editorial     Apr 27 2016

Architectural Identity

By Evan Smith
Mapos Designer

Renowned Architect Frank Gehry giving the finger to a journalist at a press conference in Oviedo.

Photo source: http://archinect.com/forum/thread/130516532/the-worst-building-in-the-world-awards



Weeks ago, as I sat in the auditorium at The Cooper Union for an architecture lecture, I found myself engulfed in a sea of black…

This had me thinking about the stigma society has of Architects.  Have we, ourselves as Architects and Designers, bought into this stereotype?

Society has perceived Architects as individuals with big egos, hypercritical taste, and semi, above average, intellect.  Hollywood has created the image of Architects to match these characteristics, but how much truth is there in image?

Architects wear black. 

While not all architects wear black, it is the unspoken uniform of the profession.  Architects wear black to express their individuality in comparison to the environment.  Black is simple, yet formal.  It is a response to the complex lifestyle of the Architect.  Yet, from the outside, someone must have died.

“Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy – But Mysterious.  But above all black says this:  ‘I don’t bother you – don’t bother me.”

Yohji Yamamoto,

Japanese Fashion Designer

Architects have attitude.

I agree, we might come across as know-it-alls, however, it is simply the fact that our field of work requires knowledge about everything.  As you talk to us we are trying to consider all ramifications of that change order, budget cut, or Jay-Z’s reaction to Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Our personalities are a reaction to constant change, in-the-moment thinking, the multitude of people we deal with, and the never-ending database of information we must maintain.   It is no coincidence that Architects can thus be the life of the party.

Le Corbusier / Photo source: Photo by Letburii, http://weheartit.com/entry/50946677/in-set/100288394-le-corbusier?context_user=letburii

Walter Gropius / Photo source: http://www.quotationof.com/walter-gropius.html Author Unknown

Architects exude wealth.

Contrary to Hollywood’s perception of architects, we are not all millionaires, but we do have taste.  Design isn’t always about dollar signs, but about the statement you make with it.  The Architect’s life is often used as the canvas of the “renaissance man.” Sometimes society misinterprets our academic and aesthetic nature for wealth.

While many of us [un]knowingly uphold this image, this doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.  At the end of the day, we aren’t that serious (just ask Frank).