Why modern architects are so untalented.

Leonardo-Vitruvian Man |human harmony…..Le Corbusier-The Modulor | aesthetic dissonance


A dull ugliness of our cities accompanied by boring blocks of repetitive buildings, unfriendly monotonous streets, hideous facades reminding of militarized camps – all that is a result of incompetent and mindless work of modern architects. The problem is that “specialists” who are today responsible for design of our homes and harmony of our environment have absolutely nothing unique that separates an Architect from the crowd of ordinary people.

Modern “specialists” cannot draft or paint professionally as Renaissance architects; they don’t possess any deep knowledge of geometry or math as Antique Greeks, they don’t have any grandeur vision and courage as Roman masters. Actually those so called “architects” (and I am talking about an overwhelming majority of architectural professionals) have no exceptional qualities or exclusive abilities whatsoever.

All they have is a bizarre document called license, a meaningless piece of paper provided by bureaucratic associations. That document gives them a right to carry proudly a “Title of Architect”. The Title does not make them real Architects though.

Instead of designing nice houses and friendly places the only purpose of those “architects” equipped by the license is to conduct a business. In accordance with the documents of their ludicrous professional associations it is officially called a “business of architecture”. Can you imagine: “business of music” or “business of painting”? Of course there’s a show-business or art-dealers, but those have nothing to do with the artists, musicians themselves… Those are industries around the talented individuals, using and often exploiting the talents.

While in architects’ case – architects have sold their souls to the devil directly, with no commissioners.

I bet you, that Michelangelo Buonarroti, being not so well-educated fellow, could not be able to pass exams and to obtain the license. Filippo Brunelleschi, as a former goldsmith, wouldn’t be very successful in conducting business of architecture. Those immortal geniuses defining architectural harmony and building science for centuries nowadays would not have a chance to become architects in our ugly le-corbusian society.

Let’s cut the bullshit, modern architects are not creative souls or passionate intellectuals looking for golden ratio or universal harmony in School of Athens debate. Mostly they are a bunch of low-level manufacturers, mundane people, which are very far from any creative impulses not to mention a Divine intervention. They don’t care about aesthetic sensitivity. They are barely able to produce a straight line, leave alone to draw a fine-looking sketch or a charming illustration for some fresh idea. For Christ sake even their handwriting sucks!

(O, yeah!…sure I mean Him – the Father of modern architecture Le Corbusier, who’s often referred as Corbu. Well, can you think of somebody calling Michelangelo Buonarroti – Micky?)

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Michelangelo | artistic sketch 1540……Corbu | artistic (?) sketch 1950

Let’s take a look at the standard career path of an average modern architect. First, as young specialists, architects have to work their ass off for ridiculously low salary; they study for years through the tons of idiotic obsolete materials in order to obtain their professionally meaningless but bureaucratically necessary license. Then the most aggressive would open private practices, and so they become obsessed with making money. As owners, most of their time they dedicate to endless chase for clients. They hurry to produce numerous depthless proposals and to satisfy any of customers’ absurd wishes. Modern architects would also fervently learn how to overcome bulky bureaucratic barriers in order to get approvals from corrupted authorities for their pathetically banal projects. As a matter of fact, today’s architects-businessmen manage a pretty miserable professional life.

They don’t have time for a search for beauty, proportions and symmetry! They are not enthusiastically looking for harmony! Words such as “aesthetics”, “art” are excluded from the lexicon of 21-st century architects; replaced with “professional” terms such as “General Leasable Areas” or “efficiency ratio”.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise as we observe the evolution (or rather a degradation) of architectural profession in the last 100 years or so. Since medieval times Architect, Lawyer and Doctor were the most prestigious and outstanding professional occupation, as the experts in those fields were highly respected by the society not only for being extremely knowledgeable individuals but for possessing unique skills. Those skills were mystique. Those skills affiliated with profession along with encyclopedic knowledge were exclusive, essential and yet unobtainable by ordinary mortals. Doctors were Live Savers, Lawyers were Men of Law, Architects were Creators.

Architects could do things. And they did. They provided people not only with housing, but they defined society’s norms of aesthetics and principles of harmony…

And what can modern architects do?

Let’s stop here for a moment. We will discuss this in the next post. (Here >> I warn you! It’s very provocative.)

However it is clear that architects do not deliver proper job to the modern society. And our depressing environment and uncomfortable buildings are logical consequences of this.

