With every profession applying the term architect to a title, what does it really mean to be an architect? It seems funny to me that for the past few months, several publications have revealed architecture has the highest unemployment rate as a degree. So I started asking questions, why would somebody want to be an architect during these times? Is the title of architect becoming just another buzz word or are we more than the latest profession in the spotlight? It took a minute to ponder, so I rubbed my eyes in an attempt to wake up and thought if I would rather be anywhere else. I knew the answer to that question before I even finished that thought; there is no other profession out there for me. Maybe I am strange but I love the long hours, sleepless nights, and more cups of coffee than any one person should drink in a lifetime.
Architect used to mean “master builder”, but what does it stand for today? Are we still considered a master builder or just simply a luxury item, when aesthetics are concerned? Now I will admit that we don’t know everything about something, but we do know something about everything. The goal of an architect should be to create sexy solutions for everyday issues, through the collaboration and knowledge of various disciplines. The critical part of our job it to be able to cast a vision on the end result of the project and develop a plan for getting there.
The key in the success of any project is communication. Our ability to bridge the gap between professions and find a solution that works for everyone is critical. An architect understands the rules of thumb and generalities of each discipline, but doesn’t have a full technical knowledge of everything. This is why collaboration is critical, and why bringing everyone to the conversation is so beneficial. We must be a leader, but in order to be a great leader we must surround ourselves with individuals that possess the strengths we do not.
Not only is the architect the leader of the design team, but they also help to lead change. With gas continuing to rise in price, I believe we will start to see the decline of suburbia. My hope would be to watch density rise and a rebirth of our cities. The days of spending hours in our cars is coming to an end. As an architect we have the ability to re-imagine our urban spaces and create places that enrich our daily lives. We must remember that design doesn’t have to be force fed to the public, but can be done in a subtle way that compliments the existing situation, whatever the conditions may be. The greenest buildings are the ones already standing, but we must find ways which facilitate the functions those buildings never anticipated.
I could not be more excited for the challenges we will face ahead. They will not be easy, but they will begin to challenge the way we think. From the places we choose to dwell, the way we look at our cities, to the way we design our landscapes; these will be changing. It is up to us to decide if they will change for the better.