23 March 2012
Butt Ugly Blight
Let’s face it – much of our built environment is a horrible mess. Architects are often complicit in this, but more times than not, the advice and skills of architects, planners, urban designers and landscape architects are not only ignored, but contradicted outright. The bankers, developers and capitalists have had their run. We have had policy based on support of two industries: the fossil fuel industry and the automotive industry. Accommodation of the automobile has made a wasteland of our country, and turned our people into fat dumplings incapable of locomotion.
Unbridled development coupled with risky lending practices led us to a fiscal meltdown. And what did we get out of it? The greatest building boom in our nation's history, and we have built a bunch of shit sprawling all over the landscape. It is clear that building is one of the driving forces of our economy. In terms of energy, buildings consume 50% of annual consumption. the industrial capacity for buildings and the stuff that goes in buildings (furniture, fabric, lighting, etc.) probably accounts for half of our economy. But the designers of the built world are not accorded the respect and authority they deserve. Design is not aesthetics. Designers solve problems - they make things work. Architects, interior designers, landscape architects, urban planners and designers are hired to make things work. The financiers and politicians have made a mess of our economic system, it's time for the architects to have the opportunity to make a mess now.