My family and I are still at the beach (I’m still searching for answers to life’s great questions in the waves of Sister Sea; I haven’t found them yet but we have found some really testy waves). During our travels, I always take the time to notice how different local environments are and how that environment affects/shapes building forms. I try to keep in mind that “environment” is not only the physical climate but also the political structure, citizen’s involvement and awareness, availability of local materials, construction craftsmen and artisans, etc. It seems that within each of these environments, the force of government has a stronger impact (or lack there of) than we realize (or are willing to admit). After all, I believe that “The People” earn the type of government that they earn or deserve.
So, in that context, it appears that the architect's roles in various environments run the gamut from “first stop/last word” to “another piece of the puzzle” to “in the margins.” I’d like to think that if architects as a whole were more integrated into the common context and vocabulary, better built environments would result. During our travels in and around the South Carolina coastline, I came across a billboard on Highway US17 where ARCHITECT is front and center on a billboard for Rotary International. I have to admit I did a doubletake at seeing my profession on a highway billboard. The funny part is the billboard is not advertising directly for a product or good; it is apparently advertising the goodness and virtues of what the organization does—and it headlines that the member is an architect. We turned around so I could get my camera ready and snap a quick photo.
Nice for me to see; it made me smile that the little town of Murrell’s Inlet has such a prominent display of the good that architects can do. What have you seen lately?
—Lisa Stacholy, AIA