impossible things


Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – the White Queen, Alice in Wonderland.

Impossible? Yeah, I keep telling myself that. I’ve been feeling a bit down this week, but these are the things that keep me going in this profession. There are too many of us that gave up in the past few years after being laid off, closed their doors, or those who never even got a job after graduation.

I still believe in impossible things…here are six.

  1. Education will increase the amount of impact architects will have on our built environment – Some days I begin to doubt this, but I keep returning to talking about architecture to those around me in hopes that it will make a difference. I don’t think it’s realistic that every house, every building will be designed by an architect whether it’s new or renovated. However, it’s not time to give up yet. I still meet people from time to time that are truly interested in architecture and how architects make architecture. We often complain about how little input we have on the built world around us, but compared to the past few centuries do we have more input now than we ever have? In other words, in 18th century Europe (let alone America) when our profession was being defined as we know it, how many average people even knew an architect let alone hired one? Think about it.
  2. Architects can make a difference in small cities and towns – I have to get up every day believing this. I do live less than an hour from Pittsburgh and do work there, but I’m fascinated with making a difference in my own city where there is less than seventy to seventy-five thousand people in my zip code. This requires going back to the first item, education in order to convince people why they need to invest in architecture and how it can and will help them, their businesses and their daily outlook on life.
  3. Everybody needs wants an architect – I suppose no, but everybody doesn’t need a lawyer, plastic surgeon or accountant either. However, does everybody want an architect? Would everybody like to hire an architect, even for just an hour or two? To be honest, it’s ridiculous to want everybody to hire an architect. If we design or have input on only 2% of the houses in this country and that was raised to 4% or 5% how much work would we all have? Of course, be careful what you wish for, you might not like it. I don’t mean to be brash or even unkind. But not everyone will want the type or quality of architecture we want or prefer to do (this doesn’t mean style…Ok J?).
  4. Architecture can change and improve communities for the better – If you don’t believe this as an architect, go back to bed. This is not a profession that you get into for the money.
  5. Good work opportunities will come with patience and persistence – This is going to be debatable for all times with advocates on both sides presenting their evidence. I’m not sure how much control we all really have in this area and only time will tell. Sure we follow the sages in terms of carefully choosing work, but these days how many people can be that particular yet? Good clients come from good relationships and good projects come from good clients. You may land a big museum project that tricks you into believing you’ll be on the cover on AR next year, but building types don’t guarantee anything.
  6. One good thing can be injected or found in every project – This is my response to the last impossibility. Again, building types are not magical in and of themselves. We make the difference as architects and designers right? We can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear as the story goes. It’s up to us to show what we can do, how we think and how we can execute our ideas. Can we make a fantastic bathroom addition? Yes. Can we make a fantastic interior renovation to our local non-profit with little money? Yes. Can we reorganize the way your business works, functions or operates by adjusting the architecture in which you work, live, or play? Yes. I believe that. Architecture is made in a context. That context governs or drives the boundaries of a project. We may debate or argue that a particular project “could have been better if we just…” Don’t drive yourself crazy on that notion. We think more money, more space, more time, more freedom, more whatever will make architecture better. Perhaps it might. But we are called to make the best with the “hand we’re dealt.” Find a way to inject something special in every project you do. It might only be a paint color, a countertop or the entrance. How skilled are you and don’t apologize for the constraints. Don’t stop dreaming; don’t stop trying, and stop believing. (Hey we had a Journey moment there.).

 Unicorn 02

Do you believe in impossible things?

photos are from Flickr used under the Creative Common License – Top Photo / Bottom  Photo

impossible things

4 thoughts on “impossible things

  1. I do not believe in Unicorns. Just sayin. 😛
    “But not everyone will want the type or quality of architecture we want or prefer to do.”
    I get asked all the time “what kind of buildings do you most enjoy working on?”. It’s really annoying. Most architects I know would say they have a distinct “style” or would follow a particular starchitect. Me? I just love architecture. I’m perfectly happy designing a Neo-Classical building as I am a modern one. I’m just as happy designing a 1,000,000,000 square foot airport expansion as I am a 100 square foot bathroom renovation. The types of projects we should “want” to design are the ones that achieve the goals, wishes, desires and dreams of our clients. Nothing more.
    Ok, off my soap box.

  2. Ok, first of all, you need to eat pixie stix one at a time and quit after two or three. 🙂 Otherwise I’m with you. Except I have gotten clients that want things that are qualitatively or philosophically “different” than I would prefer. In other words, cheap, ugly and bad for the environment. I wasn’t refering to style. But good catch…no need to leave the soap box. It’s lonely up here. Now I have to insert a note in parentheses.

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