"So, planners, architects, and engineers take the initiative. Go to work, and above all cooperate and don’t hold back on one another or try to gain at the expense of another. Any success in such lopsidedness will be increasingly short-lived. These are the synergetic rules that evolution is employing and trying to make clear to us. They are not man-made laws. They are the infinitely accommodative laws of the intellectual integrity governing universe."
Richard Buckminster Fuller, 1969, "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth"
I think that, in the first couple years after graduating from school, it is very easy for everyone out of design school to become jaded with the world. Students find out that "great design" in the real world requires much more than beautiful renderings and "design skills". It requires wealthy clients, business connections, strong technical skills, and a great execution team. Nothing is as "easy" as the way the world is portrayed at school. Projects don't just last for a semester; they are ongoing, sometimes for decades. People may not celebrate your ideas; you have to defend them, and you have to be willing to listen to others. Contrary to school -- you are not the smartest, most knowledgeable person about your project. Contain your ego.
Even after realizing all this, it's still not enough. Students hit a "dead end". They think that "design" is all there is -- how buildings look and form-making. But nothing is farther from the truth. School exposed us to one small aspect of building - the design part. It didn't tell, or teach us, about the rest of the 99% -- the technical considerations, the technology integration, and project management. It didn't teach us about mechanical systems, sustainability, or construction administration. It didn't teach us Revit and Python integration, and how data is changing the very notion and act of drawing. It only taught us this vague notion of design thinking, which is only valuable once you apply it to practical skills.
This rest of the 99% -- to learn about all the other aspects of the field -- it is not a "bitter pill to swallow", but an opportunity. So many people decry these other avenues of learning -- they skip the technical training, and go straight to management, without fully understanding what it is they oversee (and therefore make people's lives miserable). Or, they stay in the technical realm forever, and by the time they get to management they realize they cannot communicate with people (and also make other's lives miserable). What's worst are the people who refuse to learn either technical knowledge or management knowledge, and continue on in the world of design, hoping to become that #1 senior designer who is just the best at the moment. But even this person will easily be replaced by younger staff, who are more attuned to the latest trends and technologies, if he or she refuses to learn higher value skills.
What I have learned, thus far, is that there are many broken things about the profession, and these crises are an opportunity to re-imagine what it is that we do. I start to question the field more comprehensively. Rather than criticizing the design of buildings, I am criticizing the entire process and industry that led to it. The ancient apprenticeship system of work. The architect-contractor relationship. The architect-developer-community relationship. The contemporary ecosystem of materials and methods (concrete, steel, wood joists). The software we use to document. The industry as a service, rather than a product. I don't take any of this as a given, because I know all of these things will, and must, change, in order for the design to be better. And this cannot occur in academia, because all of the learning today takes place not in theoretical books, but in the real world practice of making things happen.
If you love money and control, go into real estate. If you love money and time, go into tech. If you want to do something actually different, learn both.
I now know that this is the only way to ever produce better work -- to fully understand, explore, and question the field the way I want to. I have to learn all of the rules, regulations, and existing practices -- and then find ways to break them. This is the only way I will ever find my own voice and vision of what it is I want my work to say. I have to act upon my curiosities about alternate modes of business and thinking, instead of just dreaming about them.
I am on a quest. Consider this a personal pep talk.
1. Architecture is the mediation between technology and the environment.
This means we need a better and more thorough understanding of both 1) technology and 2) the environment. At this moment, we really have neither. What are the biological and ecological foundations of nature? What are the direct and projected implications of technology?
2. Architecture is a field of study that supports other fields.
This means that this field of study is inherently empathetic and extroverted. It is always beneficial to look outward and stay curious.
3. Architectural research is very misunderstood.
Architectural "research" is more about making internal observations that motivates your design and agenda. It is not traditional "research" persay, but a personal reflection of ongoing trends and events.
4. Renderings and Excel Sheets
Clients are most convinced by images and excel sheets to describe and communicate projects. Because words are difficult to imagine and to quantify, our tools of trade (drawings, tables, diagrams) empower us to make convincing qualitative and quantitative arguments.