The Times they are a Changin'
I can understand why some architects are upset when reflecting on what they used to be. To me, this is a matter of vested interest winging about evolution. Business is not at all like architecture. You can’t make a business work just because you want it to. Self-will and talent aren't enough. I am a passionate advocate for the Part 3, and I know, from 25 years’ experience, including recent DCLG experience, that although it is not perfect, any commentary advocating its removal is just embarrassing, self-serving garbage bordering upon abuse. However, when you include business skills in architectural education, students simply don't care at all about it, because it contradicts what they are being taught and what they believe that they have a right to, in the seductive world of studio, where they get to "Change perceptions" or "celebrate the intervention" or whatever semantic nonsense they and the tutors are serving up, in order to deliver them as rounded building designers. Because of this, lots of architects have made very blinkered decisions for their clients, who generally are not a sector of their community which are on the radar during education, whilst espousing higher ideals, most of which are actually inappropriate, egotistical and unknowing (insert Gehry word), in my view, and so the architecture not only doesn't serve the clients it also, in some cases, doesn't serve anyone at all, and within a few years needs to be demolished or rebuilt. The trouble with all of this, for architects, is that whilst this process of education and ideology has not changed much, despite the efforts of some, the world has simply moved on. It did so because of the evolutionary nature of business and of the Darwinian adoption of "what works", and the death of what doesn't, all of which and just happens and therefore matters far more than what a group of similarly damaged individuals think should work, in a supposedly perfect world.
The disaster that was Canary Wharf was a bit like the death of the dinosaurs. It is a development of no architectural merit whatsoever, all dreamed up by architects who thought they were being brilliant, and it was constructed with architects in charge and it all became contentious, delayed and over-budget and the client the architects were supposed to serve, very publicly didn't get what they wanted. So, the government stepped in, a review was carried out and it was found that architects get in the way of business, and have to be removed from the supply chain. Read Latham and Egan and that is what they say. They also espouse business learnings from Japan and the US and these are seen as realities or norms in business, and not the silly opinions of architects who all stroke each other’s egos and that of the RIBA, in studios over the land. So when someone says a book is influential or others sneaked in and took our place, I would say that none of that it true. Architects left to the door open behind them while they were footering around in the corner looking for prizes and ignoring the needs of their clients. Why shouldn't someone better take over and employ the designer in the back room? Back room designer is what they have been trained for and what they want to be, except when they are on the podium taking the plaudits for making the world a better place and for fighting for world peace. Maybe the problem is that architectural education is linked to the architectural profession, maybe, given the sea-change that has occurred over the last thirty years, all of what is taught and validated by the profession is actually serving what the profession, which is largely representative of the past, wants. What marketing tells us is that what we want doesn't matter. I would suggest that a start would be for institutions like the RIBA to get out of education.
I've often thought that the ARB, for better or for worse, should change its name to the Registration Executive of British Architects. Everyone could then have a REBA after their name for just over the hundred smackers a year, and receive the same service that they get now from their professional institute, which is nothing other than the provision of letters that we ourselves worked for. If we needed a body to look down on us in a supercilious manner whilst squandering our money and feeding off our minor victories for its own self-aggrandisement, we could set up a new and similar organisation to the one we now pay for the privilege of being what we already are. It would be called the Society Certifying Architectural Masters. The reason why architecture students aren't taught enough about clients in schools of architecture validated by the RIBA is that the RIBA don't actually know who their own clients are, or they are in denial about who pays for them, and who they are supposed to serve. I have never heard such unity against our learned society. The times they are a changin', maybe for the better, and it’s about time, in my view.