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.
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
Architect 2Tweets May 22, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in BIM, books, career, creativity, employment, optimism, questions, survival, sustainability, the economy.
Tags: AEC, BIM, construction, David Meerman Scott, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, John Maeda, John Thackara, modular, prefab, Roger Martin, RT, Sir Ken Robinson, Thomas Friedman, tweets, twitter
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Architect- and Architecture-related Tweets that my followers on Twitter have shared with their followers (retweeted or RT in Twitter parlance.)
Take a look. 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
Finally, some good news for the hard-hit design profession: Firms are hiring again! Architecture Employment on the Rise http://bit.ly/lZ4caM
The Strategic Agenda: Securing the Future. 2 day exec ed seminar 8/01-8/02 Harvard U Graduate School of Design http://bit.ly/e8zljY
Granite countertops cost the same around the world. Just like oil. As wages go up, US will make more of its own stuff. http://nyti.ms/mrka7v
Thinkers who are challenging designers? Bruce Sterling, John Thackara, Sir Ken Robinson, Roger Martin, John Maeda http://bit.ly/jZAEDb
Video of Mansueto Library’s 5-story robotic book retrieval system in operation. Now to get robots to read them! http://bit.ly/ikFcD0
Take your eyes on a scroll. Eye-popping drawings of Lebbius Woods’ UNDERGROUND BERLIN: the film treatment http://bit.ly/qQMNi
So everything’s OK after all? “Office of National Statistics accused of exaggerating construction slump.” http://bit.ly/khMVWX
Dear Architecture Graduates: Be Ready, Relentless, and Lucky http://bit.ly/d2z71P
Despite economy, logic, gravity & common sense, young architectural firm lands major projects, expands staff http://bit.ly/mzzGk8
MORE (and IMHO even better) visual notes from IIT Institute of Design Strategy Conference 2011 http://bit.ly/jieG7m
How visual types take notes http://bit.ly/mpSheY
The Architect’s New Titles: to Use or Abuse May 14, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect types, BIM, books, career, change, employment, management, software architects, the economy.
Tags: architect positions, architect titles, bimworker, change management, design anthropologist, design consultant, design ninja, design strategist, design thinker, design thinking, freelancer, intrepreneur, job titles, service designer, thought leader
Not that they’re going to give up the title architect anytime soon.
They’re in search of a title that more accurately qualifies – and clarifies – what they do as an architect.
With the advent of social media, what we call ourselves in our profiles goes a long way toward how others treat and work with us.
Re-titling it turns out is no longer just for cars
Sometimes we find ourselves using titles that we ourselves aren’t certain what they mean.
And good thing. Because we often use them as much to obfuscate as to communicate.
Many of the newest titles are conjunctions, conflations or co-joining of two or more existing titles – such as business and design – that are meaningful when used independently but when combined leave us ashamed and others feeling abused.
In fact, if you hear someone say “I’m at the intersection of design and business” don’t meet them there – they’re probably lost.
We’ll skip trendy titles such as “Director of Chaos” because architects are more likely to be a ”Director of Form.”
And “Director of First Impressions”? A euphemism for Receptionist. (We’ll spare you the Dilbertisms)
Here’s a field guide to some of the ways we are referring to ourselves – and to each other – in this make-it-up-as-you-go world we find ourselves living and working in.
One definition is offered to confuse or Abuse.
The other you’d be better off to Use.
Abuse: A designer
- is someone who sees everything as an opportunity for improvement.
- is someone who has to sell themselves and their talents every time they walk into a room.
- primarily concerns themselves with how to create a successful communication, product, or experience.
- is an agent who specifies the structural properties of a design object.
- is anyone who creates tangible or intangible objects
In other words, there are as many definitions as there are designers.
Use: Architect. Use Designer if you’d to be retained by an owner. See An Architect With Low Self-esteem
A Design Consultant is a person who borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, pockets the watch, designs a new one for you, sends you a bill for it and puts a lien on it when you don’t pay in 120 days.
Abuse: Specialists in human factors, psychology, business, design, engineering and manufacturing who provide full service consulting for building and product innovation and design.
Use: Freelancer. An architect who can’t find full-time employment.
Abuse: Uses project management, design, strategy and supply chain techniques to control a creative process, supports a culture of creativity and build a structure and organization for design.
Use: A manager of design projects.
See: This is a comprehensive reference book for anyone seeking an introduction to the basic concepts and principles that inform the management of design projects, teams and processes within the creative industries; and her earlier work, here.
