architectural snobbery

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I think I’m a snob. How might one confirm that?

Perhaps architects are criticized more for the delivery of our message than the idea or belief behind the message. I admit at times we sound pretentious. Yet, I often don’t know how to react in situations when most of what we believe is intrinsic to our emotions as well as our intellect. Thus, the arrogant sounding response blurts out as if it’s unapologetically inveterate. Delivery versus message, I suppose.

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this was from one of those weird online surveys

Today the term snob typically follows an adjective as either a title of sarcastic distinction or pejorative name calling. I might be a coffee snob, a food snob or in this case an architectural snob. Dictionaries refer to it as a term of superiority, something not in favor these days.

Recently I was having a conversation about a project at our home. I can’t share much more of the details, but throughout the exchange, a few questions arose about whether we considered popular alternatives and regretfully my response came out as arrogant. Although inexcusable, it had an intent that many architects would understand. Our choices are deliberate and (usually) thoughtful, yet when we communicate our passion for authenticity, durability, and design, it can come out incorrectly.

I’ve written before about faux materialsgeneral frustrations and our quest for the better. Over the years, some have accused me, perhaps only cautioned me to watch my tone. There is no defense on my part; I’ve had my rants and hopefully, my overall tenor has improved. Defended like a mama bear to her cubs or thrown under the bus are two positions I have taken about my own profession. I’ll initially defend any architect just for being an architect while exhibiting disappointment when I cannot understand their lack of judgment.

calisti_054.jpgI don’t excuse or embrace our stereotype as snobs or being disconnected from our clients. Nonetheless, I can’t give in to the status quo or provincial attitudes about what is good or what is the norm.

Not all opinions are equally valid – that’s just how it is. Before throwing something at us for sounding conceited, please ask us or let us explain WHY we hold so tightly to our opinions, why the cheapest solution is ultimately the most expensive solution, why those materials work (or don’t work), why this detail must occur this way or HOW this decision can benefit the client, the community or maybe even this planet.

calisti_072.jpgAsk me why…I’ll be glad to share, honestly, humbly and gratefully.

photos (of me) : skysight photography

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architectural snobbery

4 thoughts on “architectural snobbery

  1. Well Said Lee! Where did you get that Myers-Brigs Graphic from? Btw, I believe most of the great architects were INFP’s. I happen to be an ENFP. I think I was introverted as a kid, as I chose to stay inside by myself playing with legos and listening to records. This drove my mother nuts as my parents were very social! She would often force me to go outside an play with my brother and the kids in the neighborhood and by high school & college I developed into an extrovert! So I would often (jokingly) blame my mom for me not being one of the great ones!

    1. I took that test on FB months or years ago. That was my result. I never knew what an introvert or extrovert was until I got married. I just knew I liked to stay inside and play with legos and listen to records.

  2. I think we (people connected with architecture) know many things that make us appreciate many solutions that for others are just weird. Because we know where they are coming from. Same with some esthetical solutions.

    For me, the biggest problem with snobbism is my own difficulty with deciding what is better. Sometimes I hear my colleague state somethings with 100% certainty, that I don’t have. It might be my age or tendency to overthink, but I’m rarely so sure about anything.

    And I agree that question “why” and the answer for it is essential. I wish it was present more often.

    1. I think you can be confident in a decision at that moment but change your mind years later without losing integrity. Everything and everyone changes. The best advice I’ve gotten in the past many years came from a friend who told me to get out of my comfort zone. Most other business advice in books or LinkedIn is shallow babble. I bet you know what is better.

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