There are going to be quite a few architects I’ll be interviewing for Creative Finishes project, and I already know that the most interesting of them will not being doing what architects seemingly are supposed to do. They’re using a specialized set of talents in more general ways, not building buildings but interacting with the built environment and anything else that require their design skill set. So many architects are smarter than they realize, and especially smarter than what the educational institutions and professional organizations know. Architects can do other things. I just wish those directing and creating the occupation of Architecture knew that or even admitted that.

Back in 2010, I met Maia Small, who is both architect and educator. She had recently launched a Tumblr site (now gone, apparently) of Architects of Other Things. It was a marvelous list of all these people who got an architectural education and then went on to do other things. The training for architecture is incredibly applicable to the broader world but the world of architects seems to be getting smaller and smaller, app by app eating away at what used to be their realm.

This was a big issue for me while on the AIA board. They were obsessing over the parts of the occupation that will inevitably be automated and almost ignoring those talents that cannot be automated. While on the board, they increased the number of HSW (Health, Safety, Welfare) credits necessary to maintain licensure. I have no issue with an architect’s skill in measurable things being at sufficient competence. Like most people, I want buildings to stay standing up. I just don’t care about buildings that stay standing but are boring. I wanted less HSW, more poetry. I wanted Architects to be more interesting, and thereby their buildings be more interesting. Someday, machines will be more than capable of making boxes (machines for living, as the arrogant phrasing went) but I’m thinking they’ll be less capable of making beautiful buildings. No one is going to love boxes made by machines – and as I heard Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity, “The most sustainable building is a building that is loved.”