Future for Irish Architects..

Future for Irish Architects..

Postby garyion » Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:22 am

After reading Frank McDonalds Article in the weekends Irish Times, it appears that there is a massive shift in Architecture Landscape in Ireland.

An extension to the pain - The Irish Times - Sat, Jun 06, 2009
It includes coverage of Douglas Wallace and
an innovative program in UCD called Now What?

I am curious as to how the RIAI are responding to current problem? Are there support structures in place to assist architects in their time of need?

Also if architects are considering moving into other areas of art / design including
- furniture / industrial design (I attended the recent Interior Design & Art Fair in the RDS and Irish Furniture needs an architects touch)
- Digital Media & Design Interaction
- Art / Sculpture / Installation?
- Inventing new products?

companies like
troika
Front Studio
MATERIALECOLOGY Design Research by Neri Oxman

What needs to be done to help one another out?
What do the RIAI need to focus on?
Any suggestions of areas where architectural skill can be reapplied?
garyion
 
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby missarchi » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:30 am

Do you have a 3d printer? We got a 3d scanner but I have not played with it yet:D

garyion wrote:After reading Frank McDonalds Article in the weekends Irish Times, it appears that there is a massive shift in Architecture Landscape in Ireland.

An extension to the pain - The Irish Times - Sat, Jun 06, 2009
It includes coverage of Douglas Wallace and
an innovative program in UCD called Now What?

I am curious as to how the RIAI are responding to current problem? Are there support structures in place to assist architects in their time of need?

Also if architects are considering moving into other areas of art / design including
- furniture / industrial design (I attended the recent Interior Design & Art Fair in the RDS and Irish Furniture needs an architects touch)
- Digital Media & Design Interaction
- Art / Sculpture / Installation?
- Inventing new products?

companies like
troika
Front Studio
MATERIALECOLOGY Design Research by Neri Oxman

What needs to be done to help one another out?
What do the RIAI need to focus on?
Any suggestions of areas where architectural skill can be reapplied?


Some well placed court cases might create work for lawyers and architects and the only other profession that has clients;)
A start might be double degrees... IE your an engineer and an architect or an architect and a planner or an architect and psychoanalist... we have them here along similar lines...
Designing banking systems with IF statements...
Or the architects court of law... Architects are on commission like parking inspectors your design is not good enough go directly to jail and there are no licenses required just on the spot fines and clamping! College green is a crime scene this is going to a decade to investigate and will be closed in the mean time.
Or the architects Union if there is such a thing...
Fixed minimum fee rates and any project must be paid through the RIAI as the middle man? with all payments made public and deposits upfront...
Minimum wage minimum hourly rate all paid via the RIAI as the middle man...
Fixed pensions...

are you creating your own virus/database or something with those links?
http://www.bit.lyjzjgd could not be found. Please check the name and try again.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/christian-s/2536076355/sizes/l/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/assez_d_eau/367495785/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/2179125407/sizes/o/
missarchi
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby garethace » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:13 pm

I decided to divide my response into two parts for clarity sake.

Response, Part One

Just eight months earlier, Douglas Wallace was still in expansionist mode and talking about acquiring an architectural practice in Prague.



It is not so long ago since I was standing in wellington boots beside Seanie Fitzpatrick watching a building being construction in the docklands. A lot has indeed changed in such a short space of time. But heh, I am still optimistic. I think Ireland as a nation will do a lot better when it has less time to analyze and more time to focus itself on some important driving problem. The idea of studio space out in UCD, while a step in the right direction, is nowhere near grand enough in scale. We do need some problem that is large enough to encompass very many disciplines, and requires cooperation between them. At least, that is what I had in mind when I wrote the following:

http://designcomment.blogspot.com/2009/05/notes-on-smart-economy.html

I hope that the new North Wall Quay project in the future will build around some grand idea as I outlined in the blog. Rather than being so shrouded in secrecy and cloak n' dagger stuff. (On both sides) The following is really a chronology of various contributions and discussions I have had Archiseek, since the mishap of 'North Wall Quay' and the subsequent disintegration of a certain Dublin based developer's in-house design office. Maybe some people feel that a stake has been driven into the vampire? ? ? I don't agree, and as a consequence I had to write something. Frank McDonald has mis-diagnosed the problem. He is being fed very misleading information by a couple of well meaning established architects, who really don't know the full picture. Because they have never worked outside of architecture. Ali Grehan I do give credit to, as she has spent a lot of her career in the public service. She has brought some kind of 'new dimension' into the debate.

Frank McDonald and Grafton Architects have been getting air time to express their views on the architect's situation within Ireland since the 1980s. And quite frankly, they don't speak for me. I respect the views of all of them, I always listen. It is all worthwhile stuff. Frank's books are wonderful and so is Grafton's architecture. But in these times we need to find some new voices, especially when neither of them have worked in the development field. Another qualification I need to make is as follows. Far be it from me to instruct the likes of James Pike or Sean O' Laoire about recessions. There is nothing those guys don't already know. They could write the book about the ups and downs in the architectural trade. They are battle hardened veterans of the campaign to make private architectural consultancy viable in Ireland for the past half a century.

Last October we were discussing the Open House debate, Has Dublin Changed for the Better? A debate organised at Liberty Hall theatre by the Architectural Foundation of Ireland. It was a very well run affair and quite entertaining and informative, to be honest. Thumbs up.

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7197

At the debate that night, I listened to James Pike expressing his dismay at the current situation. It occured to me that Mr. Pike's is still trying to wrestle with the issue (even in his mature years) of why this keeps happening to me? I build up the consultancy practice, it is all going well and then wallop. Mr. Pike mentioned something about the fluctuations of the value of land being particularly problematic in Ireland. The urban land economist and architect, who works at Feasta described Ireland as 'the home of the free hold'. I encourage anyone at Archiseek who seriously wants to understand the Irish situation and do something about it, to pay attention to what is going on at Feasta and read their documents on land value taxation. One of the best basic tutorials I know on the subject of land taxation, is to be found here: Beating the Bust: Land Value Taxation by Dave Wetzel, 10th April 2008

http://www.feasta-multimedia.org/index.php

I met Dave after that lecture and we have become good correspondence friends since. Exchanging our views on a lot of different matters to do with design and planning. Dave told me he started his life as a bus conductor. I told him I flunked out of Bolton Street Architecture, and we seemed to hit it off. It is nice to bounce ideas off people from other places than our little island. Even if it is only through the limited medium of electronic mail. If you are the book-ish type, then investigate Balchin, Bull and Kieve's classic, Urban Land Economics and Public Policy. There is a particularly good chapter in that, which discusses the Labour party's attempts to introduce land value taxation in post WWII Britain. Readers of Kenneth Galbraith's book, the History of Economics will know that John Maynes Keynes was at the height of his popularity post WWII. The second world war still has a lot of influence I think on the context we live in today, regarding the architectural profession. I spoke about that much earlier in this thread.

