It’s widely assumed that architects’ work is interesting; but – I don’t know if this is going to give you the disappointment of your life but I hope not- let me break it to you; it’s not (or rather it's not always the case).
Indeed, there are those ‘moments’ when the building is shaping up (on the papers/ computer screens or model podiums), but those aren’t many.
Other than that everything else we do (I need you architects out there to correct me if I am wrong) is butt-sweating, anxiety-inducing donkeys’ work. It’s very easy to theorize in architecture. Remember, almost every boy or girl played lego once; there is an architect inside every client waiting to break the shackle and set free. And we, real architects, sometimes innocently allow this by entertaining the client on few ideas. It’s what we call in Arabic “giving face” عطي وش. It’s very interesting cultural concept if one can get it translated rightly. But I digress.
So you think Haram (kind of empathic feeling), let this poor client have few ideas of his own tucked neatly within the design. It’s his own money end of the day. Right?
Because they eventually ‘get face’ أخد وش, (another interesting cultural concept; simply a reciprocation of ‘giving face’). Client starts to savor the taste of having his/her silly fantasies jotted on the papers, drafted on CAD and then printed with neat laser precision. The fantasies keep unfolding.
It’s no use telling him/her that “this cornice is hideous” or “that Lebanese hotel operator [who was recruited from Joneih two month ago] doesn’t know shit and going to buy you cheap Chinese furniture” (apparently, every Arab Gulf man had a fantasy once along the way about entertaining a glitzy Lebanese cowboy). And the incessant changes and fantasies never cease to end (by definition).
But this- ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and colleagues – isn’t the worst of it. Architects are, by and large, destined to become what we call in the industry ‘design managers’. After you’ve busted your ass getting the client to sign off on the concept, there is the process of leading the other fellow engineers (electrical, mechanical, structural, agricultural, horticultural, geological etc…) to design the other aspect of the building. Now this process isn’t really that annoying, it’s just boring.
Yes, it’s deadly boring.
It’s partly boring because Eng. Nadeem (the liaison officer with the electromechanical sub-consultant), is hell-bent on making the same mistakes in every project. He’d call out of the sudden and say : “ah I think Civil Defense was about to increase the capacity of the sprinklers’ pump per minute, we might need a bigger tank… let me check, let me check…” ….
He’d hang up then. I don’t even get the chance to tell Nadeem that the building in question doesn’t have sprinklers until he’s halfway to the civil defense department in the cab (cause he failed like 15 times in driving tests…)...
But that’s an entertaining and sanitized version of the story. In short, what we do is not always exciting; it’s largely boring.
Or do I easily get bored?
The jury is still out…..
The jury is still out…..