Page C2.1 . 09 October 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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    What Does an Architect Do?

    by Claire Gallagher

    To many people, what architects do is a mystery. Buildings simply appear. The general public has so little understanding of design vocabulary that buildings are incorporated into public life devoid of meaning.

    The divide between architecture and public understanding generates a host of problems: between architect and client, architecture school and student, community and planning board. It contributes to the rate of attrition in architecture schools, to logjams in offices, and to miscommunication among project teams.

    I am one of a handful of people who have devoted their careers in architecture to this issue. We are working to raise public awareness and appreciation of the built environment, and to make architecture more widely understood outside the profession.

    I write curricular materials for schools, offer classes for children and adults, conduct teacher's workshops and programs, speak at conferences, and write on architectural issues with the goal of helping children and their families become better consumers of architecture.

    The Public's Perception of Architecture

    Before conducting a workshop in built-environment education, I ask my students two questions: what does an architect do, and what is architecture? Over the decade I have been asking these questions, a pattern has emerged. To the first question, children respond, "makes blueprints" or "builds buildings," and adults respond, "designs buildings."

    To the second question, what is architecture, children respond with an endless list of buildings, big and small, grand and simple, domestic, palatial, commercial, industrial.   >>>



    ArchWeek Image

    Students becoming familiar with architectural drawings.
    Photo: Claire Gallagher

    ArchWeek Image

    At a workshop for teachers, participants respond to a transformation problem, in which text from Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities becomes three-dimensional.
    Photo: Claire Gallagher


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