The Winds of Change

zzzoffshore-wind-power-7259I recently read “What’s Next: The Millennials” issue of Architect Magazine, and, well, it really got me thinking.

Not only does the article raise questions regarding rethinking the path to licensure, it makes some pretty grandiose statements that paint a picture of Millennials  (the generation born roughly between 1980-2000) as a group of young people with the potential to be a “hero generation”—poised to “have profound effects on the profession of architecture.”  (From “Children of the Revolution” by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Architect, Jan 2013.)

Creating a broader definition of architecture, increasing the volume and priority of socially-minded projects geared towards community rather than the individual, and treating work as an “activity” rather than a “place” were all cited as tangible examples of how Millennials are already changing existing paradigms within our field.

This article seemed timely after recently attending a presentation from a researcher from Teknion.  In her presentation regarding trend forecasting, the phrase “Rise of the Creative Class” was mentioned.  Originally coined by Richard Florida’s book (with that exact title,) Florida suggests that economic growth has and will continue to be spurred by the “Creative Class”—knowledge-based workers that are both problem-solvers, and in the case of “Super-Creative Core” individuals, may even be problem “finders.”

Given my occasional tendency to get lost in thought, I stopped listening to the rest of the presentation and started pondering what this might mean, as well as how it seems to be a shared sentiment that the present is undeniably an exciting, auspicious time for young, creative professionals with ambitions that transcend or reframe the approach and impact buildings have on our environment and daily experiences.

As a Millennial by definition (and what now feels like a strangely accurate stereotype,), all of this discussion of change and revolution has left me excited but also curious in regards to how our field will continue to evolve.

Architecture is in many ways an institution.

In a conflicting regard, architecture is also an art.

How does one balance the beauty of formal education, tradition, history, processes and protocols with this emerging desire to trade what is for what could and, in Millennial-type thinking, what “should be?”

One of my favorite quotes is the Chinese proverb “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, others build windmills.”  While I applaud the unbridled enthusiasm my generation holds for “changing the world,” I also recommend we think about how to actually build a windmill that both responds to and optimizes our existing resources.

How we do this is perhaps another blog post…after I’ve had some more time to think, and to research the logistics of wind power…

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