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Comments
20 Responses to “Why modern architects are so untalented.”
  1. Stoyan Georgiev says:

    This is very good analysis of contemporary architecture, Why our cities are full with new mediocre buildings?
    Why the commercial aspect of architecture define all decisions? There is not enough room for beauty, social functions, future prognoses to improve and reinvent our environment. One of the answer to all these questions is the bad shape of architectural profession – architects somehow are lost in the so called “business of architecture” as mention in the article.

  2. Ulises says:

    It´s nice to read texts like this. I agree with the idea of an “architecture of bussiness” in a general analysis of our profesion today. But i would like to point that “architect” is a very young profession in the academic teaching. In fact as you saied all tha ancient guys doesn´t had a architectural formation, as we have today and the building sector was controlled only but a few of people. There is not collective housing in Michaelangello works, as an example.

    So the architect today has to work with more factors and values, and for a lot of people. We have become in this kind of “bussiness architects” just because the world evolution. We can´t forget than capitalism is the main system in our modern world, so maybe are those rules the key for understanding the reasons for not making beautiful drawings anymore.

    Best regards.

    • Albert says:

      Thank you for relevant comment.
      I agree that present reality is different. Yet regardless to the socio-economic formation, be that capitalism or socialism, or any other “ism”… untalented architects still to be blamed for boring buildings (even if it’s some low-budget housing projects). Just as greedy bankers must be fully charged for the current financial crisis.

      And by the way, do you really think that building sector today is not controlled by very few? :)

  3. Joshua Nimmo says:

    Some very good points… But also naive to look at buildings as only works of art and to use such a broad stroke to describe an entire profession

  4. George says:

    I’m not saying there is no problem in the architecture world. But you are refering to old principles of the society and science. Today , proportions and symmetry are not how science have evolved. It’s all about chaos theory and those things, that where architecture has to find what it has to be , not in symmetry or proportions. They had been the pillars of the past architecture, because they were the pillars of the past science vision of the world.

  5. Catherine says:

    Excellent and insightful commentary :).

  6. mvsuriano says:

    Really? Thats an extremely broad brush and naive perpsective.

    “Modern “specialists” cannot draft or paint professionally as Renaissance architects; they don’t possess any deep knowledge of geometry or math as Antique Greeks, they don’t have any grandeur vision and courage as Roman masters. Actually those so called “architects” (and I am talking about an overwhelming majority of architectural professionals) have no exceptional qualities or exclusive abilities whatsoever.”

  7. Marco Lammers says:

    Dear Karen

    It seems to me, your commentary on modernist architecture is 35 years late. The period in time where the dominant movement in the field of architecture was indeed to see the profession as science – optimising the act of building – and the architect as ‘specialist’ has ended a long time ago. Even for this generation, your argumentation is rather cliché. One can easily call le Corbusier a ‘real architect’ by your definition, since he was a self-educated architect, wrote extensive work on geometry, proportion and the golden ratio and excelled in grandeur vision and courage.

    I cannot judge about Canada – N.A. and European architecture and urbanism have always been two different universes – but in my experience the question of beauty, harmony/disharmony, monumentality, materiality is very dominant in the architectural education today; together with vision, idea, meaning, quality. Think Peter Zumtor, think David Chipperfield.

    Your post-modernist dedication to anti-modernism to my generation sounds a like an old record of Charles Jencks got stuck.

    • Albert says:

      Quite a crtique, Marco. It is deep. I appreciate it indeed. I should say that reminder of Charles Jencks (even as an “old record”) kinda flattering… Why do you call me, Karen? I believe I introduced myself properly…

      P.S. 35 years ago I was 4. And, you know… our world’s progress moves along the spiral, so some things return.

      • Marco Lammers says:

        Ah, Albert, I misread your about-page. There’s a picture of you with a quote of Karen Moyer next to it – which explains the mix-up.

        I do agree partly with what you’re saying, and I expect we share an appreciation for ‘unspectacular architecture’. The search for an architecture and urbanism which is capable of making timeless urban neighbourhoods is very present these days, especially in the north of Europe (Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Hamburg …). However, I think, it is not the modernist formalism which is to blame. I’m in a public library in a reconverted old modernist factory building at this very moment. It is undoubtedly modernist and undoubtedly sensitive and well proportioned and very well related to the city.

        ‘Harmony’ is much more a discussion of urbanism, in the end. Here is where I’m having difficulties with post-modernism. It is modern urbanism with a flimsy classical formalism, where it’s in my opinion it would be much more interesting to have pre-modern urbanism with modern (contemporary) formalism.

  8. Jad says:

    im sorry but your perspective of contemporary architecture are quite naive not fully thought through.

    i do agree with Marco lamberge about the “unspectacular architecture “. but that was in a time where architecture was turned into a science.(from 1860/70 to 1945)( meaning from the time of the German Werkbund to the end of the modernist and Bauhaus schools and th start of the international style )
    the line between art ad science is architectures playground .

