WE admire beauty, to the extent that we admire even F.L. Wright, whose buildings often reached 10 or 20 times their original budget. We architects working today cannot even add 7% to the building budget that would make it totally passive, green and over a lifetime produce enormous savings and comfort to the owners.
What’s the most precious thing in life – beyond personal health?
Heat (in winter)
Power/fuel (no food, water, movement, heat or communication without these)
In all these categories, architects and planners have enormous possibilities to make things either perfect, safe and near everlasting. If we keep doing what we have been doing, itmeans the end of the world. There is no other profession that can shape the world for the better. Yet people think of us as? what exactly?
Near USELESS, that’s what. This isbased on the fact that we are not able to do anything to make the world more peaceful, use water more efficiently, build buildings that do not need heat or cooling and could provide even sustenance and power – nearly for free. Peace is easy if most people have what they need in life, and if we do not waste, more people would have what they need.
Couture or Start architects are barely surviving these days. Half of our professionals from 2005 are no longer in architecture.
Yet in every developed nation, buildings alone in general use most of the energy, bleeding our scarce resources into WHAT – outdated utility companies and energy production? No one seems to know that a TRILLION in a year is unsustainable in the long run, even for the wealthiest nation in the world. It cost about 6 trillion to do the 10 year war in Iraq (and the same for Afghanistan), and that was considered HUGE and unsustainable.
If architects’ and professional salaries and fees – along with respect for real professional ability to do good and green – were respected, we could fix this issue in a reasonable time frame, and stop focusing building fancy bubble gum (high tech, one of a kind, difficult to maintain) architecture (in fashion these days in order to stay in the news).
Naturally, only if the incentives from our government would make it financially viable to provide the extra 7% in cost to make buildings (and efficient transportation) 90% to 95% more energy efficient for the developers.
This 7% would make nuclear power stations obsolete and many conventional ones too. As a nation, we would save a trillion dollars a year in today’s money…and the little power to live from can come from solar and wind nearby. And in buildings that can operate without a grid, it makes business possible even with outages.
Professional planning / zoning would help to provide local substance, but who seems to care as we shop at ease in our super markets with enormous parking lots around them.
So why is it that the only profession that could make FREE money in trillions a year, that is trained and works as hard as doctors, gets paid a fraction and has no respect or proper use these days?
It started in the 70’s when lawyers took away fees that were based on job difficulty, and replaced it with competitive bidding. First, we lost the ability to train which meant that continuity and office experience was lost as soon as people moved on or were laid off. Then came computerization that temporarily allowed efficiencies, and thus survival for few years. Then came overseas drafting to cut cost in China and India. Then recessions, and so we were left with a skeleton crew of offices that have started to collapse into a few ‘collectives’. What is next in store? Neither architecture schools nor industries have yet to wake up for the national or global) security dilemma. Only extreme effort can save us now, by being totally GREEN beyond our wildest imaginations.
Any nation that depends on long fragile power and food supply as we are now) cannot enter a world conflict, and yet the general view is that the world with its hunger for endless resources will sooner (possibly within a decade) again go through the unthinkable (WAR) due to stresses in energy and raw materials, geo politics, coupled with growing number of people in our little fragile planet.
We have seen in New Orleans and NYC what happens when power is no longer available. To see the whole nation / continents in this state of affairs is catastrophic and yes, very biblical. Even green passive structures and healthier ways of producing food and conserving water cannot completely save us, but they do buy time to rebuild and survive…for some, but certainly not for all.
Tapani Talo, AIA
11 Heatherbloom Road, White Plains, New York 10605, USA. Tel: 1- 914 – 645 2940,