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.)
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
‘Dreamlike and ethereal’ stories
Insurer: Payment delays, fragile construction industry conditions mean more building subcontractors go out of business
The first warning sign that a project is in trouble. Sometimes it even begins before the project does
Model of San Francisco, made with 100,000 Toothpicks, began in 1976 – 3000 hours later
Renter Nation: Since housing meltdown, nearly 3 million households have become renters. 3 million more expected by 2015
“There’s nothing off-putting about sustainability. Find someone who is in favor of purposely ruining the future”
THE construction industry, regarded as a barometer for economic activity, is now a volatile, unpredictable barometer
Why crumbling of America’s transportation infrastructure is a good thing, according to developers
In a modern day Dark Ages with the potential for another great Renaissance? The 21st Century Renaissance
Polymath, Renaissance person, Multidisciplinarian (!) – Why we all must become one
To compete in a knowledge-based economy business leaders need to reinvent themselves as innovators in services
Connections, James Burke’s iconic BBC series on the history of innovation, free to watch online
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
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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.
In Search of another Type of Architect January 29, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect types, BIM, change, collaboration, essence, identity, the economy, transformation, transition.
Tags: ARCHITECT magazine, collaboration, empathy, ENFP, ENTJ, Myers-Briggs
Lately, a number of my own comments left at various sites seem to stop the flow of the discussion thread.
They’re conversation-ending comments.
Is it me? The equivalent of my comment’s breath?
Is it something I said?
Or is it my Type?
I believe the best commenters (and architects) play well with others – they reference each other’s comments, build on them, politely beg to differ.
And they politely beg others to respond.
Their comments move the discussion forward.
Mine seem to just sit there like a ton of bricks. Anchoring the discussion the way a chunk of concrete anchors wiseguys at the bottom of the lake.
As though to say, um, thanks for sharing (not.)
Take for example this comment that I left at AIA’s new flagship publication, Architect Magazine.
The article is 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.
The big finding of the article is that the most frequent type among the architects was ENTJ — extraversion, intuition, thinking, and judging. ENTJs accounted for a whopping 31 percent of the architects that the consultant tested, despite the very low frequency of the type (estimated at 1.8 percent) within the general population.
The article is well-written and engaging. I just thought it was strange that it didn’t acknowledge earlier research that seemed to contradict – or inform – its findings.
So I said as much in my comment:
Posted by: randydeutsch | Time: 1:26 PM Wednesday, January 19, 2011
When Donald W. MacKinnon conducted his famous Myers-Briggs tests on architects in the 1950s and 1960s (published in In Search of Human Effectiveness) he found the vast majority of successful, self-actualized, creative architects to be ENFPs. Our apparent transitioning from FPs to TJs over the past half-century raises two questions: 1. Had architects with less pedigree (read: success, esteem, creativity, self-actualization) been tested 50 years ago would they have likewise exhibited a preference for ENTJ? and 2. Our organizations, profession, industry and world all demand a greater ability to work collaboratively, in an integrated manner: perhaps we would be better off with ENFP’s perception and empathy – two qualities in high demand (and, it appears, low inventory) when working on collaborative, integrated teams?
Is it possible to report your own comment as offensive?
That comment hit the ground with a major thud and pretty much put an end to what had been an otherwise interesting and energized online discussion.
You can still hear the echoes in the corridors of online comments everywhere.
The irony, of course, is that my comment was pure ENTJ: technically accurate, flawlessly judgmental, completely logical,
And not at all what the discussion needed at that moment.
It lacked perception and cooperation.
What was needed at that moment was a classically ENFP response: one that exhibited empathy.
One that perceptively, and collaboratively, worked well with the commenters who came before – to assure that there would be commenters who came after.
Soul Searching for another Type
Type Talk, along with Please Understand Me, are the 2 best books I have come across that describe the different personality “preferences” or types.