    During the renaissance ( Leonardo da Vinci , Brunelleschi , Alberti , Palladio…) the same happened it was silence that ruled. the ideas of putting things into human perspective ( with the re-discovery of perspective) and the need to create geometric dimensions to the world created what is currently considered Masterpieces of human ingenuity , science and art.

    today , architecture is very vast , no one style rein above all .gone are the times of great masters like le Corbusier, and all his predecessors.
    but today a lot pf architects explore different themes . Deconstructionism , parametric , sustainability , genetics….

    i would like to refer you to the works of Rem Koolhass , Peter Eizeman, Bruce Mao, Bernard Tshumi .

  9. Gary says:

    I have to whole-heartedly agree with most everything said here. We are in dire straits, architecturally speaking. At the school I attended, classical architecture was taught, however, once the students graduated and entered the field, they were often forced to sit on the sidelines and do whatever they are told.

  10. are you serious? you should check these guys… they’re great.

    http://dezarx.com/index.shtml

    • Albert says:

      Your link refers to my business site which I try to keep separately from my… let’s call it philosophical discourses. I understand your sarcasm and your desire to pinprick me. It’s an absolutely normal reaction from a certain type of people. And an absolute normal reaction from my end would be not to discuss with them serious matters…
      Btw I like “disco vibes” (I grew up in the 80s) so I’ve found your site pretty interesting.

  11. Hank says:

    Two sayings come to mind:
    A critic is much like the Eunuch in the haram; knows how to do it, sees how it’s done every day, yet when it’s time to rise to the occasion, they can’t.
    And:
    He who pays the piper, calls the tune.

    So, it’s not that they can’t design really awesome buildings that make you swoon, it’s that what the buying is willing to pay for and what fits in the neighborhood, or is zoned for, or actually fits for the requirements of the usage.

    Really, a worthless posting….

  12. L says:

    YES!

    You’re article confirmed what I suspected about architecture! I was studying architecture and have left it do do a BA instead, although many of my best friends from architecture are still within the same building as me so I watch their progress and I am waiting to see how things pan out once they enter their placements. I doubt it will be their “dream career” for long, and this would confirm my reasoning for dropping architecture. Theses friends of mine are creative and I see that they do become bored easily when not using their abilities.

    The only way to be a successful (in creativity) as an architect is by having rich family who will enable you to open your own firm and turn down clients who’s sense of the aesthetic does not match your artistic ideals as an architect. The rich family will support you on frequent trips to exclusive fine art schools located in both Venice and Milan. These do exist! I have seen their beautiful work and locations! This is where you will start to learn disegno (italian drawing/design skills of the Masters in the Renaissance).

    My friend’s rich cousin lives on a beautiful island designing mansions and holiday resorts around Turkey. This bothers me quite a lot and I have sleepless nights about if I enter architecture I will become a slave to the capitalist system that will such the artistic life out of my soul! I have decided to enter into a Masters of Art and Design. I want freedom, creative expression and autonomy!

  13. L says:

    The career of the architect has declined because intelligent/creative individuals saw that coming a long time ago, and have since left for other careers. It no longer attractives creatives, and if it does get the odd one, they are soon crushed. Therefore, architecture has become a banal environment! The innovation of design has slowed down to an almost halt.

    Whenever I enter a room my eye straight away falls upon the systematic use of line and perspective, the atmosphere in the light sources and the tones. I am able to think of many ways of improving the design, and I’ve met architects who give me either a shocked look because of my visual intelligence, or give me an evil glance as to say “shut up, you’re not trained as an architect”

    Well, I am formally trained in design and fine art. I also study classical/modern pratical philosophy, architectural history of the Renaissance and physics (both classical from aristotle to contemporary). In my spare time I do academic drawing associated with perspective. I am *obsessed* with the ideas of perspective, and I see lines of it wherever I go and I see colors that are invisible to other people. When I am talking with someone I drift off to think about the symmetry of their facial features and even relate it to the symmetry I have seen in design or the natural environment and think about applying/experimenting with it in my own architectural drawings.

    So, modern architects who critise artistic people: GO F*CK YOURSELF, YOU ARE THE ONES WHO F*CKED THE ARCHITECTURE CAREER! =)

  14. Satvic says:

    Right on the dot, Albert.
    Am currently pursuing Bachelors in architecture, I am just overwhelmed by the soulless work included in the program. Majority of my peers are more focused on information that on the soul, which results in a masochistic view of architecture, not something for well being. Its all too useless.

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