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7607

I believe that professions such as engineering and cost control professionals received an artificial boost to their status as the result of the war. And that architects, in consequence lost a lot of theirs. I liked working for Liam Carroll because it afforded me a great opportunity to have a 'go back' at engineers and cost control personnel, in an equal terms setting. Because we all worked for the one company, all we could do was bawl at one another, and then get on with the job at hand. Another interesting development from WWII was project management, which I am most interested in myself. It really was the American ability to organise production efficiently under the influence of theories of John Maynard Keynes that helped to swing the war in the allies favour. An excellent document which I like myself, and it does give some insight into the 'roots' of the project management tradition can be found at Carnegie Mellon University website here:

http://pmbook.ce.cmu.edu/

I wish Grafton Architects would look at documents like this more often and discuss them in an open forum, as I did while working for Irish developers. Notice those lovely illustrations of shovels and pile drivers and drag lines etc. It feels like being back in the sand pit as a kid again, only this time you get to play around with higher maths equations. You get a sense of how this rigourous efficiency was held in high esteem later during the construction of Ballymun. You could even stretch the point and argue that Fianna Fail politics in Ireland is very much about the project management and construction ethos. Yvonne Farrel's comments in the Irish Times article would seem to back that up.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2009/0606/1224248155056.html

I tried to refine my own statements about Ireland the construction industry last December:

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=6798&page=4

I quoted Ali Grehan from her speech about Ballymun regeneration. A speech which owes a lot as I understand to an interpretation of Ballymun today, from a certain Boston based property developer, who circulated his opinions via correspondance to the authorities in charge. It was unfortunate that Ali gave her speech that night at Ballymun, without giving some note of credit to the said Boston based developer.

Bearing in mind what I have said about land value taxation, I spoke a little about the Urban Forum last February, and I complemented Frank McDonald on his excellent books. You can read it here:

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7393

The Urban Forum is a combined attempt by the Institute of Architects, Landscape Architects, Engineers, Chartered Surveyors and Planners to look at the national spatial strategy. There was a very good joint architecture and planning conference back in 1998 around the time of the Bacon Reports, on the issue of densification of development here in Ireland. A copy of the publication arising out of that conference is now available at the RIAI headquarters. I think in many ways, the 1998 conference was a test run for what the Urban Forum is attempting to do today. The Urban Forum is a clever invention. It allows the Department of the Environment to minimize on the amount of 'communication overhead' needed to enable bi-directional communication between itself and all of the 'land professions'. I like to use the expression 'land professions' because it sets it in context of James Pike's comments about fluctuations of land values in Ireland being central to our problem. Indeed, when I worked for Liam Carroll, I believed that having access to a large amount of land would guarantee me good employment. So did a lot of consultant architects.


Brian O' Hanlon
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby garethace » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:19 pm

Response, Part Two

All of the above is admirable. Whether you are going to spend the summer time discussing things at a UCD workshop, or prefer to hang out with the Urban Forum guys and talk even 'bigger stuff'. It is the same problem again and again. Since the end of the second world war, architecture across the war torn and backward continent of Europe found itself marginalized and on the extreme defensive. It is time the the profession received some therapy in this regard and re-engaged itself with the real world.

For that to work, the RIAI needs to employ the best business management expert(s).

To seriously try and figure out what is going on and where to throw our best efforts. If you haven't time to read the excellent book by professor Clayton Christensen, of the Harvard Business School: The Innovator's Solution, then it is worth taking the time to listen to his podcast here:

http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail135.html

Futhermore, innovation should become a mandatory subject taught in all architectural schools. That might even have helped a young delinquent such as myself, at an earlier age. I used to have Brian Tracy's Phoenix seminar cassette tapes pushed at me by people, when studying architecture in the early days. But oh no! I was much too cool for that. They were good tapes though, and still are.

http://www.phoenixseminar.org/

But I need to spend a number of paragraphs now developing a point about Clayton Christensen's book, The Innovator's Solution. Christensen looked at the phenomenon where huge American monolith's such as RCA, or Digital Equipment corporation suddenly collapsed. He said, if you looked at the history of those great American companies, the were very good at sustaining innovations. That is, each little improvement on existing technologies and products, they were on top of it. They never missed a beat. It was when something came out of nowhere, their culture wasn't able to react to it, they found themselves dead in the water. This is very like what has happened to architecture in Ireland. It is not enough to blame the current state of the architectural profession on the economy. There is more to it than that.

Christensen noted how a couple of years before the collapse of Digital Equipment Corporation, they had been winning all of the top awards in journals for their management skills. Of course, when DEC found itself up the creek without a paddle in the late 1980s, everyone blamed it on 'poor management'. Christensen asked the question, how could such great managers get so bad that quickly? Christensen developed his theory around the notion, that what killed the large American companies wasn't bad mangement. In fact, it was good management that killed those companies. His book, The Innovator's Solution goes on to explain that in further detail.

One of the examples I do like from Christensen's book, is the company who found part of its operations were loss leaders. They carried out the work, but they weren't making much money out of it. Then someone came up with a bright idea. Hey! Lets outsource the part that isn't making much money. We don't need that anyway. It is only making hassle for us, having to keep staff and retain expertise in that area. So you outsource it. It feels great, you have gotten rid of an Albatross around your neck. Your company is leaner, meaner and making more money than ever before. The guy who came up with the idea is given a promotion the boss is so satisfied now.

So on go the months, and guess what? Another part of the business is found, which we don't need. Hey, I know! Lets outsource that. It is not a crucial part of our 'core competency' and we will do much better without it. So the pattern continues, and this approach meets with success at every step of the way. The business is leaner and meaner than ever before, and the boss is so happy and all the salaries are raised. (Remember that quite large spike in architectural salaries towards the end of the building boom? I had an architectural student tell me that €500 per week wasn't enough. He wanted more money and less hours) Then finally, the business only manages and runs a single last piece. So the outsource people say, heh, why do you bother to keep running that. Why don't you let us take it over? We can do it much more cheaply and besides, you don't need the hassle. The boss says, great idea! He outsources the last piece and then it finally dawns on him: I am out of business, I have nothing left to do!

This happened a lot in the architectural profession in Ireland during the boom years. The site I was walking on with Mr. Fitzpatrick on North Wall Quay. The construction component was a 'loss leader' for the architect in that case. Guess what? We can outsource that part. There are other people abroad who can do it much more cheaply. We can give ourselves bonuses, and there will be other projects that will come along in the future. More fancy pictures, who needs staff to do construction drawings anyhow? The trouble is they gave away a component of work, where the business will be found in the future. Maybe it wasn't there during the Celtic Tiger years, but in the future construction drawing skills will be important. But large Irish architectural practices have outsourced that to Eastern Europe.

