help segue between academic and real-world pursuits while presumably making themselves more attractive to an employer.
Perhaps it is best that training – whether in continuing education or in practice – stay outside academe’s ivy walls.
Training is still seen by some as parochial, vocational.
In some academic circles “practice” is a dirty word.
Why sully your pristine education with practical consideration?
Some architecture schools won’t have practitioners on their faculty so as not to infect their student body, as though practical considerations were a disease.
This, despite the fact that practical knowledge is a job requirement on the road to becoming a full-fledge professional, every bit as much as residency is for a doctor.
Before building-up $150,000 in student loans, would-be architects – in most states – know that they will have to pass through an apprenticeship prior to sitting for the licensing exam.
Remind me: What exactly did you get for your $150,000 education?
Learning in school vs. learning in the gap vs. learning on the job
Architects like to think that they are alone in many things, not the least of which is their inadequate education and training in the face of a constantly moving picture of practice.
They are of course wrong: they have plenty of company.
This is evident in the many parallels with other areas of study.
Just consider these quotes:
“What they did not get, for all that time and money, was much practical training.”
“Schools have long emphasized the theoretical over the useful”
“Professors are rewarded for chin-stroking scholarship”
“They are (practitioners) in the sense that they have…degrees, but they aren’t ready to be a provider of services.”
First-year associates at one…firm “spend four months getting a primer on corporate (practice.) During this time, they work at a reduced salary and they are neither expected nor allowed to bill a client. It’s good marketing for the firm and a novel experience for the trainees.”
“This has helped to hasten a historic decline in hiring.”
“The essential how-tos of daily practice are a subject that many in the faculty know nothing about — by design.”
“One 2010 study of hiring at top-tier…schools since 2000 found that the median amount of practical experience was one year, and that nearly half of faculty members had never practiced…for a single day.”
“The academy wants people who are not sullied by…practice.”
“Where do these students go?…There are virtually no openings. They can’t hang a shingle and start on their own. Many of them are now asking their schools, ‘Why didn’t you teach me how to practice…?’ ”
These are just a few quotes from the New York Times article, “What They Don’t Teach Law Students: Lawyering.”
They sound remarkably – and uncomfortably – close to what architecture students go through.
What is one thing you wish recent graduates, interns or emerging professionals were taught in architecture school?
- A better understanding of ___________
- Greater familiarity with ____________
- Deeper knowledge of _____________
- Basic skills, like how to perform ______
- A stronger grasp of _______________
Let us know by leaving a comment.
The Architect’s Missing Manual August 28, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architecture industry, BIM, books, change, identity, IPD, marginalization, survival, technology, the economy, transition.
Tags: AIA, AIA documents, The Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice
Do you remember yours?
My first was the twelfth.
That is, the twelfth edition of The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice.
That was the last edition to be offered in four separate three ring binders.
White, grey and red.
And crisp, with an off-center AIA logo super graphic emblazoned across the front.
I read the entire contents cover to cover to cover to cover.
Here, I thought, at last was the architect’s missing user’s manual.
After 4 years of undergraduate schooling and 2 years of graduate school, I still didn’t completely understand all that an architect was and could become.
And with the deep blue “backgrounders” ample history of what the architect once was.
For the first time you sensed that you belonged to a long tradition.
One that you were proud to be a part of.
Here, at last, contained in four binders was “the answer.”
There it was, in red ink on the first binder:
“Volume 1: The Tools. The Architect. The Firm.”
It would never again be so simple.
Nor so innocent.
Volume 2 was even simpler.
All it said was: “Volume 2: The Project.”
Could it be laid out any more straightforward?
The last two binders contained facsimiles of the AIA documents.
Here was the be-all-and-end-all D200.
“The checklist” that promised to give you a step-by-step explanation of every move you would make, from initial handshake to final handoff.
That was 1994.
In 2001, the thirteenth edition of the AHPP was issued.
And it was a new world. For the US, and for architects.
