Why Practice? 

It was an honour to be invited to participate on panel at Carleton University Azreili School of Architecture and Urbanism this week that was intended to address the question “Why Practice?”. The course is offered as part of a fourth year elective with the same name; “Why Practice.” The course’s goal is to inteoduce students to various forms of professional practice in the broad field of architecture. 

With me on the panel were Andrew Waldron, Heritage Conservation Manager at Brookfield; Toon Drewsen, architect and president of Driessen Cardinal Architects, Mohammed al Riffai, an Associate at Moriyama Teshima Architects; and the panel was moderated by Emmanuelle Van Rutten who taught the course and is Director of the Ottawa office of Moriyama Teshima Architects. 

Toon gave a short talk about his experiences in private practice, rounding out a series of lectures that had taken place in the course. I had presented the public architect point of view in an earlier class, and others had given talks on their own professional experiences. The panel then discussed various aspects of what it means to be an architect today and what students should expect from their careers. Students were given an opportunity to ask the panel questions, and one of them really struck a chord with me. 

A student framed a question by saying that ecological architecture often involves aesthetic trade offs, and asking “… what do we do with that?” To me this question goes to the core of what we as architects do. Yes, every architect is faced with aesthetic trade offs, and yes ‘green architecture’ also has its own unique trade offs. One of the key value propositions of architecture is in fact the ability to take complex problems and deliver uniquely aesthetic solutions.