A conversation between Juan Lago-Novás (Director of IE´s Master in Architectural Management and Design) and Michael Speaks (Dean of Syracuse University School of Architecture).
Juan Lago-Novás, Ph.D.
When analyzing the changes in the role of architects over the past 200 years, the distinction has been made between the “paper architects”, those who are perceived by society as artists, and the “service architects”, the ones who just deliver the service the client requests, detached from a holistic understanding of architecture and its role in society.
While this may be a simplification, it helps pose the question of how and why architects have lost the connection between the profession and the public and why their work is not seen as making a fundamental contribution to the larger society. This is due to the lack of evolution in architects’ skills and their inability to be engaged with the most pressing issues of today. Both weaknesses have to do with architectural education. At IE School of Architecture and Design, we see skills such as entrepreneurship, teamwork and communication as fundamental for the profession. We stress critical thinking and international understanding.
Michael Speaks, Ph.D.
Today the relationship between the profession and architecture schools is more interdependent than ever. And yet, many of our best schools of architecture fail to prepare students for an increasingly competitive global marketplace. These schools take an art historical approach and present a real or imaginary canon. But if you want to work in a large firm or start your own office, this may not be the best course of study.
By contrast, Syracuse School of Architecture provides a design education that meets the demands of the contemporary world. Many in the architecture academy disagree with this practical approach, suggesting it is too close to the real world, too compromised by the demands of the market. They believe instead that schools should be ideological.
I believe, on the contrary, that we must provide our students with fundamental skills in design and in practice but with opportunities to set their own design approach. We must also prepare them to innovate and add value to the their workplaces, seeking to see the “bigger picture.”