I have been seeing discussions similar to the one I received today from Linkedin "What is your elevator response to "What do you do for a living?". It seems like an interesting question, but when I read the responses it absolutely blows me away because of the insecure tone I get from the answers. It is like architects have to convince themselves that they are relevant and needed. Some of the answer are almost apologetic. The tone of the conversations I read most of the time seem to be on the defensive side justifying what architects do and they seem to get mad at the public or clients that don't agree or understand. Sometimes it feels like we are our own biggest problem.
I am not famous. I have never been published. I am not asked to give speeches, but I know what I do and I know my value. I practice architecture because this is my passion. I have done many things in my life because they just felt like the right thing to do. I have made decisions because as I say many times "I was suppose to do it". When I get those internal signals I don't question them or try to figure out why, I just know that is what I am suppose to do.
I never had a burning desire to be an architect. As stated in this blog before, I just made the decision as a senior in high school. Once the decision was made I never looked back. There was no Plan B. I really don't consider this work and from a business point I have paid a penalty for that attitude, but that is another blog post down the road. I am reading how hard it is to be an architect and how it might discourage people from getting in the profession. My natural response to that is "And........." How difficult a path is, to me, should not determine the path you take. I don't want someone to tell me they became a Vet tech because it was easier than becoming a Veterinarian. I can fully accept explanations such as, I love animals, but 1) I did not have the finances to go to Vet School 2) I was married and had children and I could not commit the time to go to Vet School or even 3) I love animals, but wanted to do a little bit more than just be a pet owner, I wanted to be involved with animals on a daily basis. I do have problems with I got accepted, I had the finances, I'm smart enough, but I just thought it was tougher than I wanted to commit for, so I took a lesser path.
Picking a major based on the easiest path of resistance to get a degree is not something I personally agree with and I don't necessarily think everyone should go to college. That probably has my Dad rolling in his grave, as he thought everyone should have a degree and that was very important to him. I have tried to teach my kids to decide what they want to do with their lives, then follow the path that gets you there. No rush or timeline. My Dad got his MBA at 58, just because he wanted to, so the concept of having to decide what you want to do right out of high school is not something I necessarily agree with.
I don't want people becoming architects because it is easy or an easier path to a career. I want people to become architects because they want to become architects. Make the decision and then full steam ahead. I just saw today where NCARB is going to let interns take the test every 60 days. When I took the test I got to retake it once a year. It took me 3 time to complete all parts. I always passed something, but the biggest hurdle was that 12 design test, which I understand they don't do anymore. I am for change and evolution, really! Is the current test easier with no 12 hour design test? I don't know and I don't care. When we get to the point where we can take the test, you take what they currently provide. You pass it and you're licensed.
I recently saw a post about what to call people who have spent 5 tough year to get their BArch, really? You need a title? Graduate works for me. Getting your degree is just part of the process, get on with your life and getting moving in that direction that will lead you to get your license. Obviously title don't mean much to me. Being labeled as an "intern" or "architect" are not my concerns. My biggest concern is that I am allowed to practice architecture, so therefore I need to be a license architect.
I also understand that architecture is a business. I fully understand that this profession has taken a hit with the financial conditions we have recently been under and I am concerned that those who read this might get the impression that I am an idealist about architecture, but trust me, I am a realist. I too would change professions in order to support my family and totally understand that there are those out there who want to be architects, but life just didn't cooperate with them. I have struggled, I have had questioned and I have been fortunate, yes fortunate, to continue doing what I love.
So it just bothers me to read these comments and articles where instead of understanding that we need to educate the public about what we do, there seems to be his anger against them for not knowing or appreciating what we do. I firmly believe that the projects I have worked on would not be better without my involvement or another architect's involvement. I want to educate my clients out of my desire to share with them to makes things better, not out of fear that if they don't appreciate my profession that my profession my cease to exist. I don' think architects will ever become extinct or there will ever come a time when we will not provide a valuable service to the public.
Remember this is just my opinion and rumor has it they are just like belly buttons!