There are twenty architects working in my twenty year old firm now. Some of them, in fact, are in training.
It has been this way for over a decade now. The architects have changed mostly, but the numbers haven’t. I do wonder if we are going to swell in numbers ever. I try and think about when we decided to be this size, or if we ever did. I have a definite feeling, though, that I would not like it to change.
I have held it important for us to able to create an atmosphere of a work- dialogue, in teams and amongst all, as we participate in the design process. Within the design studio looking at others work beyond the projects that one is involved in, sharing thoughts on your project with others, observing and learning …all these, I feel, is a possibility when the numbers are less than a couple of dozen. The office works with a process where individuals work in teams and yet create along a shared vision.
Sure, this number of architects is not for every other. Architectural offices are varied in size. Mostly, all of them grow from single digits and some never stop. Some stick to single digits.
We are not counting the other critical people here of course. Administration, human resource personnel, finance managers, estimators, project managers and site supervisors are all behind the development and building process in an architectural firm. Here we are trying to discuss the active participation by the individuals who are trained to practice in design, the architects.
I call it participation because it is my belief that an architect should do no less. I think the nourishment of an architect is through a mindful involvement. Ever learning, ever challenging and ever alert.
The ideas of being able to listen, being bold enough to speak out when you think you should and being respectful enough to appreciate. That is the culture at work that we try and create.
It does not matter how senior the person is. It does count even if you are the intern or the fresh entrant. The spirit of sharing results in the creation of true synergy.
Yes, hierarchy does exist at our work place. The wisdom and the experience of the seniors create an order of process-flow, an environment of mentorship and a regulation of quality. The junior works with diligence and devotion. Yet, there is the room to speak; to ask questions and being willing to answer. The result is insight earned through experience.
But respect is earned in the studio, not imposed.
There is always a choice in life, to choose love over fear.
By Samarendra M. Ramachandra
Featured image by Asghar Ali