Type Talk’s chapter headings pretty well sum up the essence of each type:
ISTJ Doing What Should Be Done
ISFJ A High Sense of Duty
INFJ An Inspiration to Others
INTJ Everything Has Room For Improvement
ISTP Ready to Try Anything Once
ISFP Sees Much But Shares Little
INFP Performing Noble Service to Aid Society
INTP A Love of Problem Solving
ESTP The Ultimate Realist
ESFP You Only Go Around Once in Life
ENFP Giving Life an Extra Squeeze
ENTP One Exciting Challenge After Another
ESTJ Life’s Administrators
ESFJ Hosts and Hostesses of the World
ENFJ Smooth-Talking Persuaders
ENTJ Life’s Natural Leaders
Architects, by and large, are natural leaders. And leadership is something we could use a great deal more of right now.
But when you dig down a bit into what makes ENTJs who they are – what makes them click – largely has to do with their need for control.
And control is not something in great demand today.
In fact, it may go a long way to explain some of the frustration of architects who are unwilling to collaborate – whether by sharing their BIM models, participating on integrated teams or even sharing their work and responsibilities with colleagues.
Work, more and more, is occurring simultaneously – requiring lateral thinking – not in a linear fashion.
And that hurts.
And is incredibly draining. All that psychic energy spent trying to get such an unseemly and messy world to line up.
Architects have long been order makers – not order takers.
But life more and more is unpredictable and unrelenting.
Architects are a bit like Mickey Mouse as the sorcerer in the cinematic animation Fantasia.
We can’t help ourselves from wanting the world to stand on command, in some orderly way.
But nonetheless can’t seem to mop quickly enough to hold back the deluge.
Which reminds me of a favorite quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:
“I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.”
Architects who show a preference for ENTJ want the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever.
And you know, the world is just not cooperating.
Can ENTJs become ENFPs?
The short answer is: Yes.
Long ago, when I first took the Myers-Briggs assessment, I had been assessed as an ENFJ.
But not long after I noticed that many of the world’s most creative architects were ENFPs.
So I wanted to become one myself.
I put myself through a crash course of sorts. One of the things I did was to catch myself when I was passing judgment, to stop, take a deep breath, and substitute a more general – and hopefully helpful – observation or perception instead.
I tried to show more empathy than criticism whenever possible.
In fact, for years I taught a segment of a graduate level professional practice course where I purposefully assisted lifelong ENFJs and ENTJs who wanted to become ENFPs.
When I retested I was sure enough an ENFP and have remained one ever since.
Except for the times I revert, such as when reading through a great discussion thread and I feel compelled to leave an ENTJ-type comment.
It’s that part of me that wants the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever.
And you know, I may be collaborating, but the world’s just not cooperating.
Architects 2Zebras Celebrates 2Years January 2, 2011Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architecture industry, change, creativity, employment, optimism, possibility, survival, the economy, transformation.
Tags: AIA National, anniversary, ARCHITECT magazine, blog, Wordpress
The 81 Reasons Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Architect post immediately went viral, reposted on dozens of sites around the world, including for a time on the AIA National website. To this day several people view this post from as far flung places as Hungary and Japan.
And best of all, you came back again and again despite my not having always delivered on my promise: to uplift while I inform.
Here are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010:
81 Reasons Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Architect February 2010
107 Reasons Why You, Architect, Matter June 2010
55 Ways to Help You Evolve as an Architect May 2010
A Heartbreaking Book of Staggering Genius: One Architect’s Detour of Duty September 2010
My birthday is July 5, the day after Independence Day, so I get to celebrate an extra day every year. So it is only natural that I would celebrate the birth of this blog the day after another holiday: New Years Day.
WordPress, ‘Zebra’s host, sent out an email this morning identifying some of this blog’s highlights over the past year:
- · In 2010, you wrote 30 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 69 posts.
- · Your busiest day of the year was February 26th.
- · The most popular post that day was 81 Reasons Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Architect.
- · The top referring sites in 2010 were linkedin.com, facebook.com, twitter.com, architecture.myninjaplease.com, and architechnophilia.blogspot.com.
