Undisciplined Architecture

22Jun12

Competing for the Future

James P. Cramer @ Design Intelligence

Beware the unimaginative and the Luddites who portend the end of the profession, and open your mind to a future of relevant possibilities.

This issue of DesignIntelligence takes a detailed look at the latest data and trends in professional practice compensation in our “2012 Compensation and Benefits Survey.” But there is more in these pages than mere numbers. There is strategic optimism, deep energy, and detailed thoughtfulness.

Perhaps you read the Salon article “The Architecture Meltdown” last month that cites the distress experienced by star architects as well as those less celebrated. Or the Washington Post article that paints a picture of architects and designers as largely jobless (“New Study Shows Architecture, Arts Degrees Yield Highest Unemployment”). Other articles have portrayed architecture as a profession with little resilience during the recent and still lingering recession. A once-proud profession that has lost much of its glamour is the characterization. We members of the Design Futures Council take issue with these sentiments.

Let’s start with an obvious contrast. The Design Futures Council recently completed its 8th Annual Leadership Summit on Design Innovation & Technology in La Jolla, Calif. The speakers were bright and informed. Each was optimistic, and not merely optimistic, but strategically optimistic. They could count the ways by which they had positive motivations. They were armed with stories, data, and visions. Instead of seeing only problems, Summit delegates saw opportunities. They did not shy away from the analytical; however, they were quick to connect the dots to a more hopeful and relevant future.

Disruptive Changes

I have to wonder if professionals and their associations are giving too much air time to cynical and dark pessimism about the future of professional practice and not enough attention to entrepreneurship. The inwardly focused priorities should open to an industry primed for revolution. Is the future of the design professions going downhill? Or is it being reinvented? Change is disconcerting, and some people become so frightened by it that they can’t see past their temporary discomfort to where the change may lead.

I have to ask: Why are we giving all this attention to the unimaginative? Why not use this tumultuous time to explore new models and entrepreneurial visions for the design professions and for tomorrow’s A/E/C industry?

Read the full article here

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