Abuse: Belonging to an interdisciplinary field that seeks to understand the role of design artifacts and processes in defining what it means to be human. See also: Design Sociologist
Use: Someone with an undergraduate anthropology diploma and a 3 year degree in architecture.
Abuse: An unorthodox or unconventional designer. Used more often in web and graphic design.
Use: Design Mercenary (忍者)
Pure unadulterated business jargon. An entity that is recognized for having innovative ideas or business ideas that merited attention. ‘Go to’ subject-matter experts in your industry. Period. Here’s how to package your ideas to share with others.
Abuse: Calling yourself one.
Use: Only when others call you this. And even then, don’t ever use it to describe yourself.
Abuse: Someone who writes his/her thoughts and feelings online.
Use: Anyone who contributes to a blog or online journal. And I mean anyone.
See: Arbiter of Knowledge and Wisdom
Abuse: Someone who knows what it means to manage the people side of the change equation.
Use: Someone adept at soothing the staff when management changes their mind. See Change Management
Abuse: Business people trained in design methods.
Use: Design people trained in business methods.
Abuse: Design Principals and Senior Designers used to hand off their building designs – and Project Managers and Architects their redlines – to CAD operators. With BIM, it no longer works this way. Like Artworkers in graphic design, BIMworkers initiate, commence, pursue, resolve self-edit and complete the work. If they had money, they would also own it.
Use: BIM Modelers. BIM Managers, BIM Coordinators and BIM Operators will thank you for it.
Abuse: Someone who uses the word “wayfinding” in casual conversation.
Use: An architect knows that if you have to use signage, you’ve failed. Architecture is its own wayfinding.
Abuse: Someone who provides innovative insights on using design as a strategic resource. Someone who hangs with CEOs of major brand management firms, business school deans, IDEO alum, engineers and professors of design
Use: Someone who uses design to achieve key business objectives. See Design Thinker and Design Guru.
See: To be a design strategist, you either have to be an IDEO veteran, Stanford University lecturer on design, the founder of a customer experience design company – or know someone who is one. Here are the eleven skills sets for what it takes and here and here.
Abuse: Someone who organizes people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality, the interaction between service provider and customers and the customer’s experience. A cross-disciplinary practitioner who combines skills in design, management and process engineering.
Use: Someone who provides numerous benefits to the end user experience when applied to project types such as retail, banking, transportation, & healthcare. See Social Entrepreneur
Abuse: See Form giver. Someone who gives shape to products, objects and buildings.
Use: Someone who really gets design, puts it to good use and will lead others into the twenty-first century with creative strategies.
See this, probably the best new book on the topic.
Chief X Officer
Where X can be Culture, Interpretation, Learning, Systems, Collaboration, Co-Creation, Creativity, Innovation, Mischief, Imagination, Technology, Information, Fun. As in Chief Storytelling Officer. Someone who has traded real work for knowledge work. A begrudging strategist.
Abuse: A corporate title indicating hierarchy, authority and power. A high ranking officer who gets an office with a window.
Use: Leader. A high ranking officer who gets a windowless office.
Abuse: Entrepreneurs who operate by creating business opportunities and practices inside their organization. Employees who – in addition to their workload – develop client relationships and bring in work.
Use: An employee today runs their own company within their company. Any employee who sells wrapping paper or cookies to captured employees on behalf of their kids. See Social Intrepreneur
Use: Someone with a short attention span who can’t make their mind up. Someone who comes up with an idea then abandons it, usually for another equally compelling idea. See Serial Intrepreneur
Design Director (especially when conflated with Founder, Owner, CEO, President and Managing Partner)
Abuse: Principal responsible for client, project, financial, design management and coffee making.
Use: Freelancer. Sole proprietor.
Founding Principal and Owner
Use: You. Your name.
Abuse: Whether Sustainability Advocate or IPD Advocate, they’re a person who publicly supports and recommends a particular cause or policy.
Use: Someone who facilitates the process for others but won’t be seen doing it themselves. See X Evangelist
Director of Product Strategy and Innovation
Use: Cell phone sales. See Verizon Salesperson
Abuse: Passionate arbiter of knowledge who enjoys learning while teaching.
Use: Job seeking.
See: Speaker, Author, Educator, Mentor
Abuse: Someone who wastes other people’s time and resources by laboriously advocating the use of such systems as Six Sigma, TQM, Lean and other business management methodologies.
