Should I like my architect as a person?
This is not a banal question. To like someone is to seek a quality beyond mere qualifications, capabilities and to develop an emotional connection that relies on the credibility as a person.
The difference between architecture as a profession and the others, medical or legal for instance, is that there is an establishment of a relationship which is more personal, from a psychological perspective, I think.
There is the need to share, not facts but feelings. There is the necessity to trust, not just ethically but fundamentally. And most of this is implicit. I must say that I cannot fathom a document or an agreement which can cover the implicit rules of engagement of the architect.
The profession deals with personal attitudes. The architect must be a people person… not affected, but real. The perception of the very needs of the client is mostly at a deeper level than stated. Then they are interpreted as design. The soul seeks satisfaction, both sides. The building then is a symphony where the architect is not the solo player, but a part of the orchestra, a partner in the dance.
I know what you are thinking. It is about the money, you say. Or about the ego. I agree there is the involvement of both. There is a deal, a transaction and a definite deliverable. I think, however, that both the client and the architect make a significant move towards transcending both money and the ego, to create something that satisfies. Honesty and integrity have a way of finding themselves as an integral part of the program. The opposite is disastrous. It thrives no longer as a professional relationship. It withers away and dies. But architects are usually friends for life. The journey is a memorable one .
And it may not just be about a private house. I think of Dr. Jonas Salk and Louis Kahn in the making of The Salk Institute and the realisation during my visit to the place about how the vision of the client is imbued in the architect’s design. I think of Guggenheim museum and Hilla von Rebay – artist & co-founder, Solomon Guggenheim – the owner and Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect, and the conflicts that they had to work through not just between themselves, but also with the city. The architecture of significance is always a shared aspiration, one that is not just a product of a directive.
I present an interesting quote about the relationship of an architect and a client:
The dialogue between client and architect is about as intimate as any conversation you can have, because when you’re talking about building a house, you’re talking about dreams.
Robert A. M. Stern
Or this one:
Never talk to a client about architecture. Talk to him about his children. That is simply good politics. He will not understand what you have to say about architecture most of the time. An architect of ability should be able to tell a client what he wants. Most of the time a client never knows what he wants. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
But what sums up for me, is about the importance of a relationship between the client and the architect in this aspiration for something higher:
I try to create homes, not houses. – Louis Kahn
by Samarendra M. Ramachandra
Featured image: wikihow