After a tumultuous year, how as architects do we look forward to a new year? Fortunately, the earth is still spinning around the sun at 67,000 mph, gravity still works, chocolate still tastes good and coffee is readily available. I tried to stick to positive comments below, but I still can’t avoid sarcasm.
What does this architect think at the beginning of 2017? (You’re thinking another pep talk blog post…well read on).
I honestly tried to post this as a final 2016 article, but it just didn’t happen – which speaks of how 2016 went. That’s not a bad thing. My practice is busier than ever and this marks the end of the second year that I’ve been away from teaching (I know, it’s weird). That was a necessary decision at the close of 2014 to spend more time with my family and focus on one thing professionally. I believe a busy practice is proof positive of something right in the economy for which I don’t credit anybody but the American people. I have work that I enjoy, that I have chosen (i.e. turned down uninteresting work) and hopefully makes a difference. Moreover, this signifies communities, homeowners and committee members being dedicated to moving forward with their plans and not waiting for something magical to happen.
I enjoy my life as a solo practitioner, I enjoy being in charge of my own professional direction, and I enjoy the flexibility given in exchange for the high-level of responsibility I carry. I have seen a few things built this year, some fun projects are in early phases and I’m up to my eyeballs in construction drawings. Many clients are patiently waiting for me to complete (or start) their projects. The year yielded a lesser frequency in blog writing (not good), but more time with people. My avoidance of mindless political discussions hopefully made be healthier.
My thoughts for architecture are simple – nobody is going to change your values, nobody is going to change what you do tomorrow, nobody is going to change how you practice as an architect. Move forward with the same set of values and make good architecture. Regardless of any hurdle, we need to do what we hold dearly as right and convince others of the same. More regulation and laws are not going to make people make better decisions – it will simply make them more frustrated and angrier. I wrote a post years ago, of the Fable of the Sun and the Wind. I still believe that today – look it up. Architects will make more change if we act more like the sun than the wind. Make good architecture.
Smaller projects need to be given more credit for their efforts and investment. We have elaborate certification systems to measure building performance, but I wonder if it is more a means to pat ourselves on the back to tell us we did the right thing. I’m not against any of those measures, however we are kidding ourselves if we think that every architect in every town on every project for every client is going to go down a path with their building to gain a badge. There are countless number of projects with countless architects working hard for good clients to make better buildings. Building owners will not easily embrace better strategies and smarter decisions if they feel it’s an impossible goal. Talk to people sometime and listen more.
Can we enjoy being architects again? There has been so much criticism (and crying) about our profession with so many who have found themselves uninspired by this profession – you need to get back to loving architecture again. We need to be a positive voice about our profession in our communities and circles of influence. How can we make change if we complain and moan? We chose to be architects even if our current job isn’t making us happy. I believe happiness isn’t a goal, but a result of doing good things, right things, and most importantly, doing things for others.
I have pro-bono work that I’ve elected to do that excites me. I’m eager about what’s going on in my own community and the positive things that will happen this year because of others who are willing to work for and serve others. Give to others.
Put your energy (and social media efforts) into doing good in 2017 so we can be cheering a year from now as our bright blue planet makes its journey once more around the big yellow one, which is the sun.
That’s what I think about 2017.