Startling the 2013 architecture students at Harvard University, musician Kanye West showed up and riffed on Oprah Winfrey, “utopia,” and “self-realization.” Young ears perked up when Mr. West proclaimed, “. . . everything needs to actually be architected.”
So many books with so many beautiful photos of architecture; so many coffee-table books of extraordinary designs, heroic forms, and exquisite details. When approached about creating a book on our work, I hesitated. I did not want to propose yet another catalog of glossy pictures. If I were to offer a monograph (as this type of book is often called) to a broad audience of design enthusiasts, I wanted this book to tell a story, to display our creative journey and hopefully prove a thesis or two.
The design industry often states that the career of an architect doesn’t truly begin until age 50. Why are architects only commencing a successful career when colleagues in other industries are planning their retirements?
How is it possible that Mozart wrote his first symphony at eight? Or at a mere 18, Billie Eilish won five Grammy Awards. On the other hand, I.M. Pei (link) was an elder at 66 when he was awarded the Pritzker Prize. He was even older, 71 years, when he designed the world-famous Louvre Pyramid.
In my high school days, I worked at the Gap. The sales training stated this golden rule, “The customer is always right.” But in the business of architecture, is the customer always right?
Architects are hired to deliver a design that will suit the client’s needs. But an architect is also retained for a creative vision, and such a vision, often a personal one to the architect, could be at odds with the client’s wishes.
I am pleased to be a guest on Christopher Kai’s podcast, The Gifters: Your Story is a Gift to the World. As a global speaker, author, and executive coach, Mr. Kai speaks to Fortune 100 companies, from Google to New York Life, from American Express to Merrill Lynch. His podcast “shares inspiring stories from captivating entrepreneurs and extraordinary individuals who are changing the world.”
As earthquakes and fires challenge our complacency, as a decade concludes, the design industry confronts transitions and shifting grounds. No, not trends in popular paint colors. And not faux-Cape-Cod homes on the west side. Architecture is one of the few remaining noble fields where those who choose to participate do so because architecture has the capacity to change the world.