3 Things I Hope Change in Architecture

Young architect Samantha Raburn Markham discusses what she would like to see change in architecture in the next five to 10 years.

Samantha Raburn Markham Samantha Raburn Markham

Samantha Raburn is a newly licensed architect at Stantec Architecture in Plano, Texas. Her blog, The Aspiring Architect, recounts her journey to become qualified and acts as an insightful guide to all those following a similar path into the profession.

Last month’s #ArchiTalks series (a communal blogging series hosted by Life of an Architect blogger Bob Borson) was on the topic “Architecture of Change.” Now, as with all ArchiTalks topics, we can take that topic in any direction we choose to. So I decided to take it into the direction of what I would like to see change in architecture in the next five to 10 years. Here are the three things I hope change in architecture.

1. More firms working with, rather than against, each other

I hope that architects and firms can work together and share ideas that could improve the entire industry versus being so competitive and keeping their secrets for themselves. I know this is a crazy concept, the idea that companies that essentially have to compete against each other to win work could actually work together for the good of industry. I know there are plenty of firms that will partner up with another firm to win a job, and that’s good and all.

But I’m talking about all of the research and development that firms spend tons of hours and manpower and money to make happen: the new materials and methods they may test, the new software they may develop, a better way to help the next generation. I hope to see more collaboration, more shared research and more team spirit for the profession as a whole instead of cheering for just the home team.

Women are graduating from architecture school at decent numbers but not finding their ways to either AIA member or principal status; graphic via AIA.

2. More females and more diversity in the profession

This one has been a topic for years now. And yet, still only 25.3 percent of the profession are women. In the article Diversity: Not a Women-Only Problem by Steve Cimino, the numbers are quite staggering as you move from number of women that start in architecture school and then drop going into the profession and then drop again to licensure and leadership roles. Not only is it just good for women to have more females in the field, it’s better for the entire profession, which is what Cimino discusses in the article.

While the numbers have improved over the last few decades, there’s no reason that our profession can’t one day be fifty-fifty. And what if we throw in more ethnic diversity to those numbers? Imagine the incredible value that architecture would gain if more than 50 percent of our industry came from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It could be pretty incredible.

Rural Studio Greensboro Boys and Girls Club; via Rural Studio

3. Make architecture more accessible to everyone

I was super-pumped to attend a class at the AIA Conference on Architecture called “The Power of Public Interest Design: Serving the Other 90%.” I believe architecture is a tool to help improve the lives of those around us — and that means everyone around us, not just the ones that can afford to pay us our fee.

Programs like Rural Studio at Auburn University begin teaching this idea to their students through their design-build program, where they primarily focus on designing and building projects for one of the poorest counties in Alabama. Louisiana Tech University’s studio designs and builds much-needed projects for Med Camps of Louisiana, a nonprofit organization, which provides one-week camps each summer free of charge for children in Louisiana with disabilities. Better Block tries to improve communities and underutilized areas with the most basic of materials. We can make a difference for the other 90 percent if more of us will just get together and take the time to do it.

These are the things I hope to see change in the next five or 10 years, and I hope that I can help by being a part of that change. What do you want to see change in architecture?

This article first appeared on The Aspiring Architect.