By Julius Mitchell
Modern Architects unlike the architects in previous history face social and economic challenges that were unheard of in the past especially with the declining resources and the increase in technology, the merging of multiple cultures/diversity in large and medium sized cities, racial and cultural tensions, the rising of a new diverse middle and upper class, and the declining of resources that the Clients/Patrons of the past had such laborers and what it seemed like infinite resources.
Before architects served those of the elite class and had little to no concern with what the public wanted unless the client informed the architect. Today architects are faced with challenges of not only ensuring the public’s safety, but also pleasing clients (who most of the time don’t provide money or pay for their projects on time or up front), doing research on the project, following building codes, coming up with a design solution, and their designs impact on the environment. Architects also work for clients with little to no outside resources and need to provide or provide services to supplement their services, such as engineers, and contractors depending upon the delivery method (traditional, design build, contractor manager led/contractor advisor, etc…) the architect and the client agree upon. This puts current architects in very uncomfortable positions, where they not only have to do the design and lead the project, but also fund the project in the initial stages. This often means paying workers’ wages and that of your consultants. This type of process was unheard of before the 20th century. Architects usually were provided with ample pay and resources. During and before the 17thth century architecture was the highest paid profession in the entire western world and in most of the rest of the world.
Today architects are struggling to stay in business and are even going in debt on projects clients can’t afford are for some reason not paying for. Architects are finding themselves suing and being sued more often than before over “Cost”, not public safety or negligence. It seems that the field of architecture is suffering from an indirect relationship between increasing complexity in projects while wages are decreasing. This trend seems to be pressing architecture firms into more inefficiency, since they usually don’t have the money and resources to go about a project properly at the speed clients want them to. So they are left finding loop holes and means of increasing efficiency such as computer software and internet resources that may save them time and money.
If this trend continues as cities are becoming more diverse in economics and cultures and the social climate changing constantly. One may wonder if the field of architecture will continue to draw the brightest students; seeing that the wage of architecture field is decreasing while the complexity of projects is increasing because of social and technological innovations. One may ask what is to keep those who with good mathematical and visual skills from going into other fields of science such as engineering or medical fields, being that these fields’ wages are in general increasing and are fairly technical; meaning that the problems these fields have clear and explainable answers unlike architecture which problems may cross multiple fields of study.In the end if the field of architecture is to continue, which it must since architects design the environments that humans inhabit, how is the field able to continue to attract those with the necessary skills and talents to become architects and how is the field able to keep the current architects interested in continuing their careers in architecture? Themselves perceiving and understanding that they could make more money with less stress doing something else with same skills they already possess. What is to keep them from diverting to something more lucrative, easier, or more rewarding for them and their families?