Why are the vast majority of architects liberal?


Just curious.

Why is it that so many architects are very liberal and informal? This seems to be the case with everything surrounding architecture - design, dress, behaviour, views etc...

I am yet to meet a truly conservative architect. Why?

Maybe the UK is different to the rest of the world in this sense but there seems to be little respect for formality, tradition and established patterns. Just curious to know why this is?

Jun 24, 12 10:17 am

Because architecture is a profession beholden to the prejudices of the elites and the dominant culture. I should think that's obvious.

Jun 24, 12 2:18 pm

My take is that Architects are generally creative types, who naturally tend to more open-minded to people of different backgrounds, races, sexual orientation,etc.; which is generally a a social value of liberals. I consider myself a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. As much as I would like to vote Republican for fiscal reasons, I can't get my head around voting for a candidate who would dedicate a significant effort to opposing gay marriage, among other things. Doesn't make sense to me that Republicans haven't figured this out yet, that there are a lot of fiscal conservatives with gay family members, it's a sizable and growing voter base that's up for grabs. Another thing to consider is that fiscally, conservatives advocate less govt, while liberals advocate more. Most of the work in our industry right now is in government, higher Ed, and healthcare, which are largely funded by public dollars which liberals are more likely to suport. The private sector dollars just aren't there right now.

Jun 25, 12 12:01 am

UK has prince charles. 
He is architecturally conservative enough for everyone.

Jun 25, 12 12:17 am

Architects tend to be utopians who believe that reason and good intentions can change fundamental human nature.  Liberals also have this tendency.  Conservatives tend to be more cynical and pessimistic (i.e. more realistic) about people.

Jun 25, 12 12:59 pm

geezer I disagree.  I think there are alot of "George Carlin" liberals out there like myself. 

Jun 25, 12 1:12 pm

i've been trying to figure this out too.  i consider myself conservative and (especially in school) i would always be slightly turned off by how liberal everyone was.  my guess is that  architecture is an art, and you don't see many conservative artists out there.  liberal people tend to be on the side of social change for a variety of things, and architects typically want to "change" the world through what they do... not keep it the same.  people on the opposite side of the professional spectrum (engineers, contractors) seem more conservative.

on a side note, i hate how liberal people say they're "open-minded" and conservatives are not.  its also sad that politics is a two-party package deal in the US.

Jun 25, 12 1:34 pm

due I would argue that politics is a one party deal.  Kinda like crappy mcdonalds icecream where we get to choose between vanilla and chocolate. No pun intended.  I will choose chocolate this comming nov. only because vanilla gives me the shits just thinking about it, and that chocolate flavor (on social issues)  tends to help mask the absolutly gross ingredients that are being shoved  down our throats (on economic and global issues)  ie.- corporatism, oligarchy, plutocracy, military industrial complex,  exploitation of worlds resources.........

As for architects being liberal...I would say that all creatives tend to be liberal.  Conservatism seems to limit liberty which is essential for any creative culture.  Conservatives try to impose their ideology as an absolute truth.  Creativity is all about challenging such notions in pursuit of a alternative way.  Liberals are usually more open minded, however some are just sheep.  I question the authenticity of the pc hipster youth.  Sometimes I think they are just jumping on the band wagon so that they don't upset anyone.  It seems that they are also enabling the kind of corporiatism that is destroying society in the name of so called progress (for example Brooklyn) 

We need more angry cynical oldschool liberals and less of these pc gentle delicate liberals.  You know, the kind that support teaching their kids how to punch bullies in the face.   

Jun 25, 12 2:07 pm

Architecture is a largely urban, extroverted undertaking. We embrace culture and are not huge fans of suppression of human rights. It's always a shock to meet a conservative architect, but it takes all kinds.
Overall, I find architects not the most politically engaged group. We are somewhat informed, but don't have the time/interest to participate further than a vague statement of intent.

Jun 25, 12 2:08 pm

I think a clue may be hidden in the fact that parties which are liberal in one way or another, or are pushing for a particular change (Green, Libertarian, Reform, and to a certain extent Democratic) are collectively referred to as the "Progressive" parties. There is a sense of movement to (at least social) liberalism, while the conservatives seem to be trying to move backwards. People who make things, who create, want to see progress, want to change and move things forward, not backwards.

Jun 25, 12 2:32 pm

I figured it was because intelligent and educated people tend to be liberal.  The fiscal side of conservatism preaches things like balanced budgets and earning an honest living through hard work.