Use: Someone who creates value for others by eliminating waste. See IPD Advocate
Abuse: Someone who works at any of the tasks of planning, acquiring, searching, analyzing, organizing, storing, programming, distributing, marketing, or otherwise contributing to the transformation and commerce of information and those (often the same people) who work at using the knowledge so produced.
Use: Employee. Anyone who works for a living – using something other than their hands – at the tasks of developing or using knowledge. Anyone who develops, works with or uses information in the workplace. See Anyone who works for a living
Abuse: Someone who uses industry techniques such as gathering intelligence on competitors, generating leads and prospects, managing presentations and designing and generating successful business models, aimed at attracting new clients and penetrating existing markets.
Use: Client-building, client relations and marketing. See Rainmaker
Abuse: Someone who engages clients by focusing attention on the issues and individuals at hand, listening both to what they say and what they leave unsaid, framing the immediate problem from their perspective, envisioning with them how a solution might appear and committing jointly to the actions and resources that will bring it about, all to gain the confidence and earn the trust of their clients.
Speaker, Author, Educator, Mentor
Use: Retired. See Scattershot Approach to Capturing Attention on LinkedIn
Now it’s your turn. Are there any titles you are aware of that you don’t see here?
A Lifeline for a Profession Adrift May 7, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in BIM, books, career, change, collaboration, creativity, environment, fiction, IPD, marginalization, pragmatism, productive thinking, questions, Revit, technology.
Tags: BIM, building information modeling, case studies, cradle to cradle, design-build, integrated design, integrated practice, integrated project delivery, IPD, lean construction, sally hogshead, virtual construction
Using books as floatation devices is nothing new.
Cradle to Cradle, subtitled Remaking the Way We Make Things, is printed on waterproof paper for this reason.
Poetry anthologies served this purpose after 9/11 as did commonplace books carried by soldiers.
In fact, the book I’m about to introduce you to explains the original use of the word “communication” to mean bringing something to the “common place, to the community, to make it part of the larger social group.”
That is what I hope to accomplish with this review.
Building Knowledge in Architecture is a new book and lifesaver by architect, educator, researcher, scholar and poet, Richard Foqué.
On the academic side, Foqué is a professor and dean emeritus at the Henry van de Velde Higher Institute of Architecture at the University College Antwerp.
On the practice side, Foqué is the founder and honorary principal of FDA Architects (now OSAR), one of the largest architectural firms in Flanders.
Richard Foqué’s work is characterized by the integration of architecture, art, design and science and reflected in the book “Bringing the World into Culture”, dedicated to Foqué and in which 21 eminent scholars, architects and designers bring a tribute to his work. An interdisciplinary thinker, Foqué lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium.
But don’t read Building Knowledge in Architecture because of his credentials.
Read this book because Richard Foqué is the first poet to write beautifully and meaningfully about the architect, design, creativity,
And as importantly, digital design tools such as BIM and collaborative work processes such as integrated design, design-build, lean construction and design thinking, subjects at the focus of these discussions.
You had me at Introduction
A book, like any of us, competes in a marketplace for attention.
Building Knowledge in Architecture, until today, appears to have been satisfied waiting patiently to be discovered on library shelves.
Book, wait no more.
Because that’s how long our attention spans today have been shortened to.
Reader, here I’ll introduce you to what will surely become a fine traveling companion and fellow conversationalist in the weeks ahead.
But I’ll need 9 minutes to do so – not 9 seconds. So please bear with me.
Man Measuring the Clouds
A passing glance at a sculpture, Man Measuring the Clouds, inspired Foqué to reflect on architecture and what it means to be an architect today.
“The architect works in the field of tension between imagination and reality. The architect’s task is to convert the dreams and often unreachable wishes of the client into a buildable concept, which should be functional, technically resolved, and in compliance with all building and safety codes, but at the same time must inspire a sense of well-being and have the necessary aesthetic qualities to contribute to and enrich its context.”
Foqué then asks:
“Is the architect the person who is measuring the clouds all the time? Is architectural design, per se, an impossible task to perform? In other words, what is the essence of being an architect? What are the skills, competencies, and knowledge an architect needs to perform as a true professional?”
Aware of the access to practical knowledge readily available to other fields such as medicine, business and law, things can be otherwise for the architectural profession, the author sets out in search of a robust knowledge base architects can access:
“In my own practice, I have endeavored to use my professional experience and accumulated know-how in an innovative way for every new commission. But I have always been left with a feeling of discontent: Could I have done better? Did I use all the creative potential and knowledge at my disposal, and did I not overlook essential elements?”
