As I write this, day one of three of the 2011 AIA Colorado Practice and Design Conference has just come to a close. This year, the conference is aptly titled Regeneration. For me, it has come at exactly the right time.
I am now over three and a half years into a project with my firm, and I am looking forward to something new. Substantial completion is scheduled for October 31st, and along with that comes both the pride of having accomplished something incredible, and the anxiety of not knowing what comes next. Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels anxious about my current circumstances; it’s a theme I heard over and over in the sessions I attended today.
The continual dearth of negative economic news (analyzed in many permutations throughout the day’s sessions) is certainly frightening. While I am sure it is unsettling to those more established in the profession, it’s particularly troubling to emerging professionals because most of us have never been through one of these cycles. It’s next to impossible to relieve the anxiety when you have no experiences with which to temper the reaction.
And while those of us at the bottom of the corporate ladder are concerned with keeping our jobs (or getting one in the first place), the individuals who have built the firms that employ us are having to fight harder and harder to market and win the work. Firms, both large and small, feel anxiety towards social media. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, web content, et al threaten to take more and more of our time. And, just as you convince yourself that you might possibly have a handle on what it is you think you have figured out, your ranking in a Google Search has just fallen off the first page of results. Relax and breathe deep. Who knew there were loads of free tools out there to help you pick the most appropriate key words for your business type?
I was encourage to hear (strictly in the “I’m not alone” sense) that even an architect as accomplished as Joel Sanders occasionally finds himself feeling anxious, restless, and just the slightest bit bored. Early academic pursuits examining the inherent sexuality embedded in architecture have given way to new found interdisciplinary partnerships. The ultimate bachelor pad of his early work informs an Olympic equestrian facility, or a multi-tower complex in Korea. Boredom and its accompanying anxiety are alleviated by an injection of the unfamiliar; blending building with green environments.
I’m not naive enough to think that 16 hours of continuing education over the next three days will fix all of our problems. But, I do think that an open and honest conversation about all that troubles us is an important step in charting a course through more challenging times that lie ahead. We could all use the inspiration and a little reminder that we are all there to support each other. It’s important to pick our collective heads up once in a while and take a critical look around.
Reboot. Restart. Revive. Reinvent. And Regenerate.