I did a short talk the other day for a class of architecture students at Carleton. The lecture was part of an elective for fourth year architecture students called ‘Why Practice’ and is intended as a means for students to start thinking about their own future architectural professional options. The format was that I gave a short talk, then sat down with one of the students to be interviewed in front of the group.
The student interviewing me was very well prepared and asked provocative questions. She based her questions on my biography and experiences. Much to my surprise, she had even spent some time on this blog. Questions asked ranged from whether the vision for this blog, that the built environment contribute to a better world, was supported in my work at the NCC; what had led me to teach at Carleton last fall; what architecture, design, and planning employers are doing to encourage diversity; what architecture and planning can do to contribute to the global refugee crisis, and others.
Needless to say, these are difficult questions that don’t all have simple answers. On most of the questions I was able to communicate optimsitic answers, but also I have to say I appreciated the implied challenge that design professions, business owners, and the government can do better, because that is definitely the case.
It’s testament to the quality of the students in architecture today and of instruction at Carleton (the course is taught by Emmanuelle Van Rutten and Kristen Gagnon) that this class exists at all and that tough questions are being asked in such a professional way. I hope that when these students enter the profession they continue to ask thoughtful and difficult questions, and challenge the profession to serve them and the planet better.
I’ve been asked to return to the same class for a round table discussion, and I’m looking forward to it. The future of architecture looks bright.