11.21.03 Fast Forward Rewind
"Nobody can stop you but you."
--Bryan Bell, founder, Design Corps The quote above is a comment from one of the participants at yesterday's Fast Forward symposium, co-sponsored by ArchVoices and the Boston Society of Architects/AIA. Fast Forward showcased the unique entrepreneurial efforts of young professionals who started organizations or initiatives such as Architecture for Humanity, 306090 Architecture Journal, Blacklines, Design Citizen, Public Architecture, and an inspiring young-architect-turned-sculptor. The day also included a special discussion with Metropolis magazine editor-in-chief, Susan Szenasy, who's leading the magazine's focus on "The Next Generation."
Today's issue of ArchVoices, however, was collectively written by the more than 50 participants--your colleagues. The statements that follow below were written in response to three questions we posed at the end of the symposium, asking participants to look back and move forward:
1. Why did you go to architecture school in the first place? The answers provide a glimpse into the diversity of underlying values, future goals, and immediate actions being pursued or held by young people in the profession--though there is a diversity of experience levels represented in the comments. The statements below should be of more than passing interest to you, as they may also tell us about the future of the profession of architecture. In the end, however, the only answer that matters is the one you give.
2. What's your idea?
3. What are you going to do differently tomorrow?
So what are you going to do differently tomorrow?
1. Why did you go to architecture school in the first place?
"To leave a trace of my stay on earth, both physically and from influencing and learning from people."
"I said at age eight that I wanted to become an architect. Ten years later, I began my technical degree in architecture. Three years later, I was beginning my Bachelors, and, at 28 years old, I will finally get my title: Philippe Genereaux, Architect."
"I started designing buildings (just drawing floor plans, actually) when I was 11 or 12, and kept on wanting to do this as the years went on, and as I tried out other things. I learned in 7th- or 8th-grade two major ways to study architecture--B. Arch or non-BArch + MArch--and since then planned to do the latter, which I did after considering/trying out all the other things I was interested in."
"I basically fell into architecture school. After initially going to college for a few years for biology, I decided I didn't want to teach biology or do research in a lab all day, so I started looking at different professions when it became time for me to transfer from my 2-year school to college. I've always loved to build things growing up, and creative art, so architecture was just the natural choice. I ultimately chose it since it allowed me to use science + art to contribute and help the community."
"When I was a kid, someone asked me, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' My answer--like most answers you give when you're a kid--was, 'I don't know.' The conversation continued:
'Well, what do you like to do?'
'Umm...I like to draw, and I like math.'
'You should be an architect.'
From that point on I never really thought about what I wanted to do when I grew up again. Becoming an architect meant that when I grew up, I still got to do what I liked to do. I have followed that thought ever since."
"I went to architecture school because I loved the acts of designing and creating things, and I felt that I could use my skills to give back to the community/society, etc."
"Because it seemed like the best way to help shape the built environment--by gaining a better understanding of how architecture 'happens.' I hope to help create more responsive and ultimately 'human,' living environments."
"A) It is not as anal as engineering school; B) it is more grounded to earth than art school, and C) I thought Johnny Cash got his fashion sense from architects."
"(a) I saw a photograph in the school of architecture brochure of someone wearing the school t-shirt, which read, 'Rising from the slag heap of gutless conformity,' and thought that's where I want to be. (b) It seemed to be the only field that combined art, technology, philosophy, etc. with an insane optimism about actually affecting the world."
"I went to architecture school (and am still going) because I want to build buildings. I want to create spaces that will make people feel good (after this workshop I realized there is so much more to architecture than building buildings)."
"I went to [landscape] architecture school to learn how to design spaces that help/foster human-to-human and human-to-nature interactions that will lead to healthier lives and more level-headed futures."
"I wanted to know how the built environment happened and happens; I wanted to be active in its creation."
"I went to architecture school to learn who I was. I went to architecture school to learn about the history of the built environment, society, culture, literature, art, physics, music, building science, and everything I could get my hands on (or fit into my course schedule), and figure out how that had shaped my world and my understanding of how I fit into that world. I went to architecture school to learn how to help shape that world. I went to architecture school to learn how to think."
"I remember I specifically wrote in my application that I wanted to further explore an education through visual studies. (I also wrote that I did not necessarily want to be an architect--but I got in anyway.) I already had a degree in industrial design, and an architecture education seemed like a perfect way to continue."
"Community and communication. There is already a discussion brewing (though sometimes words are coded). I didn't go/haven't gone to architecture school."
