Likewise, no discipline exists within a bubble; every discipline of study relies on another, and the sharing of information between disciplines makes the world go round. No single individual can possibly know and understand every field of study, so we are bound to each other for knowledge, wisdom, and experience. We have to have the humility to understand that everything is connected, and so acquire empathy to listen to others, courage to seek out differences of perspective, and the wisdom to be proven wrong.
Architects are middlemen, between clients and contractors, ideas and reality, computers and people, man and nature. Architects are salesmen, pitching buildings to governments, clients, and the public. Architects are managers, coordinating people, schedules, and materials. Architects are service providers, businesspeople working to the benefit of clients and hopefully society, just trying to stay afloat to get the next project.
This multi-faceted nature of the job madsere me first get into the field. But as time went on, it dawned on me that culture and technology has really dramatically reshaped the industry. Today, architects are mostly niche drawing production houses. I say this because, aside from a couple high profile projects, most buildings are not built or designed by architects. Real estate developers have their own in-house designers, analysts, and marketing teams. Contractors sometimes have their own development teams, or even in-house architects. Software companies control the methods of drawing production, and often times techincal standards. And, simply stated, most buildings are simply too complex and optimized to be directed by individual geniuses (though it may be marketed that way); most work is done by large, faceless, infrastructure-engineering industrial complexes, either state-owned or owned by large corporate gatekeepers.
How should the discipline evolve? To start, I think it needs to first recognize that it exists in a dynamic community with other disciplines, such as real estate, government, and technology. No longer can architecture hide in a corner and proclaim itself as an isolated artistic discipline, like painting or sculpture; that seems to be such a 20th century, or even 19th century, idea, willfully blind to the contemporary issues like climate change and social inequality. Architects have to act, rather than react, to structural changes. They should take on risks and capital to finance their own buildings. They should become political activists, getting involved in local government and policymaking to rewrite zoning regulations. They should write their own software for design production, to program their own ways of designing and constructing buildings. Only by understanding their own interconnectedness, and reaching out to their sister disciplines and industries, can they take back their power as a positive force and change-agent in the built environment.
You can't be a good middlemen if you don't know when to buy low, and when to sell high.
You can't be a good salesmen if you don't understand how your customers think and how to communicate your services.
You can't be a good manager if you don't understand leadership and how to server your team and partners.
You can't be a good service provider if you can't stay afloat long enough to keep the lights on and provide service.
The road forward is long and challenging, but it must be taken.