The contents were reduced to a single bound book.
With the AIA Documents sequestered to a CD-ROM.
And for the first time, the edition was printed on the binding – henceforth resulting in readers referring to the AHPP by edition.
[The twelfth was known by the three-ring binders.]
If the twelfth edition was for me “Paradise Found,” the thirteenth was “Innocence Lost.”
The table of contents said it all:
“Part 1: CLIENT.”
“Part 2: BUSINESS.”
The first 9 chapters were devoted to markets, marketing, financial operations and HR.
All good. All much-needed.
But the AHPP no longer told us who we were – or who we could become.
Not in our own right, anyway. But instead, we only existed so long as we had clients.
No client, no architect. And while practically we understood this to be true from a business perspective, the architect was clearly no longer front and center.
The off-center logo of the twelfth edition now had been shifted almost completely off the cover, so to speak.
The architect – in the first 250 pages – was almost nowhere to be found.
The center – had there ever truly been one – did not hold.
Each architect had to discover and define who she was for herself.
The fourteenth edition, printed in 2008, returned the architect to their rightful position in the AHPP.
“PART 1: THE PROFESSION.”
“PART 2: THE FIRM.”
And so on. But by the time this last edition was delivered, the world’s economy was in disarray with architect , profession and industry scrambling for survival.
The fourteenth edition, thick as a tombstone, was a memorial to what the architect had been.
What would become of the architect was anyone’s guess.
And while we suspect who the architect is – and will become – will have something to do with BIM, IPD, sustainability and digital fabrication, many architects would sooner be defined by their unique attributes, by their education or experience than by technological or global trends that reside outside themselves.
With the world in flux, the industry and profession in transition, and who or what the architect is or needs to be anyone’s guess,
I do not envy the task the esteemed architects and educators who are undertaking the next – the fifteenth edition – of the AHPP.
There has never been a more important undertaking for our profession than the definition of who the architect is and needs to be in the immediate future.
Here is how you can help bring about the new edition of the AHPP.
What can you do to help?
Help shape its intent and content by taking a short survey.
The deadline is coming up quick (Wednesday, August 31) so take a couple minutes right now to answer a couple questions here.
What is your first memory of the AHPP? Has it been of use to you at any time in your career? If so, how? Please let me know by leaving a comment.
The Architect’s Journey August 13, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architect types, change, marginalization, questions, survival, technology, the economy.
Tags: AIA, architect's journey, carl jung, frank gehry, hero with a thousand faces, hero's journey, joseph campbell, sydney pollack
A few years back, right before the economic downturn, the AIA came out with a promotional piece entitled The Architect’s Journey.
The pamphlet was subtitled “Exploring a Future in Architecture,” with the focus on becoming an architect.
Then came the upheaval.
Whereby merely remaining an architect today is a hero’s journey.
Not ‘hero’ as ‘architect-as-hero’ in how director Sydney Pollack presented Gehry in Sketches of Frank Gehry.
But rather hero-as-in-heroic.
To be an architect today requires bravery, courage, ambition – qualities rarely discussed in these do-all-you-can-to-stay-on-the-boat days.
Architect’s careers once followed archetypes common to what Carl Jung (CJ) or Joseph Campbell (JC) might have called “the hero’s journey.”
Mythic structures that all architecture careers follow.
Something along these lines
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. (Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, p.30)
Mythic, that is, but not formulaic.
Recognizing that each individual has their own story of how they arrived at where they are
- The Call to Adventure
- The Road of Trials
- Meeting with the Mentor
And so on.
And yet, with
- the convoluted process of earning one’s architectural stripes, stamp and seal
- the downturn in the economy and the subsequent loss of colleagues and mentors
- the inevitable flattening or organizational hierarchies
- the loss of loyalty on both ends
- the advent of new technologies in the workplace
- work processes redefined
- design itself becoming more collaborative
- risks, responsibilities and rewards shared
Can it still be said that an architect’s career path has a recognizable structure?