"To change the world and utilize art, design, and communication to do it."
"I didn't. I studied history."
"To become an architect (subconsciously to provide work for my contractor father)."
"I didn't. It never occurred to me."
"I am not neck-deep in architecture yet--only finished my BA in architecture. What made me choose it as a major? I wanted a job that I always had to be learning to be good at."
"To learn how to voice my creativity as a small part of the built environment."
"I've always enjoyed organizing groups, politics, and improving or fixing-up places."
"I went to civil engineering school because it seemed to meld my interests in art and design and science and math, and because there is so much to be done to improve society through this route."
"Architecture school to me at the time was a prerequisite on the road to being a 'traditional' licensed architect. The satisfaction of seeing my design on paper be built was my goal."
"I wanted to learn how to design/create/build wonderful, healthy human habitat and develop my creative skills in that vein."
"Practical application of my creative ability (with a vague notion of helping communities)."
"I thought it would be a good place to explore myself and the world."
"I started school in engineering, but felt that I was neglecting my artistic sides. So, I switched majors to architecture and after a few weeks really hated the curriculum--I thought I was being brainwashed into only doing one style of design. I also thought about quitting, but then decided to stay because even if I hated it so much, it was something I was passionate about and was so important to me."
"I was interested in the artistic aspects of engineering, art, and sculpture. Never intended to be doing what I'm currently doing--teaching, managing designers, publishers."
"I want to teach architecture in a broader, more interdisciplinary approach at a younger level. I want everyone to feel ownership for the spaces they are in, and equip them with the tools to do so.
"I didn't know what I wanted to do but I knew architecture was the language I wanted to do it in. I still believe architecture school opens a diversity of options for any dedicated students. I always wanted to design a building too."
"To be involved in a profession that would require and provide life-long learning opportunities, and would allow me to combine as many of my divergent interests as possible."
"Architecture school seemed like a good way to apply creativity. Building was also a family trade so I was exposed regularly to people and work in the profession."
"I wanted to preserve, rehabilitate, renovate, and reuse buildings (historic or otherwise). I wanted to update them to bring them back from the past and into the present making them valuable again."
"A college psychology professor told me that I dressed liked an architect. She later met with me to explain her recent experience on a design review at a school of architecture. She explained that architects bring together art/science and business to make the world better through buildings. I was sold!"
"It seemed like a feasible place to begin learning about design."
"I wanted to be an architect since I can remember. Going to architecture school was a way to get closer to my goal of being an architect. Architecture school, for me, was a way to get exposure to the 'world' of architecture, which, as we all know is more than just walls and a roof."
"It is what I was meant to do."
"Growing up, I was always interested in art, design, building, and anything creative. I decided architecture school would be the appropriate step in heading towards a profession that would satisfy my creative needs."
"I made the decision to become an architect at the age of 14 or 15, inspired by lectures in art and architecture history at an art school, the main source of inspiration being buildings of the Italian Renaissance."
"I went into architecture because I love to design spaces that affect the people who inhabit them. Being in a position to find the most sustainable way to share space and shelter was the thing I knew I had to do. I want to change the world by reusing buildings, finding the most sustainable method or product, and making happier, healthier shelters for us to all inhabit."
2. What is your "idea"?
"My Big Idea is to provide a way for other architecture students (I'm still in school now but I wouldn't mind continuing this afterwards) to volunteer within schools and after school programs and engage the next generation in discussions about space and place. It would also be a way for people to donate their skills."
"My idea, more a notion, is that a new paradigm needs to be developed, which takes into account the silent client of architecture: society."
"Improve the quality of life for my peers through my craft and morale."
"[Nothing really crystallized--not enough to describe with any clarity]
"I don't have one big 'idea,' and right now after this workshop I have like 10,000 ideas swimming in my head. I'm in my first year at architecture school; I'm trying to figure out my path and my 'idea.' I want to communicate to the world through buildings."
"Everyone should have access to safe, clean, outdoor spaces where rampant expression, interactions and learning take place."
"Getting all college students (regardless of major) aware, analytical, and opinionated about the built environment--getting them exposure to the design process. And getting architecture education to be more interdisciplinary (humanities). The built environment is about humans."
"My idea is to partner with others to collaboratively learn to communicate more effectively."
