Architectural Manifesto

Every designer should have a personal architectural manifesto.  My own personal manifesto was actually a requirement for my college thesis.  I’m posting it here because I want feedback.  I want to know what makes you passionate about architecture, what do you hate about architecture, what would you change if you had the keys to the kingdom, so to speak?  Or are you happy where you are?  Is your architectural career what you always hoped it would be?  For most of us, I’m thinking….NOT.  So, first, mine, then I want to hear from you.  Be bold, be passionate, be whatever you need to be about architecture and post your comments below.

[note: this manifesto was written almost 10 years ago at the start of my senior year in college. that’s not a defense, simply a statement.]

“Architecture connects us to daily life, clarifies our relationship with one another and to the realities of place and time.  We should do the opposite – obscure and isolate – only out of neglect or indifference or error.

Among other things, architecture is about fit, revelation, and prediction.  It should fit with what is there and what transpires, and it should reveal what is there and how events change.  And the fit and revelation are not just now, at the start of design, but over time, in the future; thus prediction.”  — Joseph Esherick, FAIA –

What Esherick is saying, and what I will say, is that architecture is no longer defined by a set of rules, regulations, or styles.  Architecture is whatever we, as designers, wish to make of it.  In Connected Isolation, Thom Mayne theorizes that the key issue for architecture is that “the recognition of diversity is the natural evolution of things”, and by accepting the dynamics of this diversity, rather than attempting to substitute for unified and simplistic principles we are able to tap into the vast forces inherent in all things.  This is to say that through the experimentation and investigation of new thoughts, methods, and techniques our architecture will capture the essence of imagination and be bound by nothing, save gravity.  In a number of today’s cities there seems to be distaste for the introduction of experimental architecture.  Some in these cities seem to think that the inclusion of such experimentation will somehow diminish their identity as a community.  This is simply not true.  The expression of new materials and new ways of thinking is necessary to further the exploration of an identity; nothing is static.  The character of a given place is not rooted within any one thing, but in the personalities and ideals of its people, and these people constantly change and grow, as any architectural expression should do.

As we continue to grow and change so does our architecture.  With the progression of each year, each decade, each century, our identity, our defining characteristics change alongside them.  Life is not a fixed, monotonous endeavor.  It is something that molds anew with the inclusion of each new generation.  Our architecture must act in the same regard, as a pliable and renewable resource.  What we build today becomes our history tomorrow.

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About Jeremiah

Birth: April 6 - Upstate New York Education: Savannah College of Art and Design Bachelor of Fine Art - 2003 Masters of Architecture - 2003 Member AIA National since 2004 Member AIA Florida since 2004 Member AIA Jacksonville since 2004 Member Emerging Design Professionals Jacksonville since 2006 Emerging Design Professional President 2009-2010 View all posts by Jeremiah

2 responses to “Architectural Manifesto

  • Jim Blake

    Hi Jeremiah, Thanks for the post – excellent questions for a practitioner at any point in one’s career. After 32 years as an architect and 45 years of thinking and dreaming about architecture I have the following observations:
    1. It is impossible to deliver design that outstrips the comprehension of our clients and most are 100 years behind the times and totally ignorant of the nature of design process. I dislike that our education system devotes so little time / effort to educating the populace so that they might want a house in something other than “Craftsman Style” or “Mediterranean Style” The public is clueless to the whole notion of an architect’s role as a designer who might develop a new approach to an environment i.e. client’s brains are not only washed but ironed and starched. It is rarely possible to educate a client enough in a one-hour meeting to bridge this vast gap.

    2. The act of sysnthesis, of design is blissful and the love of this activity remains strong.

    3. If I had the keys to the kingdom I would dissolve the weak-kneed, ineffective AIA and remove all self-congratulation / award-giving until further notice.

    4. With keys to kingdom I would reign in higher education for architects to focus more on serving the public and far less on trying to continually manufacture the next Rem Koolhaus or Loebbus Woods. Although I love the crap – I would cut most of it. Architects have educated themselves into insignificant vapor.

  • Jeremiah

    Jim, thanks for your comments. I agree completely with your point of view (as it’s hard to argue with good sense). Clients typically come to an architect, if they seek out an architect at all, with magazine clippings and stock floor plan print outs with an idea of what they want their house to “look” like instead of how they want it to function. That to me is the biggest hurdle to get over with clients – get their focus off of aesthetics and ornament and on to more pragmatic things like program, function and performance. Certainly more than can be explained in a one hour consult, but we can still strive to “plant the seed” for further conversations down the road.
    Education is a entirely separate realm that I could easily spend a day yammering on and on about. Perhaps that will be my next post – the follies and shortfalls of contemporary architectural education.
    Cheers.

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