In terms of storyline, can it still be said that one’s career has a dramatic arc?
Or – in lieu of former goals to attain one’s license, start a firm, win recognition from one‘s peers – is one’s career closer to an undulating succession of successes – and travails?
Becoming an architect is one thing.
Remaining one is something else.
There are many impediments one faces everyday
- Unwitting clients
- Unappreciative public
- Demanding employers
- Insensitive plan reviewers
- New technologies and work processes to master
So many hurdles, in fact, that to remain an architect today you have to be driven from within.
And possess a fire in the mind.
Only, for perhaps the first time in our storied history as a profession, one has to wonder: is that enough?
Some other questions to consider:
- How important are myths to the architect today?
- Do you believe that a career in architecture can still have an underlying mythic structure?
- Is it still possible to create careers with mythical power?
- With eyes glued to monitors and seats to bouncy balls, could it still be said that architecture – as a calling – can be something more than the daily struggle to honor the bottom line?
Architect 2Tweets – The Week in Tweets May 28, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architect types, architecture industry, books, career, collaboration, creativity, employment, identity, management, sustainability, technology, the economy, transformation, transition.
Tags: architect Barbie, architects, architecture, CONSTRUCT, construction, retweets, tweets, twitter
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Take a look. Click on the links to find articles, websites and other resources.
If you are not a Tweeter, by browsing the list of micro-posts you will get a good idea of how I use it. And if you like what you see, follow me on Twitter @randydeutsch
Online Attendee Registration Opens Early June for @CONSTRUCTshow Free Exhibit Hall Admission & Discounted Education Packages thru Aug 11
The Architect of Flowers http://amzn.to/jrXJCh ‘Dreamlike and ethereal’ stories
Insurer: Payment delays, fragile construction industry conditions mean more building subcontractors go out of business http://bit.ly/lPLWWQ
The first warning sign that a project is in trouble. Sometimes it even begins before the project does http://bit.ly/aRY7fp
Model of San Francisco, made with 100,000 Toothpicks, began in 1976 – 3000 hours later http://bit.ly/juD4iK
Renter Nation: Since housing meltdown, nearly 3 million households have become renters. 3 million more expected by 2015 http://bit.ly/kUt51j
“There’s nothing off-putting about sustainability. Find someone who is in favor of purposely ruining the future” http://bit.ly/lV2GcG
THE construction industry, regarded as a barometer for economic activity, is now a volatile, unpredictable barometer http://bit.ly/jCwYcp
Why crumbling of America’s transportation infrastructure is a good thing, according to developers http://bit.ly/f6l6Cp
In a modern day Dark Ages with the potential for another great Renaissance? The 21st Century Renaissance http://bit.ly/a2wPeb
Polymath, Renaissance person, Multidisciplinarian (!) – Why we all must become one http://zd.net/kRoKem
To compete in a knowledge-based economy business leaders need to reinvent themselves as innovators in services http://bit.ly/ixxU24
Connections, James Burke’s iconic BBC series on the history of innovation, free to watch online http://j.mp/fcppDy
Architecture’s Two Cultures II May 10, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, identity, pragmatism, technology, transformation.
Tags: anthony vidler, ARCHITECT magazine, architecture school, education, integrated design, practice, professional practice, theory, two cultures
Not everybody agreed in my recent post that architecture’s two cultures are “high design” and “high delivery.”
But there was a consensus that there is indeed a rift in the profession.
A split that starts with the way we are trained.
I taught architecture from 2001-2007 in the graduate program at The School of Architecture at the University of Illinois Chicago.
An ARE refresher course, a Professional Practice course and the Integrated Building Science/Design Studio with Dan Wheeler FAIA.
For all the prep work it entailed, and the marathon 4-hour classes, I especially loved teaching this last course.
More importantly, I believed we had discovered the Holy Grail that would successfully bridge education and practice.
I was wrong.
In 2006-2007 Sarah Whiting served as visiting critic and at the school year’s end, she presented her observations of the school to the faculty.
