As we continue listening to the talking heads decry one economic disaster after another, continually speculating on when we’re going to hit the bottom or when “the recovery” will solidify, etc etc ad nauseum and now heading into a presidential election *bangs head on desk* are architects and designers positioning themselves for reinvention?
By this I mean, are architects looking for new ways to market their services; looking for new clients; looking for new project types to branch out into; looking to add deliverable services for existing clients; and looking to create meaningful partnerships with peers and contemporaries in order to strengthen and embolden the profession?
In my experience, the answer seems to be drawn down generational lines. By this I mean, there are those of the “old guard” who are either nearing the winter of their careers or are in a position of leadership with sufficient work behind them that they are comfortable exactly where they are and have no plans to change their tact anytime soon, if ever. Then there are those, like myself and many others, who are at the beginning and middle of their careers and see opportunities for a new way of practicing architecture. There are obviously exceptions to both rules, but lets stick with generalities for right now.
This first group, those comfortable in their professional bubble, unfortunately are in some of the highest leadership positions of the firms that we all deal with or work for. And in my experience getting these architects to “push the envelope” or “get out of their comfort zone” is akin to jumping out of an airplane with no parachute – the liklihood of surviving is “small”… :-\ The bright side here is that, largely, these architects are on their way out of the profession. That is, they are less likely to be active in the profession and those moving up the ranks into new leadership positions. This is a good thing.
BECAUSE it is allowing those like me in the beginning and middle of their careers to take a look at the profession as a whole and look for ways to improve, change and make better a system that has largely stayed the same for some time. And architecture, as a profession, needs to change. Many have already seen this and are adapting to a new way of thinking, streamlining their businesses, taking advantage of things like coworking, telecommuting and, of course, “the cloud”.
What is all this innovation, adaptation and reinvention leading to? It’s leading to architects coming together as a community again to build not just better buildings but a better, faster, more efficient and more adaptive profession; one that fosters learning across all levels of experience and expertise in ways never seen before. We’re seeing it happen locally, nationally and even worldwide where, thanks to faster internet connectivity and digital data storage (the cloud) architects can work together and build relationships not just across state lines but on different continents and across multiple disciplines simultaneously.
This is an exciting time for architecture and for architects. Where do you find yourself? Are you innovating your practice? Are you seeking out new talent to collaborate with, learn from and pour into? Or are you stuck in the old way of carrying on in your own local circle, comfortable, stable, stagnant? What are your opinions, outlooks, advice, criticisms and praises? I want to hear from the profession (that means you…yes you, the one in the desk chair reading this). So speak damn it! 🙂