Practitioner/Educator: Not the Edge of Practice – It is the Practice
I often ask myself the question, “What compels me to take time from the all-consuming practice of architecture to teach?” And alternatively, “Would I be happier fully immersed in the world of academia with no clients, no payroll, and no professional practice insurance?” Moderating the “AIANY Women Architects and Educators” panel provided me with the opportunity to investigate these questions with other women who both practice and teach.
The conversation with the panelists was refreshing, stimulating, and inspiring. These are smart, talented, empowered women who are dedicated, confident, and capable. Through our conversation, it became clear to me that the practitioner/educator model is a conscious decision to be wholly and completely engaged in the practice of practicing and teaching. To go a step further, this is not the edge of practice – it is the practice. To be a master architect, a master craftsman in architecture, one teaches. We can look at the obvious precedents from the beginnings of the Renaissance, to the Bauhaus, to Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Frank Gehry. And today’s women – Zaha Hadid, Deborah Berke, Susana Torre, and Amale Andraos, to name a few.
But why is the practice of architecture so integrated with the academy?
Practice, with its clients, budgets, and deadlines, is counterbalanced by the classroom, where there are unlimited possibilities for research, concept development, and philosophical discussion. What separates architects from other professions in today’s intense, business-driven environment is our ability to engage the creative, artistic mind to uncover world-changing design solutions in spite of the complexity that surrounds us.
My full essay can be found in Architect d.b.a., a publication by the AIA Global Dialogues Committee, AIA New York Chapter, 2016.
Jane Smith, FAIA, IIDA