Which boiled down to this: it was neither fish nor fowl.
Neither known for design nor technology, the school, in her eyes, fell something short of either.
There are a number of ways the faculty could have reacted to this information.
East coast elite academic theorist frowns-upon industrious Midwest architecture program,
Was how they chose to take it.
Her comments played to the low self-regarding intellectual underachiever in every Midwesterner.
The faculty took it hard and were faced with a choice:
Don’t even try to be all things.
Pick one and run with it.
Director Robert Somol soon after came on board and brought with him a culture change.
Integrated Building Science/Design Studio was a tough course and made demands on the students. No doubt.
Stretching their design and technology chops at one and the same time, the pressure took a toll on its students.
That said, their design projects were both innovative and real, the outcomes admirable.
But with their new director the direction was clear:
You can’t be both great and real.
Because real’s not our brand
Cool won out over cool + buildable in school.
Just as cool wins out over cool + billable in the profession.
I personally am looking forward to when the pendulum swings back toward reality, as it inevitably does every 10 years or so.
When style goes out of fashion.
I plan on heading-up the integrated design program when it does.
You’re invited to stop by to sit in on the design reviews.
We’ll be inspiring future architects who are needed by the world, not just by other architects.
The school got rid of these courses because they didn’t fit the brand.
And what is the brand?
Architect, what is your brand?
World, what is our brand?
What we talk about when we talk about integrated design
One year, after an end of year graduate design jury, I was asked by my fellow instructors to select from the 60 student’s 30 projects what I believed to be the strongest design.
My first mistake was going first.
Given the combined, integrated building science/design studio make-up of the course, I selected a project that I felt was the best from both perspectives:
Strong design/strong buildability.
The project was good, even excellent, on a number of levels; and it had integrity.
It was a project that, if built, would have improved the world in some small way.
That could not be said of every project.
The 3 other instructors, in cahoots, selected a pure Miesian jewelbox – a project that, to anyone outside that room, would be hard-pressed to distinguish from a dozen others.
But the consensus was telling:
What we talk about when we talk about integrated design is style.
The fact that the title ends with a question mark will prove telling.
“If academic debates over style have quieted,” the subheading reads, “a divide persists between the proponents of practice-based and theoretical instruction. Two prominent educators argue the respective merits of these approaches.”
Or do they?
Ted Landsmark, President of Boston Architectural College (BAC,) wrote about practice in Learning Through Experience.
Anthony Vidler, Dean, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union wrote a piece on theory entitled Thinking About Architecture.
It becomes almost immediately apparent that something went awry in the execution of this article.
The fact that the two are arguing for the opposing side may have something to do with it.
Or the fact that these educators are supposed to be debating how much importance theory should have in a curriculum,
Except nobody appears to have bothered to tell them that that was the assignment.
Read the article.
Whether a typographer’s mess-up or editor’s oversight, the practice piece is more theoretical than the thinking piece.
And vice versa.
In the practice piece, Landsmark – who is supposed to be speaking about practice-based instruction – provides us with a veritable shopping list of the latest buzz words and smorgasbord of cited sources and unnecessarily complicated explications.
There’s mention of “design thinking,” “theoretical constructs,” “students…working in empirical contexts” to “reverse the degradation of our ecosphere.”
The word “architect” or “architecture” doesn’t occur until the 4th paragraph.
Where is “building science,” “building technology,” “professional practice,” “collaboration,” “integrated practice,” “integrated teams”?
The piling-on of terms doesn’t answer the question:
Does practice-based learning have a prayer against design theory?
In comparison, Vidler’s piece is vastly more practical and practice-minded, well-reasoned and balanced.
And his was the theory piece.
“There seems to be little argument that practical wisdom holds a necessary place in the curriculum,” opens the second paragraph, putting an end to any doubts.
And any reason to continue reading.
With this article there was an enormous opportunity to discuss the strengths and weaknesses, benefits and challenges, of the two cultures.