This can happen to a lot of very clever managers, as Clayton Christensen points out in his book. Intel corporation were going to give up their silicon manufacturing facilities a few years ago. They had great microchip designers and they believed their 'core competency' was in chip design. Then suddenly their chip designers hit a brick wall, they had not anticipated. Microchips couldn't be clocked any faster because their architecture was creating too much heat that computers cases simply couldn't dissipate fast enough. There were true stories about Pentium 4 laptops going on fire on peoples laps on planes etc. Then it became painfully obvious at Intel, that it needed to stay in the silicon manufacturing business, because that is where it could make itself money. Yet, at that time, their best and most experienced managers were planning to scrap the manufacturing end altogether.

There is a large architectural practice here in Dublin that I know quite well for a number of years. I worked side by side with one of their main property developer clients. In other words, unlike Frank McDonald, I got to see things from another angle. This developer did a series of projects with the architectural consultancy in question. In the first couple of projects, the architectural consultant handled most of the work. The planning process, the writing of the brief for the project and the design drawings. Then as the Celtic Tiger started to roar, the architectural practice got more clients and more work. They no longer had any time to do a good job with the planning particulars. They no longer had any time to deal with writing the project brief. The developer got wise to this very fast. He was paying for drawings, but they weren't as tailored to his 'specific needs' as before. Yet the size of the fees he was charged went up all the time.

I heard from a colleague inside the practice, that when the developer called to the architects office, the main directors were never around. Some lower member of staff was instructed to meet the developer with the 'bunch of drawings', so that the developer couldn't ask any questions or making any changes to the drawings. The developer's strategy was very simple. He hired a top planning consultant to handle all of his planning process particulars. He hired a real estate agent to re-write the brief on all of his projects. He was delighted then, because of the level of service he was getting was so much better. In the past, he had felt obliged to stay faithful to this famous architectural practice. If you know anything about design development, when you take the brief development and the planning process out of it, what are you left with? Not much, but that little piece is what the architect was now living off of. Because the sheer quantity of work they were getting more than made up, no alarm bells rang. This is where you need your Institute of Architects, whether it be on the cricket playing field or in the board room, to be sharp. They weren't.

Of course, it was the Celtic Tiger years. The architects simply didn't care. They could scarcely get lines onto a sheet of paper fast enough and push the drawings out the door. Clients were clambering over one another to get in the door and obtain the services of the famous architect. It didn't seem to dawn on these architects either, that many of the new breed of developer client weren't as sophisticated as the older types. They didn't know how to demand excellence of service. The older developers, who knew what they were doing, used lateral thinking and assembled a good design service from multiple sources. The architects or the Institute of Architects did not hear that alarm bell ringing either.

It felt great to be rid of that annoying developer and his questions about the planning process and what percentage of commercial to residential to put on the site etc. The architect never made money from that service anyhow. It felt good to be rid of it. Bear in mind, that these architects were very experienced and very intelligent men and women. There are no flies on them. The trouble is now, having taken on so much easy work during the Celtic Tiger, they no longer have the skills in-house to broaden their design service. They no longer have any credibility, outside of producing fancy drawings, to the developer community either. This is where any attempts by the RIAI to address the problems should be aimed, from my analysis of the situation at least. But heh, who am I to tell the likes of Sean O'Laoire or Jim Pike? I flunked out of Bolton Street, remember?

The funny thing is, while Liam Carroll was trying to develop a more holistic approach whereby design and builder could co-exist together in some meaningful relationship, there were those in the McDonald/Grafton glossy publication camp who couldn't see the value in this. They wanted to outsource the very same skills that Liam was trying to encourage. The same 'construction' skills that weren't carrying their weight - because Architects only look at it from inside their own small practice or consultancy bubble. I can assure anyone reading this, that if we did have better integration of architecture and excellent construction management, that architects and everyone else would be working now - even in the lean times.

There was every possible kind of award lavished on buildings that over spent on over-bloated OPW budgets. Alarms bells of any kind were buried underneath huge big blankets to muffle out the sound. Builders saw a 'good thing' and wanted to stay on government funded projects for as long as possible. There was no careful analysis done into the cost effectiveness and value for money of the said projects. To brush away 'most of what happened during the boom, as only construction, not architecture' only puts a spotlight on the sickness and lack of sophistication of those within the architectural profession. The truth is, an awful lot of what happened during the boom, was exactly what clients wanted and were willing to pay for. If architects cannot accept that, then the problem lies with them. When architects start organizing the finance for projects, then they can start to call the shots. But sticking a stake in the heart of the ‘Vampire’ isn’t going to solve the problem in the meantime.


Brian O' Hanlon
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby garethace » Tue Jun 09, 2009 10:47 pm

Final, Response Third Part

I need to mention something about policy creation while I am on this topic. Policy creation by the Department of the Environment to be specific. It needs to be carried out in such a fashion that skilled professionals in urban design and planning are retained in the process of land development. Department of the Environment policy, no matter how good its initial intentions might be, should not dislodge architects and planners from the process of development. But sadly, in my experience at the height of the building boom, that is exactly what it succeeded in doing.

The Urban Forum, of which the Institute of Architects of Ireland is part, is aimed towards developing a new national spatial strategy. I think it is wonderful that architects are indeed engaging themselves in this important process of policy creation. This certainly needs to happen. I received a lot of training as an architect myself in Dublin and like to believe it stands to me as an asset. I like to believe in my own foolish way, that architects are engaging in the process and actively involved in the mechanics. But getting back to the very thorny problem of unemployed architects I have some final points to make. I will first use a quotation from Jay W. Forrester:

Unlike decisions, policies are timeless and enduring. If a policy is sufficiently comprehensive, it can continue to apply over an extended interval of time. Depending on the objectives of a model, policies might remain unchanged and effective as long as years, decades, or even centuries.


This is why it is important that young architects out there become involved in Feasta, because it is a voluntary think tank devoted to working with long term policy creation. Land value taxation being one of its on-going projects.

http://www.feasta.org

I believe that Part V of the planning act was conceived with the best of intentions. I remember the chief architect of South Dublin City Council giving a lecture about this to students at Bolton Street. Eddie Conroy was very excited about this, because it offered all kinds of new opportunities for design and integration of communities. The part V legislation promised so much back then. But it was conceived without any notion of system dynamics. Please see below for some information on that.

What the part V legislation achieved was to create the conditions in which a brand new 'sale-able expertise' could thrive. It wasn't a 'sale-able' expertise that architects were going to provide in their shop unfortunately. As time went on, Part V began to exclude anyone with an honest passion for building communities. I worked on projects, in which the major decision making power was wrenched away from the architect and given towards the individual with Part V expertise. These people were generally not architects. They would not ask questions that were to do with space, as an architect would do.

