believe and don’t believe (about architecture)

18 March 2014

Calvin Hobbes TF - Copy

I believe many things about architecture and I do believe in architecture. This pales in comparison to my beliefs in other matters like faith, family and life, but I’m committed to writing about architecture here. These aforementioned beliefs don’t change, but I suppose my beliefs about architecture either can change, will change or are open to change as I mature or as the profession develops.

Consider this a snapshot of today, a moment in time, that’s all – a response to a blog prompt. Consider it a stream of consciousness open to debate or shared to elicit discussion. Don’t consider it a manifesto, a polemic or an entropic position of our profession. I get up every day as an optimist. I am hopeful for good projects to come, and I strive to do good with the projects that came.

Calvin Hobbes TF

Three things true and three things false…

  • I believe architecture is an art that communicates to people in a very powerful and profound way. This guides my thinking, my design process and my daily belief that what I do matters even if it only uplifts the life or experience of one person.
  • I believe there is no singular way to define architecture or what is good in architecture. There are aspects we would hold in common thus being able to speak of it and teach it with a degree of objectivity. However, I must suspend my customary beliefs in absolutes when it comes to architecture. Paradox doesn’t bother me when I can hold strong opinions and apprehend opposing thoughts simultaneously.
  • I believe there needs to be more celebration of the architects who influence and design the less glamorous side of construction. There are thousands of small projects, medical offices, retail buildings, schools, medical centers, churches, restaurants, adaptive reuse projects and vast other buildings improved by the involvement of architects beyond skyscrapers, museums and large public cultural institutions.  That says nothing for the hundreds who do residential projects unseen by anyone but the owners. I don’t judge an architect’s or an office’s choice of projects. However many owners do choose architects, yet their humble, modest projects remain hidden from our media sources because they don’t shine as bright or catch the eye as much as the odd, the superlative or the innovative.
  • I do not believe architecture is a doomed profession where we should discourage young people from entering it. They do so at the same risk of any profession or career. If you want to do it (or have to do it), then by all means pursue it. Sacrifices and accommodations will always exist; money and power will never truly satisfy one’s soul. Trite and equally profound, an old Jedi creature once said “do or do not, there is no try.”
  • I do not believe architectural journals depict an accurate or complete picture of the profession nor are interested in doing so. Provocative projects and unusual buildings will always sell more magazines. I am not opposed to being published nor do I avoid pursuing it. However, most forms of media (architectural and non-architectural) incessantly make us aware of what we don’t have, can’t have or won’t have. Other ways to share our value must be created.
  • I do not believe our culture will fully embrace a sustainable way of thinking or living merely because many declare it to be right, correct or virtuous. Legislating it will not ultimately work anymore than other means to legislate values. People will adopt it when it is convenient, the most economical choice and best suits their life and family (without it being the lesser of evils). They need to see it as smart, efficient and ultimately in their best interest. Labels should be avoided or discouraged. The zealous who embrace it as a religion have certainly made positive strides in awareness, but remain surprised that not everyone is of the same mind. When the politicians and doomsday pundits leave it alone, more might see it as being the right thing to do regardless of whether doing it for the masses or for one’s own reasons.

So much for light topics.

from WordPress Daily Prompt: I Believe by Krista on March 16, 2014 - For today’s prompt, tell us three things that you believe in your heart to be true. Tell us three things you believe in your heart to be false.

Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson is a trademark of Andrews McMeel PublishingBill Watterson is the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, one of the most popular and well-regarded cartoon strips of the twentieth century. Calvin and Hobbes appeared in newspapers from November 1985 until Watterson’s retirement in 1996.

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4 Responses to “believe and don’t believe (about architecture)”


  1. Yes, architecture is a profession that requires some level of belief. Another great insight from Think Architect.

    And the Calvin and Hobbs cartoon takes me back to my childhood.

  2. Bill Mello Says:

    Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!
    Now:
    “The proof of the pudding is in the tasting thereof,”


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