Foqué concludes that the architectural profession no longer has a shared knowledge base. Building Knowledge in Architecture asks all of the important questions:
“Why did we abandon or sacrifice (this) knowledge base? Why is the architectural profession drifting? Why are we sometimes reinventing the obvious? Why do we struggle to cope with contemporary technological evolution, and why is it so difficult to integrate in a satisfactory way new findings and insights into our design solutions? Why are we losing ground, and why are essential responsibilities of our professional practice being assumed by others?”
One page into the book, you realize you have underlined every line. It is one of those books.
The book is organized in two parts.
In Part 1, Building Knowledge in Architecture serves as a practical overview of contemporary architectural design methods, and proposes design – apart from science and art – as a third way to investigate the real world.
“Perceiving themselves as practitioners of a ‘creative’ profession, architects hover between science and art.” p. 25
This is one of the very few books that discuss new digital design tools such as building information modeling (BIM) from academic, theoretical and practical standpoints (discussed for the first time on p. 93.)
But also integrated project delivery (IPD) or at least a facsimile of the same.
In the section called The Exteriorization of the Design Process, Foqué indicates that recent evolution of communication information technology processes forces designers
“…to interact increasingly with his environment. He has no escape, so to speak, but must engage in a permanent dialogue with his surrounding world.” p. 82
Foqué points out that the concept of transdisciplinarity – and the way specialized knowledge can be integrated – harkens back to the work of developmental child psychologist, Jean Piaget, in the 1970’s.
Where, according to the author, specialized knowledge needs to be incorporated into a comprehensive body of integrated knowledge, “within a global system of values and well-considered choices.”
Per Piaget, those who have taken part on integrated design teams will recognize the suggestion that multidisciplinary collaboration is, at root, child’s play.
“Learning should be revalorized in the sense that the creators of knowledge should also be held accountable for the application of that knowledge.” P. 24
“It is recognized that at the modern university, there exists a hierarchy of knowledge, which starts with the basic and fundamental science at the top, applied science in the middle, and technical skills at the bottom.” P. 26
Explaining why digital design tools, while used extensively, are infrequently taught at the university.
“…grounded in the field of tension between ‘technical’ performance and ‘artistic’ creation. It is exactly in that field of tension that every professional discipline grounds its own knowledge base.” P. 26
Foqué defines a critical component of the architect’s arsenal, intuition, as “a not-yet-conceptualized and not-yet-systematized form of knowledge.” P. 27
Before I go on to quote every line in the book, I want to point out an additional pleasure in reading a book written with a poet’s sensibility.
In describing the synergistic integration of art, science and technology, Foqué uses the seemingly simple example of learning to ride a bike.
“If you describe every part of a bike in extreme detail and add these descriptions together, you will by no means have produced an appropriate description of a bike.”
He concludes this explanation:
“In other words, it is not by knowing the why that you master the how. You need to add the artistic dimension, the art of bike-riding.”
As only a poet – who is also an architect, educator, scholar – could have written.
Foqué explains the now familiar story of how architects abandoned responsibility, and in doing so, relinquished authority, over the past 40 years.
He asks: How can we reverse this decline?
Part 2 of the book presents his case, so to speak.
Reinventing the Obvious
In Part 2, Building Knowledge in Architecture makes the case for case studies in architecture.
The case goes something like this:
Because case studies are used as teaching tools at law, medicine, and in MBA programs, architectural training should also include more reading and creating of case studies.
Here’s the problem with this argument:
It doesn’t need to be made.
In the introduction, the author asks: Why are we sometimes reinventing the obvious?
And then proceeds to fall into this same trap.
Architecture curriculums already make use of case studies. I know, for example, when I taught an integrated design/technology studio, we made great use of them.
They are not only, as the author argues, a practical tool for documenting complicated building projects, finding solutions to technical problems and expanding a firm’s expertise.
They are also excellent opportunities for having architecture students work in teams and learn how to collaborate on a project team while still in school.
The complexity of building projects almost guarantees that the teams will be multidisciplinary.
An example is Aaron Greven’s course in the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in the Integrated Building Delivery program, a class that focuses on integrated practices and the technology that facilitates collaboration across a broad range of building project participants, for the Masters in Integrated Building Delivery program, a post-professional program that is in its pilot phase.
While the example does not prove the rule, I have previously reviewed these case study presentations here.
And more recently, they have been reviewed here.
The book does an excellent job explaining case study research as a means to establish a knowledge base and, as importantly, develops a practical method to do so.
