So I don't know if there's a blogging equivalent to drunk dialing but, well, here goes:
I want to contribute to the built environment in some direct way, and that may even be as a licensed architect at some point in my life. It's not even impossible that I might have my own small firm one day, and make buildings that way. BUT... what I need to say is that this is not the track that I'm on right now. I love studio and enjoy improving my design skills and learning about various aspects of buildings, but I am more interested, right now and for the next chunk of my life, in...well, certain theoretical questions, in research and writing and also finding ways to engage a wider audience in conversations about the built environment.
That might mean I'll stay in academia to research and teach, or write books or work for an academic press or write for magazines and newspapers, or even work in public policy and planning or other fields where I'll be able to make a contribution in the ways that come most readily to me, on the terms and issues that I care most about. It could mean other things, too--I'm not sure yet. What I do know is that this kind of work has the potential to affect the way we engage with and design the built environment, and also that the training I'm getting in my M.Arch.I will be a necessary and valuable part of my preparation for it.
And maybe--as when people come out about their sexuality-you're thinking that everything I've just said is obvious. That for a long time you could tell that I sort of swing this way and that the only surprising thing is how long it took me to realize and admit this. So then the question is, why was (and is, as I'm sure I'll grapple with this tomorrow) this such a hard thing for me to face?
Maybe because we romanticize the image of the architect. Maybe because it's such a hard thing to accomplish. Maybe because we valorize the "pure" work of design over the other tasks involved in shaping the built environment. Maybe because this is sort of an embarrassing thing to admit in an architecture school, or at the GSD. Maybe because I want to prove to myself, my family, or my professors that I can do it. Maybe because my childhood dream was to be an architect, not to be an editor, urban planner, or journalist.
So there are many reasons, but these reasons aren't really good enough for me to keep moving along without clarity about where I stand now and where I'm headed. And, as one of my professors suggested to me recently, these reasons also point to a serious problem the profession has right now in prioritizing the authorship of the architect over what our real aim should be: shaping the built environment through any and all means through which this happens.
But that's another conversation. For now, I just wanted to tell you that this is where I'm at. This doesn't change the fact that I'm going to work as hard as I can, and learn as much as possible, in studio and in my other courses. But it means that I'm no longer going to ask myself to chase a goal that, if I think honestly about my priorities right now, isn't really my goal.
Thanks for reading. I'm glad to have you, and to have this forum, in my life.
Lectures and exhibitions, news and events, now primarily from the Bay Area! Please note that all live blogs are abridged and approximate. If you want to see exactly what happened, in many cases a video of the event is posted online by the event's hosts. If you have concerns about how you are quoted, please contact me via Archinect's email.