In Architecture Daily a recent article entitled "After the Meltdown: Where does Architecture go from here?" author Vanessa Quirk takes a look at the imbalance of teaching, training and experience in the profession of architecture and the resulting consequences related to the continuing viability of the profession. As a practitioner of over 20 years, I have often wondered how many of my peers survived the practice economically. I chose to leave the profession and use the training in another economic domain and found it prepared me extremely well for just about any endeavor I wanted to turn to.
Now as I look at the landscape of architectural practice I despair and rejoice in the same breath, because the process is so broken. ....
New life is being breathed in the profession from many different directions. I don't think the profession is about being a "Master Builder" or developer or the one who is the controlling interest, rather it is about engaging people while bringing them into the process of improving their lives through the merging of the built environment, social context and economic production.
The recognition of projects within the profession for design excellence seldom looks at the broader context of what we are doing when we build. Often we are no better than any other contractor who told a prospective client, 'Sure I can build you a building.' and then goes on the create more problems for the neighbors than he solves for his client, leaving the client to deal with irate neighbors. We praise the line, space, light, even energy efficiency, but forget the expression of the building as a reflection of the owner and bask in the sunlight of our egos.
Architecture is a public trust. One that is a social contract with our communities, neighbors and environment. Many of us have forgotten this and are now paying dearly due to the loss of social capital we have frittered away for over 100 years in the US. Can we rebuild that community and public trust? Only time will tell. It will be up to the new generation of practitioners. I only hope the new generation quits listening to the traditional mantra and finds new ways to express their love for their communities with enough courage to stay involved and committed to making their cities and neighborhoods more liveable and viable places for all to experience while making a reasonable living at the same time.
This article is part of a string of thoughts related to the built environment, design and architectural practice.