Bear in mind, what I have mentioned previously about the architects farming out of the low end. It felt good to give up the low end, to estate agents and planning consultants. But if losing the low end today, is no of no concern. Then what happens if you lose the 'high end' tomorrow? Which is typically what happened to companies such as Digital Equipment Corporation. It is what happened to Irish Architecture also. Part V legislation was a very 'low end' kind of product. Something that didn't require the broad skills and training of an architect. But gradually as time went on, I found the experts in Part V were getting more and more sophisticated and taking away more and more of the decision making power from architects.

Clayton Christensen gives a very good explanation of the 'disruption' practice in his book. Because the low end disrupter isn't viewed as much of a threat to begin with, the disrupter is free to improve while not feeling much pressure from the higher end competitor. The same thing will happen with the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive. Some architectural practices in Dublin trained members of their staff in this area. Only to fire them, as soon as the downturn came. Perhaps the fee-earning potential of EPBD isn't huge at the moment. But the architects behaviour regarding EPBD, is a classic example of not retaining skills, where the money will be made in the future.

I recall a speakers night at no. 8 Merrion Square in the mid 1990s. The subject of discussion that evening was houses designed by architects. The issue was that architects cannot afford to be involved in designing one-off houses for clients. It is almost impossible to make any profit doing that. One unfortunate architect that evening, told the audience of his experience on a house project. Where the client really, really wanted to get an 'Aga cooker'.

http://www.aga.ie/

When it came to drawing up a budget for the project, it came to a decision between the Aga cooker and employing an architect. The Aga cooker won out, and an architect was not appointed. When I think of this story I like to imagine the see-saw that kids use at parks. On one end is a big cast iron Aga cooker, and high up in the air, at the other end, is the poor architect. Effectively, what the Department of the Environment did with Part V of the planning act was to re-introduce the Aga cooker. People with Part V expertise were simply more beneficial to property developers and got the decision making power.

The Department of the Environment needs to have an understanding of system dynamics in order to fully appreciate the impact of its policies. The following is a quote from Jay W. Forrester's paper of 1998, Designing the Future.

Understanding physical systems is far more advanced than the understanding of social, corporate, governmental, and economic systems. The field of system dynamics is leading to the new profession of enterprise designer. Methods now exist for designing the structure and policies of human systems so that the systems will better serve the people within them.


http://sysdyn.clexchange.org/sdep/papers/Designjf.pdf

Between the Part V expertise, the writing of the project brief and the planning consultancy, architects really lost a lot of their home ground during the Celtic Tiger building boom. That was okay during the boom, because their decreasing field of influence was compensated for by volume of work. A way to think about it, is the catering trade. On one end of the spectrum is the 'chipper' van in the main street at the Rose of Tralee festival. I remember as a kid I used to love eating those chips. I would watch as people staggered out of a pub, across the road to the chipper van and barely managed to stammer: Bag of chips and a coke.

During the Celtic Tiger, there were a lot of overnight made 'property developers' who managed to stagger from the loans department of an Irish bank across the road to an architect. They barely managed to articulate: I want a block of apartments and a side order of luxury homes. An architect would dish it out and allow the 'client' to help themselves to salt and vinegar from the counter. The other extreme of course is the gourmet chef. From my understanding of things, the gourmet chef never wastes a thing. Everything is recycled and used in some way as part of the meal preparation. That is the talent of a good kitchen and a good gourmet chef. Their own livelihood depends on this creativity with food. I believe that architects should take the gourmet chef as their model instead of the chipper van.

I will develop this analogy with food and catering further below. But I want to compare the architectural profession to the 'toxicity' that developed in the financial services industry. Whereby technology was used to 'slice and dice' the toxic loans to sub-prime mortgage borrowers. The clever people took the 'best cuts' and re-packaged and re-sold the less desirable portions on the open market. In a way, what large architectural practices were doing was similar. The result was also similar: a systemic collapse in which many architects lost their jobs. That is why I wanted to draw your attention to the RIAI letter to the Department of the Environment:

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7607

It shows the extent to which the architectural institution was used to 'getting its own way'. The letter dictates to the Department of the Environment, the 'portions' of the EPBD it wants to undertake and the portions it would rather not. The Department of the Environment response was right on the money: Look it guys, you are in the building industry. Wake up and smell the coffee. That hasn't deterred large architectural practices in Dublin from firing their staff who have done additional EPBD training. How is the EPBD supposed to achieve its purpose in that context? The letter the RIAI should have written to the Department of the Environment, expressing their discontent was a letter in relation to the ‘cottage industry’ of Part V experts created by that legislation. Many of whom became a voice whispering in the ears of the property development community. The letter never got issued and no. 8 dropped the ball.

A large portion of energy aware design will involve the undertaking of cost-benefit studies for the client. The aim of the EPBD is to provide the most cost effective solution to reducing CO2 emissions from buildings. How many architects out their at the moment even know what an discounted rate of return is? Would it not make more sense for UCD 'What Now' to provide simple training in cost benefit analysis techniques for young architects? Instead of making collages with wild flower petals on a wall, or some such other ridiculous exercise? For that matter, would Yvonne Farrell be better off attending the Cost Benefit Analysis workshop along with the youngsters? Instead of making ridiculous statements trying to define architecture and construction?

Lastly, I want to finish with an idea. An idea I hope that you can take with you.

One thing that emerged from a recent conversation I had with a member of the health care service was this. (The person works in the catering department of a large hospital in Dublin city) The idea of a relationship between a patient’s ability to eat properly in hospital and their resulting rate of recovery. I mean, lets face it. When I go a couple of days without proper nutrient intake myself, I feel very much the worse for wear. I happen to be a young man in the prime of health and fitness. Now compare it to the situation of someone trying to battle through an illness and not being able to cope with what they find on their plate.

Recently, the Dublin hospitals have gotten the ability to measure the food waste they are putting into the trash lorry. (Remember what I said earlier about the Gourmet Chef) I guess every ones waste, be it carbon dioxide, organic or recycle-able waste is being measured carefully today. You cannot manage what you cannot measure. As a result of all this ‘measuring’ the Dublin hospitals discovered the weight of food waste going out. They compared this to the weight of food material coming in. The results were shocking. It appears that patients aren’t eating as much of what was believed at all.

It is a proven scientific fact, that inability to consume nutrients will add significant numbers of days onto the recovery process for each patient. This in turn will add to the cost of providing a health service. I was told by my friend in the health service, that we should be aiming to give our sick the very best of naturally produced food. But the way the current global food supply chain works, and with preservatives of all kinds built into products like chicken and other meats, to extend their lifetime on long haul flights, the stuff that patients are consuming is far from being natural.

How does this relate to architecture?

