I can’t help but be excited about the future of architecture. It seems to me that, generally speaking, the young architects-in-training (no, not interns!) of today are hell-bent on making our profession better in ways that most people who have already “arrived” don’t understand. And at the same time, with the speed at which technology is changing our practice, we are all wondering if there’s even going to be something to do once the young blood arrives. I mean, computers have already made our jobs so easy, what will be left to do?
Of course the last part is a joke, and if you’ve worked in the profession for very long, you know that is an antiquated view and technology has only given us even more fine-grain control over every little aspect of our projects. In other words, technology hasn’t made things easier, it has in fact created more work for us to do. The plan sets that get submitted to code officials are no longer 30 sheets which were enough to create a dialog with the builder. No, not anymore. I mean, the set of drawings for my latest project is over 600 30"x42" sheets deep (and counting). It goes in at the end of April for a 9-month review cycle during which we will undoubtedly produce even more drawings.
There’s no shortage of things to do and technology is not going to be replacing us any time soon. There are many professions that are worried about this probability. While it may make certain decision-making processes easier, the fact is that we are drawing more and more instead of being smart about it. On top of that, the contractor/architect war only exacerbates the process of C.Y.A. mentality.
Those issues aside, there’s so much for future architects to look forward to! My advice has to do with what you can do to make the profession better instead of blindly accepting what it is.
You can make this profession better if you choose to, and you have already exhibited this skill. You care more about yourselves and your profession than past generations have. You don’t simply take our answers for granted. You question them (sometimes endlessly). I love this about you. You don’t accept “that’s the way we do things around here” for an answer. It is obvious that you care, but I’m telling you that you’re going to have to care even more. Caring is what is going to change this profession for the better.
The best architects care: They care about the meaning in the work they do, they care about making their communities better, they care about their work/life balance, they care about the shared experience, they care about office culture, they care about solving good problems, and they care about true leadership.
Technology can’t replace this part of humanity, and humanity is what architecture is all about. While a building may be able to be 3d printed in the future, this isn’t going to make buildings inherently better. It may give us architects more control over the process, but we still need to solve the problems that real people have with space and shelter. We need to listen to what people need and synthesize what we hear, often times from a multitude of inputs, into thoughtful responses. It is this, I believe, which you will be better at than your mentors.
Do everything you can to care for others, and in turn it will serve you and your chosen profession in ways that you probably can, but us in the older generations can’t even imagine. Then let me know how I can help you.