F*#*K Competitions


OK this is a total rant but I just have to get it out. I guess it can be summed up by saying: ANYONE WHO WORKS FOR FREE IS AN IDIOT. Seems obvious but I keep hearing university faculty, and architects advising students, the unemployed and underemployed that they need to be entering competitions. It seems like everyone has some competition entry in their portfolio these days.

Lets all just give our work away for free, right? Cause we need the exposure and maybe we can get a job out of it. This idea of giving it all away for some future pie in the sky is ridiculous. Whats next? Should we be giving away design drawings to clients in hopes that they continue to the next phase? Permit drawings for free cause we make our money on the construction drawings? Maybe we should just give construction drawings away for free too that way no one can sue us. Maybe its just capitalism. Maybe I just want people to pay for the work that we do rather then taking advantage of naive professionals.

I have been reviewing some portfolios lately and every single one claims to have won some kind of competition prize. If your willing to work for free for X competition then you must be willing to work for free for me right? There is a much higher chance that it could lead to something in your future. I personally will never hire anyone who submits competition material and tells me about it in their portfolio. If you are willing to allow yourself to be taken advantage of how can I be sure you wont allow the company to be taken advantage of?  

Aug 15, 14 5:24 pm

I think you are to something competition wise. The next step competition - "get this approved by the building department" a competition sponsored by a developer who wants to build 3 times the Floor Area Ratio and if you get it approved you get the commission....or something similar. I always thought getting approval for a bbq grill outside your apartment window would be quite the task.

Aug 15, 14 6:29 pm  · 

"Working for free" don't get me started. Idiots indeed. Also making the profession look cheap. If universities encourage this kind of competition then they should be ashame of themself. I'm with the OP with this one. Maybe universities should be free for students in that case. 

Aug 15, 14 6:42 pm  · 

Jonathan, I wouldn’t be so harsh on the subject. I had a 40 year career as an owner and looking back I wish I would have taken time to do competitions. I didn’t do a single one but I wish I had. I knew guys that did and they flourished from it. You don’t have to win the competition just entering and using it in your resume or portfolio is sufficient. Just look at it as a program to solve and solve it with a design. It’s understandable if you don’t have the time to do it, or they charge you to enter, be selective. It’s better than just dreaming up something on your own, attaching a potential client or institution to it gives it creditability.

Aug 15, 14 10:06 pm  · 

I am absolutely against competitions and working for free. I think instead, profs and mentors need to be telling people to do projects for themselves. 

All a competition entry is as something pretty to put in your portfolio, right? So instead of responding to someone's shitty call-for-entry and giving your work away for a paltry $1000 prize that you have a 1/60 chance of winning, just pick a site and program that interests you and make some speculative paper architecture. 

Just be honest with yourself about why you are doing it.

Aug 15, 14 10:46 pm  · 

1 in 60 chance at $1000? I'll take my chances...

Aug 16, 14 12:25 am  · 

a stat a former successful competition winner employer gave me, granted European, where they respect the Competition:

he had entered 200 competitions

placed in 30

won 10

7 were built

the guy drove me home once in his Porsche with a navigation system in the year of our lord 2000; he never looked at the road, like a video game we navigated a German City...he also owned a Ferrari because a developer didn't pay him once - his wife did not let him drive it.

Aug 16, 14 1:02 am  · 

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