Justin Shubow: “The Profession Has Lost Its Way”

On the wave of Frank Gehry’s proclamation that “98% of architecture is pure shit,” and a recent New York Times op-ed that declared architecture has lost its relevance with the general public, National Civic Art Society president Justin Shubow has joined the conversation by stating that “the profession has lost its way.” 

“Architecture is suffering a crisis of confidence,” stated Shubow in his recent Forbes article. “It is never easy to admit that one is mistaken, still worse that one’s god has failed. It is all the harder when one’s false worldview has been the justification for one’s high social rank. But the growing crisis of confidence is a sign that a cherished dogma will finally be abandoned: The superiority of the architect to the common man.”

Citing the awkward and “predictable” outcome of Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right” initiative that, as Shubow describes, resulted in “houses of non-native motley futuristic design that have virtually no relation to each other or the beloved historic architecture of the city,” Shubow makes the case that “architecture has become a gated community.” And, while the public might not always be the direct client, the “public is forced to live with [the architecture]” and therefore should always be the center of good design. 

“Many leading 20th-century architects, including Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe, were openly disdainful of the public’s preferences,” says Shubow. “Modernism might appear outwardly impregnable: it dominates the practitioners, the critics, the media, and the schools. But as the example of the Soviet Union shows, even the strongest-appearing edifice can suddenly come crashing down when it turns out it no longer has internal support.”

Read Justin Shubow’s complete article about the profession’s “self-congratulatory” tendencies and lack of public consideration, and then tell us, do you think architecture has lost its way?

Justin Shubow: “The Profession Has Lost Its Way” originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 08 Jan 2015.

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