Brooklyn Bridge, March snow
“All these must be built with due reference to durability (firmness), convenience (commodity), and beauty (delight). Durability will be assured when foundations are carried down to the solid ground and materials wisely and liberally selected; convenience, when the arrangement of the apartments is faultless and presents no hindrance to use, and when each class of building is assigned to its suitable and appropriate exposure; and beauty, when the appearance of the work is pleasing and in good taste, and when its members are in due proportion according to correct principles of symmetry.”
~Written by Roman Architect Vitruvius, The Ten Books On Architecture- translated by Morris Hicky Morgan, PHD, Harvard University Press, 1914
BUILDING BRIDGES- THE ONLY WAY TO GET US FROM HERE TO THERE…
I love bridges. They are majestic. I marvel at their mighty structures, elegance, and ability to stand the test of time, rising up out of the deep waters or spanning great divides. It’s intriguing to note what chasm a bridge is crossing: is it a simple road bridge that spans over a winding residential bayou? Or a huge mammoth suspension bridge at the mouth of a ferocious bay that leads to the mighty ocean? Or perhaps a narrow, wooden foot bridge that sways between two barren cliffs…
Whatever the chasm, bridges allow us to keep going on our journeys forward, they keep us connected to what’s on the other side, and allow us to come back to this side when we need to. They allow us to travel back and forth, to bring goods and services to communities who rely on them, and to travel the world safely, continuously.
In warfare, one of the best strategies is to bomb the enemy’s bridges. The converse is also true: if we want to make things easier for ourselves, we should want to build bridges that are strong and safe and sound– like this one designed by T.Y. Lin, International:
Hoover Dam Bridge by TY Lin
GOOD DESIGN IS EVERYWHERE AND YET OFTEN GOES UNNOTICED
It’s easy to take good design for granted in our busy days. But not so when we’re driving or walking over a bridge. Crossing bridges gives us pause to stop and notice where we are in the here and now. We often become awestruck; their gigantic structures and engineering feats take our breath away as we examine the steel girders, look up at the steel cables, and look out at the wide expanse that standing or driving on this bridge affords. Bridges give us unique vantage points that no other structures can provide.
STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN: WHERE ARE WE, O’ARCHITECTS?
What are we doing? I ask myself: Have I reached out to a fellow architect lately? Have I mentored someone new, offered some assistance on a tricky project, taken a project manager or principal out to lunch to appreciate them, or called a new job candidate back to let them know, personally, that I enjoyed meeting them…or appreciated their interest in my firm?
What bridges are we building and what new vantage points are we creating to construct stonger connections with others in our field?
GOOD DESIGN IS A NECESSITY OF LIFE
“Good design is, and always has been, a necessity. To value and appreciate beauty- aesthetics- is in our DNA. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder; but problem-solving is in the hand of the educated, talented, and experienced architect.”- Tara Imani, AIA, CSI
We all desire to live and work in pleasing environments and to use well-designed products. Due to the increasing ease of attaining iPhones, computers, high fashion clothing, and art/music/cinema, most of us have come to expect superior design in the homes we live in and in the products we buy, the music we listen to, and the entertainment we watch. Civilized society has earned the right- through collective engineering expertise and evolution of ideas- to shun the mundane, the ugly, and the chaotic.
CUSTOMERS HAVE COME TO EXPECT GOOD DESIGN FROM APPLE…DO THEY EXPECT IT FROM US?
I am so excited to visit the newly built Apple store that was just unveiled last week or so here in Houston at the new Highland Village Shopping Center on Westheimer Road. I can’t wait to try out the latest iPad or select which Macbook Air model I’m going to buy. My husband’s cousin, a savvy commercial real estate broker and soon-to-be CPA, convinced me that Apple’s customer service and training is the best. Bar none.
What about you? Aren’t you planning how you’re going to attain the next latest Apple product?
ARCHITECTS ARE UNIQUELY QUALIFIED TO PROVIDE GOOD DESIGN:
In the tradition of Vitruvius, architecture students earn a liberal arts education (learning about music, philosophy, art, physics, medicine, and the humanities) and are trained in structural and building technologies; graduates are then required to work a three-year internship under a licensed architect and fulfill the training requirements of the Intern Development Program (IDP). Once an architect has sat for her exams and passed them, she would have spent almost ten years in education and work experience. Hiring an architect is hiring an expert.
As my friend encouraged me prior to my exams years ago, “If not you, then who?”
We have the rich training in the history of this beautiful art of designing buildings and we have the expertise to construct them. If not us, then who?
Architects deserve to align ourselves with the highest values and pursue the most challenging projects because we have what it takes.
STRENGTHENING OUR PROFESSION, ONE RELATIONSHIP AT A TIME
In the book Problem Seeking, An Architectural Programming Primer, by William Pena and Steven Parshall, the authors describe the early stages of a project and how parties come together to first identify and understand the ‘problem’ and create the buiding program. I believe in the importance of understanding the problem, i.e. what challenges we face, in order to adequately and successfully address them. I agree with what they’ve written and I think it applies to our situation now. We want to know how we can promote ourselves to society at large. Thus, the title of my post: Design Connects When We Connect. And how do we do that? The same way we approach our projects, like this:
“To achieve effective group action, it is important to understand how people think. Planning a large, complex building project involves many people of many minds. We are beginning to appreciate the multiplicity of ideas that emerges from the total planning team with its multiheaded client and multiheaded architect: the client group and the architect group.
“The objective is to cope with the multiplicity of thought and to lessen the differences of so many minds. This doesn’t mean there must be a poor compromise. But we know this: participants in group action will argue their heads off unless they believe that “together we can do a better job than we can separately.” Without this maxim, we’re in trouble.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WAYS YOU CAN THINK OF THAT ARCHITECTS CAN WORK TO BETTER CONNECT WITH ONE ANOTHER?
Please share your ideas in the comment section below…
*This blog post is written as part of the AIA 2012 Convention BlogOff: Design Connects <=== If you click on the link, you will find a series of links to other blogs written on this theme and posted on the AIA website: www.aia.org.
*Brooklyn Bridge Photo Credit: by j_bary on Flickr http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-413890809