Monday, March 19, 2012

Missed the Boat?

When the economy tanked and the profession sent into chaos, the question myself and my friends faced was not, "when will we work again", but "where we work again?" I found myself back at home, as my original plans to return to New York evaporated with the imaginary billions of Wall Street. Others I knew waited months, even almost a year, trying to find that elusive new position. And a few more, well, they didn't have a choice. They picked up and found themselves someplace new.

Reading this, today, in the NYTimes, reminded me of that time - when I was faced with options I never imagined or wanted. Our profession has been radically altered; I entered thinking that, after school, I would find a job in a reputable firm, work my way up, and one day find myself a partner, looking back on the years dedicated and the projects accomplished. Anyone reading this knows that wasn't the case. And, as the articles I have recently posted reflect, this hasn't been the case for many now coming into our fold.

I wonder if, now, "where they build" will be far away. If China, or Dubai, or India, will be the land of opportunity, experimentation, innovation. If we will find more and more of our graduates abroad because, while we continue to train plenty, we can't come up with jobs for them once they leave. I wonder if will export our best talent because, well, there isn't anything keeping them here.

I wonder, also, if I missed the boat. If I am on my current path because it was safe. I ask myself if I could, like those in the article, pick up and move - not just to a new state, but a new country. And I am freaking Chinese. Granted, I can't speak, can't read, and my cultural markers make me whiter than most, but still. It seems like, of anyone, I would be in a prime position to catch the wave of the next frontier.

Granted, it's not as though all my problems would be solved by a trip overseas. I am sure one set of problems would be traded for another. But life is dealing with problems; it just that, some problems you enjoy solving. I am still trying to figure out if the problems I have now are better than those I could have somewhere else.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Making the Rounds

This has been making the rounds amongst architects and their blogs....Something to think about.

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

You are what you...teach?

I have to admit this: sometimes I can't believe I teach. Particularly about Architecture. After all, if you scan this blog, it is a rare moment for me to speak about the virtues of the profession. Mostly, my stories are filled with the disappointment, the frustration, the harsh realities that our profession has somehow kept secret.

When I started this blog, I thought I could, through my experiences, shed some light upon certain misconceptions. I thought, perhaps, this blog could help others understand what the education asks, the profession asks, of those who enter. Basically, I hoped I could enlighten people of the things I wish I would have been informed of years ago.

But, as the years passed, I found myself on detours that took me farther away from where I thought I should be. My blog reflected this; looking back on my entries, I now realize that the questions concerning me weren't about what type of professional I might be, but whether or not I should be a part of this profession. And then, I just fell off the face of the earth.

Perhaps, from this short history, you can understand why I find myself rather dumbfounded concerning my current circumstances. I find myself in front of students, encouraging them, challenging them, to imagine the possibilities of not only their work, but their future lives as architecture professionals. And while I am forthright about my own experiences, I never discourage these fresh faces from pursuing their dreams. I find myself, surprisingly, an enabler.

I am both Jekyll and Hyde. I can be incensed about our continually changing certification requirements one second, excited about detailing a stair railing the next. I ponder whether or not I have the stamina to continue on in the profession, but undoubtedly have an opinion on any design you ask me about. I am a dissenter and an advocate.

But, as Jekyll was forced to wonder, which is my true self? Am I one who will, five years from now, be set upon some other task, some other work, which finds me looking at Architecture from afar? Or will I be, as I am now, hard at work, hoping to make something someone will love. Am I the person I see in this blog, or the person I hear speaking to my students? Right now, both seem equally likely. I wonder which will win out.

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