explaining the punch line
30 August 2013
Most architects, perhaps I should say many architects have visions or goals for their careers. However, despite the common modes of thinking that I often write about it’s unfair to say we share all of the same career goals. Yet I am going to make an assumption that doing really great work is one of those common goals.
If you do much reading about the architectural profession, or more specifically how an architectural practice operates, you’ll often find architectural firms categorized as having either a business or service centered philosophy or a design centered philosophy. Some may be a mix of both but a business or service focus is likely the most popular. We all know that this is a business and to some degree income has to be generated in order for that business to be sustained. That is simple economics. And yes, delivering the best service to our clients is paramount and axiomatic. We’re talking about something else that drives architects.
Many of us didn’t get into this profession for business or service reasons. Let’s be honest; don’t be offended. It’s a bit more complicated to explain the mind of the architect.
Some enjoy their job. Many are just interested in making a living. For those who own (or partially own) a business they might be consumed by having a regular volume of business in order to maintain their living and pay their staff. The management team is primarily focused on maintaining enough work. I too am concerned about maintaining enough work to keep me afloat. I get it.
However, there is more to this thing called architecture and many of us have bigger reasons for getting up and going to work. I would dare say most of us go into this field with some vision or some goal of creating architecture that goes beyond the immediate need for function. Read my past blog post here.
If you are more design oriented then you will endeavor (or least hope) to get certain types of projects. Perhaps this is hard to understand and appears selfish. We’re just here to serve clients and nothing else right? Most of us see architecture as something that will outlive all of us and something that will become the fabric of our built environment that will hopefully endure long afterwards. Our works may change hands many times, have multiple owners and most likely have multiple functions. This seems to be fleeting in our current culture.
Beyond the thought of that, architecture is about ideas. It’s our way of communicating ideas as human beings. Architecture is the mode or fabric that we as architects use to communicate. Each project informs the next one and we learn from each one over the course of our lifetimes.
This is a creative field and we are naturally creative people. Therefore, the medium in which we work is primarily ideas. These ideas are given form and these ideas define space and ultimately these ideas serve some type of human function or human condition. Perhaps at a primal level it is a manner in which we feed our souls.
However, if more discussion is needed to understand, then I liken it to explaining the punch line of a joke. It’s no longer funny.
photos are from the nfsa photostream on Flickr (used under the Creative Common License)