I am fortunate to have been offered a teaching position at Fairmont State University last fall.
Live the life you want to be living, and this will become your life. As I wanted to become a better architect, draw more, and allow creativity into my daily practice, I found this opportunity to grow through academia. This semester I am teaching both freshman and seniors, who in four years have different expectations of their work. They approach the work of creativity by different means. Freshmen are getting comfortable starting a process, of drawing for example, without knowing what the end result may be. Seniors may be expecting something of their project result, and may want to reach the end too quickly to be able to present a final project during critique.
It makes me wonder about the profession as a whole, teaching students of architecture to work in a profession that doesn’t lend itself to much exploration through the process. The idea of architectural service is becoming more engaged in the voice of a large community. Architects are more collaborator than singular practitioners. Where does this taught ability of exploration find itself in the professional world? As an architect who has been managing large projects for the last few years, my role in the office has become one of a coordinator, and not a person who produces the work directly by drawing. I engage others to draw, explore, and build the set we will use to bid and construct the project. Collaboration means that a lot of time is spent emailing to remind consultants, calling the owner to keep the lines of communication clear, organizing and hosting 5-hour long phone calls so that all of the designers (interior, graphic, landscape, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, energy consultants, etc.) may be listening to one another in order to work together. It is not the work I was doing to get my degree. In a communities’ mind, the value of an architect has shifted. While we have an understanding of code compliancy and structural limits, the value of providing a built aesthetic is waining.
As my position of being an architect changes, new opportunities present themselves. Instead of only offering a service as an architect, my perceived abilities now include teaching architecture. How lucky am I to get back to the source of my interest? My research process includes reading, writing, and drawing. To share this with people of different perspectives is a joy. In the next week I will be discussing Smart Cities with the senior students of Fairmont State University. This is in response to Architect magazine’s article here. What is a Smart City to you? Does it include more or less of the available technology we have today?
The process of finding that architecture school teaches a student is a valuable life lesson.