Well it is very simple. Every project that comes into an architectural practice should be monitored like it was a patient. An individual 'menu' should be compiled for each patient. That will enable the architectural practice to go and find the skills it needs to acquire in order to fully serve the client. This measurement will allow the architect to see what services it cannot provide the client with. Basically, the more of the clients requirements the architect can service in-house or with close partners, the faster the client will be taken care of. Like the patient recovery times in hospitals. The less time that a client is in transit through the system, the more additional work the architect can take on. This will grow the business and make the architectural practice viable.

That is my humble suggestion at least. It is the best I can do, to illustrate a plan going forward for architecture. It has elements of the gourmet chef about it and elements to do with running an efficient health care service. It has a lot less to do with making toxic financial instruments and handing out bags of chips at the Rose of Tralee.

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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby bitasean » Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:09 pm

Fair play Brian, you've managed to snare me yet again into reading your very interesting (albeit time consuming) commentaries. (I wonder would the productivity of Irish architects rise exponentially in the event of Archiseek crashing.)

As an architect who tries to treat each project as a patient (and certainly some of the clients could do with a bit of institutional help) one cannot avoid the fact that the value of architecture is not evident to the vast majorty of people involved in building. To use another analogy, most architects want to create a Saville row pair of trousers when the client wants a pair of combats. The former is sleek, stylish and makes the wearer feel good, the latter is cheap and has more pockets. Even if you eliminate the cost difference of the end product, they still want the combats because it avoids drawing attention to them. Now how do you solve that problem - more telly programmes? more magazines? public lectures to the unenlightened?

On a completely unrelated point - but of relevance to your long posts - I keep thinking of a quote that said "blogging is like AA for people who are addicted to their own opinions."

No offence intended - I actually think your posts are more discursive than didactic.
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby garethace » Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:52 pm

On a completely unrelated point - but of relevance to your long posts - I keep thinking of a quote that said "blogging is like AA for people who are addicted to their own opinions."


The long posts take a huge amount of energy, and of course they do upset my sleeping and work rituals. After one day's either writing or reading I take another day before I can a-climatize again to normal chores. But that is your whole week messed up, more or less. Which is why I haven't been seen too much at Archiseek since 2004 and will not be seen shortly. (Other pressing engagements) After I left Dell computers in 2002, they started to encourage company blogs. They learned it was better to have people inside the tent pissing out, rather than outside the tent pissing in.

What Clayton Christensen offers us is a model with which to understand catastrophic collapse in the business world. The kind of thing that happened to Digital Equipment Corporation. I mean, how could DEC die? It had the best managers, the best technology and 30-40 years of experience. Blaming the state of the architectural profession on the economy is okay, as far as it goes. Blaming it on poor management, is only useful up to a point. Blaming it on the construction industry gets to the point of being ridiculous. What Christensen's book should do, is offer guys like James Pike a better model to work with. To understand their situation and how to act within it. Frank McDonald's analysis was a good of times we live in, but too simplistic I thought. There should be someone within the Architect's institute whose job it is to study these models and present them in a journal or website so that architects can benefit from and learn to apply them. At the moment I am filling in a slot that someone else aught to be paid money to do.

I have read Christensen's book and listened to the podcast. One thing he mentions, is a need to avoid dividing your customers into markets. Information about 'markets' is only available about the past. By the time you have the information, it is already stale. The struck me quite sharply when I attended the 'Tall Building Conference' at the height of the property boom in Ireland, and president of the RIAI, Anthony Reddy told the audience that we need a report on the topic of Tall Buildings in Dublin. That is when alarm bells went off in my head and I began to think about those wonderful managers at Digital Equipment Corporation. I picked up Clayton Christensen's book and re-read it from cover to cover. A much more useful question, Christensen says, is to ask: What is the job that people are trying to do? What is the job they are doing quite poorly at the moment, but would jump at the opportunity of finding a better way? This is a much more useful question to ask than getting blind-sighted in talking about 'markets'. If we do not ask the right questions, we are unlikely to find the right answers. Or as Louis Kahn once said, 'A good question is much better than the best answer'.

The Frank McDonal article seemed to talk about the Medical, residential, commercial, private, public as if they were different markets for architectural services. That is the problem I want to highlight. Indeed, when I did an interview to work for Anthony Reddy associates in later 2006, I was told they were hoping to move into the medical area. Because the government would be investing in a building program there. The question I want to ask is, what job is the prospective architect's client trying to get done? At one point in the podcast, Christensen uses the example of milkshakes. What is the job that the consumer of the milkshake is trying to get done? How can we improve the product so that the job is done better? If architecture is to continue and thrive in Ireland, it first needs a decent model with which to understand its own collapse. The faster that 'model' can be delivered out to young professionals, and get them using it, the faster they will turn this corner. What I am proposing is a fast track, in-service MBA for architects. They shouldn't have to pay for this, it should be free to any membership paid architect or draughtsperson.

To use another analogy, most architects want to create a Saville row pair of trousers when the client wants a pair of combats. The former is sleek, stylish and makes the wearer feel good, the latter is cheap and has more pockets. Even if you eliminate the cost difference of the end product, they still want the combats because it avoids drawing attention to them.


Indeed that is quite a good analogy, but I would prefer to think of the idea of one's Grandmother. When she goes shopping, she spends a morning whizzing from one shop to another, comparing prices and deals. In the movie, The Lives of Others, the social scientists in the old East Germany admired a thesis written by a student that divided artistic people into a number of distinct types. At the risk of sounding too weird, I am going to attempt to do the same for the property developer. If there was one very good reference for learning how to understand the property developer, it is the chapter two in Malcolm Gladwell's book Tipping Point, called 'The Law of the Few: Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen'. Most of the good property developers I know are mavens. The wikipedia definition of the Maven is here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maven

Property developers who are mavens, are like that with everything. If they wish to book a taxi, a plane ticket or a restaurant for a Christmas party they will go to undue lengths to find the best deal in town. Having found the best deal in town, they might discover that they do not even want a taxi, a plane ticket or a Christmas party. That is why it is so frustrating working beside them. Sometimes they take it too far. That is why it did not surprise me, the response from the development community when the Department of the Environment introduced the Part V of the planning and development act. The legislation was very ill-conceived, simply because it played up too much to the 'natural instincts' of property developers.

It is like dripping blood in the water where a shark is concerned, 'chub baiting' I think they call it. Something primordial switches on behind those dull metallic eyes of the great white. In the case of the Part V legislation, they had to figure out a way to beat it. It is important to understand the primary motivation of the property developer. It certainly isn't the money. Some of them would be financially much better off if they didn't do what they do. It is the thrill of the race that really drives them to do it. When DOE introduced Part V they introduced a big lump of bloody meat into the environment, and the attention of developers was distracted away from issues such as good design, and towards ways of beating the legislation. To prove in effect, that it wasn't equal to their skills of avoidance. If you do read Malcolm Gladwell's chapter you will get a sense of what I am talking about.

