Architects, Do Better

Congratulations Architects, you have the luxury of cynicism.
So, I just finished a cute post about Architects being pantless Aliens -which was fun, mainly because I got to use the phrase “insecure and arrogant at the same time”. Aren’t I awesome for coming up with that? What an edgy, blogger I am, taking on the big issues. Yep, that’s right I, my loyal readers, must have huevos grandes (that’s how they say “big balls” in Texas – and it helps if you make a hand-cupping gesture as you say it).
But, eventually that angsty high begins to wear off and I find myself just sitting at my desk bemoaning the state of the economy and wondering where my next paycheck is coming from.
This seems to be my marketing plan >>> wait on the phone to ring + worry = I’m Awesome
This may not be the best marketing plan… But, it’s the extent of the marketing skills that my experience in this profession has left me with. So, as a defense mechanism, cynicism begins to settle in, like a dark angsty fog bank.
Then Bruce Mau, jumps into my Tweet stream with this article and kicks me right in the Architectural jewels:

Is it really difficult being an architect in America? It’s difficult to be a female intellectual in Kandahar. It’s difficult to raise a family living on waste products in the garbage dumps of China. It’s difficult to find your way as a child in Malawi, where the infection rate of HIV/AIDS is 17 percent, having already wiped out a generation of mothers and fathers. It’s difficult to overcome drug addiction from the quicksand of poverty and incarceration in America’s overpopulated prisons. These conditions are difficult. Being an architect is not difficult.

That’s right, Bruce just called me a pussy. And, you know what? He’s right. I’ve been lazy, weak, wrong, and (in general) a huge baby-pants. Because:

If you are an architect and are thinking any thought other than, “Hey, this is awesome! This is the craziest, coolest, most beautiful time in human history to be alive and working;” if you aren’t saying, “Wow! I get to constantly learn new things, and everything is uncertain. I want everyone on the planet to get in on the action and be part of this new world of invention and beauty!”—I don’t want to hear it. If you are thinking a complaint, just stop.

We, Architects, are privileged. We are among the few people trained and educated to change and shape the world. We are among the top 1% of ALL humanity – The top 1% of the entire world. Did you grow up in a gutter drinking e-coli and wearing hand-me-down clothes made of ostrich pelt and sand?

No. you did not.

Are you starving? Are you living under the shadow of a hundred years of genocide and oppression? Are you cowering under a FEMA tent trying to stay dry while they rebuild the city you lived in that was leveled by an Earthquake, or a Tsunami, or the latest world tour of Hannah Montana?

No. You’re wearing a turtleneck, not iron shackles.

We, should stop being cynical, stop hiding behind our angst, stop waiting on the world to adjust to fit our ideal views, and start using our talents to fix this shit. So:

if you have woken up and realized that the internal monologue and obsession with policing the boundary of “big A” licensed Architecture means that architects could lose the thread of the most important movement in history, the movement to redesign the world and everything we do to sustainably meet the needs of the 4.5 billion children who will be born before midcentury, then do something about it. If you realize your colleagues have been so busy policing the fence of exclusivity that they forgot to open the door of possibility, then get in the game. If you understand that the practice of architecture—the practice of synthesis that generates coherent unity from massively complex and diverse inputs—just might be the operating system that we need to solve the challenges that we face in meeting the needs of the next generation, then join the movement. If you get the fact that architecture, and the design methodologies at its core, could be central to the future of cities, governments, ecologies, and businesses, then please raise your voice in the chorus of potential. Get into the discussion and leave your worries about the fence that separates you from the rest of the world behind you. Stop the complaining—and join the revolution of possibility.

Architects, we can do better than this.

Thank you Bruce Mau. I think that kick in the balls you just gave me may have been just the start I needed,



Bruce Mau at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: AP/M. Spencer Green


And, seriously, if you are an Architect, or a design professional, or a just a concerned human being – read this article – “You can Do Better” by Bruce Mau – (but cover your nutsack)


that cover photo is SJSA Third Grade Class form Michael 1952’s photostream on Flickr (because I’ve been schooled and possibly hit with a ruler by a nun and used under creative commons license)