- · Some visitors came searching, mostly for “change,” “architect” and “to be optimistic about something.”
What WordPress failed to mention is that I did not always deliver on this last count.
It has been a hard year for many architects. I have been out of work for nearly a year and there are times when the state of the economy gets to me – someone who considers himself an eternal optimist.
My previous post was indicative of this state of mind. While several readers wrote to me – by email, or on LinkedIn – that what I said in that post was largely accurate, the vast majority found it to be depressing.
It is never my intention to add to anyone’s misery – I thought I was just stating it as I see it.
I was wrong.
I can see now, through WordPress’s stats, that no one visits my site after searching for “just the facts,” “reality” or “to be pessimistic about something.”
One of my resolutions for 2011 is to be, as always, honest with you and true to myself, but not at the expense of providing hope, pertinent information and sharing my normally optimistic outlook.
There is a world of good out there – and in each and every one of us.
I’ll do my best in the coming year to share with you resources, insights and knowledge that is growth promoting, nurturing and, whenever possible, inspiring.
That’s my pledge to you.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you here again soon.
Have a happy, healthy, prosperous and creatively fulfilling 2011!
Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP
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)
It is the Enviable Architect who gets to Stay on Deck and Burn October 27, 2010Posted by randydeutsch in Ambiguity, architect types, architecture industry, career, change, identity, survival, the economy, transformation.
Tags: change, Elizabeth Bishop, passion, poetry
One that I feel perfectly captures the predicament architects find themselves in today.
But first, a few words about change.
As in What will it take for architects to change?
Let’s start by removing the word “change.”
Changing the word change.
Architects don’t like the word any more than anyone else.
Change itself is stressful and just the word alone has been known to raise one’s blood pressure.
And fight or flight response.
So what will it take for architects to evolve?
In order to transform, the pain of remaining the way we are has to be stronger than the pain of doing things differently.
From what I have seen and heard, architects have reached their pain threshold.
We’re crying Uncle.
Ready for the next step in our ongoing evolution.
Bring on the Next Age.
The next stage in our development.
The term burning platform in business parlance means immediate and radical change due to dire circumstances.
Radical change in architects only comes when survival instincts trump comfort zone instincts.
When making major decisions or solving major problems a sense of urgency is required to achieve one’s goals.
Despite the hardships we face and have faced for the past several years, most of us have felt more of a numbness than any real urgency.
As though our eyes were transfixed on a nearby fire.
When it is we ourselves who are engulfed in flames.
Thinking about architects and our situation today reminded me of a poem I’ve long loved.
A poem by one of the 20th century’s most esteemed poets – a poet’s poet – Elizabeth Bishop.
The poem is entitled Casabianca.
Goes like this:
Love’s the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite `The boy stood on
the burning deck.’ Love’s the son
stood stammering elocution
while the poor ship in flames went down.
Love’s the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too,
or an excuse to stay
on deck. And love’s the burning boy.
And substitute the boy’s burning love for the architect’s passion.
The poem could be about the architect’s inability to describe, explain and justify their relevance – while crisis ensues all around.
Crisis of identity, of economy, you name it.
Who we are. What we are.
Where we belong. Whether we belong.
The poem would then be structured from the individual, into the world, returning to the architect in the final line.
As with the architect’s creative process, the lens of this poem widens from the architect to everything else and then, finally, back to the architect.
Something we often forget, and don’t give ourselves enough credit for:
Architecture begins and ends with the architect.
I know. There’s no architecture without a willing client.
And someone has to build the darned thing.
But while the building may belong to the world at large, architecture largely remains in our domain.
The poem’s build from the poor boy – and then back to the burning boy – is what makes this poem a whole, complete and memorable work of art.
Something the architect (stammering elocution) knows a little about.
I really miss architecture.
I envy you who despite all give it your all every day.
For it is the enviable architect who gets to stay on deck and burn.