Clinton (with help from republicans in congress) balanced the budget.  Our last conservative president was not able to maintain that.  Obama and Boehner made fairly significant progress towards creating a much better balanced budget.  Boehner backed out because he could not maintain enough support from his party to get legislation passed (mostly the tea-party segment).

Policy from conservative legislatures tend to promote legacy wealth, or keeping old money rather than earning new money from actually working.  These policies promote reduced capital gains tax and inheritance tax and benefits to employers more than employees.  Liberals have been more likely to support policies that help people who are trying to earn an income by working for a living, such as the payroll tax reductions as well as public education and infrastructure investment in public transportation.

My conclusion has been that liberals tend to be more responsibly conservative, whereas conservatives tend to be selfish and greedy.  Except when it comes to the big banks and our financial system, in which case they're both crooks.

Jun 25, 12 2:38 pm

Because architects are smarter than a vast majority of people.

Jun 25, 12 3:54 pm

Is this even true?  I don't have it handy but I could've sworn one of the architecture magazines published a poll showing that the majority of architects (American architects, I should add) tended to vote for conservative republicans.  Admittedly, the article I'm thinking of is probably 10-15 years old and some opinions may have changed but I'm skeptical of the "vast majority" phrasing.  

Anecdotally, my experience would incline me to think that architects are about as evenly split on political perspectives as the general population.


Jun 25, 12 4:13 pm

I'm obviously being sarcastic in case no one else realized it.  But truth of the matter is that I think it's more split down the middle.  I've met a lot of very republican architects in my career so far.

Jun 25, 12 4:22 pm

hi i'm here to limit your liberty

Jun 25, 12 5:51 pm

i'd keep in mind:

1) writing on architecture is usually from an academic setting, which is notoriously liberal

2) a lot of the people on this website are college kids looking for grad schools, which are notoriously liberal.

at my first internship i was actually surprised... my boss actually voted for scott brown (republican) as senator in massachusetts to kill the healthcare bill.

Jun 25, 12 7:45 pm

I feel like I recall a somewhat recent poll in Architecture magazine or something showing that a majority of firm owners tend to vote Republican, but in my own experience most people who are young workers in the field tend to be Progressive, which mostly means voting Democrat.  Most of the firm owners I know tend to be socially liberal, supporting gay rights and cultural diversity and public education, but *will* vote Republican because their firm ownership compels them to vote for what they hope will lead to a more beneficial tax climate for businesses.  But I've mostly worked for very Lefty bosses.

jla-x, I'm turning more angrily and radically Left as I get older, because sadly I feel the political climate requires it.

Jun 25, 12 10:04 pm

Donna, I've heard that too (that many business owners that consider themselves to be socially liberal end up voting republican because of business interests), but I'm not sure where. Looking at just that dilemma alone (social policy vs. money in my or my employees' pocket) is probably too simplistic to make any assumptions about the political attitude of architects, but it makes me think about the where my own priorities would lie.

Jun 25, 12 10:15 pm

Also made me look up something I remember reading when doing some research for my thesis. I was basically looking at what is the quintessential "American Dream" and what it's origins were and I came across this little bit from John Locke:

As therefore the highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness; so the care of ourselves, that we mistake not imaginary for real happiness, is the necessary foundation of our liberty. The stronger ties we have to an unalterable pursuit of happiness in general, which is our greatest good, and which, as such, our desires always follow, the more are we free from any necessary determination of our will to any particular action, and from a necessary compliance with our desire, set upon any particular, and then appearing preferable good, till we have duly examined whether it has a tendency to, or be inconsistent with, our real happiness: and therefore, till we are as much informed upon this inquiry as the weight of the matter, and the nature of the case demands, we are, by the necessity of preferring and pursuing true happiness as our greatest good, obliged to suspend the satisfaction of our desires in particular cases. (emphasis my own).

Here is the source of where I found it if you're interested in reading more.

Jun 25, 12 10:33 pm

donna - the joke when I was in school was that if you were an artist and a conservative, you went into architecture.  I remember during the run-up to the 2000 election I was very surprised to learn how many people in my office were planning on voting for W.

Jun 25, 12 10:43 pm

although - the people I know who do very "contextual" (i.e.  stylistically "traditional") smaller scale projects tend to be pretty crunchy.

Jun 25, 12 10:47 pm

Brian, I have this quote, which I like very much, in a Keynote presentation I have not yet given. 

