Sunday, February 9, 2014

On competition

Wow- the February Vision session was awesome- competition and differentiation is such a huge topic for architects to deal with. 

I wanted to share this video about Derrick Coleman, a Seahawks player who is legally deaf.  His story illustrates moving past negativity and criticism (like unappreciative clients, or misperceptions about the value architects bring).  I also love that he focused on being his best and didn't worry about comparing himself to others and coming up lacking. 

At the root of competition is the desire to constantly concern ourselves with what others have or are doing so that we can assure ourselves that we are better, or plan a strategy to take away from their success.  It's a mindset of lack that we all are better off leaving behind.  Having vision (and VISION) is the antidote to the vicious cycle that competition creates, it fuels our passion to be OUR best.  Operating in our own zone of genius is the space from which we change the world.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Architecture & Advacacy_A path of many forks

Our recent AIA Session was very eye opening because of what we have been trained to think, Advacacy is only "political" - but it is not, it is so much more! This is where the struggles begin.

We are not all the "starcitects" of the likes of Gehry or Hadid, that produce awe inspiring public projects that are talked about, debated, and cratiqued for years. Do we have that in us? Yes, but the 98% majority deal with more privitized types of projects with limited scope and budget that go mainly unnoticed by the general public.

Which begs the following questions:

 - Has the profession of Architecture lost our voice because of the projects we have been working on?
 - Do we have it in us as a profession to adapt to modern times?
 - How do we leverage our facilitation skills to bring all of these modernized and / or speacilized offshoots of our profession back together?

In a recent article by Sam Jacob for "dezeen magazine", he kind of brings all of this together (you can find the article here

The answeres to the questions above could be simple stated as:

 - educate the client on what we can provide them, it is not just a building, but an enviorment, a culture - that is just good design

 - I truely believe that we are on the cusp of something great for the architectural profession because we are at the forfront of the battle for what we leave behind for our following generations. No other profession has this type of impact on civilization.

 - We are the only profession that has the holistic view of the built environment, no matter how specialized, compartenmentalized, or diced up the design projession gets, we are the only ones that have the knowhow to put the puzzle back together.

  Some might say that it still begs the question, how do we, as the focal point of design community, begin to step out of our traditional ways and to not be afraid of the "eyes and ears" of the general public?

The ansewer could be the most obvious one - "one step at a time". By starting small with how your personal passions align with your personal goals, you can start down the path of awarness and change. You might not think that one voice can make a difference, but that one voice can soon turn into a crowd, then into a movement - but not overnight, it will take time, but our inherent nature of persistance will prevaile in the end.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

This is our starting line

I thought it was genius that the VISION program kicked off by going back to basics.  We got to examine our own inspiration for bothering to be architects at all.  And that's important, because it is so easy to get caught up in all the details of the workday and lose site of our core purpose.  The importance of keeping our inspiration at the forefront was underscored by firm leaders detailing what keeps them going through years of practice with all its challenges and triumphs - we got a snapshot of not just what they believe, but why it all matters.  Every day is a new starting line and it is by tapping into our own personal source of inspiration that we can step into our purpose as architects and change the world.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Do we need LEED - A Reflecrive reaponse

During the round table discussion of our first "Season 4" session, we had a nice debate on why we need LEED. Then I see, and read, this months AIA Ohio letter from our president (the elegant outspoken) Michael Schuster on the very same topic.

Now as you all know, I have spent the past week in Philly at Greenbuild, the pinnical of the LEED / sustainable movement, where this conversation is raging on because of the recent release of v4. In reflection of those conversations in our roundtable, Schuster's letter, and what I have seen and eard here I have come the realization that we have to have both (LEED and doing the right thing of sustainability).

As I stated before, I am in more favor of "doing the right thing" over having to justify to a client to pay for LEED bit sitting through all of these sessions and talking to the presenters - I have realized that LEED is the path to do that. Before LEED we had a few upstarts (BREEM, energy star, etc.) But they fell short of the goal of trying create the data of improvent and using that data to foster a movement. LEED has created a "Huge" database of actual scientific data that says we are doing the right thing but it also shows where we can do more, we also need that data to push everyone (not just the AEC Community but also developers, manufacturers, owners) to evolve to do more.

