Monday, June 22, 2009

Architects - who needs'em?

Whether based on whimsical geometry, superstitions & theories, or founded on the use of native materials, "Architecture" or in broad terms, our "built environment", has a profound impact on our lives, our society, and how culture evolves. Architects are often visionaries so often restrained by others. Choose them wisely whether on a gut feeling or based on their portfolio, architects should be able to assist you, guide you, and most importantly provide deliberate knowledge resulting in informative decisions.

Architects are knowledgeable about a diverse realm of building sciences and design. There are so many types of architects working under the title of "Architect" yet there is so little known about what we do. I often question whether people need architects. As a designer and a building professional I am curious about this. I am curious how many people know what architects actually do. Other than draw and imagine- what do architects do? Are we just another paper pusher, perpetuating bureaurocracy?
For over twelve years I have been seeking answers to who is the architect and what role do I fit.
If someone is thinking about building new or remodeling, or saving a historic structure, how does the process start? Does one first call a contractor? Does one first contact the city building department? Or does one initiate the project with the help of an Architect? My feeling is the average person will first discuss the project with a contractor. Is this because of verbal accusations so often heard about in the field? Is this because people feel architecture is reserved for the elite and too costly for "my project"? Have Architects typecast themselves to designing selfishly ostentatious visions of the future. Or creating utopia through illuminating illustrations? Often seen as storybook concepts and having little to do with the "real world".
Well I would like to suggest that architects could do many things however my vision of architecture is holistic and functional, it’s efficient and architects can be considered as an owner agent. One who looks to serving a client with selfless visions, pursuing the client's and the community's best interest. Not their own. While architects are hired by private parties to design and negotiate the building process for them, the architect’s interests are founded on community and region, on site integration and sustainability as much as it is founded on helping a client pursue their very own goals. Think of the architect as a community servant, for buildings will stand their ground far longer than the client will occupy it. The building will be a permanent feature and become a "community member" to be observed by many people for many years.
The house, the building, mall or monument may stand as a community icon one that identifies local neighborhoods cities or in some cases regional territory. So with this in mind the architects must serve much more than one client. We should expect architects to be inclusive during their design process, resulting in functional places of notable significance.
Architects are hired to negotiate government processes, municipal codes and regulations, neighborhood covenances and regional climates. Architects are hired to illustrate concepts, to be teachers, and to be a guiding body. Architects are hired to be creators and facilitators. & your architect is able to determine the differences between what you need and what you desire. Architects are knowledgeable about regional concerns, the climate. Your architect should be familiar with the site and integrate the building to the immediate surrounding environment while considering the broader region in which it will exist. Your architect is available for cost estimating and material selections. Your architect understands color and texture, light and shadow, & most importantly form and function. Your architect understands building assemblies and structural integrity.

Most importantly, your architect is the foundation towards a successful building project......I hope!!


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