“Architecture is no longer considered a true discipline, based on a comprehensive knowledge base, as it was for more than 2000 years. It is clear that this situation is no longer tenable, if architecture wants to survive in the Information Age, and in a quickly changing globalized world. A key question regarding the discipline of architecture today is how we can build a store of knowledge again.” P.174
But for me, proving the case for use of case studies in architectural education is not the reason to read this book.
Perhaps it is not case studies that are needed but a knowledge management and information system that can readily access the design professional’s accumulated knowledge.
There are people out there who do just this.
But this book does provide the rationale as well as a unique approach to constructing case studies, grounded in the arguments and methodology presented in the first part of the book.
And more importantly, this book explains how we can build knowledge in our profession and industry through the use of case studies.
The strengths of the book overwhelm its few weaknesses.
Weaknesses first. For all of the wonderful discussion about design and creativity throughout the first part of the book, there is nary a general mention of or reference to either in the index. It is almost as though the index was created for academics who might scrutinize sources for perfunctorily academic reasons but alas, not for the general reader’s ease of use.
Likewise, many of the otherwise wonderfully rich sources cited, are from the 1970’s or earlier. The book would have benefitted the reader (but no doubt not fellow academics) by referencing more contemporary examples of the same ideas or even the cited author’s more recent work.
On the strength side, the book’s diagrams are truly spectacular and help to illustrate many of the book’s finer concepts.
Another remarkable and no doubt unintended strength of the book is it is eminently tweetable.
A book of well-composed sentences, Building Knowledge in Architecture is remarkably aphoristic, and there are literally hundreds of quotable 140 character lines that are just crying out to be tweeted on Twitter:
“Intuitive thinking and rational thinking are not opponents; they are the twin poles between which the artist structures reality.” http://amzn.to/lyhDEl
Foqué explains that in earlier craft societies, severe penalties were imposed on those members who reveal knowledge in public. P. 93
Today, we are rewarded for the same by being retweeted.
See below for how critical Twitter is to this discussion.
Read or drown
It doesn’t matter if you don’t learn anything new by reading this book (you will.)
Because, after reading it, you will be able to say that you know what you know for the first time.
And that is some accomplishment. For any book.
It is absolutely critical that you read this book. Why?
Here are 3 reasons:
For all of the reasons I have stated up above.
For the reason that it tells us where we have been, where we are today and where we are headed.
And for this reason:
When drowning and you are thrown a life preserver you don’t say, “no thanks, I’ve seen one of these before,” and toss your line to safety aside.
A strength of this author, as mentioned, is that he has one foot in academia and the other in practice, a perspective evident in nearly every sentence:
“Professional disciplines…reduce the gap between real world problems and academic research, research increasingly captured by its own agenda.” P. 25
A book such as this can go a long way starting to fill the gap between education and practice.
That the author is a published poet can be seen in the book’s nearly perfect prose – so clear that you will not need to go back and read any sentence twice.
But you will do so anyway.
Because the sentences are so well-written they’ll strike a chord in you.
And you will find yourself rereading them for the sheer wonder and pleasure.
So don’t read Building Knowledge in Architecture because it develops a general design theory, a theoretical framework and practical instrumentation to establish a knowledge base for the discipline of architecture.
Read it if you want to improve your understanding of the impact and motives on decision making so that your designs are more responsive to real needs.
Read Building Knowledge in Architecture because you are an architect, an educator or student.
Read it because books like this are why we still have books.
Read Building Knowledge in Architecture because we as a profession are adrift and this book has been thrown to us as a lifeline.
Read it because at a time when the publishing and construction industry are experiencing upheavals, it is heartening to discover a book that is as well-written and well-illustrated as it is well-constructed and physically beautiful.
The book feels good in the hand, like a book by Peter Zumthor.
When you hold it for the first time you will feel
as though you have done so before,
as though the book is being returned to you
after a long absence.
To you alone.
That is because this book has been written for you.
The book, Building Knowledge in Architecture, was recommended to me by Ryan Schultz, founder of http://www.openingdesign.com/ via Twitter
@theoryshaw P. 78 of Building Knowledge in Architecture (Design as a rational Process: The Triangle Broken) could be your mission statement. Thanks!
FYI This blog was posted for readers at my other blog by a different name.
The Gifts of a Son of an Architect March 13, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in books, career, change, creativity, fiction, identity, nonfiction, possibility, reading.
Tags: career, Catcher in the Rye, Frank Lloyd Wright
Before having kids I decided I was neither going to push them in the direction of architecture nor, if they showed interest at any time, discourage them from pursuing it as a career. I’d wait for them to show an interest in something and when they did help make it available to them to explore and study as they saw fit. Less of a catalyst than an enabler, the interest had to come from them.
