It’s not just the economy, stupid

In my previous post I attempted to make the case that part of what hinders architecture’s ability to affect change, or more precisely to control where it affects change is a function of its poor position in the marketplace. We have little say in where and how money is spent.

A friend’s response to me a was “Well, kind of obvious, isn’t it?” and perhaps it is, but what is fascinating to me, is that the Tariff is framed with this weakness in mind:

[m]uch of the service necessarily provided by an architect is a function of the building industry marketplace.

Indeed, need for a Tariff of Fees at all (or an enforced Tariff, at any rate) is evidence of Architecture’s economic weakness. If Architecture were well-positioned in the economy a Tariff would hardly be necessary. (more…)

a sample of character as image from the RS-5 Design Guidelines (also applies to RS-3 and RS-3A)

Character Assassination

While character isn’t directly defined, its meaning becomes fairly clear through contextual interpretation of zoning district schedules and design guidelines. Several terms recur in relation to character: preserve, maintain, retention, and compatibility. Rather than chasing these terms down a linguistic rabbit hole, they can be used to derive meaning, and meaningful meaning at that. They are used because character crops up whenever there is a desire to maintain things as they are, suppressing evolution.

This desire is rooted in strong values – character is value-laden – but what precisely are these values and why do they hold such sway? Why is the presumption towards “all new building and additions being compatible with the historical character of the area (RT-4 and RT-5)?” Or “preserving the character and general amenity of the area and its immediate surroundings (C-3A)?” The “new” is dead in the water with a presumption of guilt for just being itself. (Character assassination, one might say.) (more…)