Why? Here is why… (part IV: face it, architects)


I though I am done with publishing of the heated debate provoked by my  “Why?” essay.

But lately there were few interesting developments on my Twitter  (@architecturally) and of course on the LinkedIn forum itself. So I have decided to issue one more episode of the “answers”. It’s so crazy, sincere and painful that I couldn’t help it. Enjoy the show.


Lorri Clark Murray

I empathize with you, Albert. Having been laid off 2 1/2 years ago, just able to pick up ~ 6 months of freelance work in that time, I question the vocation of my heart! I have been in Architecture since 1988 and see no signs of real improvement for the (global) economy for the next couple of years.

I have adapted, working 2 part time jobs full time while picking up the piecemeal occassional freelance project. But all my current work only yields about 1/3 the pay of my 22 years salary. Thus, I am not sure that I will joyfully return to a profession that sells itself at the lowest price using workers who invest themselves in firms and projects only to be discarded like disposable tools at the end of the current upcycle. Our creativity, problem solving skills, and knack for hearing the needs of the client/end user lend themselves to many other JOBS. But I have found no JOB as fulfilling as the Architecture that apparently runs through my veins.

I share your frustration and fears, Albert. My optimism and adoration of this work is the only motivation that keeps me still looking (like the other 30% unemployed architects) to return to this vocation, John. These are times that test the courage of our convictions!

Gail Sellers

…on a more humorous note see this video

Albert Bendersky

Yes, this video is quite popular, Gail.

Now here’s the thing I got from one of my “followers” on Twitter @architecturally. It was very brief and straightforward. It said: “Adapt or Evolve? What About “Run”?
Deep isn’t it? We kinda never mentioned this option. 90 or so comments. We hate each other, we praise each other, we propose solutions and inventing tactics. But NONE of us has mentioned “Run” option.
It says something about all of us, architects (regarding of the abbreviations behind our names).

Sean Catherall

Albert, my favorite thing about the advice to “run” is its double or even triple meaning: “run to get ahead”, “run away” or even “run for office to fix the mess”.

Albert Bendersky
Another witty suggestion I got on Twitter from Jeremiah Russell was “RE-INVENT”. We are quite creative bunch indeed.




Chris Currie

Actually I think the architectural profession is dying. The sad part is architects and their special committees have done it to themselves in my opinion. Potential new architects like myself can now easily come up with the deduction of becoming an engineer instead. Considering I don’t see many perks to being an architect nor do I see the terrible pay per work ratio worth it. I have decided to not pursue an architectural degree or license. I would rather become a creative engineer.

* I can develop and design buildings with out an architect’s signature or seal.

* I can easily obtain customers over an architect because they will readily know what I am liable for.

* I have the choice of making my level of commitment of how involved I want to be with a project instead of taking it on or not which still provides me income on those projects I could care less about.

* I’ll invest less money and time going into an engineering field than being an architect and I will get a better chance of an education that will help me succeed also

* If I don’t like one discipline of engineering I can simply change disciplines with in 2 years of schooling

* I will get paid about 2x as much money

* I will spend 1/2 the time an architect does on a project unless I am designing the overall project also which gives me more time to have a family, friends and a personal life

On that rare occasion I do need an architect’s signature and seal I can simply purchase it like anything else in life. After all what are they really legally liable for again? I honestly can’t see very many liabilities that are not either over lapped or completely taken over by other professionals involved in the project. Comparing an architect with a structural engineer when a building fails to stand up properly is a perfect example of this. People don’t chase down the architect they go hunt down the engineers and contractors instead.

I honestly can’t see even one benefit that isn’t severely offset at all for being an architect. Most of the time the actual person doing the designing of the actual project isn’t even getting credit for the design either. So why even invest the time and money towards it? I feel they have successfully killed their own profession and the liability part of the equation is only one aspect of it. When you put all of the other pieces in place it only gets worse.

Albert Bendersky

Bravo, Chris. My third “Why” I will dedicate to you. Your last paragraph basically sums up our pathetic efforts to answer few simple questions…

P.S. Don’t be shy, you get only x2 much money? You’re cheap then… 😉 Once I had a dinner with our consultant (we were on a business trip, we had few drinks and got loose) so we calculated his ratio of “efforts+time / fees” against architectural proportions. He was around 4 times more efficient in terms of money making. And he was not the most expensive guy I’ve seen around.




Jeremiah Russell

Chris, thank you for pointing out why the process to become an architect is so difficult – it’s to weed out people like you with no passion or compassion for the job. You say you can do just as good as an engineer? Bullshit. Your buildings will be even more apathetic, sterile and antiseptic than the worst hack architect out there. Sure you’ll make a little more money, but your “designs” will speak for themselves and after a couple projects no one in their right mind would let you near their project to do anything more than what is expressly allowed by law for whatever current engineering “specialty” you happen to be practicing.
Should architects be compensated for the level of work they do? Yes. Do we need wide sweeping changes in the profession on the issue of compensation and liability? Yes. Should we follow the idiotic advice of someone like you? No. In college you were the guy sitting to the left AND right of me at orientation when they said “get a good look, cause they won’t be there at graduation”. Being an architect is something to aspire to, not sneer at. You don’t see any benefit because you have no passion for the profession, so I’ll ask you to hippity hop to the barber shop with that shit and leave the real designing to us.




