Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Architect as Leader?

A funny thing happened on the way to my desk...

Well, not really, but I figured out what to do about this question in that time...

A presentation was made Monday morning regarding elevating our sustainable presence as architects in our community. We already incorporate sustainable practices in nearly all of our projects, but it has become so ingrained in what we do that we forget to promote it like we should.

It reminded me that as designers of people's environments/communities we need to lead by example and lead through our designs. A crap building that does not better the lives of the end users is better left alone.

As designers we have more power than most realize. We create environments, we shape the lives of those who encounter the space, for better or for worse. That's a huge responsibility! And for you architect haters out there...that is why we take our jobs so seriously and are always trying for the things that seem impossible.

I am reminded of Filippo Brunelleschi. He told the city of Florence that he could build an impossible dome on Santa Maria del Fiore even though he did not have a plan for it or even an inkling of a way to construct it. 600 years later it is there, standing tall as a marker of enormous pride for the Florentines.

Brunelleschi led the town, along with several other architects of the time, to great heights (literally and figuratively). These architects created an environment that the people could be proud of and are still proud of today. If you're as big of a nerd for Florentine Renaissance architecture as I am, right now you're saying "that's awesome and unbelievable and I can't believe how true that is!"

If you don't have the same enthusiasm as I you're hopefully saying "I see your point, architects DO have a lot of power over our environment."

To me, architects have the opportunity to leave their mark on a community through their thoughtful design (hopefully they aren't remembered for how terrible their building was...though I know some are...). They LEAD people through a space with careful planning and sometimes a bit of innovation. They LEAD by actively participating in their community and sharing their knowledge to help build a better life for those around them. Architects LEAD a client and user to help them find the best possible solution for their environment.

It is a selfless profession, when I really think about it, full of leaders. Even if some think they are just following along by doing mark-ups, they are leaders by taking the time to simply place the door in the Revit model that opens to a space someone might never have gone if it hadn't been there. We lead in so many ways. Powerful stuff. Powerful People.

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