A Heartbreaking Book of Staggering Genius: One Architect’s Detour of Duty September 25, 2010Posted by randydeutsch in architect, architect types, architecture industry, books, career, change, employment, identity, management, optimism, questions, reading, software architects, the economy, transformation.
Tags: Architecture for Humanity, Cameron Sinclair, dave eggers, Down Detour Road, Eric J Cesal, Great Wake, Haiti, MacArthur fellowship, out of work architects, The Huffington Post, The MIT Press, unemployed architects
Today’s post will be brief: I have a presentation to edit and packing still to do. But I would be remiss in leaving town without first letting you in on a brand new book that I just read that I predict will take you and the architecture profession by storm. Before reading further, grab your wallet. You’ll need it by the time you get to the sixth line of this book review.
The book title: Down Detour Road: An Architect in Search of Practice
The author: Eric J. Cesal
Why you never heard of him: He’s a recent architecture graduate with 5 years experience as an intern and has built little.
Why that shouldn’t matter: You will be hearing a lot more of and from Eric J. Cesal.
The consensus: This may well be the best book by and for architects ever written. And (to my wife’s chagrin) I own and have read them all.
What the book will set you back: $14.93 ($21.95 + tax if you happen upon it in a bookstore, like I did. See “chagrin” above.)
Who should read this book: Out of work architects. Architects thinking of leaving the profession. Architects who have left the profession but want back in. Former architects who have left the profession for good but on deep, dark nights lie sleepless in bed wondering if they made a wise choice. Neighbors of out of work architects who wonder why they wear a tie when taking the dog out for a walk. Anyone who has ever had to wear a tie. Katherine Darnstadt would like this book. Parents who find their recent grads living once again under their roof. Or in their tent. Employers. Architect’s spouses, friends, relatives and roommates. Architects who think they might have a story to tell but question whether anyone will care to listen. Architects who are considering doing a tour of duty helping the world in some selfless way while they wait out the Great Wake. Architects who think they may be the next to be let go. Architects who sometimes wish they were the next to be let go. Architects who read architecture blog posts in hopes of finding someone who deeply, passionately understands their situation. Architects.
Why you should get it: This book speaks to you where you hurt. Cesal is wise beyond his 31 years (33 today) and whip smart. He knows what matters and he (and no doubts his talented editors) cut to the chase.
Why you should get it now: The sooner you read it, the sooner we’ll all be out of this mess; the sooner you’ll decide to stick it out in architecture; the sooner you’ll find a place for yourself in this new world.
Author’s espoused purpose in writing the book: “We want to find ways for the architecture profession to prosper as our world economy transitions.” p. 42
Why you should read it: Cesal wrote the book during a period of unemployment. Nearly every architect – employed, underemployed and unemployed – can relate.
Why else you should read it: Cesal names the Great Recession the Great Wake.
What will linger long after you’re done reading the book and give it to your colleague to read: The author’s voice.
What this book could also be used for: Like a commonplace book that soldiers used to carry around with them for reassurance and companionship on the front lines, you can keep this book nearby on your own detour of duty.
Why I love the book: Interjected throughout the book are short personal essays describing the author growing up, personal incidents and events that helped shape the architect/ author/ artist/ humanitarian he has become today. I love how the book captures timely subjects (the co-opting of our title by others) and timeless ones. I am most impressed by the way the author maintains a line of thought, without jumping around from subject to subject: a real feat and welcome revelation in contemporary writing. Like the late, great architect and author Peter Collins, Cesal asks hard questions and isn’t afraid to linger in them until he offers a solution.
Why this book may not be appropriate for all audiences: There’s an excruciatingly painful scene involving a tooth being pulled. Alcohol plays a part in a number of chapters.
The author’s eye for detail: How Cesal knew the recession had reached his city: “The coffee shop I usually passed by seemed to have too many people in it.”
Why I think Eric J. Cesal is architecture’s answer to Dave Eggers: Down Detour Road: An Architect in Search of Practice is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius if it were written for architects.
