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Why we create

Oct 3 '13 16 Last Comment
BulgarBlogger
Oct 3, 13 8:03 pm

How many times have you caught yourself thinking, "Hmmm- wouldn't it be awesome if I painted my room neon green, or some other color of your liking," or simply said- "I would love to renovate my house, but maybe I'll do it someday...when I grow up or have money?"

I think there is something to be said about the effect of spaces that are shabby, old, needing of a fix-up and not manicured or finished like a Zaha building... I am talking about blank canvases we can personalized humanize...We are innately creative and constantly seeking for new ways to make life interesting. If you look at finished, brand new buildings- sure, they may be initially inspiring, nicely crafted, and beautiful. But just like when you enter into a relationship with someone- using a building on a day to day basis makes the first "wow factor" wear off really fast. Try renovating a Zaha building and personalizing it.... Critics would roll over in their graves and say, "that destroyed the design concept!" The only participant that truly gets something in the end of the design process is the architect...and I am not talking about fees or fame... I am talking about the emotional satisfaction of making design personal by exploring many different options.

So I am posting to ask the following question: why do we create as architects? Do we really create for others, or is the act of creation a faux practice, one that is really just meant for the architect?

 

observant
Oct 3, 13 8:43 pm

It's both, BB.  We create because WE think were right, and that WE have the design solution.  We also create for others, to see an owner beaming when they enter their lobby, office, store, or home for the first time.  There's some inherent narcissism in architecture, ideally contained at "healthy" levels.  However, there's sort of a calling, too.  Look at how many people you know who just don't care what things around them look like.  It doesn't even cross their minds.  They want someone else to worry about that.  Enter the architect.

Quondam
Oct 3, 13 9:50 pm

Perhaps it's just semantics, but architects for the most part design; few architects actually also create.

Although, I suppose you can call a design a creation, especially if the design is never executed into built form.

I guess the point I really want to make is that most of what architects do is not actual creation, rather virtual creation.

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Oct 3, 13 10:46 pm

^ Speak for yourself.

curtkram
Oct 4, 13 9:52 am

i like asking questions, trying to understand what the client needs, and trying to give them what they want instead of what i want.  obviously there are times where i insert my opinion, where i might say something isn't going to work the way they think, might look like shit or be unbuildable, or be a life safety violation.  if they say they want ugly carpet after i've pointed out that it might not be the best decision, then whatever.  it's their carpet.  when the project is done, i will go on my way.  i don't entirely understand why so many architects think there are people who are willing to put up millions of dollars so the architect can feel good about themselves.

there have been times when i've built something on my own.  in those cases, i do what i want instead of what other people want me to do.  my own projects are generally limited to materials i can carry on my own and can fit in my car.  i'm probably not going to be erecting a large steel building on my own...

observant
Oct 4, 13 11:36 am

^

Yes, who cares about the color of the carpet.  However, there are situations where this sort of thing can be an issue.  I once did a "4+bonus/3" house design for someone in a neighborhood where there were CC&Rs and a neighborhood board that had to approve the design.  While designing, it was implicit that this was a warm color palette home, especially on the exterior.  At the end, they went apeshit on having a cold color palette for the home's cladding.  I explained that standard builder mortar (their builder was sub-standard) tends to be grayish and, with stone of the same color, it would be foreboding, not to mention look institutional on a gray day.  They didn't listen.  They then conceded regretting they made that choice.  If they wanted plum carpeting in the bonus room, then that wouldn't have mattered. 

Tip:  If someone is going to do a house with at least 3 bedrooms and it has 2 floors, almost insist that 1 bedroom and 1 full bath are on floor 1.  Now, master-on-main is quite popular, and for good reason.  Elderly people can still consider such a house, and go upstairs infrequently, or use it for guests or visiting kids.

Another important thing to point out is resale of a home or a building.  If they make a stupid decision, it can make the structure harder to flip.  In essence, you are rarely designing for one client, given that buildings may outlive clients.

So, curt, have any pictures of your Camaro for TC?  I found one last night on my computer as I was looking around the main drive.

curtkram
Oct 4, 13 12:04 pm

i do not have any pictures of my camaro on my computer.

for me, if the client says 'i want gray mortar,' and i think it's a bad idea, i would say 'try this mortar instead.'  if they still think they want gray mortar, then it's on them.  it's their building, they get to make the choice.

no matter how much i think i'm right, sometimes i'm not.  sometimes i am right, but other people end up having different but equally valid opinions.  if a person hires you to design a house or other building that has no resale value and looks cold or institutional, i don't see why you wouldn't just take that at face value.  it's good to do what you can to educate and inform your client, but in my opinion it is not wise to dwell on every decision and continually tell you client you don't like their opinions.  your client should be smart enough to lean on your expertise in mortar, because you design buildings every day and they don't.  if they want to piss off the home owner's association and save a couple dollars on that part of their building, it's ultimately their decision.  unless it's an honest ethical question, in which case i suppose you have to decide if you're willing to burn a bridge.

observant
Oct 4, 13 4:01 pm

i do not have any pictures of my camaro on my computer.

for me, if the client says 'i want gray mortar,' and i think it's a bad idea, i would say 'try this mortar instead.'  if they still think they want gray mortar, then it's on them.  it's their building, they get to make the choice.

