Wednesday, December 8, 2010

72. A Compromise Manifesto: 50 Techniques for Aspiring Starchitects

It is a given that success for the average architect necessitates sacrifices. However, Starchitect-level success, the kind that so many ambitiously aspire to (and so few achieve), often requires compromise of an especially perverse nature - namely, of one's manners, ethical standards, objectivity, social propriety, mental faculties, and capacity for reason. As evidenced by the behavior of numerous Starchitects and their suborbital attributes to distract from real investigation into the work itself and undermine the process of design. For those preparing to enter into such and endeavor, we offer the following mission statement, based on years of observation, for achieving success in spite of yourself:

1. Profess a commitment to collaborative design. Proceed by designing what ever you want.

2. Promote employees who excel at flattery.

3. Disappear periodically, leaving your team to work unaided. Upon your return, destroy any progress made. Rinse and repeat.

4. When presented with a superior design not of one’s own making, ignore it. Regurgitate said design weeks later as one’s own- add camouflaging tweaks as necessary.

5. Delegate decision-making authority to the least cooperative member of the team.

6. Keep designers emotionally disengaged from the project by discouraging discovery of their own creative solutions. Rather, instill your leadership with ambiguity keeping designers focused on arguing, worrying, agonizing, and fruitlessly trying to read your mind.

7. Hold a design charrette open to all in the firm. Rule that no presented options suffice.

8. Create a design with great potential. Squander it.

9. Everything is due by the end of today.

10. Cultivate competitive factions within the office and silently watch as they busily undermine one another whilst no work gets done.

11. Model your design based on what someone told you the market wants.

12. Delay decision-making by ordering numerous iterations of superfluous design investigations. Shortly before the deadline, proclaim that, as anticipated, your first design impulse was correct.

13. Pick any employee, and publicly parade them as your exclusive favorite. Share meals, pillow-talk, socialize, and plot the future direction of Architecture together. Inexplicably drop them after six months. Pick another worker and repeat.

14. Cultivate team apathy and low morale by continuing to develop ideas and designs ten-to-thirty years out of fashion.

15. Drive your most intelligent team members off the design team and onto the technical team via wilful, impulsive critiques of their creativity. Proceed to design with an even less creative team.

16. Make your rhetoric not match your actions.

17. Develop multiple personalities. Deploy as needed.

18. Allow your drug, alcohol, or sexual addiction to interfere with your work.

19. When you have attained enough fame, rest on your laurels and lose your interest in architecture altogether. Focus instead on football.

20. Identify an outside person or entity that, due to their continual obstructive behavior, absolves the design worthy of your attention. Delegate the design to subordinates declare the project is “bread and butter” and forever ignore it. Collect fees.

21. Create a police-state within the office. Initiate procedures, audit reported hours, surveil computer screens, question in-out times., spot-check emails, restrict meals, increase workloads, reduce pay, threaten objectors, accuse suspects based on hunches, fire people at will, crush rebellion, and generally make employees think more about their exit strategy than designing buildings.

22. Bring your spouse in to assist in running the office. Watch your workers squirm when they cannot alert you that he/she is undermining the firm with his/her idiocy.

23. If a functional request, city ordinance or building code requirement threatens the viability of a signature design element, do one of the following: question the intelligence of the individual raising the issue, make empty appeals to “higher standards”, dismissively declare”just fix it”, or ignore it until it’s too late. Under no circumstances should you take the issue seriously.

24. Demonstrate your passion for architecture by unashamedly bursting into tears when describing the anticipated transcendent experience of your design. Just assume everyone else feels likewise.

25. Publicly act as a beneficent figurehead, a beacon of positive leadership for all in the firm. Privately direct a squad of your lieutenants to do all your firing, slave-driving, salary-cutting and other dirty work. Feign innocence of their actions.

26. Hire a talented new employee with an impeccable resume, trained in a firm more esteemed than yours. On their first day, give the individual a single chance to impress you with their abilities. The instant they deviate from your design affinities, crush them and declare them ruined by their former employer. ignore them until they quit.

