where are we, where am i?

Architecture is changing today at an alarming rate. We see many architects unemployed and the remaining architects being marginalized by…everyone and everything. It’s a sort of Darwinian experience as an architect; somewhat our fault perhaps. What is architecture today? Have we learned what it is yet, not just to us, but to the public? Then, if we know what it is, how should we make it?

We produce architecture differently than we did just a few years ago. I started my career with only a pencil and a drafting board. When I was in school, we had movements, “isms”, and other ways to characterize architecture. It may have been shallow, but we thought we understood what we were doing. We started drawing on computers, lines and squares. But now that is changing and the data we enter is no longer a line or a square, but an intelligent piece of information, linked to specifications and schedules. Yet it still looks like a square on the screen.

Today we must be ‘green’ for a multitude of reasons, some good, some not. We are searching for architecture of relevancy, yet we’re all just working on whatever comes in the door, hoping it will be meaningful. We have owners that don’t understand our process for a variety of reasons. Codes and regulations put pressure on us to design within a complex world of stipulations that often are in conflict with each other and often outside our budgets. The recession has limited what projects are even available or will be available. So where are we?

I saw this video where world renowned architect Peter Eisenman talks about architecture today in this short clip. He doesn’t strike me as optimistic, but perhaps a realist.

I remain an optimist, perhaps a lunatic. Should we do as Peter states, “get ready for a time when there is a possibility of making architecture again?” What do you think and are you ready?

update 09.22.11 see full interview at ArchDaily’s page. It certainly raises many other questions. Do you agree with Mr. Eisenman?

top photo is from bupowski’s photostream on Flickr (used under the Creative Common License)

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where are we, where am i?

8 thoughts on “where are we, where am i?

  1. It all depends on your view of the world, doesn’t it. Is it possible to create architecture today? Yes. Is it challenging? Double Yes! It was sad to see him sitting in that big empty office surrounded by back issues of magazines….

    1. Rob, like I said, I’m a lunatic optimist, but this video caused me to think and thus write this post. I’d expect to see him sitting with his masterpieces behind him. Did you see his latest in Spain…wow.

  2. Very appropriate topic for the current times we’re living in. I would add that when I graduated from Ohio State University in 1987, there was no clear style even then. We poked fun at Post Modernism, some tried to emulate Deconstructivism and others tended toward the International Style- whatever that was/is.

    I think the Green and subsequent LEED movement has had a huge influence on the design aesthetics of buildings.

    Where I think my generation “went wrong,”- if that’s a fair way to put it- is that many of us were too worried about “getting ‘it’ (style) right- blending in with the status quo- too focused on the superficial finish materials and not enough on the bigger picture.

    Great post, Lee…very well-written. Thank you for sharing it. I am going to share a link to it on Twitter.

    1. Thanks Tara, I just call them as I see them. The video really struck a chord with me. I graduated in 1991 and the same ‘styles’ were being explored. Hopefully architecture is not as shallow anymore. There are far bigger issues to address.

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