The maven is one type. However, when you get up to the level of Liam Carroll you are talking about the 'connector'. Or rather, the super-connector to be precise. For all the media stories about Liam as someone who is shy and avoids people, that doesn't quite tell you the story. You could not meet a man that is more 'connected' within the construction industry. In the normal course of events, I am unlikely to stand next to a managing director of an Irish bank. But throw a super-connector like Mr. Carroll into the mix, and anything becomes possible. Liam is a single individual connecting tradesmen on one end of society with financial people on the other. When it comes to business, Liam is more driven than my Grandmother ever was, when she went to town to do her shopping. Liam decided to re-organise the whole street in order to best serve his own needs. He managed to do that, and surprisingly the shop traders did not object.

As an architect who tries to treat each project as a patient (and certainly some of the clients could do with a bit of institutional help) one cannot avoid the fact that the value of architecture is not evident to the vast majorty of people involved in building.


I had to over-simplified the above 3-part 'call to arms' for organizing the architectural profession. I left out the issue of the dis-functional client, even though it is a very present problem for architects. But I felt it would obscure the point I was trying to make. When business was flowing well, it made sense to have property developers running around getting bits of their service from different shops. And later trying to assemble it together into a complete package themselves. Instead of using the analogy of combat trousers versus Saville row trousers, I like to use the analogy of those shoppers who 'scoot' back and forth between different shops, carefully comparing one price with another, and generally wasting a day, which could be better spent otherwise.

Indeed, if architectural practices tried to service all of their clients to the 'nth' degree during the building boom, their staff might have balooned a lot more than it did. That is, their staff might have increased by a factor of '5' rather than '2' or '3'. Communication between a group of a dozen people is sometimes challenging. Increase that number to 24 or 36 in an architectural practice and you are pushing it. Unless you introduce new techniques for working. When you introduce new techniques for working, you risk getting on the wrong side of your staff. That is what happened during the building boom. As one witnessed members of staff leaving a practice to start up on their own. The rate at which it happened during the building boom was disproportionate and it startled me. Individuals had built promising careers in large offices, but left when things got a bit 'too chaotic'. The question now remains, how some of these off-shoots can salvage enough pride while making it back to an office they might have left in defiance. This all points further to a need for 'super-connectors' in this industry of construction and architecture. Without the connectors, nothing functions as efficiently.

Now how do you solve that problem - more telly programmes? more magazines? public lectures to the unenlightened?


That is certainly a step in the right direction, but one reaches a point of diminishing returns.

http://www.usablebuildings.co.uk/

It would be nice to get Bill Bordass or Adrian Leaman over to deliver a talk or workshop. I am exchanging some emails with Adrian, who is hoping to get Stewart Brand over from the United States. Stewart wrote a book called 'How Buildings Learn' which was inspirational to the Useable Buildings team. The Useable Building concept is one I like very much. It sounds quite similar to Clayton Christensen and the story of the milkshake. The whole idea of sustainability folds in quite neatly when you go through this process of designing useable buildings. In other words, sustainability doesn't feel like a chore, as it can do at the moment. It should be about more than checking boxes to keep the planners off one's back. Planners have a duty here to ensure a creative and exciting relationship takes place, instead of the opposite.

Architects have a tendency to be negative in the way they approach their task. To look for sub-goals in order to replace their primary goals. The notion that design should be about 'sleakness of lines' and seductiveness of form is a sub-goal that was allowed to become a primary goal. Sustainability should not have to be 'integrated' into the design process, as you witness at the moment. It should have been a primary goal from the start. The obsession with form, a mild form of autism, runs right through the architectural culture. It hopes to conceal a deep seated dis-illusionment that lies underneath. This begins in architecture school, where you are punished if you don't tow the line. The damage inflicted at that point follows the individual through every decision they make for the rest of their life. That culture has to change. It is the main reason, I decided to flunk out of architecture rather than continue to flog something that was clearly quite dead, in its soul.

The useable building idea does threaten to undermine the way we think about architecture now. The way we currently teach architecture and how we deal with the client. It is similiar to what Clayton Christensen would call a 'disruptive innovation'. Of course, Liam Carroll already had this innovation built right into his organisation. Because it was such a broad network of connected players all pushing to get a job done, the feedback was pretty much constant on everything. One was exposed to a stream of information, you are unlikely to encounter sitting in a consultancy practice. Unless we ask the right questions, we are unlikely to find the right answers. I had some electronic conversation with the property developers Corcoran Jennison from Boston earlier this year. They have brought it to an even higher level. Frank McDonald wrote something about their project for the Irish Times. An interesting book I came across in the 'Quantity Surveyor' section of a library one day is this one. (I cannot help doing multi-disiplinary experiments, even when I am in the Library . . . there is really no hope for me)

Understanding The Construction Client
ISBN: 9781405129787
Boyd, David and Chinyio, Ezekiel

This book offers guidelines for a better engagement between the construction industry and its clients. Students of construction need to understand their future clients and this will be a key text in this field. At the same time, the industry needs to re-appraise its current understanding and dealings with clients; this book provides the means of doing this effectively. The book gives information about clients in a number of sectors (e.g. government clients; developers; NHS; supermarkets; Housing Associations) which will help the industry to understand what the client's business or service needs are and how construction fits into this. This will be generic information with an emphasis on what needs to be found out to engage with individual clients fully and successfully. A number of short case studies are presented demonstrating this. The book concludes with a toolkit for ensuring successful client engagement.


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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby missarchi » Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:29 am

i'm sure you seen it before but...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Sq-HYGfnIo
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby garethace » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:28 am

That is very good, I hadn't seen it before. The trouble with that course of action, is it makes it difficult afterwards to go back and ask for a reference.

Tom Hanks did a good job at representing the same overwhelming sense of 'despair with the system' in the movie version of the Tom Wolfe's book, Bonfire of the Vanities. After he is asked to leave his New York apartment by the head of the residents committee, because he was involved in some scandal and lost his job. The lady from 'Sex in the City' does a great job of playing Tom Hank's wife in the movie.

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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby garethace » Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:49 am

I hope this will become a final installment. Enjoy. Best of luck all.


Part I: The Early Days


I remember I went looking for work experience as a student and found that architects were hiring non-architects with computer aided design skills instead. Why are we taking some of the most intelligent young people our nation can produce, and putting them through five years of training at Bolton Street, UCD, Limerick, Belfast or Waterford to become architects? When the first thing they face outside in the real world is some form of rejection because they don't have the correct skills? That set me thinking at an early stage, about what else the Institute isn't doing to protect the youngest and most vulnerable members, or potential members of its profession? What I discovered over the next ten years of experience was startling to me. The Institute of Architects wasn't in touch with the requirements of its younger members at all.

This is still a present problem today, and I don't see any published documents which compile together feedback gathered from the younger members. The RIAI pushed through some legislation to protect the title of architect. Look at all of the good that did. What the RIAI's legislation did was to protect the older and better off members of the profession, who gets their hands on the incoming fees first. From there a couple of scraps are distributed down amongst the assistants to the assistant directors to fight over.


