Architecture, five cents.

What was initially a concept project has ballooned into a movement promoting an open, candid discussion about local architectural issues. Architecture 5¢ is an attempt to get the public talking about architecture. I think this is a great idea – I feel the average person does not understand the roles architects, planners and engineers play in their lives everyday. Architecture should not be a practice reserved only for college graduates apprenticing at a firm.

Planners must make a push in this direction. Planning has to be approachable. We’re far less appreciated than architects and our work much less tangible. (Architects point to a building. What do we point to?) We know our work is important (and thankfully our clients know this, too) but that’s not enough. Planning is the key to uniting the individual buildings into a greater urban fabric.

The recent trend towards incorporating charrettes or visioning sessions is a step in the right direction. However, we must make our work (in draft and final form) as open and available as possible. Workshops and public hearings should be a part of every project. Planners need to excel at outreach and get the people and stakeholders involved to the greatest extent possible. GIS can aid in outreach efforts through coordination, presentation and as a feedback channel. We need to be at the forefront of all development projects, from major redevelopment down to streetscaping. If we don’t get the public involved, not only will we produce less effective planning documents, in their eyes we’ll be just another professional group billing a town.

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4 Responses to Architecture, five cents.

  1. JEA says:

    After being asked what I do,–“I’m a planner”–you cannot imagine how many people have said, “Oh…you? You’re an event planner? Hmmm, ok, sounds cools.” And then, after I explain what I do, they invariably retort, “Don’t you have to be an engineer to do that??”

    You’ve identified the fundamental issue with public perception. To most people, planners operate in an abstract world, meaning that our work product is secondary to say, renderings by architects and site plans by engineers. Both are accessible and commonly known.

    A Master Plan, however, not so much. Ask someone outside the land development field to describe the purpose of a Master Plan, and perhaps you’ll hear something sensible, but almost never related to controlling land use, housing, circulation, community services–the foundations of municipal fabric.

    Open sourcing the profession is what we need. After all, it’s quite accessible nowadays.

    Architecture 5¢ is a quality model.

    Citizen planning is alive and well, but we have to bring it to the masses.

  2. jh says:

    It may have good intents, but there is a fine for one holding oneself out as an architect, or using the words architecture or architectural when one is not a registered architect!!!!

    • John Reiser says:

      You can use the term “architect,” you only run into trouble if you’re using the term to pass yourself off as a licensed professional when you are not.

  3. jh: Really? What is the fine? Is there also a fine if I call myself a singer without being a registered singer? Or if I call myself a poet without being a registered poet? How about the all-time favorite — sanitation engineer? Are they registered engineers, jh? Or should they all be fined?

    Atanas E. Entchev, AICP, GISP
    ENTCHEV GIS Architects

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