And how together they might lead to the architect’s renewed leadership position in the industry.
And that opportunity was squandered.
We’re left hanging with the question, unanswered.
And – as with the integrated studio tossed aside in favor of the brand – a sense of loss for what could have been.
If only we had chosen what is real with what we know to be great.
Tags: AIA, Architectural Record, BIM, Coxe Group, elitism, integrated design, john brockman, knowledgenet, Record Houses, third culture, two cultures, Weld Coxe
Between us and them.
It’s not a matter of who’s on top and who’s on bottom – one being high and the other low – for they are both high-minded.
High-minded, that is, about different things.
The Two Cultures was an influential lecture, given just over 50 years ago this week, by scientist and novelist C. P. Snow about how the breakdown of communication between the “two cultures” of modern society — the sciences and humanities — was holding us back from solving the world’s major problems.
Architecture’s two cultures, similarly, can be best described as “high design” and “high delivery”.
In other words, architects devoted to architecture as art, and architects devoted to serving clients.
This model owes something to Weld Coxe, founder of the service professions management firm The Coxe Group, who passed away last month.
You can find a clear description of their model, published 25 years ago, here.
For simplicity’s sake, I am clumping together service and delivery, for they have one big thing in common: a client.
For some this might be likened to clumping together Vitruvius’ commodity and firmness and pitting them against delight.
Whereas, for high art (paper architecture, etc.), while patrons are welcome, they aren’t necessary.
It’s almost impossible to describe the two cultures without making a value judgment.
Innovators vs. Perpetuators of the status quo.
Ideas vs. Things.
Form vs. Function.
Thinking differently vs. The standard of care.
Sophisticated urban architects vs. Prosaic suburban architects.
AIA members vs. SARA members (or any other so-called alternative-AIA organizations.)
Local office continuing education events sponsored by USG Corp. vs. Outlier office sponsored industry events by Big Ass Fans.
You get the idea.
In fact, it was a magazine that got this whole discussion rolling.
At the AIA Committee on Design Knowledge Community, an architect started a KnowledgeNet discussion thread last month concerning the Record Houses 2011 magazine issue.
The argument boils down to one word: elitism.
Record Houses, the argument goes, is elitist.
Exclusive, exclusionary and undemocratic.
Various voices chimed-in, leaving messages that, generally, complained the houses awarded year after year exhibit poor construction decision-making.
Or are uncomfortable to live in.
Or aren’t code-worthy.
Or don’t use construction best practices.
Or are unsustainable.
Or they leak.
In other words, their comments seem to say, “they may be art but I wouldn’t want to live in one.”
Several mentioned that these high-design homes perpetuate the image of the architect as designing for themselves, for each other or to receive awards and recognition.
Anything, really, but for what the world needs from a home today: shelter, safety, solace.
That Record Homes, if viewed in a doctor’s office by a non-architect, may leave the wrong conclusion of what we truly stand for as a profession, of where our true interests lie, and of what we value and believe.
In defense of the Record Houses issue, one architect admitted liking one of the houses:
“Do I design this way? I don’t have the client, the budget or, let’s face it, the talent.”
“There are some beautifully resolved and detailed houses in the article, why the hate? I will argue for the issues of safety in public buildings but to use that as a metric for the merits of design for a home is misplaced…”
One counterpoint sums up the opposing side’s argument:
“Great architecture should be based on more than art alone. Otherwise it is sculpture.”
Architecture’s Third Culture
Just as CP Snow’s Two Cultures were welcomed by a Third Culture 20 years ago, so are ours today.
Snow’s Third Culture was a group envisioned as “curious non-scientists who could bridge the gap between scientists and humanists.”
In 1991, literary agent John Brockman wrote an essay entitled “The Third Culture.”
Architecture’s Third Culture could also be best described as a bridge.
One that can bridge a gaping hole between design and construction.
Architecture’s Third Culture would bridge the gap by removing the “vs.” between the two sides.
