What Do Architects Do?

If you have a hard time answering that question you're not alone, at least according to the ‘shocking’ and ‘depressing’ results of a new survey conducted in the UK, reports Max Thompson.
July 20, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the public is confused about the roles and responsibilities of architects, especially when you consider the disconnect within the profession itself between the skills taught in many architecture programs and what many architects do on a day-to-day basis. 

Nevertheless, the result of a survey commissioned by InBuilding.org (in which 15% of respondents didn't know that architects design buildings) has some in the profession lamenting the public's view of the role of the architect and, ultimately, the value of architecture in general. Many are blaming the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the professional association of UK architects, for the disconnect.  

According to Thompson, Norfolk-based architect Ruth Brennan, "sums up the feelings of many: ‘The message just doesn't seem to be getting out. The RIBA must make more of an effort to publicise the value for money and complete service an architect can provide. I spread the word in my own small circle as much as I can but our national institute could do far more than individuals ever can.'"

Although, RIBA president elect Stephen Hodder concedes, "that ‘there is work to be done,' particularly around the lack of awareness of the architect's role in planning. He affirms, however, that architects, not the RIBA, should be responsible for changing perceptions."

"However you interpret the findings," writes Thompson, "it's clear the public understands little of the less glamorous side of architecture."

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Published on Thursday, July 19, 2012 in The Architects' Journal
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