In closing I think we are all correct in our arguments, but I would ask you to look at LEED differently and more as a tool to justify that you are doing the right thing and not just as money for a plaque scenario because it is so much more.

I invite all of you (from all arguments and opinions) to talk. "Join Us" as the USGBC President Rick Fedrizzi has said. Together, and through these types of conversations, we can only come to a better solution and leave this place better for the future generations.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

let's be creative; after all we are architects

First of all, I want to be the first to publicly thank Douglas Richards and Marcene Kinney who had the vision to begin this wonderful program and who spent many countless hours of enduring dedication to the program. I know that I speak for all the other participants in saying that we so greatly appreciate the time and effort you have invested in our future careers.

At some point in the middle of the course of the past year (season III), I had planned to write a post with this movie clip attached. It seems like we, the VISION participants, were always jabbering and brainstorming about how we can survive the impending changes that our profession faces. Not to mention the difficulties of our recent economic downturn and the uncertainty of our economic future.

Many know that I had the longest drive back home after each session. This gave me plenty of uninterrupted time to reflect upon a day chock-full of experiences and knowledge. This image of two fighters kept coming to my mind. Do we approach the problems our profession faces with conventional knowledge or just brute, raw innovation and intelligence? I might guess the later.

We are architects after all and we should be leading the way towards new innovative ideas every day. Indeed the VISION participants with whom I spent many hours this past year are all these types of innovative, amazing architects. I so much appreciated getting to know them, to hear their stories, and to gain a more refined vision myself for my future because of them and the interactions we entertained each month.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In April, a few of us presented on the subject of "social responsibility" or "social integrity" perhaps. The subject was difficult to handle because somehow I was searching for a way to show or to prove that excellent architecture itself stands as a great testament to social responsibility. Santiago Calatrava, Frank Gehry, and Rem Koolhaus have all been awarded for both excellent design as well as their extensive efforts to improve humanity in one way or another.

It was interesting to me that during my research I came across Les Wexner mixed up in the same award presentation headlines as these famous architects. A fellow resident of Columbus, Wexner is well-known for his philanthropic efforts. From the very beginning of his retail ventures, he has been exceedingly generous. In fact, a new macro economic theory was written based on Wexner's business practices and his efforts to make meaningful contributions both to his own employees as well as to society at large.

Indeed Calatrava, Gehry, and Koolhaus each have designed buildings and infrastructure projects that have made an improvement on society. They should be highly commended for their architectural design at the very least. These architects, however, go beyond their own realm of high design to extend a hand to those in need. Also part of my research, I found several economists writing about one of the keys to an enduring business; that of being genuine about how your business and your personal life make contributions voluntarily to society.

In conclusion, I very much enjoyed presenting the High Line Park project in New York City as a great example of architecture that is both excellent by its very design as well as how it impacts society. Still a new addition to the City, the High Line is well-beloved already. To escape the blase of the City on the High Line Park is a great relief to many. Lastly, I want to mention that I took this photo in London several years ago and have always kept it by my desk wherever I work. I take this notion to heart; I would hope that I can always invest in the very substance that will keep me going throughout the rest of my career and my life.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Thankfully most architecture does not happen in a vacuum. For centuries, architects have engaged in research to enhance their own understanding of buildings and the materials used to create them. But this "research" can take many forms. Often this architectural research is limited to gaining very project-focused knowledge. This could range from checking out a new building technique to analyzing architectural precedents to the often dreaded "code research". While this type of research is extremely necessary in day to day practice, it misses the intent of larger, further reaching research that can be conducted and applied not just to one project, but to the manner in which entire firms practice architecture or universities prepare future architects. So, why don't architects regularly engage in more scientific or theoretical research? Is that the role of the university? Is the time and money required by this type of research too great? This is a tentative time for architects and the future of our industry and practices. How can we afford not to make this investment in advancing our field?