When it comes to which career a child pursues: How much is nature and how much nurture?
I realized that this was a largely irrelevant question after attending my 10 year high school reunion, where I discovered that the vast majority of my graduating class had rejected their first (or sometimes second or third) career choice in favor of another. I wasn’t going to sweat what my kids became obsessed with when they were 9, 10 or even 15.
That said, if my son had chosen architecture as a career path, it would have meant, in part, that my frequent absences, long nights working and preoccupations with all-things-architecture wouldn’t have left a bad aftertaste for him. It would have been an affirmation of my career choice as though to say, “what intrigues you intrigues me. I want to give it a try.”
My observations about architects and their sons is not new.
There was of course the film MY ARCHITECT: A Son’s Journey written by Nathaniel Kahn, son of Louis Kahn.
Saif Gaddafi, considered by some to be the most powerful son of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, is an architect.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s son and architect, John Lloyd Wright, invented Lincoln Logs in 1918, and practiced extensively in the San Diego.
My own son showed an early interest in art, but not architecture. A few years back, when I was working at Adrian Smith-Gordon Gill Architecture, I took Simeon to spend the day with me up in their studio. Surrounded by some of the most interesting and intriguing models of high-rises being designed and built anywhere in the world, he sat beside me the entire day not looking up once from his book – Catcher in the Rye. Either he had no real interest in architecture or, more likely, the book had him mesmerized.
When Simeon was 10 he painted a series of acrylic paintings that were impressive by any standards, not just his proud parent’s. But his interest turned out to be in the subject matter – African animals – and not the artistic media, and his involvement in painting waned as soon as he outgrew his interest in animalia.
Of late, he has taken-up photography and glass art – at both of which he excels.
He also blogs. He and a friend purport to review “EVERYTHING EVER MADE” at The Greatest Review.
I’ll watch a DVD with him and afterwards ask him what he thought, and like most teens he’ll say “it was fine.”
Later that night I’ll log onto his site and read a 1200 word incisive critique of the film that is sharp, entertaining and, in some cases, especially critical of his father’s taste in films.
He may not care for Shakespeare, but his reviews of Shakespeare plays and film adaptations have influenced other film reviewers, who tell him so in their comments.
Even his enlightening list of top Radiohead albums got me to rethink my favorites.
My relationship with my son reminds me most of architect Gunnar Birkerts’s relationship with his son, the literary critic, Sven Birkerts.
Gunnar, because of his long career in Michigan, not far from where I was born and raised; because of his metaphoric architecture; and because he was a visiting critic at University of Illinois in the early 1980’s when I was in school there.
His son, Sven, interestingly enough didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps but in every way is as accomplished in his chosen field, of literary criticism and as an essayist, best known for his book The Gutenberg Elegies as well as others.
It is as though Sven had to blaze his own trail so as not to be extinguished by the shadow cast by his domineering architect father.
Like sons, daughters of architects often have to find their niche as well.
A son’s birthday wish list
My son, Simeon, turned 16 today. A few weeks back he emailed a list of things he wanted for his birthday to his mother, and she forwarded the list to me. Of all his creations so far – the cleverly designed but painfully slow award winning Pinewood Derby cars, the paintings, glass art and blogs – I think his birthday wish list is his greatest creation to date and that of which I am most proud.
I think he would be mortified if he knew I was posting it (probably why he sent it to my wife and not to me) but as in so many cases, I would rather ask for forgiveness than permission. I intend no harm in sharing this with you.
No matter how he decides to spend his life, anyone who has created such a list before turning 16 is on track to live a rich, fulfilling inner life. Writing, art and social media gives him a chance to share that inner life with others.
I especially like item j) below. I hope you do so as well.
Sent: Saturday, February 26, 2011 5:44 PM
Subject: Birthday Presents
It seems like M. really wants to get me Halo: Reach and I’m not really sure why because I continuously tell her that it wasn’t on my original list and that if I wanted a video game it would be that one but otherwise I don’t necessarily have a particular need for it.
Here’s a list of some things that I’d like for my birthday that don’t have to be ordered from the internet and would simply require someone to drive her to Borders or something: but if she’s gotten Halo already then maybe this could be more suggestions for you guys or other people or something like that. Not saying you need to get all this stuff………… just some suggestions for individual things.
