19 December 2009

So apparently I have nothing to say when I'm not in school.

...Although now that I am out of school, I am getting emails asking for money from my alum. Which I briefly considered, until I read through the rest of the email from the Dean of my graduate school, in which he said this:
In this difficult economy, we are dedicated to making our students the best prepared, most innovative in the nation. Competition for jobs has become more intense – and it's incumbent upon us to provide that vital edge to compete and create value in a global marketplace. And that means knowledge of digital techniques: parametric design, scripting, fabrication, digital communication, Building Information Modeling.

Even once our graduates have found a job, these are often the skills that will help them keep it.
There are many things that got me fired up this week - the health care fight in Congress and the Copenhagen Climate Conference among them - but my reaction to this email has been the most profound for my own life and that of my fellow professionals. Some of this has even been posted in other places because I keep refining my argument as I think more and more about it. As I wrote to my former professors immediately after I received this email,
"I appreciate what (the Dean) is trying to do for the school, but I am at a loss as to why he failed to mention energy modeling in his long list of "digital techniques" that the students should be learning. The profession of architecture is at risk right now, and from my perspective, I know I wouldn't have a job if I hadn't learned those skills (in graduate school). I do have architecture friends who can make a mean 3D model in Rhino or Maya... but they've been unemployed for the better part of the last year, with few prospects in sight. With the adoption of Architecture 2030 goals into building code as a real possibility on the horizon, architecture students need more of an idea how to make energy efficient buildings, and perhaps they should spend less time on making prettier, faster ones."
It's like this: there is going to be a time in the near future when designing a sustainable or energy efficient building won't be a choice... it will be required. And I am deeply concerned for my profession, because unless architects start to respond to this situation, we are going to be left out of the process. I can guarantee you that other professionals and other types of businesses will capitalize on architects' inability to respond to prevailing market conditions. I think it's absolutely imperative that architects become at least conversant in sustainable and energy-lite design strategies, so that we can manage the design of buildings properly and guide the process like we should, instead of looking like a deer in the headlights when our consultants and clients ask us for a greener building. Perhaps we can collectively find our way out of the forest before that happens?...

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