Architalks #19 : Dear Future Architects

Note: This is the nineteenth post in a group series called #ArchiTalks in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect gives a group of us architects a theme or a set of questions and we all have to post our response. This month’s theme: “Dear Future Architect”

Dear Future Architect,

Welcome to the brave new world.

You have made a choice- a complicated choice. Architecture is never a job, rarely it’s limited to a career, and almost always a lifestyle. Education will teach you that sleep is for losers, work-life will forever be a fine balance between the brown of the coffee and amber of the Whiskey.  Within the choice are a hundred hurdles- lack of diversity, generalized gender roles, pay and equity discrimination. Thousand rewards await as well -. you are appreciated, you are honored, and you are needed to create a community. Built environment is after all a necessity, not a novelty.

Architecture is all about buildings – but, architecture will never be only about buildings.

A license to sign and stamp the drawings, a good understanding of Building Codes and accessibility requirements to uphold the safety of the occupant, and coordination with the consultants and contractors to ensure that your building will be strong and efficient – this will be a very basic outline of your responsibilities. Sometimes voluntary, and sometimes mandatory will be a step towards sustainability.

You still haven’t noticed, but Architecture has another side also – the ethical side.

There is a Code of Ethics that you will adhere to when you design. It’s your northern light, guiding you while you guide a community with your design. You will adhere to it, but if you make a little effort, you will uphold it, you will support it and you will promote it. You might think it’s something only for the Architect of record to worry about, or for the company you work for to adhere to – I will tell you otherwise. You – the intern, the designer, the project manager.. all of you have the power to propagate it. Just like equity and equality are not issues limited to certain gender, code of ethics is not limited to only people liable for the design.

Read them, understand them, know them and be them.

“Rule 1.401 : Members shall not discriminate in their professional activities on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or sexual orientation.”

This one in particular, I want to elaborate on.

Architects are people too- we have our own religious and political affiliations, and cultural influences. But, on a broader and much bigger scale, we have a responsibility that transcends our personal opinions – small informed decisions that we make have the ability to influence a generation’s acceptance of societal changes. It’s activism when led by people – it’s an accepted change when it finds a place in your building. Be that change, bring that change.

Restrooms are a mirror to the social and societal conditions of a community.

Third world is struggling to design safe restrooms for women and children. Developed countries have provided access to public restrooms as a right- in fact plumbing code is a law of the particular jurisdiction that adopts it under the building codes. As we stabilize on a magical formula to decide the perfect number of restrooms needed for a buildings, we realize that there is more to restrooms than what we intended to provide. Gender is no longer limited to male and female, and sexual orientations have evolved. But the restrooms we provide are still male, female and sometimes family depending on the plumbing calculations and code requirements. We, as a society aren’t completely ready and open towards the idea of gender neutral restrooms yet. We are still evolving, and so are our ideas and ideals.

So, dear future architect, realize that future of architecture is not only about video game inspired futuristic design ideas and blending technological advances into built environment. Future of architecture is more than how we draw and how we build – it has been, and will always be about how we design, and how we live- help live. Future will be helping the community blur “separate but equal” treatment of citizens through intelligent and ethical design.  Yesterday it was about erasing “colored only” restrooms and segregated drinking fountains. Today it is about inclusive design for LGBTQIA+ and saving the polar ice cap . Tomorrow is open to your imagination.

Educate ourselves with the physical, mental and emotional requirements of the occupants, identify the areas that need change -some of you will lead, some of you will follow and some of you will abide reluctantly when it becomes a “code”- and some of your ideas will remain ideas forever. So, future architects, educate yourselves- educate yourselves about people, about what people want, about what people need – today, tomorrow and in the future.

Recently I was on the UCLA campus. Restroom signage never brought so much happiness before- this one was special.  A “Unisex” bathroom was rechristened as an “All Gender Restroom”, Braille ADA requirements incorporated. As much as we hate labels, there are labels that help than harm. Unisex is gender neutral, but All-gender is gender inclusive. Little things like this are not something your client will ask for, or your building official will look for, and you probably won’t even get a pat on the back for that extra effort. But, in the long run, your contribution in not only appreciated and valued, it has also helped ease the acceptance of the changes.

In short, eat the whale – by choice.

Building design will be an on-going process where life will imitate architecture sometimes, and architecture will imitate life sometimes. The key is to continue the efforts towards a greater cause – be it within the industry, or within the society, or anywhere in the world that we can hear a cry and respond to. You, the future architect are not limited by walls and ceilings, or building systems – Think beyond what your scope of work is.

Be a catalyst in integration, not isolation.

With love,

Your ever-evolving community

Read what my friends have to share with the future architects:

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Dear Boy in the Plastic Bubble,

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
Dear Future Architects: A Confession

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Dear Future Architects: You Need to Hear This

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Dear Future Architects: 4 Perspectives

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
dear future architects

Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL (@etroxel)
Dear Future Architects

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Dear Future Architects: 3 letters

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
future architects: #architalks

Jes Stafford – MODwelling (@modarchitect)
Dear Future Architect, Listen Here

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Dear Future Architect — Remember Then

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“Dear Future Architects,”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Dear Future Architects..

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Dear Future Young Architects… Please Quit Screwing Around!?!!

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
Dear Future Architects: Don’t makes these 4 Mistakes

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Dear Future Architects

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Dear Future Architects, Be Authentic

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@anth_rich)
Dear Future Anthony

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
Dear Future Architect,

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Dear Future Architects…

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Dear future architects, never lose your optimism

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Dear future architects, are you credible?

Adam Denais – Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch)
Dear Future Architect, a Letter to My Younger Self

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Dear Future Architects…

Ken Saginario – Twelfth Street Studio ()
Dear Future Architects…

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Architalks #19 : Dear Future Architects

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  6. michele grace hottel says:

    good work meghana!!! we were just talking about this today, and i said, “what is wrong with just having these single toilets??? that way men don’t have to take their little girls into the men’s bathroom with men standing in front of the urinals??? can’t we just be a family for once???

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  7. […] Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)Dear Future Architects.. […]

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