"To cross-pollinate and give people as many opportunities to see positive opportunities. We practice this with our clients--even every kitchen renovation--to get clients to see things; with stuff to encourage them. On a small scale, we'd like to create a resource manual for designers, which lists all kinds of craftspeople, artists, manufacturers--a resource that would get them over that stumbling block that often exists when you are trying to create something fresh."
"Get a job and enjoy it."
"Black Designers Directory. Create a resource; add value and meaning to the work of black designers."
"To bring all of the design professions together for a lively exchange of ideas--to find out where their common ground is, where the fissures are; and try to develop a common purpose for designers--in the service of humanity."
"To put a recent graduate/young architect on the executive committee at my firm."
"Volunteer for Covenant House."
"To make a difference in the environment--creating safe and sustainable communities."
"Make life better by making better environments for more people."
"My idea is to provide emotion to community."
"I'm trying to figure out/more clearly define my "Idea"--perhaps something to do with community and neighborhood development, or transit design/development or livable cities or urban design or..."
"Idea? I'm in transition right now. Recently, I moved to the East Coast from Portland, OR, where I wanted to get the architecture schools in Oregon involved in a design/build program to create housing/community buildings for migrant workers in Oregon. I'm searching for my new or next idea.... Please stay tuned."
"My big idea is about communication. We all know that communication is the answer to making our lives better. I believe that a project, an urban installation, that was the result of collaboration between all the design professions could promote and encourage communication in the urban environment."
"Researching sociological/anthropological associates to see who is--or who isn't--tracking cultural trends and the involvement of architects in such organizations. Architecture needs to be integrated with forecasting social change. Researching the cultural phenomena of planned obsolescence in architecture, and the trend toward architecture as a product rather than a monument. I'm pursuing real estate development and am interested in researching the possibility of an organization to facilitate educating and guiding the masses on purchasing land and pursuing their own architecture as an alternative to the suburban McMansion brainwashing."
"I have several ideas--perhaps so many ways I'd like to head that it becomes too overwhelming to do anything. I'd like to be involved with politics, community design, and education. As an architect one of the fears that I have is not being experienced with construction. I would love to start up more design/build projects in architecture schools. I think this would give young architecture much more confidence to be more vocal within their communities. This may be especially helpful for women in the field."
"To integrate social welfare policy and urban planning/design into a single, cohesive structure to improve lives and the environment simultaneously."
"My current idea is to be able to collaborate with many other disciplines/professions on a design firm to offer a service to the public that is more enriching than current traditional firms."
"It's not emerging right now; I'll have to get back to you."
"Create an organization that allows architects to use their experience and insight to both identify and solve problems in the public realm."
"Designing for the 98%."
"I want to create a system/prototype/kit of parts that can create good design but more importantly safe, weather tight, durable structures that are cheap and accessible to the public. To make architecture a civic service easily distributed."
"To promote the work / ideas / projects of architects and designers. Specifically work that goes unnoticed by a majority of the architecture profession. I believe there is a great amount of interesting, provocative, and politically-charged work that has been ignored by other publications as unviable to their profitability as a publication. We wish to provide a vehicle to allow those ideas to still begin to make their way into the mainstream and to be given their proper 'space.'"
"As architects, we need to find ways to focus the tremendous energy, dedication, drive, and design of our young people into positive and productive directions for the profession and society at large."
"I have just begun the search for my big idea--to find something outside of the traditional, day-to-day practice--something that I am and will be passionate about."
"Create a conduit for sharing knowledge, ideas, and innovation as well as foster public appreciation for the many ways architecture can improve lives."
"To connect relevant social and political issues and how design is essential to progressive change. Promoting architects as citizens."
"'Global Rehab'--I want to go to other countries and help them take stock of existing buildings and reuse them or add to them to make them valuable and useful again. I want to understand the community in these countries and what they need, so I can bring that to them through renovation of their buildings and reuse of structures."
"To develop, find funding, and create public interest in architecture that is responsive to community and social issues."
"My idea is that I don't want to be an architect that works in an office from 9 to 5. I want to bring architecture to other parts of our lives and to people who don't consider themselves to be interested in architecture--be it children or the general public."
"To positively influence people's lives with or without their conscious understanding."
"To start a multi-discipline firm--architecture, engineering, product design, and graphic design."
"Building, cross-fertilizing, marrying architecture with music, psychology, art, landscape, anthropology, social studies, etc. Bringing methods of education from these fields into architectural education."
