So how do we claim back the value of architects in a project. We need to do it through conversations, education, and evolution.
conversation: I want to talk about how we do things in this industry. I need to know how those outside the industry view architects and the built environment. So how do I reach out to have conversations with the general public. I do it at social events in the community. I do it through twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I do it through blogging. I just finished an 80 hour week working a booth at the Rockingham County Fair. Not the usual place to find an architect, but I had some really great conversations. Some people wanted to know “so what does an architect do”. Some wanted to discuss issues they are having with their homes. Some wanted to talk politics and the future of our country. I get so much from these interactions that I can hardly complain about all the time, energy, and money it takes to do them. We have to continue to hear our community in order to be good designers for our community.
Education: I hope I constantly continue to learn new and innovative ways to build “place,” to understand technology, and to push innovation. Architects are required to earn a certain number of learning units each year to maintain licensure, some see it as a burden to have to go to classes to achieve these credits. I see it as a way to continue to grow as a designer. I have consistently exceeded the number of learning units each year that I have had a CEU record. I look for opportunities to meet with experts in their fields to build my resources and knowledge of products and techniques available. I volunteer to organize educational events in my area when I see a need for a certain topic to be covered. I share my knowledge by giving lectures to my community, my competition, and my industry. There is no way that I will find all the answers for all the questions that may come up in a project, but I do my best to be as informed as possible.
Evolution: We as a profession need to find ways to deliver the solutions that our communities need to be healthy and vibrant. There are so many new technologies that are available for designers to use on projects. Architects need to be the leaders that find the best ways to use these tools to deliver the best solutions to clients. For instance, we cannot rely on energy experts to bring innovative solutions to a project. We need to be the one that identifies a need and potential solutions to provide energy and conserve energy on our projects. I am not saying that we should not collaborate with others, we have to in order to give the best solution. We cannot know everything about every option. We do need to be aware of whom to ask, what is available, and how far we can push innovation.
We need to be the building experts that people look to when there is a need, whether it is residential, commercial, or industrial work. The architect should be the first call to find a solution.