Anything by Hermann Hesse (except Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, or Damien)
Everything by John Steinbeck (except the one’s I already have which are lined up consecutively on my bookshelf)
Big books that we don’t own; like Moby Dick or Don Quixote or War and Peace or a copy of Anna Karenina with a less feminine cover
The Possessed or The Idiot by Dostoevsky
Anything by Jean-Paul Sartre
Anything by George Orwell (except the obvious two that I’ve read already)
Anything by Thomas Mann
The Rebel by Albert Camus
Amerika or The Castle by Franz Kafka
Anything by Jack Kerouac (except On The Road)
Anything by Kurt Vonnegut (except Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle)
Franny and Zooey by J D Salinger
Anything I’m forgetting by an author I like
The Trial- Orson Welles version
Othello- Orson Welles version
War and Peace- Russian version from the 1960s
Some posters would be nice; like the ones I listed in the previous e-mail. I’d like one for Apocalypse Now or Grand Illusion or The Third Man or There Will Be Blood or Chimes at Midnight (Falstaff) because I like those movies and the posters look cool.
I have enough music
Any guitar pedal that’s not a “Distortion” or a “Wah-Wah” pedal, because those are the two I have. Preferably a pedal that changes the guitar’s octave (“Whammy” pedal or “octave changer”) or just a pedal that has multiple effects to choose from on it. Ask a guitar guy and he’ll probably know what I’m talking about. Or any other pedal really, just not a Distortion or Wah Wah pedal. It’s been something I’ve wanted for a long time but I’ve never gotten around to it and this, above most other things on the list, would probably be the one thing that’ll be the most fun/engaging/distracting/fun for me to use.
Another guitar (relatively cheap “Stratocaster”?)
Don’t get me anything to GameStop or any major stores like Target or Sports Authority because you know I’m not going to spend it for a year or so probably.
a) Obscure/hard to find movies
b) Many Books
c) Guitar Pedals that aren’t “Distortion” or “Wah-Wah”
d) Movie Posters
f) Clothing that may appeal to me (example: has a picture of someone I revere on it/band I like/comedic phrase or pun or something)
g) All of the above
h) other things you can think of because this is all I can come up with.
i) Not video games/electronics/accessories or decorations of any kind unless listed above/anything I might not care for but could be useful to someone else like say for example a light-up Ipod speaker
P.S. Most of the stuff I’d like for my birthday. Some other stuff too. I’ll e-mail that later.
Amazon.com: The Trial: Anthony Perkins, Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Elsa Martinelli, Suzanne Flon, Akim Tamiroff, Madeleine Robinson, Arnoldo Foà, Fernand Ledoux, Michael Lonsdale, Max Buchsbaum, Max Haufler: Movies & TV
And if we don’t end up finding this:
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.
What it Means to be an Architect Today December 26, 2010Posted by randydeutsch in Ambiguity, career, employment, identity, possibility, questions, reading, the economy, transformation, transition.
Tags: manpower, out of work architects, underemployed architects, unemployed architects
dragging themselves through the vacant-lotted streets at dawn looking for an angry commission,
angleheaded architects burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night…
What does it mean to be an architect in 2011?
For every architect putting the finishing touches on a set of construction documents, or starting a design study for a prospective client, there’s one thinking outside the bun.
And another reading this for free at the public library.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says between 6 and 13% of architects are out of work.
The 53% of architects who are actually out of work believe these numbers are accurate.
The vast majority of working architects are severely underemployed, focused on getting work, marketing their own or their firm’s services.
The vast majority of architects, in other words, are now working in marketing.
Taking-on work outside their comfort zone.
Whether beneath them or above them, work of an altogether different caliber.
Like an actor, architects are awaiting call-backs. Waiting to be called back by the firm that let them go.
In the mean time, architects are driving cabs, working at Lowes.
Masters in Architecture now means we’re becoming masters of another art: the art of losing.
Tracking unemployment is logistically difficult, requiring a great deal of manpower, according to AIA chief economist Kermit Baker.
47,500 unemployed architects hired full-time by AIA and NCARB to track unemployment in the industry.
Finding themselves in new, unfamiliar situations with people they hardly know and – digging deep into their bag-of-tricks – making the most of it.
Architects in retail hawking e-readers and housewares.
Architects moving across the country, or out of the country away from their families, to help pay their kids’ expenses.
Asking not what the AIA can do for them; asking what they can do for the AIA.
Getting used to being “between projects” and any of a dozen other euphemisms for having been – for a loss of another euphemism – shitcanned.
Not waiting to see who will take the lead in the green movement.
Asking not what the world can do for them; asking what they can do for the planet.