Replacing “vs.” with an “and.”
Today, for the world we face, we need to do both.
We need to be both.
Both/and. Not either/or.
For a world in need we, as architects, need to be more.
Because the world needs more.
And we have what it takes – as individuals, teams, firms and profession – to rise to the occasion.
We cannot afford any longer to stand apart.
To emphasize one side over the other.
Or ignore one side altogether.
Yes, the world needs beauty as much as it needs our services.
We need, today more than ever, to integrate our predilections and capabilities and stand together as one profession, however diverse we may be as individuals.
And we can start by dropping the divisiveness.
Replacing “vs.” with a simple “and.”
Architecture’s Next Destination (AND)
Call it the Yes AND movement.
We commit, here on out, in our work and in our lives, to address both ideas and things.
Both form and function.
Technology and process.
Academics and practitioners.
Design and construction.
Both thinking differently and exceeding the standard of care.
Beauty and sustainability.
BIM and integrated design.
To creating sophisticated, urban places and the revitalization of the suburbs.
To belong to – and volunteer at – any organization of our choosing.
Despite our schooling and training, which may have emphasized one over the other.
What we ought to have been doing all along.
It’s like the old improv “Yes And” game.
The game represents a vital rule of improvisational theater:
Never deny your fellow actor.
Take what you’re given, whatever line you’re fed, and say “yes and…”
Be willing and able to accept the ideas the other person conveys.
Then, it’s your turn to add to the scene.
This improv principle is known as “Yes And.” Here’s how it works:
At the beginning of the scene, Character #1 will begin by establishing setting and plot.
Character #1: What a terrible time to be an architect!
Following the “Yes And” method, Character #2 will accept the premise and add onto the situation.
Character #2: Yep and the boss said we don’t get no salary until this model is coordinated.
Character #1: Yes and ain’t he the meanest cuss we’ve ever worked for?
Character #2: Yep and it’s made me think about leaving behind this cowboy life and headin’ off for bluer horizons. (Learn more about the method here.)
Seated with the project team, someone tosses out an idea that troubles you.
Never deny your teammate. You respond by saying, “Yes and…”
Don’t like what the client has given you in the way of a program, schedule or budget?
Never deny your client. “Yes and…”
Don’t like what the economy has given you?
Never deny your circumstances. “Yes and…”
Or the site. Or the budget. Or the schedule.
Yes And: Not either/Or.
Yes And: A Collaborative Attitude.
Yes And: Architecture’s Third Culture
Yes And: Architect’s New Direction
Yes And: Architecture’s Next Destination
This is the message we want to be making to others.
Do you agree?
Watch for Architecture’s Two Cultures (AND a Crucial Third) Part 2
Do Architects Have the (Mindset) to Face the Future? March 1, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architecture industry, BIM, books, career, change, identity, technology, the economy, transformation.
Tags: BIM, Building Futures, Carol Dweck, fixed mindset, global economic crisis, growth mindset, Mindset, The Future for Architects
1 comment so far
Here is your future.
Do you know where your mindset is?
And do you have the right mindset to face your future?
The future was presented to us the other day in the form of a PDF.
That is, as the future will unfold according to Building Futures’ “The Future for Architects?” the result of a year’s inquiry and research into the future of architectural practice.
Here are some of the takeaways from this cautionary study:
- Architecture is “a profession that has an unenviable reputation for being notoriously insular and more focused on what it can offer than what its client wants.”
- Smaller practices expressed a resistance to integrated technology such as BIM.
- Technology is a more significant driver for larger practices – and an essential tool required to compete.
- The vast majority of the demand side of the profession (clients and consultants) could see design slipping further down the pecking order in the next fifteen years.
- Building technology is becoming increasingly more complex, so much so that design work is increasingly being carried out by subcontractors
- The concept of the architect as a technician who composes all the constituent parts of a building that are designed by the subcontractors was widely thought to be a realistic vision of the future
- The architectural profession unfortunately does not view itself as part of the wider construction industry, and that this was a fundamental value that needs to change
- Whoever carried the risk would drive the design, and so in shying away from taking on risk architects are diminishing their ability to influence design outcomes.
