where everybody doesn’t know your name…yet   

23 June 2014

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I am often refreshed to read articles in our favorite architectural journals when I DON’T recognize the names of the architects or architectural firms.

Yes it is true. I don’t know them anymore than they know me – yet.

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It is true I have my favorite firms and I enjoy seeing and following their work despite my ongoing criticisms of the starchitect firms. I look for consistency and how they interpret different project types, sites, and other factors. I do appreciate the work of many well-known architects (of star status), but in recent years I find myself getting bored – much like I get bored with hearing the same song being played over and over again on the radio.

Nevertheless, I’ve recently discovered about myself that not recognizing the firm name causes me to look a bit harder at the architecture and judge it for its merits rather than make assumptions either way merely because I recognize the author. Besides satisfying our clients’ needs and improving the local environment, it’s all about the work right?

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I think there is merit in getting published and I have nothing against getting published by the big dogs of architectural journals. They do seem to publish everything and anything from a few select well-known firms – despite the quality of the work. Yet there is something about turning a magazine page, seeing something striking or perhaps merely curious only to peek at the credits to see a name for the first time. Part of me thinks “who is that” and part of me goes “good for you.”

Uniqueness Among Other Stones

Here is an interesting polling question.

  • Do you automatically look at the project credits BEFORE looking at the pictures or reading the text?
  • Do you review the work, perhaps read the article and then look at the credits if the architect’s name hasn’t appeared somewhere prior to the end of the article?
  • Is your opinion of the work (based on the carefully cropped images of the photographer) influenced by recognizing the name of the architect/firm?
  • Would you be equally critical of work from a firm you recognize than a firm you’ve not been exposed to yet?
  • Have you ever admired a project in a magazine only to have later visited it with disappointment?

I could go on about projects in my region, done by well-known architects that are mediocre compared to other, more well-known or higher profile projects done by the same firm. In fact, my opinion is our region is full of mediocre work from outside firms and wonderful work from local architects. Perhaps that’s another post – when I’m feeling exceptionally cranky. I don’t want to necessarily have a blog with a negative slant – just one that is honest and judging all of us by the same standard.

After all, it’s all about the work right?

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I can’t make it to AIA  Chicago Convention – but say hello to someone you’ve never met. They might be featured in the next magazine you pick up. Now you know them.

photos are from stock photo galleries on FreeImages.com – click on photo to see author (used under the Standard Restrictions)

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11 Responses to “where everybody doesn’t know your name…yet   ”

  1. Heather Says:

    I look at the architecture first, otherwise I tend to roll my eyes at the firms in the magazines.

  2. Jeremiah Says:

    My first response to this post was WAY off topic, so I had to delete it and wrangle myself back to the questions at hand.
    1. I rarely, if ever, check the credits. I try to take the architecture as it is without a bias towards the architect. Though, to be honest, it’s not always difficult to pick out “the usual suspects”.
    2. I will usually scan the article. But the articles are generally filled with arch-babble and I get bored easy.
    3. My opinion is almost solely based on the images provided. Though I often find myself wishing I could grab the editors by the neck and strangle them for not providing enough context shots. It reminds me of my old boss. He took amazingly bad field photos of random details with no context…..Archi-rags are the same.
    4. I have visited very few published works. At least to my knowledge. The few that come to mind are the Telfair Musuem Addition in Savannah, Georgia by Moshe Sofdie, the Nelson-Adkins Museum Expansion by Steven Holl and the Kauffman Performing Arts Center and Crystal Bridges Museum also by Moshe Safdie. I’m actually a huge fan of Safdie. He is one of the VERY few starchitects that I genuinely admire. His work is incredibly varied. I lived in Savannah when the Telfair was under construction. It was amazing to witness. All of the above projects I was incredibly impressed by and the photos I had seen of them previously did not an ounce of justice to the quality and character of the spaces they were trying to portray. Again, it’s all about context.

    • leecalisti Says:

      I am curious to other’s responses too. I had been thinking about this for quite some time and couldn’t figure out if I was alone on this. Why does the finger freak you out – is it that you can’t discern which digit is up?

  3. Jeremiah Says:

    Also, the picture of the finger is creeping me the hell out. Just saying.

  4. ted rusnak Says:

    Two points.
    I don’t look at the credits until I’ve “studied” the project. If I can “see” one of the bigger firms based on past projects then I crit them more stringently.
    If I like a project and don’t recognize the author by the style I’m much more inclined to follow up with a glance at the credits.
    If there are elements to the design I like and may use in some way I’ll follow up with an online search. (Poor design or presentation is quite easy, a good design will always work and none of us have all the solutions)
    As always, thought provoking. Tx.

    • leecalisti Says:

      At times it’s hard to miss the designer’s names as they appear on the first page or the author is obvious. I just found it an interesting phenomenon while reading.


  5. Most, if not all of the Arch publications have become fashion magazines. I don’t see architecture as fashion and tend not to look at many. The magazines are always showing what the latest ‘trend’ in architecture is, nothing of substance.

  6. john Caseldine Says:

    If it is ugly…It is not well done, No it’s expensive trash.


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