Architects are takers, a guest post by Art Vandelay
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The BUILDblog hosts some good healthy architectural criticism from a guest blogger.
When BUILD asked me to write a guest post about architects for the BUILD blog I was initially hesitant. It wasn’t because of unfamiliarity with the protocols of the design world; I’ve been at the periphery of the architecture world long enough to know what a Mayline is. It wasn’t due to blogger stage fright; I started contributing to publications back when writing was actually written. The caution I felt was, truth be told, that I don’t hold architects in the highest of esteem. But the guys at BUILD just kept buying me drinks until I agreed and now here we are. I feel uncomfortable writing pejoratively about the architecture profession; so uncomfortable that I’m not even using my own name. (Art Vandelay is a pseudonym used by Senifeld’s George Costanza when he claimed to be an architect).
I work with many architects and some of them are even my friends. I know enough architects to be able to spot you from across the street without even scrutinizing your thin-framed steel eye-glasses. I recognize your cryptic and esoteric vocabulary, and I can define “tectonic” without looking in a dictionary. I know enough architects to have tested out my theory and, for better or for worse, my theory has been proven true. Architects are takers. They take. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go looking for this, and I don’t make the accusation nonchalantly. You architects worked hard for it. I’m not proud of it, nor do I want to offend anyone. However, I feel architects could use what I genuinely intend as constructive criticism.
Regardless of what is going on in the world, you architects are always talking about yourselves and whatever project you have going on. Mother Teresa could have kicked the bucket, Serbia could have revolted and the financial crisis could have occurred all on the same day, and later that evening you’d still be telling me about how far your latest design is cantilevering. When you come over to my home for a nice dinner, you bring a bottle of Covey Run Chardonnay ($6.99 per bottle). You’re always late, and it’s always because you just got out of a “design charette.” When you use the term “design charette,” it is delivered with an air of importance, inferring that it is more important than a “meeting.” Trust me, that second story remodel is not more important than your integrity as a person.
Whether it’s time, money or attention, you’re always taking rather than giving. Why is this? Is it because you got the crap kicked out of you back in architecture school with all those all-nighters? Is it because architecture was one of the hardest hit industries of the recession, and you went from a modest income to being outright poor? Or maybe it’s because, when you really get down to it, architecture is not a priority for most people. It pains me to be this blunt, but as much as I admire passion for one’s profession, your behavior is inconsiderate to the people in your lives. It seems to me that you’ve got some baggage to work through. You’ve got to stop being takers and start being givers. The taking thing is unprofessional and a poor reflection on an otherwise noble profession.
Giving a little also feels good.