Friday, December 20, 2013


By Ryan Kinports

The recent death of Paul Walker could cause someone to question their contributions in life. The premature and foolish nature of the accident left a billion dollar franchise without its captain. Now maybe you've never seen any of the Fast and Furious movies, and they are not high art, but the effect on a generation of young people was profound.

When we move out into the world as designers and architects we should aspire to impact as many people as we are able to in a positive way. We sort off lucked out here with our profession. The nature of buildings means that if you create quality work a single structure could see millions of people pass through and by it during its lifespan. Your potential to affect future architects, how people view their environment, or how someone feels should drive innovation in your designs. I can imagine that among architecture students there has always been a drive to create wondrous structures that push boundaries, but modern society has only in recent decades begun to express the same interests through popular culture. Building materials are changing so rapidly that even our most fantastic designs are within reach. The opportunity these conditions afford us means we are in a position students 20 years ago could only dream of.

But then we must come back to reality. We aren't all going to create a Birds Nest. Most of us will design for more necessary infrastructure such as schools or homes. The positive side to this is that people are becoming more conscious of their built environment and are willing to spend slightly more to experience unique features. The other component is the push to lessen our impact on the environment, which is now substantially driving our industry to advance materials and methods at a rapid pace. As we move forward with more tools and ideas the real value we bring is the vision to form a complete structure that incorporates the many complex concepts we have learned in a way that makes sense to the client. This is one of the eternal struggles we must deal with – the balance between the project requirements, what the client thinks looks good, and the vision you want to realize. New materials and processes may remove restrictions and allow you to more accurately define the client’s desires, but the costs involved often place more traditional methods as the preferred. It is important not to get caught up in designing for materials. It’s an arduous process to design within the many restrictions, but if you are able to work your concepts within those limits you will get noticed. Anyone can create a building; your goal should be to create an experience.  Just remember it takes time to get noticed – don’t get discouraged if years go by without recognition. Focus on your work and some day you will be held up by the communities you affect, but more importantly you will see how you have altered their approach to life. It's an exciting time to be an architect.

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