A Valentine’s Day Plea

Architects are struggling. Should we send them a little love?

Update: The photographs shown here are now on exhibit in London. Click here to read the Guardian’s thoughtful review on our fascination with ruins.

On the topic of architects and the economy, much has been written of late (two recent examples in Metropolis and Salon). The rate of unemployment among the creative class in general is alarming, and architects in particular are suffering from the shortage of construction loans and the lack of cash in general. I’m not asking you to mourn for architects—no one ever promised them an easy go of it. Back in 1991 when I was thinking about going into the profession, every person I interviewed told me to save my money. In fact, most of the people I knew at the time had fled Boston because there were simply no jobs. The profession is boom and bust; some make it big, others flounder; more still pursue other careers after school. But kids can dream. In fact, Yale just saw a serious uptick in arch. school applications.

Yet, good architects are invaluable. They make places memorable, easy to navigate, calming, or exciting. They make sure you can fit your bed in your bedroom or that you have ceiling clearance for an elegant stairs landing. They are capable of creating buildings that produce more energy than they consume or branding institutions or revitalizing universities.

Of course, none of this happens without good clients and plenty of capital. I always find it somewhat tedious that Americans will travel to Europe to ogle the architecture and then cut corners everywhere when they build their own buildings here. That may be because architecture is about long-term planning and investing, not exactly the stuff we excel at. In spite of that, we do have brag-worthy edifices.

Which leads to an email I got this morning from Cameron Sinclair, the cofounder of Architecture for Humanity. He writes, “For the next 4 months we are running an “I Love Architecture” Campaign and I hope you can join us. My name is Cameron and I love architecture.” Like so many others, Sinclair is bemoaning the state of the profession, so he’s asking us to take a minute to celebrate it.

Below is his call to action. Any takers?

What Can You Do?
1. Tell us why you love architecture.
Send me a couple of sentences that start “I Love Architecture Because…”
Upload a 45 second online video to youtube or vimeo explaining why you love either a piece of architecture or being an architect.
2. Let ’em know you love them.
Send us a love letter to your favorite architect OR building, we’ll help get it to them. You can even be anonymous.
3. Make a playlist for architects
Got Spotify? make a playlist and we’ll link it. Here is one I made while writing Design Like You Give A Damn 2, we will post one for architects.
4. Spend a night in with Architecture.
Send us your list of best films about architecture. minus points for The Fountainhead.
5. Spend a night out with Architecture.
Send us a list of the most romantic places to take a date to. Grand Central at the stroke of midnight anyone?
6. Become an Ambassador of Love (for Architecture)
We can’t do this alone. If you really care about architecture then help elevate the conversation and join a growing roster of ambassadors. Sign up by emailing with Kristen Schlott, our Project Ambassador and Curatorial Cupid.

[Note: All the gorgeous images in this post are of abandoned Detroit, taken by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. I think they show the power of architecture, even when in decay. Buildings are our collective memory. They haunt us, even when they are gone.]