ARCHITECTURE IS CONTINGENT Architecture is a largely untapped medium for exploring the potential of human interactions and contributing to the texture of the urban world around us. While there is an art to making architecture, architecture is not art. Art is inexpensive, quick to make, materially simplistic, and answers to nobody. Architecture, on the other hand, is expensive, takes time to make, is complex, and answers to everyone. It is contingent upon a wide swath of information, forces, and flows. While it is formal in nature, it is impregnated with and layered upon by dozens of systems that ideally work together in a harmonic assemblage. Architectural knowledge should be used to make social and spatial sense.
ARCHITECTURE IS SHAPED BY IT'S LIMITATIONS Economics, site, context, budget, labor, available materials, and sustainability are just a few of the constraints that affect architecture through the process from beginning to end. Architecture should leverage its various constraints in an effort to subvert, seduce, transgress, and wow those that rely upon it every day. Otherwise, they are just dumb buildings.
ARCHITECTURE IS NOT LINEAR The napkin sketch that results in a skyscraper is a silly notion at best. Buildings are complicated, and the path to produce it does is not linear or rigid. From conception to construction & through its multiple life cycles, architecture is never static.
THERE IS NO "I" IN T-E-A-M Architecture is not produced by a single individual with a magic pen and matching cape. There are way too many things that must be considered, decided upon, coordinated, drawn, tested, and revisited before it's all over. This takes an army of persistent and organized individuals and their collaborators to cross the finish line. Even the worst office building in history had no less than half a dozen people involved in its conception. Now think about a good one.
PERFECTION IS A SILLY NOTION There is no such thing as a perfect piece of architecture. Architecture is a physical manifestation of a problem, or rather a series of problems at a given point in time. In order to "solve" the problem, decisions must be made in an established order of priority. Prioritization implies limitations. Not every problem will be solved, and even if they could be, these problems will change over time. Architecture is a 'wicked problem'.
TIME NEVER STOPS Much to the chagrin of architects, time never stops. As soon as a building is built, it begins falling apart. Over the course of a building life cycle, a substantial portion of the building will be incrementally replaced. This means that we architects have an obligation to consider the building after it is completed. We must consider how to extend the life of the building, and anticipate ways to facilitate both maintenance and upgrades. Why? Because building and operating a building accounts for nearly half of gross annual carbon emissions worldwide. Sustainability is not building new LEED buildings, it's sustaining the buildings we have, and adapting them as needed.
CLIENTS AND USERS ARE NOT ALWAYS THE SAME Compared to art, architecture is expensive. Few architects have patrons; most have clients. However clients, are not necessarily the end users. Despite the codependent relationship between architects and their clients, architects must keep the end users in mind. This is the only way to facilitate actual use, reduce waste, and give back to our fellow humans in a truly meaningful way that is devoid of ego & vanity.
THE WORLD IS CHANGING Making typological assumptions about what your office, your house, or your roof deck should be before you have examined how you live and work in this rapidly changing society is a mistake. Just because your parents or friends live and work one way doesn't mean you must follow suit. Design should work for you, not against you.
A GOOD ARCHITECT IS ON YOUR SIDE Spending hours watching HGTV or tagging a thousand images on Pinterest may sound like a great idea when you decide to embark on a new project, but it will only lead to confusion and disappointment. It is good to have an idea of what types of things you are drawn to, but expecting an architect to stitch them all together into a monster is ill-advised. We are all familiar with stories of vain and narcissistic architects convincing you of things you don't want, don't need, or can't afford. This is a practice of yesteryear, and any good architect today knows that the best architecture is produced with the end user and the budget in mind. Architects have an ability to absorb, sort, and use what works and what doesn't to make a cohesive design for the program you have agreed upon. It's what they go to bed thinking about at night, so try not to suffocate them and let them do their job.
ARCHITECTURE SHOULD BE CONTEMPORARY We do not leave the house in powdered wigs or platform shoes anymore. Not only is it impractical, it is out of step with the times. Architecture should reflect the society and lifestyle in which we live, not serve as a nostalgia machine. It should reflect the advancements in materials, technology, communications, and engineering. It is only by moving forward that we can head into the future.
ARCHITECTURE IS NOT LIMITED TO BUILDINGS Architecture is a door to the world of design all around us. This includes not just "machines for living" but the guts of those machines, as well as the larger urban context in which they reside. The color and material of the couch is as important as the placement of the windows, the type of shower head in the bathroom, or the relationship to the street. All things must be considered.