Over the summer, Stephen had the opportunity to revisit a 1985 book about the architecture profession that was revised in 2012. What did he think about it?
On a recent trip to Nashville, I packed away some new reading material, including Architect? A Candid Guide to the Profession, by Roger K. Lewis. I had read the original edition when it first came out, but now, almost two decades later, I wanted to see if it still rang true.
I am not exactly a book reviewer, but since Cool Spaces! began airing, aspiring architects have written and asked me for my thoughts on the profession. I reference this book frequently and strongly recommend to people interested in learning about the profession, especially young people that are considering applying to architecture school. There is an entire section devoted to architectural education that outlines what the experience might be like.
The third edition contains updated material to account for advancements in digital design and an emphasis on sustainable principles. For this reason, it really does make sense to reread the book. A lot has changed in 20 years. But what remains consistent is Roger’s writing style: direct, personal, and full of humor. Roger is an architect, professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, and a columnist for the Washington Post. As if that weren’t enough, Roger is also an expert draftsman. I have admired his drawings — his cartoons — for years. Beyond their technical skill, they highlight important issues in architecture, but in a lighthearted way. Roger’s cartoons are very effective of getting beyond the archibabble that is so often undecipherable to the general public.
Like Roger, I have been focused on finding ways to communicate the role of the architect and its relevancy to the general public. For me, the primary vehicle has been television. But as a part of that effort, we also created a companion book, which parallels the show’s first season and its four themes: Performance Spaces, Libraries, Arts Spaces, and Healing Spaces. The book also contains short essays by people in architecture that I admire very much — including Roger K. Lewis!
I am indebted to Roger for his contribution, and also appreciative of the example he sets with his own book. It hasn’t always been easy for me to find the right tone to get the messages of architecture across to the general public. But Architect? A Candid Guide to the Profession squarely hits the mark.