Citizen Architect

It almost sounds like the title to a politically charged action thriller. Well, almost.  This month’s #ArchiTalks subject, and an interesting one at that.

The American Institute of Architects defines “Citizen Architect” as one who uses his/her insights, talents, training, and experience to contribute meaningfully, beyond self, to the improvement of the community and human condition.  I’m not sure if that makes me a great citizen architect or a horrible one.  Ok, let me explain that one a little. Up until about a year ago I was mostly worried about establishing myself in the professional community around me, achieving some of the more normal milestones in adult life, and providing a good life for my family. I really don’t think that makes me a bad architect, I tend to think it makes me human. 
What happened about a year ago?  Well I’m glad you asked. I was at a point in my career that I knew the firm I was at was no longer a good fit.  There was a miriad of reasons, and I knew I needed to make a change. It wasn’t quick, and I’ll admit I was a little picky, but eventually that change came, and with it some really good changes to a lot of aspects of my life.  
It didn’t take long at my new firm to notice that there was a serious effort made to give back.  Not to just the employees there, but the community at large as well. I think that is beginning to rub off on me.  A while back we got a phone call that asked us if we wanted to be a part of a little event to help raise money for kids. Without even a second thought we said yes.  Some of you might have heard of it, it’s called the Parade of Playhouses for Dallas CASA. We had a great time coming up with one and had a great contractor to work with that actually built ours.
Since that one event, we have been involved in and have plans to be a part of quite a few more.  Writing this down, one thing keeps crossing my mind, it seems a lot like bragging.  The thing is though, after being a part of a few of these, you really do realize it’s an honor to just be a small part of the whole event. We’re really lucky to be able to afford some of our time and talents to help out where we can. The thing is though, even though these volunteer opportunities are awesome in their own right, as architects our contribution is more of an indirect one. How do we contribute in a more direct way to improving the human condition.  I hope that came across in the big booming voice that I heard in my head.
I really think one of the best ways we can have a direct effect is part of what we already do every day. On just about every job we work on, we make a decision on tons of different materials that get used on a project.  Plenty of those are left completely in our hands without a second thought from anyone else. This seems to me to be a great opportunity to have a serious impact on our industry and its effect on the world. If even the most basic and common materials we used on a project had to use lots of recycled content, had to be extremely energy efficient, or had to do more than just their primary purpose.
I know, I know, this isn’t the type of thing that gets you into the magazines for the coolest design decisions made in the last decade, but it just might help make this little blue dot a better place than the way we found it. Alright, time for me to definitely get off of my little soapbox.  Let’s see what the rest of the #ArchiTalks crew came up with.  Click one of the links below, it will be worth your time, I promise.

Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Inspiring a Citizen Architect

Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Citizen Architect: The Last Responder

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
How Architects Can Be Model Citizens

Courtney Casburn Brett – Casburn Brett (@CasburnBrett)
“Citizen Architect” + Four Other Practice Models Changing Architecture

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
Citizen Architect

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Citizen Developer??

Daniel Beck – The Architect’s Checklist (@archchecklist)
Protecting the Client – 3 Ways to be a Citizen Architect

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Citizen of Architecture

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Citizen Architect #ArchiTalks

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[cake decorating] to [citizen architect]

Tara Imani – Tara Imani Designs, LLC (@Parthenon1)
Citizen Starchitect’ is not an Oxymoron

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Senior Citizen, Architect

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
Help with South Carolina’s Recovery Efforts

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Meet Jane Doe, Citizen Architect

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
We are the Champions – Citizen Architects

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
My Hero – Citizen Architect

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect)
Architect as Citizen

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
Citizen Architect: #architalks

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
#ArchiTalks: The everyday citizen architect

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
small town citizen architect

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
What Does it Mean to be a Citizen Architect?

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Good Citizen Architect

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Citizen Architect … Seems Redundant


11 Replies to “Citizen Architect”

  1. Sometimes all we can do are the “little” things. Things that go unnoticed and unappreciated. But that does not make them any less important. And it certainly does not lessen the impact of those decisions.


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