27. Interrupt, interrupt, interrupt.

28. Announce to the office you intention to author a Groundbreaking Theoretical Tome. Do nothing.

29. Initiate loud squabbles with your business partner or spouse in front of all employees. Grumble about him/her under your breath. Act surprised when employees quit.

30. Request several color samples of an architectural element, material, or surface. Rule that the correct color is somewhere between Color 1 and Color 2. Repeat ad infinitum.

31. Change part of the design during project documentation. Next, forget that you made this decision. Upon encountering the change as built on site. Fly into a rage.

32. Optional addendum to #31: insist, INSIST! the change be corrected regardless of cost, schedule, or client desirability.

33. Should an employee quit your office, curse them, disavow ever liking them, disparage their abilities and thereafter ignore them. Upon encountering the employee years later, act as if you’ve remained good ol’ pals.

34. The photograph is paramount. Concentrate all your resources on areas to be photograph. Construction need only be durable enough to survive the photo-shoot, not actual use.

35. Brow beat your computer support fellow. Remember, your computer has never ever worked correctly, and “why must I ask you to keep fixing this?”

36. At least once per client meeting, directly question your project leader’s intellectual capacity. Apologize to the client for his/her ignorance (regardless of the validity of his/her remarks”)

37. When others are speaking, do not listen. Concentrate instead on what you will say next.

38. Assert that you work is better than (insert name of architect more highly-esteemed than your)

39. Hire a young attractive employee fitting your sexual preference, regardless of their intelligence or lack thereof. Never find any fault with them. Never fire them. Just leer at them.

40. Punctuate your speech with words for which you have created your own new, bewildering definitions.

41. When walking by an employee’s desk, briefly glance at whatever lies on top, declare it unsatisfactory, provide no solution, and simply continue on your way. Allow no more than 10 seconds for said exchange.

42. No office-wide staff meetings. This would needlessly give workers a sense for the future of the firm, and consequently, their jobs. Much better to keep them nervous, nervous, nervous.

43. Receive praise only. Never provide it.

44. Assume that the office runs on autopilot. New work arrives, contracts get signs, people get hired, people get fired, drawings get drawn, clients get invoiced, bills get paid, paychecks get printed, buildings get built and your Audi gets washed, all whilst you blithely sip chardonnay in first class.

45. Publicity is absolute. Yield to this axiom: if your name isn't in print, you simply do not exist.

46. Copy robustly from yourself. If it worked with a different client, on a different project, with a different building type, in a different time and in a different country, why bother creating unique solution for this project.

47. Cultivate a voice of condescension, a manner of aggression and an appearance of eccentricity.

48. Acquiesce to all of the following client requests, no matter how disastrous it may be to the firms financial integrity: major last-minute changes, reduction to your fee, reduction to your schedule, reductions to the quality of the project, endless design options, client request for delayed payments, pro-bono side-work, working with out a contract, cleaning up another architect’s failed design, or employing the client’s son or daughter in an internship.

49. Remember, inside you are just a child who needs to get his way.

50. Lastly, pass down you unconditional conviction of your own genius to younger generations, so that they too can nurture an unjustified sense of self (regardless of their accomplishments) and mutate their integrity in the pursuit of fame, thus perpetuating the twisted personality cult of Starchitecture inexorably into the future.

-by Anonymous (may be Conrad) may be you. Anonymous is an architect. Anonymous went to the Right universities, and there studied with the Right professors, and recieved the Right grades, the Right awards and the Right degrees. Subsequently, Anonymous earned the Right professional registrations. Anonymous has the Right architects on the Right projects, but that has somehow turned out Wrong. Anonymous has quietly endured in their little fiefdoms, and observed aghast at their often childish, irratinal behavior, yet inexplicable success. Anonymous is ultimately fearful that s/he may turn out just like them.

From Conditions Magazine, #0310