what do you think an architect is?

A simple but complicated question all the same…you are wondering why ask it? Doesn’t everybody know what an architect is? Can’t we look it up on Google and move on? We draw things, design buildings and stuff like that right? We’re like Mr. Brady, Howard Roark, and Frank Lloyd Wright?

At the local university School of Architecture where I teach part time, we were discussing various tenets that begin to define an architect’s role and how that could shape or inform the direction of the school. It got me thinking about my own philosophies and expectations of what an architect is or ought to be. In pondering it further I thought “who do others think we are?”

Isn’t that a more interesting question?

Not that I believe we should be what others want us to be, but understanding the public’s perception (right or wrong) about our role or identity is a great place to start the discussion. How can we align the public’s perception of us with our aspirations?

So who or what do you think an architect is? An artist, inventor, thinker, philosopher, critic, designer, technician, planner or…? Maybe we are all of these, some of these, perhaps none of these.

It’s something to think about. Share with me what you think.


top photo of an architect’s hand is from George L. Smyth’s photostream on Flickr (used under creative commons license)

bottom photo is my desk…on a good day…

what do you think an architect is?

7 thoughts on “what do you think an architect is?

  1. Great post, and what a loaded question, eh? What is an architect? If you did happen to search Google, unfortunately the results may surprise you. Mostly what you’ll get are sites for software and tech “architects” and perhaps one or two map results for “architects” in your local area.
    I think this is telling that as “architects” we have lost much of our former prestige. For me, an architect is the ultimate artist and scientist wrapped in a neat, all black package. Architects take an idea, a thought, a feeling, a memory and, working with various materials and mediums, create a building that at once is functional and completely utilitarian but also embodies those “intangible” aspects that make that building beautiful, ugly, loved or hated.

    1. It is a challenging question, but before we can regain our prestige with the public, it would be helpful to take inventory of what the common understanding of us is…like it or not. I like your metaphor of an artist and scientist…of course in a neat black package…you forgot the small black glasses.

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