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Bob Borson

BROWSE ALL FROM THIS AUTHOR HERE

It’s all about the narrative

In approximately 3 1/2 months I will be standing on a stage in Washington D.C. at the American Institute of Architects 2012 National Convention talking about blogging and social media for architects. Most of the people who swing through here probably don’t much care about that – and I don’t blame you (you already know that I’m making it up as I go). However, what struck me this morning as I was standing in the shower (where I do some of my best problem solving), was how blogging, my presentation for the convention, and architecture in general, all have something really important in common …

the narrative.

The Pros and Cons of Moonlighting

Come on and admit it – we’ve either done it or we’re thinking about doing it. It’s the siren’s call of moonlighting, beckoning you to the edge with the promise of being addressed as an architect and getting something built that is uniquely your own. Moonlighting has dark undertones as it’s very name might suggest. There are advantages and disadvantages to taking on work outside of normal business hours and I think it’s worthwhile to review what they might be. I read an article on moonlighting in Residential Architect some years ago and there was a quote in there I will never forget (well, I did actually forget it so I am paraphrasing here):

“…moonlighting presents a dangerous risk, if a person wants to do their own work, let them start a firm and struggle and starve..”

Yikes! That person sounds nasty, either that or they have been burned by the liability issues that moonlighting creates for architectural firms. The other remarkable thing about this phrase was that at the time, it came from the chair of the A.I.A. Practice Management Advisory group. For me, the part about “struggle and starve” suggests that the person taking on the moonlighting work is ill-prepared and unlicensed, which suggest youth and inexperience. So for my purposes here, I am going to focus on that demographic: the youthful, inexperienced and unlicensed.

What’s in a name?

Peter Bohlin Glenn Murcutt Renzo Piano Samuel Mockbee Michael Graves Fay Jones Philip Johnson Richard Neutra Alvar Aalto Walter Gropius

What do these people have in common? Yes they have all been awarded the AIA Gold Medal “in recognition of a significant body of work of lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture” – but I’m not interested in that and it’s not what I am talking about. No, the correct answer is that none of them are named ‘Bob’.

Should I be worried? No disrespect to all the other Bob’s that are out there but can you really be that good of an architect when your first name is Bob? A certain amount of evidence exists that is not in our favor. Dating back to 1907, there has never been a Gold Medal winner whose name was Bob. What about the architectural equivalent to the Nobel Prize, The Pritzker? Nope – not a Bob to be found. We did get Robert Venturi in 1991 but he’s a Robert and not a Bob. From what I understand, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe used to call him Bob but they didn’t like each other and I think it might have been meant as an insult. (I’d ask Mies if he were alive and I could …. but he probably wouldn’t have accepted a phone call from a ‘Bob’)