Message - Re: Future in architecture?

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Posted by  Jim on June 14, 2003 at 07:15:00:

In Reply to:  Re: Future in architecture? posted by Jan on June 11, 2003 at 01:01:39:

Happiness in any job is very important, and in architecture it requires that you realistically detrermine what pleases you in that occupation. At one time, architecture was primarily art and drawing, with knowledge of materials, engineering and buisiness aspects somewhat secondary. Today, it is just the opposite. With CAD and other high tech approaches, there is less and less artistry and more and more engineering, which befits our technical day and age. If however, in your heart, you find yourself secretly yearning for the ornamental buildings of yesteryear, you had best realize that very little of such drawing talent is required today. If, on the other hand, you are a confirmed 'modernist' then this is the day and age for you, with CAD probably being your best friend! For such a person more familiar with math equations in engineering than 'French Curves' in drafting, it will be easy to master the engineering-dominated architecture of our times. Such a peson will probably be better at the money-dominated business aspects of today as well, when most major projects are done on borrowed money and so the bankers become as much the owner as the owner! This means that the "ass-kissing" as a previous poster likened it, is becoming more and more necessary for more and more people when buildings are, in effect, designed and financed by committees, (and we all know that 'a giraffe was a camel designed by a committee'.)

I know of a young woman who wants to be an architect designing only theatres (a highly specialized, demanding but quite enjoyable specialty) but she dreams of the glorious and highly ornamental Movie Palaces of old, but she now realizes that it will be highly UN-likely in the extreme to find any such commissions in these days, so she is deciding not to go into architecture where ornamentation is today virtually unknown. For her love of old theatre architecture, I directed her to the group which since 1969 has published a magazine devoted to such non-cinema structures, and which maintains an Archive of some 30,000 items outside of Chicago: THE THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA ( ) Many architects go to them for data and inspiration for the few restorations going on today, as well as the even fewer new theatres built. Cinemas as multiplexes are burgeoning, but they are a 'cookie-cutter' template design today with virtually no ornament and extremely tight budgets, so the opportunities for artistry are usually very limited.

What is important is to first study the BUSINESS of architecture to determine just how involved in its modernity you wish to be. If your secret longing is to mainly draw, then perhaps you should remain a draftsman hiring out for ornamental/historical work as a specialty, and this may seperate you from dealing with clients and their bankers, as well as local permits officials, difficult suppliers/contractors and others. If you like the modern rough-and-tumble of negotiations, finances, large scale (big money) maneuvers, etc., then today's architecture may be right up your alley. You will not earn big figures unless you have lots of money to start with, or start and stay with a big firm for the BIG contracts their name and political frineds will bring them. Otherwise stay small and content yourself with designing a few homes which will bring a middle income and maybe, just maybe, some small chance for artistry as opposed to primarily engineering.

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