"My idea today came from buying a coffee this morning on the way into this conference. Can you believe that Dunkin Donuts uses Styrofoam cups still? I started to think about how many cups they must sell daily. Unbelievable numbers, probably. I'm going to find out they use Styrofoam , production costs, and environmental impacts. I think it would be great to have reusable cups that you might drop in the mailbox to go back to Dunkin Donuts to be reused. The costs saved from new production could be used to pay the postage on the cup return, and the environmental degredation would be greatly reduced."
3. What are you going to do differently tomorrow?
"I plan on being more proactive, utilizing resources, and not allowing myself to be pigeon-holed into something that is in conflict with what I want to do."
"Tomorrow I will take the time to write down all my ideas about what architecture should be about, and take my first step towards being an architect by not becoming one (I am a student at the moment, but it seems like that isn't going to last--architecture seems much bigger than what I am being taught)."
"Act, with more vigor, to those aspirations and goals I have evolved to be the meaning of my life. DO!"
"I will make a much bigger effort to network, and start conversations with a wider range of people to help develop ideas."
"Tomorrow, or even tonight, I'm going to find somehow more time for self-study. There are so many things I want to learn and do, and I always say to myself I'm going to donate some of my time to do it, but somehow time goes by. However, this session was very inspiring and motivating. Also, I will start to ask myself and dig into my soul and mind until I find my 'idea.'"
"Teach architecture across the curriculum."
"Listen more than usual and assist more than usual, younger professionals and co-workers."
"Instead of thinking about doing a plan, I will do a plan."
"Work harder to really define what I'm looking for and/or what I want from the profession."
"Tomorrow I am going to start by taking more responsibility and control of my job and career. I've been inspired here, and somewhat liberated from my daily frustrations with my 'intern' status and the separation of architecture from the end user. I'm going to try to focus the daily discussions in the office about the frustrations of other young professionals in my office into a unified voice that creates action to better the firm, ourselves, and the profession. I am also going to hold my firm more accountable and ask more questions about their business practices and development. This should keep me busy until I develop my idea, follow my passion, and make it a reality."
"Tomorrow, I am going to re-ask myself the question, "What do I want to do now that I'm grown up?"
"I am going to stop just thinking about ways to get involved in my local community, and start acting by selecting one good place to begin, and make a phone call to set it into motion."
"Make sure that my ego isn't tripping up my career choices and ideas."
"Reflect, rethink, reinvent."
"Spend less time on e-mail and more time with people--to get better at crucial issues facing all designers."
"Think differently about the Princeton Architectural Press."
"Add Design Corps to groups I give $$ to."
"I am not going to feel as singular in my pursuits anymore--and know to seek out other agencies or forge my own."
"Start the resource guide!"
"Wake up, have coffee, and spend another day pursuing my lofty goals."
"I'm working on being more vocal in general. Part of the CAD monkey/intern experience comes from not speaking up or putting in the extra effort to show your ideas. I want to be an architect who is a leader in society, so I'll try to start by speaking up in my own firm."
"While not going out and doing it tomorrow, I will run for political office to put forth the ideas of design to improve and enhance life. In the meantime, I will get onto the boards or committees that implement planning and architecture for my community."
"To rethink my career path and create an outline of where I am currently and where I want to be in five years."
"I don't know; I'll be in touch."
"Ask my officemates if they feel like CAD monkeys."
"Start learning more about communication and management--but first to sit down and try to clarify my goals and possible path to get there."
"Ask more questions. Never stop being inclusive."
"I am going to wait to start doing things differently until the weekend. Tomorrow, I will give the things I'm doing now another try."
"Will look into getting involved with the Boston Society of Architects here in Boston. Begin the search for the 'idea.'"
"Every day, I aim to meet someone new and learn something new. It's about being inspired and deriving energy from people."
"I'm going to take responsibility of myself and my ideas and commit to doing what makes me happy. There's no time to waste sitting back and watching someone else succeed where I have the ability to do it too."
"I am going to think about with the intention of acting on my ethical responsibilities with respect to the implications of my daily work on the world."
"I am going to being the research to implement my 'idea.'"
"I am going to stop 'thinking' and start 'doing.'"
"Learn how to write a grant application."
"Approach my attitude towards work as a great learning experience that will get me to the next steps."
"Aspire to fit into my busy schedule doing things that fit into my personal 'larger' picture and assign them a more appropriate and fitting value."
"Tomorrow, I will call the Dunkin Donuts headquarters and start to find any current financial information on production and any environmental impact information about Styrofoam cups."
As always, we welcome your thoughts by email at email@example.com.
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