It occurred to me recently that the profession of architecture is the only field that I know of that celebrates, even embraces, the success of completing a task that doesn’t get completed. Yes… that doesn’t get completed. There are numerous award competitions in the world of architecture rewarding architects for their ability to design a project that doesn’t get built. Funny, huh? Here’s $2,000 for your efforts and your wonderful design of a building and oh, by the way, it’s a beautiful rendering but it will never actually be built. You won’t really make any money and you probably didn’t even get paid that much to do the ‘pretty pictures’ (actually hours and hours of thoughtful and detailed decisions to even schematically come up with a design), but hey, let’s celebrate and give you an award.
A client of mine reflects often that it amazes him how much time architects put into projects without getting paid, just to attempt to get the project. Doctors, lawyers, even accountants do not do that. They may choose to provide gratis work out of the goodness of their hearts, but it is not necessary or expected by society to do so.
Architecture is different. Expectations are different and in order for us to be successful, the ‘concept’ is sometimes our greatest tool. It may not buy us that Maserati, but it is what gets us up in the morning. I’ve always said that architects’ biggest problem is that we love what we do so much. Having said that, I’ll take the built project over the pretty picture any day of the week.
IMAGE SOURCE: Vincent Callebaut Architectures