- Many saw the label ‘architect’ as restrictive and as creating barriers between themselves and other professions such as planning and urban design.
Interestingly, students and graduates of engineering were more positive about their education process, and said they felt well integrated into the other built environment professions – putting them in a good position to lead the design team.
Victimized or energized
How do we know that their findings are accurate?
But when you look at their two previous studies – Practice Futures 2005 is an update to The Professionals’ Choice, a 2003 Building Futures publication that examined the future of the built environment professions – they predicted everything correctly.
Only the global economic crisis wasn’t anticipated.
“The Future for Architects?” calls itself a speculative exploration of the imminent changes likely to affect the industry over the next fifteen years whose stated purpose is for “generating scenarios, cautionary tales and alternative futures to stimulate discussion and debate rather than perfect answers.”
Whether you feel powerless and victimized by these changes, or empowered and energized by them, will have something to do with your age, status and position within your organization.
But more importantly, it has something to do with how you see yourself – as someone who is seen as being intelligent and having the answers.
Or, instead, as someone who is open to learning.
The Big Idea
On this last point, I’ve been thinking lately about Carol Dweck who’ll be visiting one of my kid’s schools here in Winnetka, Illinois USA in the coming weeks.
Her book, Mindset, is a familiar fixture in our household having spent time on just about every coffee table, night stand and otherwise flat surface in the house at one time or another.
Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford, like the hedgehog has one idea – but it is a BIG one.
I’ve written about Dweck and her big idea in my other blog.
Here’s her big idea:
She proposes that everyone has either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
And that determines how we succeed at work and in life.
Her idea has huge implications for how organizations professionally develop their employees, and the way design professionals go about professionally developing themselves.
A fixed mindset is one in which you view your talents and abilities as fixed. In other words, you are who you are, your intelligence and talents are fixed, and your fate is to go through life avoiding challenge and failure.
So an architect with a fixed mindset would have rigid thinking, be set in their ways, practice their profession as a tradition with conventions that are time-tested, unvarying and inflexible.
For architects with fixed mindsets, architecture has to be practiced a certain way otherwise they will not be able to protect the health, welfare and safety of people who inhabit their buildings. You can see how architects, through education, training and practice, could develop fixed mindset attitudes concerning practice and the damage this attitude inflicts on us and those we work with.
Architects with a fixed mindset tend to
1. focus on proving that they have fixed knowledge or expertise in one area instead of focusing on the process of learning and
2. avoid difficult challenges because failing on these could cause them appear less knowledgeable
Their disregard of learning and challenge hinders their performance which in turn hinders their professional development of knowledge, skills and abilities.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one in which you see yourself as fluid, a work in progress.
Your fate is one of growth and opportunity.
An architect with a growth mindset recognizes that a change of mind is always possible and even welcome.
Note that this isn’t about positive and negative thinking – but about fixed and growth mindsets.
According to the dictionary, a mindset is an established set of attitudes held by someone.
When it comes to your career, which mindset do you possess?
How to develop a growth mindset
The good news, says Dweck, is that mindsets are not set.
At any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve your goals.
This is perhaps the best reason to read Mindset.
In the book Dweck tells how we can develop a growth mindset and improve our lives and the lives of those around us.
To change from a fixed to a growth mindset, follow these four steps:
Step 1. Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice.”
Step 2. Recognize that you have a choice.
Step 3. Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice.
Step 4. Take the growth mindset action.
For those familiar with cognitive theory, you may recognize some similarities. For more detail, look here.
For us visual types, here’s an illustration that effectively describes the differences between the fixed and growth mindsets.
We’ll all need a growth mindset if we’re to meet the challenges facing the future for architects.
Despite the steps listed above, I cannot think of a more important first step than reading this book.