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Community and Q&A

For architects with a sense of humor

Martin Holladay | Posted in General Questions on

If you’re a builder, you may want to view this video:
“The Man Behind the World’s Ugliest Buildings.”

If you’re an architect, you shouldn’t click the link unless you have a sense of humor.

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  1. brendanalbano | | #1


    What architecture firm has the budget to still be building physical models?

    Thanks for the laugh :)

    1. Jason_Cole | | #2

      To be fair, it's not us that need the budgets for physical models...

  2. Expert Member

    They won't let me play the video in Canada :(

    Unlike the occupants of the Green Architects Lounge here on GBA, most architects are at best prickly when around their peers. We used to have a Christmas party every year for the architects in Ottawa. They all staked out a corner and glared at each other. The (perhaps) necessary ego involved in being successful in the field sure makes for some hard to deal with characters.

    1. Expert Member
      BILL WICHERS | | #4

      Perhaps for a future Christmas party you should try to find a circular room? ;-)

      If you can find a VPN air anonymizer service based in the US you can probably use that to get the video in Canada.

      We engineers are used to dealing with architect egos. The architects are more like artists, while engineers have to deal with physics. My joke goes “the architect says “it will be beautiful!” then the structural engineer tells the architect to forget it because it cannot be built.”

      In the end though, we all have to work as a team to accomplish our shared goal of building a successful structure.

      Thanks for the link Martin, that was good for a laugh.

      egarding the AT&T buildings, there actually was an architecture firm they used back in the early 1900s to design a lot of their switching center buildings, many of which are actually interesting old Art Deco buildings. The original buildings tended to house the switching equipment, operators, and support staff. Newer facilities don’t usually have many people though. The windowless buildings tend to house primarily switching equipment and the design standards don’t allow windows since they present a risk to the equipment inside (think beyond impact rated windows here). Typical telecom facilities (datacenters, etc.) prefer to not have equipment rooms to have any exterior walls. These buildings also have a lot of space dedicated to mechanicals (usually 30-40% of the total square footage). They’re not your typical office buildings, they’re critical facilities a lot of people depend on and they’re built for a specific purpose.


      1. Expert Member
        MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #5

        Why are there no architects in heaven?
        Because Jesus was a carpenter.

      2. brendanalbano | | #7

        At the risk of diverging into a serious conversation, I feel like I need to speak up for architects a little bit here ;)

        I think I must run in different architectural circles than the architects folks love to complain about on GBA.

        Both my job, and the jobs of other architects I know are much more the jobs of project managers than artists.

        We spend much less time negotiating our artistry with the structural engineer's physics, but rather, our job is about negotiating the mechanical engineer's physics with the structural engineer's physics with the city's zoning code with the state's building code with the client's budget with the client's program with the needs of the end-users of the space with.... you get the idea.

        I did my undergraduate degree in fine art. Architects get to do a lot of interesting problem-solving and design. But we don't do a lot of art. I don't know where that rumor got started... probably to lure unsuspecting art students like my younger self into architecture programs ;)

        1. Expert Member
          BILL WICHERS | | #8

          My guess is a lot of the problems with architects are similar to the problems with newer engineers. Back when I was in school, you had to basically apprentice for two years as part of your college work as an intern at an engineering firm (or similar, you had to work under experienced engineers). This was so that you'd learn that what the book says isn't everything. Most schools now will graduate new engineers without any requirement for any field work at all, which results in engineers that are clueless about the real world.

          I imagine there are architects out there who also have never really worked in the field, so they don't understand the realities of a project. The real world is not as clean and organized as a textbook problem after all :)

          I do agree that there are good architects out there and I've worked with some of them. The good ones visit the job sites, listen to the contractors, and try to facilitate timely completion of projects. The bad ones are the ones where the answer to every question is "build it like the print". I've worked with those too.


  3. rockies63 | | #6

    A bit of a defense.

    Architects are the only true white collar professionals left in the world. In the old days, when most of the world's work force were blue collar (factory workers, office workers, farmers, ranchers, etc) the white collar people were architects, doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, etc).

    However, all occupations (other than architects) have to stay within certain guidelines. Doctors (or surgeons) can't suddenly decide to cut something away or connect things together just because they feel like it, lawyers can't say that they don't like the judgment of the court so they make up their own law, engineers can't decide to ignore the role of physics, and professors can't teach things that aren't true.

    Architects sit down with a blank sheet of paper and draw a vertical line, then a horizontal one and everyone thinks that they've started to design. They actually haven't, they've only created a reference point where the two lines cross.. It's only when the third line is drawn that you begin to define space, and then only if you include a measurement to give scale.

    Architects can allow themselves to go anywhere in their minds and create anything they want, relying on a million past memories and incorporating fantastic new concepts. Theirs is the only profession where anything can happen. Engineers and building scientists help create the building, but there's nothing to create without the architect.

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