In an effort to debunk some of the preconceptions / misconceptions / myths of the profession of architecture, while illuminating the depth and breadth of ambitious practices and theses that a professional degree in architecture ignites, this series will feature a variety of interviews from (x)architects. An (x)architect is someone with a professional degree in architecture, licensed or not, who has ambitiously ventured above and beyond just the built work, whether by choice or in light of the recent crisis.
“Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don’t just stand there, make it happen.” ~ Lee Iacocca
Meet Jeremy Delgado and The Friendly Office: Jeremy graduated from the Woodbury University, School of Architecture, and upon graduation, in 2006, he started his own practice: “The Friendly Office”. Together, they take on architectural, communication, and design work. Many architects are interested in everything, and so is The Friendly Office. However, by making “an interest in every field and way of working” their stance, they have literally freed themselves to do anything, with a certain rigor in being satirical, humorous, and approachable “in an architectural way”. They have worked closely with the Arid Lands Institute on installations in an effort to build a wider audience base. They have done graphic design work for community groups, and other clients. They have taken on architectural work from small projects like home additions, carports, and garage conversions to code-violations. The Friendly Office declares “no job is too small.” Their leftover time, “there is a lot sometimes”, is devoted to internal speculative work.
Jeremy’s reply to the effects of the recession on the future of architecture industry managed to unveil yet another facet of the resilience in architecture: the fact that architects are becoming more industrious, multi-modal, and multi-disciplinary. In general, 90% of the built environment, which surrounds us does not get built, correction: designed, by architects. However, that 10% that falls within the realm of architecture counts for much more than just the built environment. It sets trends and shapes the culture of construction. For better or worse, I would like to believe for the better, architects are becoming more creative with making that 10% count and Jeremy’s reply alludes to that:
“It looks like Rem Koolhaas’s personal observation about the intersection of journalism, film-making, and architecture is resonating with more architects… Architecture schools seem to be encouraging this trend in producing critical makers, DIY’ers, storytellers, and filmmakers. Architects are becoming more engaged with other ways of directly influencing the built environment… Hopefully the recession will creatively provide more thoughtful architects who are better engaged with the world.”
When asked to speculate on the effects of the digital revolution Jeremy discussed some of the hopes and pitfalls of such radical shift in design:
“Definitely more architects are self-publishing and creating more magazines, while fabrication labs are becoming increasingly popular. These and other digital trends are increasing the amount of self-directed projects produced by architects… More voices are being heard but at the moment it seems like there is an increasing ‘sameness’ with what is considered good design…”
Jeremy goes by the official title of the designer. He is not a licensed architect and at the age of 28, ambitiously looks forward to the catalytic moments in his practice to come. He credits the school he attended for his professional degree, the Woodbury University Architecture program, with igniting the fire in him to “go out and start a practice”:
“I attended Woodbury University at a time when nobody knew the school and it’s architecture program. That’s slowly changing as the school gets older… But back then, the school would mostly go unnoticed… It was the best, in my view, environment to be in; it was inspirational in a way to be flying under the radar; it inspired hard work and produced work that when it saw the light of day was really good… In a way Woodbury prepared me for the coming reality and even more recently is reminiscent of a quote by Francois Roche of R&Sie(n) in Metropolis Magazine that encourages students against becoming the next apprentice but to go out and build their own practices.”
“… ask for it or not, the client should get a sustainable building just as much as they should be getting a front door.”
I asked Jeremy to provide us with his estimate on the average salary of an architect. True to his quirky, and curious, take on things Jeremy decided to google the topic:
“I had to google the answer to that question and what is generally mentioned is more than I make in a good year.”
He is not alone in his declaration. As a profession, architects are underpaid, not in the general sense of being underpaid for the craft like many other technical professions. Rather, in the true sense that architects have to put in a lot more hours than they would get compensated, or credited, for in order to move projects forward. I will be revisiting this issue in a future article and will shelve the rest of my rant/analysis for that later date.
For now, I’ll leave you with another entertaining answer from Jeremy:
“Question – Do your parents understand what you do?
Answer – I barely understand what I do.”
“If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” ~Albert Einstein
If you are an (x)architect and would like to be included in this project please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.