Monday, September 23, 2013

So what would I like for my birthday?

This week, Guy and I turn 45 and 38 respectively (for those new to WAD, my husband and I have the same birthday). I have a few professional engagements to attend to the first half of the week, and then we'll be in Paris, Bruges, and London for about a week and a half. As is our custom, we prefer to take a trip together rather than buy each other something for our birthdays.

We're all familiar with the trouble of buying gifts for other adults. What do you get someone that would be useful, and they'd like it, and it's not too expensive for you to buy? And what do you get someone like Guy and me, who try really hard not to have a lot of stuff around? (Living in a condo will make you edit your possessions, though not as much as we probably should edit them.) Guy and I get out of this conundrum with each other by taking a trip for our birthday, but Christmas becomes more problematic. Usually, we either get the other person a gift card, or we send each other a web link to the exact thing we like. Yes, it's anticlimactic and totally expected, but what it lacks in surprise, it makes up for in appreciation for the effort and follow-through.

But in my personal and professional malaise this summer (for which I am indeed receiving professional help, thanks for asking, but for which I'm also trying desperately not to have to take medication), I've been wondering what I want, what I really really want (thanks, Spice Girls). A gift should be unexpected, delightful, and useful, and it should be appreciated all the time, not just on the day of its receipt. So what gift would I most like to receive?

I'd like to see my profession rise back to a level of real respect and respectability. 

I'd like to see us get paid what we're worth and not constantly be worn down by the pressures of clients that can't figure out why it costs so much to have a skilled professional design a building such that you won't have leaks, get sued, or have huge utility bills, and so you'll be able to use it for decades to come (or sell it easily if you need to do so). I'd like to see clients stop asking us to shave off our services like doing a full assessment of your existing building is optional. I'd like to see clients stop thinking they can do my job because they watched a three-day marathon of Trading Spaces. The doctors I work with hate it when you come to them with your pre-diagnosed disease that you got off of WebMD, but they can't see the irony when they come to me having done the same thing with a crude sketch they made from a free download of Google SketchUp; nothing you just drew meets any building code known to the state of Wyoming, so knock it off. I'm drawing what I'm drawing because it's the right thing to do to give you a space that meets codes as well as human comfort and ease of use. I'm not trying to draw "fancy" stuff and indicate "fancy" finishes because I want to turn your building's lobby into the Waldorf Astoria--it's because these are the right finishes for the space that will wear well and that align with your original vision of having a hospitality-like "classy" building.  And speaking of building costs, I'd like to see the contractors I work with not turn every goddamn project into design-build. Every time I insist that the finishes and designs really are going to be the best in the long run, I get accused of jacking up the price to the owner.  And I know who's gonna win that little pointing contest. So much for being "team players."

But the biggest thing I'd like to see is architects themselves taking the reins back. I'd like to see us stop writing, speaking, and designing for other architects and start writing, speaking, and designing for the world. I'd like to see us really reach out to people who have never heard the work "architectonics" and don't give a fuck who Kenneth Frampton is. I'd like to see us use words that an 11th grader would use, not because I think the average non-architect is dumb, but because we need to use real, clear language with the world if we're going to explain to them (and convince them) why what we do is important and more relevant than ever, and why we need to be paid accordingly and respected and given the space to do that work.

Seeing architecture truly own the 21st century: that's the gift that keeps on giving.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant, hilarious and everything I wished I could have said! You are the best and deserve the best!

Glad you are back, Pixeh.

Architect Timmy said...

I'm now bowing down to you for that last paragraph ... bloody brilliant, if I have to hear any more f-ing archibable BS my head might explode.

WG said...

I'VE GOT IT!!!! (trust yur mother to find the perfect gift!)


St. Blogwen said...

God, really.

I'd like to add that I'd like it if all those firms wanting cyber-techie types would stop advertising for system- software- cellular- etc. etc. "architects." Makes a search for a real architecture job on a site like Monster about impossible.

Unknown said...


A text about women based on ancient sources is being compiled and may become a complete book in a month or two. In short, it states that:

“Every woman considers herself an individual. In vain, as regardless of race, ethnicity, profession and so on, no woman is an individual. Every woman lives as man programmed her to live, as it is convenient for him, as he wants her to. But, women do not even suspect who produces images for what they consider their "Self," and why. Men’s intent is simple: to have total control over the psyche and the physiology of any woman because an image is the basis of functioning of any person. Providing an image to a woman ensures that she will live and function strictly according to this image. Also, an image is the basis for control of any person, as well as the basis of knowledge about her/him. Men create images. Therefore, they know exactly what image is behind this or that behavior of a woman. But, women are sure that images that they use (including for construction of their "Self-Image," that they consider their individuality) are a secret. In other words, men achieved what they wanted: from potential goddesses, women were made into logs, a resource, a consumable material from which a man can make whatever he likes. Even a quick historical review, readily available statistics make it clear that women are allowed only into already constructed and functioning system built by men. And, women are allowed to act only based on and within images that the system dictates. Women lost the "war between the sexes." Since the time of birth women are being made into logs with legs spread wide, as an indication of their main purpose—to participate in the reproduction of the human race, and be pleasant toys in the hands of men. Most important is to not forget to tell women, who "love through their ears," that they are wonderful, priceless, how much men love them and depend on them. Long ago women were programmed to believe in any nonsense, instead of seeing and analyzing facts (as well as history).” Full version is available online for free, just search for “A Log With Legs Spread Wide” or ISBNs 9781311155771 & 9781311915603.

What specific opposing arguments can you provide? What do you think about the information? How do you think about it? What are you going to do about it? Do you think this information will be of interest not only to you, but other women as well? Is there any mention of this in various women’s movements, communities, parties? Thanks in advance!


Small Town said...

Been a while, thought I'd check in and see what's up in the big bad healthcare architect world. GREAT POST! Amen and hallelujahs!