Why? Here’s why… (part II: evolution or adaptation?)

Men also had some emotional exchange about what has to be done about these WHY’s? One of the issues that came up was: Should we adapt or should we evolve?

(The debate was so heated, that I had to remove some angry personal sentiments. It was rather distracting and taking away from the power of our ideas…)



Charles Gierman
Over time we have become a commodity. I see the complaint is about us being shoved behind the curtain. When a project has its opening, it’s about the developer, builder and interior designer. When awards are giving out for the design, it’s giving to the builder.
Portfolio’s do show the client’s our ability, but it is always about how cheap we will be. Builder’s and developer’s won’t recommended us for fear we will raised their prices, or our new founded work load will slow down their project’s.
After my 30 plus years it’s the same old story. Things have not changed. We are not making that much more on our fee’s, factoring in hardware, software, the size of construction documents, office space, etc. I am not complaining about what we have done to ourselves. We have to see it as it is, and adapt.

Jose R. Santinho

Albert , Very interesting article, refreshing. Nice work

Albert Bendersky (yep, that’s me…)

Thank you all, good people for support and interesting thoughts… (I also got some support through the Facebook.)

@Charles Gierman
“I am not complaining about what we have done to ourselves. We have to see it as it is, and adapt. ”
Charles, why to adapt? We are smart, energetic, our profession is not dying like some other fields, we are Renaissance people. Why to adapt? WHY NOT TO FIGHT? (…here I kinda revealed part of my third “WHY?”)

P.S. There is a third way … to leave. To become a banker, a programmer, a salesperson (in these areas average income is way better than in architecture) But it would be like giving up, isn’t it?

John Cruet Jr.

“Charles, why to adapt? We are smart, energetic, our profession is not dying like some other fields, we are Renaissance people. Why to adapt? WHY NOT TO FIGHT?“
Why not make THIS the theme of your blog? Also, why NOT adapt?

Albert Bendersky

I appreciate the suggestion, John. (I really do, no irony). I will answer in one simple sentence. Why NOT to adapt?

“We” means, us – architects: you (yes you), people on this board, people I describe in my blog… Regardless of our portfolios, regardless of our English grammar knowledge, regardless of the abbreviations behind our names, regardless of our nationality & political views…

John Cruet Jr.

I apprenticed for an architect in New York, who, somewhat disturbed by a project that kept coming back for revisions, declared “The nature of architecture is change.”
And I agree, Albert, we deserve better. That’s why adaptation is so important. So what happens if an architect does not adapt? Then the architect, as one example, assumes the position that he/she need not understand the environment he/she is designing for, and that he/she can take an approach that one design fits all sites or any environment. I personally view Brasilia as an example of architecture and planning that could care less about the environment.
Adaptation is a way of life. It is a necessary use of our minds to help our livelihoods.

Albert Bendersky

Adaptation is a way of lies to survive. Evolution is the way of changes to live. Here’s why… (again why):
“Evolution is the CHANGE in the inherited traits… This change results from interactions between processes that introduce variation into a population… As a result, variants with particular traits become more, or less, common. The main source of variation is MUTATION, which introduces GENETIC changes” (Wikipedia)
“Adaptation is the evolutionary process whereby a population becomes better SUITED to its habitat. The term adaptation may also refer to a feature which is especially important for an organism’s SURVIVAL.” (Wikipedia)

You want to SURVIVE, John. I want to LIVE. You want to become suited to your environment; I want genetic changes that will bring my profession to another evolutionary level. You want to sleep, I want to move. You are after money and comfort and titles, John, I am for the greater causes…  I know it sounds funny, but believe me, people like me exist.

John Cruet Jr.

I don’t agree at all with your view of adaptation. I do agree with your view on evolution.
You want to live, you also, by default, survive. I do agree that living is beyond survival. But your analogy of adaptation to survival doesn’t work on any level. Evolution is a form of adaptation. Both evolution and adaptation are aspects of life.
Each architect is responsible for his/her own well-being, to sow the seeds of one’s success.

Also, I found it peculiar, that, nowhere in your discussion, do you touch upon the constraints upon our practice. Come on, you don’t really live in a libertarian utopia, now, do you?
And before you publish my comments on your blog, remember that my comments are copyrighted- Just kidding!!!