Favorite passage from the book: The author’s attempt to find work at a temp agency. (p.117) Priceless.
The author’s education: Three master’s degrees in four years: business administration, construction management and architecture from Washington University in St Louis.
What book you might compare Down Detour Road with: During the deep recession of the 1970’s we had Harris Stone’s incomparably endearing and well-illustrated Workbook of an Unsuccessful Architect (available here for a penny.) But let there be no doubt: Down Detour Road is our age’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by Walker Evans and James Agee. This book is our The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl.
Someone famous the author hangs with but doesn’t once mention in the book (very classy): Cameron Sinclair, co-founder and ‘chief eternal optimist’ (CEO) for Architecture for Humanity.
Representative quote from the book: “For all the things I had intended my life to be, for all of the things I thought I would be doing at 31, I was sitting in the dirt, on the side of an empty, unlit road, jobless, homeless, cold and hungry, lusting after a street sign.”
The author’s solution: Cesal recommends that we have to come to some hard truths about the limits of what we do “and then leap beyond those boundaries.” He goes on to describe 10 types of architects.
What are the ten architect types he writes about? The financial architect; The value architect; The risk architect; The paid architect; The idea architect; The knowing architect; The named architect; The citizen architect; The green architect; The sober architect. He refreshingly doesn’t over-use capital letters and dedicates a chapter to each architect type.
What it says on the dust jacket: As the world redesigns and rebuilds in the face of economic and ecological crises, unprecedented numbers of architects are out of work. What does this say about the value of architecture? That is the question that confronted architect Eric Cesal as he finished graduate school at the onset of the worst financial meltdown in a generation. Down Detour Road is his journey: one that begins off-course, and ends in a hopeful new vision of architecture.
Like many architects of his generation, Cesal confronts a cold reality. Architects may assure each other of their own importance, but society has come to view architecture as a luxury it can do without. For Cesal, this recognition becomes an occasion to rethink architecture and its value from the very core. He argues that the times demand a new architecture, an empowered architecture that is useful and relevant. New architectural values emerge as our cultural values shift: from high risks to safe bets, from strong portfolios to strong communities, and from clean lines to clean energy.
This is not a book about how to run a firm or a profession; it doesn’t predict the future of architectural form or aesthetics. It is a personal story—and in many ways a generational one: a story that follows its author on a winding detour across the country, around the profession, and into a new architectural reality.
Where you can find the author today: Port-au-Prince, managing and coordinating Architecture for Humanity’s design and reconstruction initiatives in Haiti until 2012.
No, really, where can you find him: You can find him here. But seriously, he lives in Haiti with a family of two dogs, 11 chickens, 5 cats and a goat named Newfie. Read more about it in the Huffington Post here.
What’s next up for the author: As Cesal explains on his webpage, “Two projects are currently in slow, agonizing, one-sentence/week progress: NCARB & I, a chronicle of architectural licensing, and Lets Just Finish These Beers and Go, a semi-autobiographical romp about how to become an architect while making every self-defeating effort you can.”
What does the word “detour”mean in the book’s title: de·tour, n.
1. A roundabout way or course, especially a road used temporarily instead of a main route.
2. A deviation from a direct course of action.
Likelihood that the book will be made into a movie: Very good odds. I’m not a betting man but I’d bet on it.
Final thoughts: Someone get this guy a MacArthur Genius Grant. And a second one to The MIT Press for having the foresight and gumption for publishing this staggering piece of exceptional writing from an otherwise little known entity. Cesal may very well be doing wonderful, necessary work in Haiti but we very much need him here back home with us.
The quickest way to get the book in your possession: Steal it from an architect in the coffee shop. Or click here
What to do while you wait for your copy of the book to arrive: Tell everyone you know to read Down Detour Road: An Architect in Search of Practice.
A Heartbreaking Book of Staggering Genius: One Architect’s Detour of Duty by Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP 2010