Thank you, Mr. President…
Unfortunately as a professional group architects are pretty invisible for the society. Besides couple of flamboyant architectural celebrities (so called starchitects) people know nothing about us. We are definitely not a Hollywood with its glitzy Oscar, we are light years from the flashy MTV awards… even absent-minded scientists are much more visible than us given the Nobel Prize popularity… For Christ sake! Cooks and ballroom dancers with their stupid reality shows are way more famous than architects…
Of course we have our leaders and our prestige awards but nobody from the outside world ever heard of it. We are not on TV. Papers never publish architectural news on a front page. Websites have architecture as a sub-sub-topic under “Lifestyle” menu (this is not a joke!) Put it briefly our PR sucks, architects.
This year it was different though. From the very beginning it went to the right direction. You don’t hear me saying this too often, do you?
First… the Pritzker Prize (it’s our Nobel, in case you don’t know) was awarded to Eduardo Souto de Mouro, who’s not a trendy starchitect mingling with the fashion gurus and shady oligarchs but a real master of architecture. And then the central speech at the prize ceremony was delivered by the biggest celebrity on Earth – Barack Obama. Yes we can! Die Hollywood and eat your heart MTV!
It’s not that important how Obama got there. Obviously he has some ties with Pritzker family (he admits it in his speech) and the ceremony was held in Washington D.C., which definitely helped. But to me it doesn’t matter…
What matter is that the President of United States of America talks to the word about the architects and architecture. He quotes Frank Gehry, he mentions that his hometown Chicago is a cradle of modern skyscrapers, he analyses (no kidding!) a design solution of the stadium project in Portugal… Once in a while instead of mentioning crazy dictators and Wall Street thieves President talks about Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe… Bravo Mr. President! I might not share some of your foreign or fiscal policies but your statement that “architecture can be considered the most democratic of art forms” means a lot to me. And to many other architects from around the globe.
Thank you Mr. President for putting us on the map. Even if it’s for a very brief moment… We still deserve it.