Would-be architects turning their eyes and education to the gaming industry.
To pay back their student loans.
Notwithstanding, with 12 high school applicants for every 1 undergraduate architecture slot, it would seem that architects are gamblers from the start.
Architects working for food conglomerates, driving forklifts, putting furniture together.
Architects working for food.
Applying for positions that will go to exact matches – down to the hair follicle color.
Or to no one.
Job applicants asked to undertake DNA testing – to see if they’re an exact match for the position.
Architects who will gladly work “pro-bono” just to stay in the game are still rejected because they’re “too expensive.”
Questioning the wisdom of being a generalist.
Architects of lakefront manses taking-on basement renovations.
Gladly taking-on basement renovations.
Questioning the wisdom of being a specialist.
Or the wisdom of having sought and ultimately attained that Theory of Architecture advanced degree.
Is it possible that they don’t know that the phrase “pro-bono” means “free?”
2008 tested your mettle. As did 2009. 2010 tested your mettle. So will 2011.
If architecture is a calling, how come the phone doesn’t ring?
Maybe there’s an opening for mettle-testers?
Architects selling life insurance to other architects.
Who void their policies by killing themselves.
Who kill themselves by losing their sense of humor.
Who lose their sense of humor from dealing with former colleagues who are now selling insurance.
While women are getting paid 75 cents to the dollar, architects are getting paid 25 cents to the dollar.
Women architects are finally getting paid the same amount as men.
Justice after all.
Trying to find a way to monetize 30 years of professional working experience.
Otherwise known in the industry as a job.
To lay there flailing and writhing.
And they still don’t hire you.
You still owe money to the money to the money you owe.
You remember being so busy a few years ago that you might have committed some lines to paper, or said some things to a colleague, that you now regret.
You remember thinking at the time that you would change when things finally slowed down.
Coming to the slow realization that what you had been practicing all these years was a luxury that few could afford.
To be an architect means to be at once both fragile and all-powerful.
To go from under-utilized to over-committed on a dime.
Or for a dime.
Wondering how on earth we – at this time in our lives – are supposed to reinvent ourselves.
Where to start?
Who, to be competitive now, must consider themselves certified-virtual construction-lean-accredited-design/build-BIM-IPD-VDC-LEED experts.
To be experts at everything means that we’re…generalists?
Find yourself humming Eric Clapton’s Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.
To be an architect today means to start over. Every day.
Able-bodied, talented, smart and eager young interns sitting this one out in the penalty box in perpetuity, for the sole reason that they are able-bodied, talented, smart, eager and young.
I get my hands on a dollar again, I’m gonna hang on to it till that eagle grins.
Starting over means to see with beginner’s eyes – because we’re reentering a new economy, a new profession, firms with new organizational structures.
To be an architect today means to consult, to borrow space, workstation and another’s air.
To be a product procured by means of a purchase order over being retained as a professional service.
Wondering if you’d be better off moving to Canada where there are purported to be more jobs (and where it is also purported to be warmer in winter.)
Or get up and move to NY or CA because it seems that these are the only places with job listings.
To understand that the current decline is the most severe and will probably take the longest to recover, but that the profession will recover nevertheless if the past is any predictor of the future.
And to wonder if the past is any predictor of the future.
Where design architects find themselves for the first time in the minority of all “architects” including computer, business and IT.
To adjust expectations so that pay, benefits and seniority are no longer primary drivers in your job pursuit.
To be wary of the easy temptation of cynicism.
To be underrepresented, ill-prepared and overlooked.
Always the bridesmaid. Never the bride.
It is as much about who you know now as what you know.
Network, reach-out, get involved. But to make any inroads you’re going to have to pave your own way.
Notice phrases such as “skeleton staff,” “trending downward” and “where’s dinner coming from?” have mysteriously entered your vocabulary.
And words like “salary” have disappeared.
All the tools in your toolbox. And nowhere to use them.
Beating against the current of a veritable ocean of regulatory design requirements.
While taking-on water.
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Otherwise we sink.
To be an architect means to persevere.
To do all one can, each day, to hold on and not let go.
Learning to persevere from American Indians.
Learning from cancer survivors.
To not give up, no matter how bleak.
To maintain your sense of humor.
To keep things in perspective.
To remain resourceful.
Ready to take-on whatever assignment you are offered.
Whatever comes your way.
To not lose heart when you find that you have lost rank.
To work hard at creating communities: of practice, of hope.
But also just of belonging.
That’s what it means to be an architect today.
(Apologies to Allen Ginsberg)