Jeremiah Russell
I’m seeing a lot of angst misdirected at the profession at large. It’s not the profession that has put us in our current position; it is Architects who allowed so much responsibility (i.e. liability) to slip from our hands. I’ve written about this often that Architects used to be the Master Builders. This is not true any longer. We are merely the instruments of developers and builders – little more than another consultant. We have put ourselves here. So, in this, I actually agree with Charles – we need to adapt as professionals, not as a profession. Our profession has adapted quite enough thank you. It’s time for us as professionals to step up and retake our place as the Master Builder, the Developer, the Constructor. Only then, when we once again command our industry, will we be able to rightly demand our weight in gold, as we once did.
No one questions the Mechanics bill, or the Dentists, or the Optometrists, or the Plumber. Yet, the architect they will fight with tooth and nail for every red cent and we will continue to back down our fees until our profit margin is all but gone – if it was ever there to begin with.
So, adaptation is our only option at this point. Forget the portfolio – we need to prove our worth to our clients not with pretty pictures but with education, knowledge and a willingness to share the same with our clients.
My own not so humble opinion.

Charles Gierman
This has been a very interesting discussion. I hope it starts a movement, thanks to Albert. This shows how we are so different but so alike. I like seeing that some are in it for the love of design (I think that I am).
As we get older and jaded, it becomes a business that has no fun. But this is not because of us (it might be), it’s because we have lost our bearing. Money, builders, developers and other factor’s takes it’s toll. It seems that when the client realizes that the person they employed is in it for the love, that when we get taken for both the fee and acknowledgment.
We all pick and choose our battles and wars. While we snipe, cut fee’s, stop evolving, being short sighted, other will be picking are bones.

Pat Leitzen Fye

(it came this morning from Pat, so I thought it would be nice to summarize men’s debate with her sincere opinion)

Must say, this has been the most provocative (and entertaining) discussion I’ve seen yet in this forum. Tend to agree with Jeremiah that architects must be responsible for themselves/their practice and its rewards, but truly also believe that the industry itself – the art and profession of architecture – has been reduced to a level of servitude and ingratitude that can change only if practitioners fight for themselves and the profession fights for the practitioners. Education, awareness, are key – knowledge of not just the “why” architects do what they do (and for the most part, love), but how good design, or lack thereof, impacts each and every one of us, day in and day out, where we live, work, shop, play, worship. That , in my humble opinion, is the purview of the professional organizations and collectives (AIA, ALA, etc.) – else, what good are they?!


P.S. Now I just hope John Cruet Jr. is not going to sue me for a copyright infringement. I am not kidding. You never know what people are capable of.


3 Responses to “Why? Here’s why… (part II: evolution or adaptation?)”
  1. jeremiah says:

    holy moly, Albert. You and John are mostly arguing semantics at this point. The difference between Adaptation and Evolution are moot. Call it what you will, architects have to “move” and “change” with their environment to get better as professionals. At some point you enter arguing for the sake of arguing and help/educate no one.
    It seems everyone who has commented so far understands and agrees with the basic tenets of your posts but has varying philosophical approaches to how the profession should be molded by/for us, the future generation of starchitects.
    One thing I don’t agree with is Pat’s last line about the professional organizations being the vehicle for knowledge and change….for all the money that is spent on the AIA and other groups similar, there is no direct benefit to the average architect. How knowledge and change are affected in through each of us as individuals educating and advocating with each client to effect a change of attitude over the collective profession.

  2. Albert says:

    Well… “semantics”… Maybe… But as you know “the devil is in the details”.

    As for the architectural organizations, I will be less politically correct.
    In my humble opinion in their present shape such organizations are rotten, obsolete, irrelevant institutions with idiotic protectionist policies and complete lack of transparency, institutions concerned only with how “to milk” it’s members with the maximum efficiency. Education, public awareness, fight for the profession of architecture is not on their agenda at all. (Even though it’s written in their brochures and websites.)

    If you ask me, you can’t even reform those institutions. Something new and different must be formed. Moreover, their policies might be partially responsible for the pathetic state of our profession I describe in my posts…

  3. jeremiah says:

    I’ll go even further and say that the pathetic state of IDP and licensure is not only related to these institutions, they are responsible for it. Which is why once I manage to jump through all of their ridiculous hoops and get my license, you will not see those three little letters at the back of my name. Instead simply “RA” will do me just fine, thank you. The fact that so many of us have bought in to the “need” for these organizations shows just how successful they’ve been in their financial rape of our collective wallets. But the blame has to fall on us as well. We’ve allowed it to happen. I like to think of the AIA as similar to the UAW…taking a ton of money from members and not really doing a whole lot for them.

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