Part II: AutoCAD Training


Zoe developments was itself a low end disruption, in the classic sense of Clayton Christensen's model. When I was in architectural school in Bolton Street we would talk in discust about how '18 year olds with AutoCAD training' were filling up Bachelor's Walk with bad apartment developments. We agreed with Frank McDonald's analysis to that effect in the Irish Times. The trouble is that Frank's intial analysis of the facts and the reality of a decade later, regarding Zoe are altogether different. Ten years later, Zoe developments were hiring guys like myself to become involved in their operation.

I was thrilled to get the opportunity, because it offered me a different setting to that of a small architectural consultancy practice. One in which I was always likely to have the worst office freak out ever. But when working in project management or working for Zoe developments, I felt a serene sense of calm come over me. Like I was at home, and doing what I should be doing. At one stage in my career, I left a good position at a successful small architectural consultant in Limerick to go and work on the production line at Dell computers in Raheen industrial estate. The fact I was having lunch in a canteen at 2.00 AM in the morning with 1,500 other workers was enjoyable to me.


Part III: Systems Engineering


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_engineering

Systems engineering is an interesting concept. It means going about your design in such a way as not to create difficulties for people further down the track with implementation. I listened to a lecture this year presented by WaveBob, the wave energy generation startup company. They wanted to keep their staff quite small and only do the design. But they were also very cognescent of the fact, that someone would have to drag their device out into the ocean and deploy it. They were cognescent of the fact, that their skills and knowledge were not, and never would be in deployment. Furthermore, the devices will require maintenance. Routine maintenace should not be executed by dragging the device all the ways back into port. It has to be performed on site in a way that conforms with good health and safety practice. All of that awareness has to be present in the initial design. The Hubble space telescope is a similar project, in which sore lessons on the concept of systems engineering were learned, at great expense to the American tax payer.

I learned while working for a dedicated project manager how to use the tendering process, in order to gain feedback from the more practically minded experts in the construction industry. In terms of social and affordable housing, we are miles behind the curve in that regard and we do need outside assistance from companies such as Corcoran Jennison. The department of the environment introduced Part V legislation in the planning and development act. That was on one end of the process. But on the other end of the process, they didn't interface with the social housing departments of the local authorities. When Corcoran Jennison property developers tried to introduce a new sustainable model for social housing provision in Ireland - one that has proven itself over a thirty year period in Boston - they met with all sorts of resistance from the encumbant housing department in Dublin City Council.

In fact it was worse than that. Not only were individuals employed on the property development end of the spectrum to try and 'beat' the Part V legislation. But in the very resource limited departments of the local authorities, they became obsessed with the exercise to try and make the developers pay their dues. To force them to build social and affordable units. In total, the Part V legislation created a cottage industry that stole valuable fees away from qualified design professionals. It also tied up countless bodies who engaged in a game of hide and seek with each other. When I looked at this, and tried to imagine how better the talent could be employed I became very disillusioned. In the end, North Wall Quay project was stopped, an excellent development company went into melt down and everyone got 'their pound of flesh'. Good result you would think, for a billion Euros expense and several million man hours.

To see if I could find solutions to how resources can be used productively, I wrote the paper attached below about the Dublin Airport Authority capital investment program. I sent this paper to Tom Parlon of the Construction Industry Federation and several other people. I listened with interest to Tom Parlon speak about the new 'Retrofit contract' which the CIF published in order to remove roadblocks in the way of the retrofitting industry in Ireland. But useful ideas like that never find their way into the columns of Frank McDonald. It would be of much greater benefit to young architects than a quotation from Yvonne Farrell. Not that Yvonne's voice isn't useful too, but Frank seems to over emphasize that perspective in his writing.


Part IV: What Now?


Thinking about the architectural profession is like thinking about a marriage doesn't work. Do you continue to try to 'make it work' after it is repeatedly unfaithful to you? Do you try to make it work, when clearly the important soul part of it has died? The recession performs a very interesting function for architects. It serves to conceal the true nature of the problem, that most members are disillusioned with their situation to begin with. Indeed the reason why James Pike has to confront this series of catastrophic failures has less to do with the economy and more to do with the marriage being disfunctional in the first place. Recession enables us to avoid dealing with reality.

I first encountered this concept in business - of one thing which conceals itself behind another - while reading about 'System Dynamics' in a book by Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Disipline. In a manner similar to Clayton Christensen's model of disruptive innovation, the model presented in Senge's book offers us a better tool to confront reality with, than our brains are able to do on their own. Indeed, as Senge points out in the book, that failure to diagnose the problem accurately has the effect of making it worse. The article written by Frank McDonald is a perfect example of that. The basic problem is that architecture can only draw from within the ranks of its own tiny community. The Institute of Architects doesn't run a training program for architects who want to develop better models, by attending a masters in business administration course. It is time we all modernized a bit. We are still running the profession like it was the 19th century.

The automobile manufacturing industry is one I have studied in some detail. From the early days of Henry Ford's production line, to Alfred Sloane's contribution at General Motors in the field of business management. Later, the Japanese and the development of lean manufacturing. Indeed, I spent a good year myself at Dell computer factory, which is based loosely around the concept of lean manufacturing. But basically the RIAI still awaits its Alfred Sloane, someone who can take the profession forward. That person will not come from within the ranks of its own members.


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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby garethace » Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:50 am

Report on the program management techniques employed at Dublin Airport.

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Attachments

[The extension pdf has been deactivated and can no longer be displayed.]

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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby parka » Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:07 pm

garethace wrote: At one stage in my career, I left a good position at a successful small architectural consultant in Limerick to go and work on the production line at Dell computers in Raheen industrial estate. The fact I was having lunch in a canteen at 2.00 AM in the morning with 1,500 other workers was enjoyable to me.


I know three architects who have made similar moves. All where employed in the "bad times" late 80's early 90's and then the boom came and they saw an opportunity to try something different.
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby bitasean » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:12 pm

since we're posting links here's a good example of someone with a bit of time on their hands getting out the colouring pencils, applying a bit of lateral thinking and making a huge contribution to urban society.

http://www.boreme.com/boreme/funny-2009/london-underground-map-design-classic-p1.php
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby garethace » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:12 pm

I book I often meant to read was Stephen Johnson's book, The Ghost Map, about how London city created this map of the water collection points. It was believed at the time that Cholera was spread by bad odours, and people hadn't yet made the connection between water and the spread of the disease. Apparently the isolated the outbreak to one single well. But the Map was necessary in order to do that. Hence it's name, the Ghost map. Stephen's blog is here:

http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/

I know that UCD summer program includes something about mapping. I wonder if the Ghost map will come into it.

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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby garethace » Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:32 am

Good links, thanks.