 Do not mistake, there are tethers; we do not float free.  But my choice is to bind myself to my neighbor for our common benefit, and not to a system, not to a party, not to a nation, not to an abstracted calculation called “market” or an abstracted materialism called “property,” and not to the society privileging those who make money from my need for money. - Douglas Storm

Jun 25, 12 11:38 pm

"Overall, I find architects not the most politically engaged group. We are somewhat informed, but don't have the time/interest to participate further than a vague statement of intent.

i've attempted to be politically engaged in the past. i'm sure my efforts were considered cute by those who are actually welcomed to the party, i.e., those who give money. I'm informed, have the interest and (sometimes) the time, but since i don't write many checks, i don't have much voice. maybe architects just don't have enough shareable wealth to be politically engaged?   

Jun 26, 12 7:27 am

Are architects liberal? Whoring yourself out to dubai and china and not paying your interns seems pretty conservative to me. 

Jun 26, 12 8:27 am

these large firms, like the general working class, tend to vote against their own economic self-interests. how can you be so short sighted and vote AGAINST the things that we as a country need more of; infrastructure, public schools, etc, just for a short term tax savings, that will only lead to more pain down the road?? i don't get it.

i used to be a limbaugh conservative, 20 years ago, but the reality of the incessant bullshit and lies perpetrated the right lead me to be a lefty. although, in terms of our military, i am a hawk; in every sense of that word. intelligent, precise, and vicious.

Jun 26, 12 9:05 am

Steve Ward nails it.  In America, politics is really a matter of money.  Voting is practically worthless as you're limited to two choices, both of whom are primarily beholden to their financial backers.  These candidates are already bought or soon will be.  In a ca$h democracy, who wins?


Jun 26, 12 9:26 am

I sort of assumed it had to do with the fact that architecture is dominated by mostly urban work environments, and liberal people live in urban settings... Judging by recent electoral maps... i think cities might be the only place liberals live...

Jun 26, 12 9:40 am

i think lletdownl you are closer to the truth than any of the other people making woefully stereotypical assumptions and generalizations about social values, intelligence, and creativity.

Jun 26, 12 9:54 am

I wonder if there is a strong correlation between the urban density of where a person lives and income/social values/intelligence/creativity

Jun 26, 12 11:02 am

Because you didn't attend Notre Dame.

Jun 26, 12 12:09 pm

liberal architects + conservative clients = ?

Jun 26, 12 2:10 pm

I wonder if there is a strong correlation between the urban density of where a person lives and income/social values/intelligence/creativity

we're discussing a mechanistic connection, not correlations

Jun 26, 12 2:29 pm

liberal architects + conservative clients = ?


... Most of the forgettable architecture in America?

Jun 26, 12 2:55 pm

liberal architects + conservative clients = bravo reality show?

Jun 26, 12 3:59 pm

The non-ironic self congratulation in this thread is ROFLMAO.

Jun 26, 12 4:07 pm
i r giv up

what gw said.

Jun 26, 12 4:57 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

"A government who robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul."

-George Bernard Shaw

Jun 26, 12 5:09 pm

"a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"

-John Ray

Jun 26, 12 5:38 pm

"A government who needlessly and cynically enriches Peter on the backs of Paul and the other 99% can always count on Paul and the other 99% to vote for a new government"


Jun 26, 12 5:39 pm

"i like to get mole on my enchiladas when i can..."

-Franklin Delano Roosevelt 

Jun 26, 12 5:49 pm

"because I overcompensate my inability to understand complex systems with sheer smugness and taking my coffee with shit in it."

-Rusty Shackleford

Jun 26, 12 5:51 pm

"don't get sentimental, it always ends up drivel"

-Thom Yorke

Jun 26, 12 5:53 pm
i r giv up

"i like turtles"

-MF Genius Kid.

Jun 26, 12 5:58 pm

"Go to Rome, go to Paris, go to London. Those cities are centuries old. They're thriving. They're clean. They work. Our oldest cities are brand new compared to them and yet… go to New York, drive through downtown Washington, go to Detroit, go to Philadelphia. What's wrong with us?"

-Ross Perot


Jun 26, 12 6:54 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

"If you think you know what the hell is going on, you're probably full of shit.”

-Robert Anton Wilson

Jun 26, 12 7:01 pm

"90 percent of the putts left short don't go in."

-Yogi Berra

Jun 26, 12 7:09 pm

"I refuse to post on here until my chickens return me my bourbon."

-Donna Sink

Jun 26, 12 7:17 pm

"Put a cork in it, Zane!"

-Derek Zoolander

Jun 26, 12 7:26 pm

"I am a jelly doughnut."

- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Jun 26, 12 7:33 pm

because architects want to be separated from engineers

Jun 26, 12 8:38 pm

"because architects want to be separated from engineers"


Jun 26, 12 8:42 pm

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