Why III or Why we don’t fight?

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If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out? | Will Rogers

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There is always a sequel for a successful blockbuster. Of course a potentially successful blockbuster has a sequel option already built-in into its script…

As I was writing my provocative essay “Why?” (Part I) I knew it’s gonna be a bomb. I’ve touched on too many painful issues. Although strangely enough there was nothing sensational in those issues. I just asked obvious questions. Architects have known it for ages, yet no one was willing to scrutinize the absurd. It’s like everybody have my “why’s” on the tip of the tongue but never let it spill out. Anyway… my “blockbuster” got around 400 comments on LinkedIn, I got thousands of people reading my naïve questions and I even have constructed 4 cool essay from the best commentaries… (“Why? Here’s why…” Part 1; Part 2, Part3, Part 4)

And now it’s a time for that built-in long-awaited promised sequel.

WHY III or Why we don’t fight? (dramatic music plays on the background)

Architecturally speaking previous questions were like an “exterior envelope”. It was directed towards the outside world. I’ve questioned architects’ place in the society, their connections with the other professions, and their financial place in the world of modern capitalism.

Why III is different. It’s like a dark room nobody dares to enter. There might be a monster hiding inside that room. Well… let’s wake it up!

My new question is not for the “greedy” developers, not for the “stubborn” engineers, not for the “unappreciative” public. Stepping inside that room I’d like to ask you – my colleagues, you – architectural design industry insiders a very simple question… Architecture as a profession is in a disastrous shape; it is doing terribly both socially and financially; it is losing it’s charm and respect – things architects have had for the centuries; the industry is agonizing, bleeding, practically dying… We, industry insiders, know this. So here is the most logical question:

Why, on Earth, we don’t fight the disease? Why we don’t fight for our own survival, architects?

Following my first essay model, I’m not going to provide any answers or to suggest remedies. I just ask my stupid questions stating clear facts and critical observations. Nothing special. You all ask the same things; I just put it on paper.

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“Why we don’t fight?” is like a major jazz-theme, a central melody… which arises from the few separate instrumental tunes…

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Educational why (saxophone)

Our schools don’t teach how to practice the real architecture in the real world. Students are not taught how buildings are built, how business is managed, how clients are treated, how contracts are written and how job is done. As my colleague John Allsopp has put in his comment: “So many of our architecture schools spit out a load of blob-makers and promote the kind of mentality of fake celebrity that you get with reality tv … so on day one they are useless, and in an economic environment like this they are screwed.” Are we not aware of that army of brainless “blob-makers”? And why we keep promoting this idiocy by publishing unworkable shallow “cool” renderings from starchitects in our professional media? Why we don’t reform our educational system, why don’t we change the obsolete academic programs, why we keep screwing the next generation of  architects?

Why we don’t fight for our schools and students?

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Organizational why (drums)

Our organizations don’t even try to promote our professional interests anymore. Our organizations are not involved in the tough realities of the small architectural practices. Our organizations neither fight for the rights of the regular employees nor protect architects from the aggressive claims by the powerful clients. Typical arch. organization nowadays has a clear parasitic nature. It’s a Kafkian labyrinth, a monstrous bureaucratic machine; it’s a vampire whose sole existence is to suck blood. We know about a complete impotency of our professional structures. So why we don’t dismantle those useless institutions, why we keep paying those ridiculously high membership fees, why we spent years for expensive absolutely worthless exams that give us nothing, but piece of paper called license?

Architectural organizations are built on the isolationist WASP principles of the 19th century… Why we maintain those non-transparent, segregated, irrelevant closed “clubs” for fat old (should I say white Anglo-Saxon?) boys? Architecture is not about golfing with the client anymore! Why don’t we create 21st century institutions answering to the challenges of the modern markets? Why we don’t organize real lobbies or influential groups that instead of collecting money from the architects for moronic paperwork would protect architectural employees, designers, technologists, drafters, renderers, students?

Why we don’t fight for our rights? Fuck golfing!

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Financial why (bass)

Whether we like it or not today it’s all about money. It’s not about how talented, how hard-working, how productive or useful for society you are. It’s about “how much you make”. In such “healthy” environment tons of worthless industries have had a huge success in establishing a very high level of income for it’s “professionals”. Investment bankers, stock traders, divorce lawyers, plastic surgeons – all those pseudo-specialists thrive with no major intellectual or industrial contribution to the world. They all sell air for big bucks!

On the other hand take architecture. Not only architects provide necessary shelter for every living soul, not only we create specific conditions for every human activity. We encourage the progress by exploring new technologies and by establishing new ways of human interaction. Architects objectively bring an enormous material value to the basic existence and proper functioning of the human society.

So why in this cruel and materialistic world we don’t fight to be appreciated accordingly?  By appreciated I mean paid. In cold cash.

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Philosophical why (piano)

We’ve been here for ages. Just like other respectable professions such as prostitution and politics. Things are going great for them though. Politicians and prostitutes are organized and powerful as never before. While architects… well… if things keep going for us as it’s going right now… architect as a biological (sorry professional) class might be exterminated very soon. Nobody has cancelled yet the basic Law of Nature “Survival of the Fittest”. So let’s get our act together, architects and fit. And in order to fit we need to fight. To fight our own monsters. We are cool, smart, hard-working, good-looking, healthy creatures. We are just not destined to die yet…

And one more thing… in case my previous rational reasons don’t work. Architect is the only profession directly associated with an absolute power of Creation. With metaphysics of God.

So why, why being born as Creators we have become slaves?

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P.S. I know you are so tired of my endless questioning. But since you made it till the very end of my poor jazz imitation… here’s the real jazz master-piece.

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Comments
One Response to “Why III or Why we don’t fight?”
  1. REED KIEFER says:

    ALBERT,

    YOUR ARTICLE ENTITLED “WHY” IS EXACTLY RIGHT ON THE MARK. AND THE ISSUES YOU ADRESS WITH YOUR QUESTION OF “WHY” ARE THE SAME ISSUES THAT WE WERE FAILIING TO RESOLVE DURING THE LAST 3 DECADES OF THE 20TH CENTURY. THE REASON WE FAILED TO RESOLVE THESE ISSUES IS BECAUSE THE AIA IS MADE UP OF US, AND WE HAVE BY OUR ATTITUDES MADE THE AIA A CLUB FOR GIVING OUT AWARDS, AND WRITING FORM CONTRACTS. THE LATTER IS A REAL SERVICE, THE FIRST (AWARDS) IS IRELEVENT.

    WHAT THE AIA (ALL OF US) SEEMS TO HAVE FAILED TO DO IS FACE UP TO THE FACT THAT WE LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY OF SORTS. IN THIS DEMOCRACY OF SORTS THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ABLE TO AMASS ENOUGH BACK-UP WIN.

    SO LET ME GIVE YOU A SUGGESTION. FORGET WHAT HAS NOT BEEN ACHIEVED IN THE PAST.

    INSTEAD, FORM A GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT WILL BE WILLING TO LOOK AT THE PROBLEM AND COME UP WITH ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ACTION PLANS TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM.

    IF YOU WANT TO EXAMINE THIS FURTHER, CONTACT ME BY E-MAIL reed_kiefer@comcast.net
    I AM LOCATED IN THE DC AREA AND SEE PEOPLE ALL AROUND ME ADDRESSING SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC ISSUES BY FORMING GROUPS AND POLITICAL ACTION COMMITIES. IT AIN’T ROCKET SCIENCE. IT IS ABOUT COMMITTED, EFFECTIVE PLANNING AND ACTION.

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