Those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to pursue careers with fewer financial risks.


More than anything else, when I look back now, it was the above which was ever present in my mind, while an architectural student in Dublin. Most of my friends from a working class school in North Co. Kerry did less risky university degrees and kick started their careers much faster. There is a small caveat, in regards to the Irish context I would like to add. It is the fact, of the CAO system for getting into university. If you are a perso from a lower socio-economic background, and you get architecture as your choice, then you have that added pressure upon you to do the best you can for the sake of your folks, your background, your relations and dogs, cats, donkeys and whatever other four legged creatures you left behind at home. Coming back with your tail between your legs, not having succeeded is all the more frightening a prospect. Which tends to force you to live with a no-win situation, much longer than one should.

I could not emphasize this point strongly enough to someone considering architecture as a profession. Indeed, when I encountered difficulties with the curriculum and its demands while at architecture school myself. Not insurmountable difficulties I might add. But each year I delayed in studying for the profession the more flak I began to take from all angles. This increases the pressure on you, and can be very upsetting. I spent the best part of a decade trying to get out with a degree at least. Still not achieving that, I was simply glad to be out. I felt like the gambler who couldn't stop until he had lost the shirt on his back. And I almost did that too. One has a hard choice to make with architecture. Having waded half ways into the river, you are not incentivised to turn around and cut your loses. On the other hand, the future doesn't look promising either. You are constantly having to fight a battle on both fronts. From your home front, and your immediate circle of friends who want to you turn some money for a change. And the faculty who demands the highest standard.

If you possess the right combination of survival instincts and skills, even at that stage you will still succeed against the odds. Some do, and some do not. It is down to that in reality. Not academic brilliance, which I had in spades. (Making a lower risk option very attractive) But something different indeed. Grit and determination. The trouble as I see it, with many of the award winning architects in Ireland is they enjoy the benefit of grit and determination. The necessary instincts which they needed for survival at one stage, are the same instincts that do not serve them well in their careers. The failure to assert themselves in the area of modern business administration and management is a very acute symptom of that. The believe that one can draw deep from within one's own reserves to find a solution. As I have got at lengths to point out above, even with the best managers in the world, the models we are using are sometimes inadequate to visualize the situation we are contained within.

(I'll say a few more little things on this as I get the time, but for now I think the point is made above clearly)

One good example I can present, is the WWII battle for the skies. On the one hand you had the Germans whose culture amongst pilots emphasized the 'flying ace'. The guy with the most stickers on the side of his plane to represent planes shot down. This culture tended to work against the development of 'group flying tactics'. The English pilots in the second world war, had a different culture, which enabled them to develop advanced group flight techniques that served them well when times got tough up in the sky. I believe that architecture suffers too much from the German flying ace problem, and the award system over emphasizes that gene over others.

Indeed, it could be argued that when human beings learned to cooperate in the stone age, they could hunt down beasts that provided more than enough protein for the tribe. In turn, this led to some human resources being freed up to allow specialisation, better technology development and artistic expression. I wrote something recently along the same lines:

That is why the profession needs to move more quickly to come up with ideas to cope with this crisis, and that is why in July, Westminster University will be launching a major project to provide support for unemployed built environment professionals.


The trouble as I see it in Ireland, is the Institute never gave a damn about the youngest, brightest and most vulnerable. The fact that the Institute cannot move, even now, in a time of extreme crisis merely serves to underline the fact, they lost the memory of how to move their limbs a long time ago. In Ireland, it is a cosy little relationship between the same few developers and architects. The only way forward is to somehow break that circle.

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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby BostonorBerlin » Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:16 pm

Irish Architects doesnt have a future in this country unless its as gardeners, I mean Landscape Architects.

Another misfortune is Irish Architectures past, their legacy of over-priced, over valued crap that litters the landscape. its not like anyone is turning around and saying ahh well we blew the money but at least we have x y and z to marvel at, now are they .

Sorry folks you blew it !
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby wearnicehats » Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:25 pm

BostonorBerlin wrote:Irish Architects doesnt have a future in this country unless its as gardeners, I mean Landscape Architects.

Another misfortune is Irish Architectures past, their legacy of over-priced, over valued crap that litters the landscape. its not like anyone is turning around and saying ahh well we blew the money but at least we have x y and z to marvel at, now are they .

Sorry folks you blew it !


oh how we've missed your erudite wit
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby teak » Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:02 pm

Just a non-architect's observations.

Looking through the (happily now downloadable) planning files of recent years for rural houses, I saw that over 95% of these had NO ARCHITECT INVOLVED.
To make matters more embarassing, various consulting engineers designed about a third of them . . .
The non-architected designs seemed to ignore all the stuff you'd read in the Clare or Cork Rural Housing Guides, e.g. house orientation, window size/shape, room layout, etc.
Some of these dormers & bungalows were so dumbassed in design and ugly in appearance that you would not blame the planners for giving PP applicants a hard time.

How has it come to pass that sensible people do not go to an architect ?
Fear of Architects' Fees ?
But this does not explain the engineers' success: there are no cheap engineers.
Even the arch technicians & draughtsmen will have a higher fee than initially quoted because of the objections of planners, the redesigns and the reapplications.

TV house design shows are responsible for creating bad caricature figures of the profession in general : the houses they work on are usually too extravagant; and the characters of the architects are too eccentric or too egotistic or too cold.
That's TV values, I suppose.
The ordinary architect working on an ordinary job is no use to them.
Even if it's just what TV viewers people want to see, they won't put it on.

I feel that maybe architects must help themselves a bit here.
Individual architects must show some savvy and the social courage now.
They have to try to connect with ordinary people, explain all the aspects of their job and show some successfully worked out solutions to design problems. Above all bust "good planning" down to basics for a given area and give the homedreamer a clear concept of good and bad design elements.
What more effective way can an architect in the country do this than for him/her to just organise a lecture in a local school hall ?
Would it be possible for say 4 architects with different areas of interest to give an evening session to their local public ?
teak
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby parka » Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:29 pm

teak wrote:The non-architected designs seemed to ignore all the stuff you'd read in the Clare or Cork Rural Housing Guides, e.g. house orientation, window size/shape, room layout, etc.


Planners are more concerned about septic tanks than the design of the scheme.
parka
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Re: Future for Irish Architects..

Postby teak » Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:37 pm

You serious ?

They are "concerned" about EVERYTHING that they can raise objections to.
Everything from the date of the paper holding the planning notice to the long distance view of the proposed dwelling from all angles. (Don't forget either "adherence to traditional forms" !)
The fuss about sewage treatment is just a recent thing. And - considering the vast number of septic tanks with no perc area in the countryside - I do not blame them for this.

But all this is off the point.
The point that architects must stoop a bit and make a :) connection, as the Yanks say, before they conquer the very substantial EXISTING market for home design.
teak
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