When Global Comes Home

Another article about Patrimetric.

I told myself, after the World Architecture Festival speech by Patrik Schumacher and the ensuing contretemps, that I wouldn't give him any more of my time.  I've heard him speak in many forums, interviewed him twice, and don't see that there's any more there than the impression I already had. Another middle-aged white man pushing exclusionary and self-serving policies - why do I need to listen?

But the most recent article, in The Guardian (which I support financially and think is an excellent newspaper) was written by Aaron Renn. This one hit hard because it's familiar: I'm friendly acquaintances with Aaron - we've had meals together; we ran in the same circles when he lived in Indianapolis. I'm pretty sure he's been in my house back when we used to have salon-style parties. He was a huge and respected booster of the Midwest in particular and of Indianapolis specifically when he lived here via his excellent Urbanophile blog.

But to see this article breaks my heart. I'm so bummed out to see Patrik given yet another platform! He is pushing for a kind of urbanism that suits *his* employees, the people *he* likes and identifies with. He claims his staff made up of creative achievers need to " close. They can’t afford to live miles away...They need to be in the pub afterwards debating issues. They need to slip over to the exhibition opening or that university lecture close by. They need to go to the networking breakfast before work or be available on the weekend maybe for seminars. People feel it in their bones. They have to be in the centre.”

Yeah, I can't argue that; I need it too. But so do janitors, and maintenance workers, and bus drivers, and aspiring journalists who are blogging while trying to figure out how to pay the rent. The entire notion of a diverse, energetic city is that not everyone there is the same. If only one kind of person is able to afford to live in a location then everywhere you go in that area you're going to meet the same kind of person!

From my time living in downtown Philadelphia I can recall two moments that deeply influenced my sense of the beauty, chaos, and interconnectedness of life and they both came from chance interactions with blue-collar workers. Those interactions would not have happened if the entire city was privatized a la Patrik's vision:  “We have a thousand publics which don’t have to be equally catered to in every single space....In another space, you cater for a different section of the public.”

Am I crazy to think that through Parametrisicm *and* overarching privatized controls Patrik is calling for "more freedom" via rigidly controlled processes and systems? I'm flabbergasted and dismayed. The entire point of the chaotic city is that the chaos is chaos. As architects we can't always control what people do with our buildings.

I think this is a good thing!

Jan 17, 18 9:07 pm

It's all just sales. "News", architecture, lifestyle, pubs - you name it. The result of a corrupt value system that only measures one thing.

As such I have pretty much completely divorced myself from media with a few exceptions (Archinect included) because it is all bullshit. The ads are the most honest part of any media.

At least the BS here is amusing. Nice play on Patrimetric.

Jan 17, 18 9:51 pm

Credit to my podcast co-host Ken for that one!


not everyone there is the same and don’t have to be equally catered to

That's a city right there, a bunch of individuals who don't all have to be catered to equally, that's every lively, interesting city I know in a nutshell. I think Donna and Patrik say exactly the same thing but perhaps approach it from a different angle. Many so-called blue collar workers over here can afford better places than your average architect by the way. Hell, even doormen in New York make more than us ;)

Jan 18, 18 4:24 am
I agree, randomized, that Patrik and I appreciate and desire a lot of the same aspects of the city. We *totally* disagree on how to get there.
Jan 18, 18 6:25 am

I could sense some mild disagreement in your post on how to achieve that :)

(Sorry for misspelling your name, too. Spellcheck strikes again.)


It used to be with a 'z' but I changed it to the UK spelling because I use UK spellcheck :)

I'm not getting that. Donna's concerns are truly egalitarian, Patrik's are self-serving BS, egotistical top down management. In other words, one is real - the other isn't. Although I suppose his libertarian paradise is real for him, as long as he gets the commission .


I don't agree, the so-called self-serving BS of Patrik is as real as Donna's concerns, they both deal with how the city could or should operate. I think a lot of people simply can't look beyond the person. Tell me, what is wrong with a city where young architects can actually live downtown and go to inspirational local events close by instead of being forced to sit in a train for well over an hour to end up in some boring but affordable suburb? It is the exact same city where that blue-colar worker can afford to live and enjoy life.

Nothing wrong with that except that coming from Schumacher it's false. PR. A sales pitch. Not a true belief or basis of his practice, and absolutely absent in his work. Unless he's been born again, and I don't trust them either.

won and done williams

They need to be in the pub afterwards debating issues. They need to slip over to the exhibition opening or that university lecture close by. They need to go to the networking breakfast before work or be available on the weekend maybe for seminars.

I would argue that most janitors, bus drivers, and maintenance workers do not want these things.

Jan 18, 18 9:32 am

intellectual curiosity is not, or should not, be something solely for the upper classes. Intelligence, thought and spirited discussions and debate are human traits not dependent on how much money you have or what school you attended.


Peter, I agree. It's why I love Joe Rogans podcasts. He has some really deep guests and covers some really brainy concepts while remaining palatable for the non-elitists population (which is most of us).


I once knew a guy that I trained with at the gym who was what I would consider a true Mensa genius. He had an IQ that was like insanity 190 or something like that. He worked as a security guard at a mall. He said he liked it because it was easy and gave him time to think about his hobbies including building terrariums and building computer games. Lol. Point is, we don't live in a meritocracy. The cream doesn't always rise to the top. Many people have intelligence but for whatever reason lack the desire to enter the rat race. Growing up in a working class mostly black neighborhood, I can tell you, we mostly sit around and discuss the same things that "upper class" people discuss...just with a greater degree of honestly and humor.

Intelligence prevents one from entering the rat race, or accelerates one's departure from it.

won and done williams

I didn't say anything about intelligence. All I'm saying is that most janitors don't give a rip about networking breakfasts or university lectures. #fact



I think Patrick is talking about social engineering but doesn't want to be called a social engineer. The fact is he is wrong on how to go about building and maintaining a vital and vibrant community. It can not be designed beyond the level of streets buildings and landscapes, what people do think or value can not be controlled. We as designers can create the stage for life to happen but if we cast life with a narrow set of characters the performance is going to become boring and monotonous. If you try to over design the space and the experiences allowed for people to have people don't enjoy it as much and they can sense in an instant the fake veneer of cheap design gimmicks that cover up the classicism, commercialism, and greed that are driving people apart.

I don't think, however, that ignoring Patrick and his ilk will make him less dangerous. We need to hear these crazy ideas, and then destroy theses ideas with facts, principals, moral imperatives and better ideas. Shunning him or having a protest or other expressions of outrage is possibly the reaction he wants. It is what any troll wants.

Over and OUT

Peter N

Jan 18, 18 9:35 am

What principles specifically are you talking about?

There are so many but for example if a developer want's to build a building that is in excess of the existing zoning limits it is the duty of the municipality to require some form of a public good such as wider sidewalks, a plaza open for all or affordable housing in exchange for a zoning variance. The principal being the government has the authority to restrict development for the greater good and to get something for the greater good if they are asked to ease those restrictions.

ADA or  Universal Accessibility of public spaces is another

If only it worked that way ...

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