Everyday Miracles: Small Steps and Big Moves

Feast Day May 26

It’s the first anniversary of ThePatronSaintofArchitecture!  A virtual festival to celebrate a year of growth and discovery with all of you, loyal readers from literally every part of the world!  I started this blog to explore the severe disconnect between the work we all want to do and what it feels like is available for us to do. 

As someone who believes that you can design a bus stop and not only have a blast doing it but also innovate the way we understand that type of space, I couldn’t help but believe that my personal crisis of inspiration had less to do with the kind of projects I was working on than the way those projects were managed both internally and externally.  My minor in business and concentration in psychology of habitation and sociology kicked in and I started to really observe how firms market themselves and execute projects. 

What I noticed was that our inspiration isn’t being squashed by all of the things we typically identify: demanding clients, changing delivery methods, new practice requirements, a crappy boss.  It’s being squashed by our own limiting thoughts about what we really want to accomplish.  With all of this floating around in my head as well as the conviction that as architects we can embrace a better way, ThePatronSaintofArchitecture was launched on May 26, 2010 to celebrate the power of design and joy of creation.  (you may now eat your virtual funnel cake).

I’d like to invite you to join the procession through some of our biggest themes of the past year (and visit the hyperlinks to explore previous posts on these themes in more detail):

Set your intention
You can’t give voice to other’s needs until you find your own.  Avoid becoming an architecture bliss-ninny by getting in touch with your values as a designer and the reason you became an architect.  What do you believe about good design?  When was the last time you felt inspired? Explore the enzymes that catalyze your natural creativity into inspiration for innovation to reclaim your creative voice and draw clients and staff into your passion for what you do.

Share the spirit of design
We often fear our clients, believing that we must appease them and started to really pay attention to that dynamic as well. However, when your work and the way you approach projects is in alignment with what you believe about design, clients are drawn to that.  Do it consistently enough and you will actually be sought out by clients who specifically embrace your vision and want you to shake a little of your fairy dust on their project. It’s confidence that inspires and we must never let our clients lose sight of the end goal- a great project

Understand the culture and the community
That pre-design phase is the single biggest differentiator of a mediocre and great project. learning how to tame the many-headed monster of a large client with lots of silos and specialty departments.  So is learning to translate between what a client really wants and what they are actually saying.

Have mercy on the end user
The best projects are the ones that resonate with the people who have to live, work, play or heal in them every day.  Understanding their point of view transforms what would otherwise just be sculpture into architecture.  Do what no other art form can do- design for the fourth and fifth dimensions (time and light).

Many are called
The practice of architecture has changed, becoming both more broad-based and more specialized and certainly more integrated- sustainability, evidence based design, biophilic design, and new construction delivery methods can actually be used to enrich design when we embrace them as part of our process instead of viewing them as distractions.  Don’t fall for the trick that design is an isolated individual experience.  You are an architect not a painter.  Your art has to work.  It s not born from late nights before a deadline and a great unveiling ceremony.  You cannot, no matter how great the talent, conjure up the perfect design based solely on your instincts.  Seeing the value of evidence based design, sustainability, integrated project delivery and many other trends affecting the design and construction industry to improve and inform the design process as well as as a means to convince your client of the value of your design decisions is the path to salvation. and dismiss the distraction of messy user requests, budget annoyances, team relationship issues.

Use your gifts
When you fail to know yourself and what you uniquely can offer, your desperation causes you to focus on winning instead of creating.  How many times has our profession been undermined from within by a relentless need to compete, to get any job at any cost? Swim to more placid waters where you can focus on creating great work that those swimming in the bloody water of the shark tank don’t have the energy to do.  Let them devour themselves consuming ever scarcer resources while you focus on the abundance of limitless possibility.

Look for some exciting new features and resources in the next few weeks, including ways to work with me to sharpen your own career vision or the vision for your next project.  I hope you will continue to share your insights and stories with everyone (use the intentions page to help our community manifest your answers) as we look for guidance in navigating a profession that for many of us is actually a vocation.