September 4, 2014

September 4, 2014

Today’s reality is that Architecture alone isn’t enough. Architecture school alone isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong: I would never in anyway demean the pedagogical process. I love and cherish my architectural education. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But it wasn’t enough.

In the constant struggle between the realities of academia and the profession, the eternal question remains; is architecture school preparing our students for the multiple realities of the profession?

Some accuse academia of being too idealized and the opposing side blames the profession for being too cynical. But what if neither are to blame? What if the problem lies in the fact that we’ve been taught to believe that 180 credit hours alone is somehow supposed to prepare you for a profession whose veterans are often still trying to come to grips with?

If architecture is truly the experiential craft we know it to be, then where are those experiences supposed to come from? How can we expect our graduates to be armed with that quiver of experiences and prepped to fire targeted arrows at the perils of practice if the bulk of their education takes place in one building that is open and populated 24/7? It’s an unfair notion. Unfair both to academia and to the professional practice.

The solution as I see it, is this: schools aren’t to blame, and neither is the practice. There needs to be a mediator. An agent of experience to intercede and mediate between the stark contrast of the two. This is where AIAS comes in. We are that middle ground. We are that bridge across.

As I write this I’m sitting at lunch with a good friend and former Chapter President at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Carlos Serrano. He’s has just recently started full time at Alamo Architects in San Antonio, a firm named firm of the year by the Texas Society of Architects.

“I’m getting comfortable with my responsibility,” he said. “It wasn’t easy but I see my peers who didn’t have the responsibilities and experiences I did and I know I’m not having as hard a time as they are…and I know the firm sees it too. It’s exciting!”

I’m sure if we polled recent grads many of our former members would echo a similar sentiment. AIAS is that missing link. AIAS is Architecture and ____________.

– Obi Okolo