|Interior by Bernard Maybeck, and...|
The hapless contractor was doing his best to cope with this mess, taking it on faith that the architect must have had a good reason for creating it.
In fact, a simpler design—using just one type of joist—would have served just as well. The plain truth was that the architect didn’t have the faintest idea how difficult his design would be to build, because he had no hands-on experience in construction.
|...portrait of the architect himself. He knew|
what he was doing, because he was the son
of a woodcarver, and he know how to build.
“How come architects don’t have to serve an apprenticeship in the field, so they can see how hard their stuff is to build?”
Good question—and one I’ve heard many, many times before. I wish I had a good answer.
It seems perfectly reasonable that someone who designs buildings should also know something about how to build them. Yet field experience is the exception and not the rule among architects. This lack of practical knowledge is one reason the architect’s once-proud reputation as “master builder”—one that goes back centuries—is rapidly crumbling.
In spite of this sad state of affairs, I’m not aware of a single major architecture school that requires a mandatory field internship. Nor do current licensing requirements encourage any form of field work—instead, they stress office internship under the tutelage of a licensed architect. This is the part of an architectural education that’s considered “practical experience”.
|Via Mizner in Palm Beach, Florida, by architect|
Addison Mizner (1872-1933) and...
|Mizner in person. Not only|
did he know how to build,
but he founded a craft
workshop that made many
of the materials for his
History has shown that architects with hands-on experience, from Michelangelo to Maybeck to Mizner, seem to develop an innate feel for the nature of materials, an appreciation for simplicity, and a firm grasp on what things cost to build. All of these are crucial to a project’s success. So if you’re in the market for an architect, never mind the eye-popping website and look for some evidence of hands-on knowledge.
I don’t think I’m alone in advocating a field internship. Many of my colleagues might agree that prospective architects could use more practical experience. If they had it, the world might look a lot different.