ARCHITECTURE AND MONEY: design it all and pay for it too


Pidgin 15, Architecture and Money

Its easy to gloss over in school the real factor that controls architecture: money. I was shocked during my first job in an architecture firm how much control the client has over the project- after all, they have the money, and we are providing a service to them. And buildings are EXPENSIVE.

So I’ve become interested in how an architect can circumvent the client- or at least operate in a position of more control. Some strategies we know well- you can use an academic appointment or more boring work to subsidize research or design that is less lucrative but more dear to you. An office I worked at in Ann Arbor did airport renovation drawings to help pay for avant-garde home design and material research. Rahul Mehrotra brought this up as a strategy at the recent Right To Architecture conference at MIT

But is this really a sustainable strategy for practice? Perhaps more sustainable is the example of SHoP, where the firm serves as its own developer. But my favorite example is that of the Culture Shed by Diller and Scofidio. This self-initiated projected sought out funding from institutions (including the Tate Moderne) who would use the space as a time share.  In this case, DS+R designed not only the architecture, but also the economic model for bringing it into it existence- and through this, they are no longer beholden to a client.

This brings me to Pidgin Magazine’s most recent edition. My good friend Lindsey May at Princeton and  her cohort of co-editors launched the issue yesterday (May 11th) at the Storefront for Art and Architecture. Unfortunately, i didn’t get my act together to submit an essay for consideration, but its sure to be an exciting read- and, the cover graphic is phenomenal.


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