In my practice, I talk to clients about the link between the benefit of a project and the burden thereof. I explain the hidden things we’re inadvertently designing – the forests of the west, the impact of a church on its neighbors, the quality of the air we collectively breathe each day – that are linked to every decision we make as we design their specific building. No design decision exists in isolation or, to borrow a concept from physics: every design action has an equal (and often unconsidered) design reaction.
That got me thinking as I read Bruce Mau’s recent article in Architect, You Can Do Better. If the built environment is important to humanity (and I believe it is) and if architects are uniquely trained to provide meaningful built environments (and I believe we are), how is it that we’ve designed the profession of architecture to be irrelevant to the vast majority of humanity? I believe it wasn’t intentional, but rather, was an unconsidered reaction that we can learn to correct. It will no doubt require us to rethink for whom and how we work, and more importantly, what unconventional skills we have in our toolboxes.