The reason why we make those suggestions is because we can visualize.  A lot of people can't.  How often do you walk into a building or a t.i. you've done and it "feels" just like what you drew?  Almost always.  Then the knot in the stomach goes away.  The problem here is that the style was not in the least bit historical,  and all rectilinear, so it called for brick more so than for stone.  They similarly colored gray brick and gray mortar, from afar, looked like a monolithic concrete wall.  They said that they would never more from that house.  Well, they sold, and downsized, 4 years later.  They admitted that the prevalence of a cold color palette, not to mention a dark charcoal concrete tile roof, probably turned off potential buyers.  The house was envisioned to be a pale earth color with slightly darker colored tan, or even red, brick, and a sort of "rustic wood" colored concrete tile roof.  The contractor needed to be watched like a hawk, omitting more stringent seismic apparatus in furred out spaces and not knowing how to direct a subcontractor to use soldier coursing over openings instead of row lock.  I found these deviations in time.  I thought to myself "Is it any wonder architects often don't like contractors, especially of the pick-up truck variety?" and that this is one of the checkpoints in D-A-B rather than design-build.

The cumulative effect of this is that people sometimes leave the residential sector for the commercial sector, albeit more sterile, or leave architecture altogether.

The bottom line is that we can visualize the finished "product" (dirty word in school), or at least most architects and designers competently can, to varying degrees.

*end of rant*

curtkram
Oct 4, 13 4:41 pm

i've never designed a house.  my career in architecture has always been commercial, and on the few occasions when clients have hired residential contractors to do their commercial/retail work, the contractors did not live up to the standard of care i'm used to.

if you did your best to explain to your client why their choice in mortar was bad, then that's about all you can do.  it's not going to help you to harp on them about how you know so much more than they do.

my barber knows how to cut hair better than i do, because that's what they do every day.  i'm probably going to know more about some aspects of design better than my clients, because that's what i do everyday.  if my clients don't want to trust my judgement and experience, that's up to them.  if they want the builder mortar against my better judgement, that's ok.  i'll express my opinion on the matter, since that's what they're paying me for, and then let them make the decision. they can make bad decisions.  they're paying for it, and ultimately they are going to be responsible for the building and all consequences related to said decisions.

observant
Oct 4, 13 5:21 pm

if you did your best to explain to your client why their choice in mortar was bad, then that's about all you can do.

The mortar was fine.  Standard grayish stuff.  It was the gray brick.  I was pushing for warm brick tones.

if my clients don't want to trust my judgement and experience, that's up to them.

That's true.  However, if some decisions by the owner turn it into a P.O.S., which other will view as a P.O.S., then it's not a good reflection on the architect for those who don't know the underlying details.  The same works for commercial.  If someone did a tilt-up office park in Miami and painted the concrete panels pale turquoise, complete with uber tacky appendages, that would deter potential lessees.  There is this one condo or apartment building about 4 stories tall in Vancouver that is clad in darker apple green corrugated metal and makes me, and most of the others in the car, want to throw up when I've been there. 

t a m m u z
Oct 4, 13 7:32 pm

A form of defecation. The mind enjoys moulding out its exorcism as does your rectum moulding out its own. Imagine your anus as a 3D printer...you would be triply pleasured. The expurgatory + the purposeful + the pleasurable. The architecture is fully vitruvian; the architect, two thirds. 

observant
Oct 4, 13 7:42 pm

^

Can you craft sentences, paragraphs, and thoughts that aren't so esoteric?  I don't chalk it up to cultural differences, given how many people from all over the world express themselves concisely and in practical terms in English.  Having coffee with you would either be very interesting or would cause even a fairly intelligent person to blow a mental gasket.

Quondam
Oct 4, 13 7:56 pm

It's very interesting code. What you see is b anal, but the real message is "Look how architects, even as they discuss creation, are banal."

 

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Oct 4, 13 9:09 pm

ob, my old man used to say "don't get into a pissing contest with a skunk". Or two, as the case may be. 

Good advice. 

t a m m u z
Oct 4, 13 11:36 pm

said the self hating skunk

t a m m u z
Oct 4, 13 11:43 pm

observant, make some progress. either dislike me, dismiss me or join in the discussion. standing at the threshold pointing at me mouth agape like an idiot all the time isn't becoming. i really am not that 'esoteric'. get over it. i'm now in ottawa for a while if you want a coffee. i'm not sure if there are enough rednecks here to make you feel comfortable though. 

observant
Oct 5, 13 12:06 am

ob, my old man used to say "don't get into a pissing contest with a skunk". Or two, as the case may be.

Sage advice, Miles.  I was just messing with tammuz.  I like tammuz.  He has such a different way of processing things.

I wonder if the bathtub full of tomato juice after being sprayed by a skunk is reality or an old wives' tale.  That's a waste of a lot of tomato juice.

observant, make some progress. either dislike me, dismiss me or join in the discussion. standing at the threshold pointing at me mouth agape like an idiot all the time isn't becoming. i really am not that 'esoteric'. get over it. i'm now in ottawa for a while if you want a coffee. i'm not sure if there are enough rednecks here to make you feel comfortable though.

As for the discussion, my contribution preceded yours.  I am certainly not pointing as if you're an idiot.  I just wish I could write in such metaphoric terms.  If I was in Montreal, I'd offer meeting up in a Tim Horton's at a halfway point, that way I'd find out you're not esoteric and you'd find out I'm not a redneck.  Ottawa is kind of nice and there are lots of eateries and bars in historic Byward Market you should check out, in addition to Parliament Hill.  Seriously, that comment (me ~ redneck) made my year.  I told my friends who let out some robust laughs.

Carry on, folks ...

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