Horace Spoon

This has been very entertaining.


Yes it was indeed, colleagues. Thank you all.


P.S. As I was just about to publish this came up… Wow.


Chris Currie

Jeremiah Russell as passionate as you want to be.
Passion won’t pay the rent
Passion won’t pay the electric bill
Passion won’t pay for food.
Passion won’t pay for your kid’s diapers
Passion won’t pay for your car repairs
Passion won’t even pay for the fare to get you on the bus either.

In the end you might be hungry, naked and homeless. I know I should look on the bright side, at least you’ll be passionate. I am sorry I can’t stop laughing because of your display of complete lack of common sense.

You need to understand it’s nothing personal, it’s not about how much you like red, blue or green. It’s not about how you feel or some emotion. It’s not about if you got laid last night and are in a good mood today. It’s business.

The lack of understanding how business works is yet another one of many reason why the architectural profession is on it’s death bed. This is one aspect that could be fixed if they actually taught some of this in college while people aspire to become architects. I guess they couldn’t fit it in their curriculum with all of that design with no practicality. We now see that ideology is now the downfall of the profession as well as other problems one can arguable say is just as related.

On a personal note. I know I can’t fix the problems in the architectural by myself. I know it probably won’t be fixed in my lifetime because of people like you who get all emotional about it, need everything politically correct, and worry about egos more than fixing the damned problems. I wish architects would band together to fix these problems before it’s too late because that’s what is killing your profession. The sad thing is if your IQ was as high as your ego is big perhaps you would see I am pointing out the problems that need to be fixed and not attacking the profession. Killing the messenger won’t change the news that was delivered nor will it change the facts regardless of how bad they are.


4 Responses to “Why? Here is why… (part IV: face it, architects)”
  1. I think there’s a bit of truth in what Lorri, Chris, and Jeremiah have said.

    Whether Chris would have made a good or bad architect with or w/o passion does not negate the fact that I thought he made some very valid points and observations of the architectural profession. If that is his reason to not become an architect, then so be it. However, had he become an architect being aware of these issues perhaps he could have been a pioneer to help improve compensation and liability for architects. I know one person can’t change things but he could be a catalyst to a better architectural profession?

    I agree with Jeremiah that you must have some amount of passion to survive in the field of architecture otherwise many of the issues that plague our profession will put an end to it. However, having passion is not enough. Architects need to be more business savvy and protect their financial interests if they are ever to be successful. Getting published in some architectural magazine isn’t success. It is a step that may lead to success. Success doesn’t happen overnight (obviously). It takes a lot of hard work, and I’m not talking about wasted hard work, I mean, properly managing and allocating efforts where it needs to be in order to be efficient and profitable. Not many architects know how to do this and maintain an honest living.

    I empathize with Lorrie as I am currently unemployed and don’t really see a great improvement should we ever climb out of this recession. I look at the classifieds and see the demands employers are seeking for the potential candidate — it’s insane! Or maybe I’m just out dated in terms of what is required to work these days…either way, in my opinion, it is not inspiring but for whatever reason, I refuse to give up.

    Thank you Albert for writing and posting these comments. I am so glad that I am not the only one questioning and being critical of the profession.

  2. mmanion says:

    Can we follow up on these posts with a “How?” How do we go from the way things are currently in the profession to the way we liked things to be in the future?

    • Albert says:

      Very interesting and constructive idea indeed. Thank you!
      Maybe you (or anyone else from the readers) would be interested in producing an essay with the “How?” theme…

      I will gladly publish it with all the credits to the author. I always emphasize I don’t care of how fancy or artistic is your language. As long as a smart vision & intelligent analysis are presented my blog is open to your articles.

  3. Architecture as a profession has a choice. Either all building designers are barred from practice, unless reviewed, sealed and stamped by an Architect, in all nations and a license is required everywhere a building is built….. or the profession is doomed. I know that sounds ridiculous. Off-shoring the drafting to China and India will substantially destroy the profession beyond the current level of destruction. (already quite unacceptably horrible) Rich boys who want to play Architect will be the only survivors. Building Designers, Interns, Architectural technicians will all be replaced, by the cheapest possible alternative. That is what they are already doing and now they have new choices.

    Just as well, it is impossible to have a career in Architecture anyway! You all know this even though a few with money start something of a practice. It is a milk farm, … you get a 5 or 6 year professional degree just to get a job, but then one day you look around, there are no 50 year olds in the company!!! you hear the alarm bells, there is no future in this profession! That is the moment the truth consumes you. Not only are they going to outsource your jobs they are going to cheat you even if they keep you until you are 40 something! You will never get to the finish line because the rich boys have the game rigged! GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN STILL GET A JOB!!!

    Or, there is another way, first eliminate the building designer, eliminate them by law everywhere, we will eventually have to do that anyway, they are now only drafters, and require the Architects license, require the stamp, sealed & signed on every permit application, and that includes plans purchased online. It also includes everything done offshore and built in this country. Require that all offshore work done in China or India or other offshore location be reviewed and the Architect’s seal and signature on every application for a permit. There is no future for this profession if we don’t change the rules to make certain there will be one.

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