August 2010 President's Blog: The Grandpa Stage

by Peter Macrae, AIA - AIA Columbus 2010 Chapter President

So now it’s official…my oldest daughter has announced to family and friends at this past weekend’s family reunion, that she is going to have a baby in February and her Mother and I are thrilled! Of course, Joanie and I knew of this month’s ago, but we were sworn to secrecy. This means that after the initial euphoria, I have had some time now to reflect on what this means in my life and in my career. What exactly is the “Grandpa Stage” in the life of an Architect?

I remember being told by my first employers that Architecture was an “Old Man’s Business”.  Presumably, this was because it took so long for designers to get through internship to registration and finally to the point of either owning their own businesses or advancing to a leadership positions in corporate firms. Happily, an awful lot has changed in the professional practice of architecture while my career years advanced. Technology and the connectedness of the internet have allowed young, talented architects to open their own businesses at a much earlier point in their careers. Architecture and design focused web sites are now full of projects (both built and un-built) featuring “Young Turks” with transformative new ideas about what constitutes Architecture and pushing the limits of form definition and programmable space. Not to mention the completely non-PC term itself. “Old Man’s Business”…I don’t think so…we are now about a half generation away from a female dominated profession if current trends continue. Just ask the educators!

I believe that one of the first things we will see as we emerge from the Great Recession is a direct business connection between an enlightened clientele (one that is not only aware of great design due to the media craze on the subject…but wants it badly) and the young designers who have put themselves and their innovative ideas “Out There” on the internet to be discovered. Even the largest work will be contracted this way because this group of young architects has no qualms about initiating the formation of collaborative teams combining the talents and skills necessary to accomplish the task at hand…What Overhead?

So maybe the “Grandpa Stage” of my career just might be a little more interesting if I can learn from these enthusiastic, connected “youngsters”, making this stage of my career much more engaging and exciting than I once imagined (or was led to believe it would be) way back when I was joining my first professional office. It certainly will not be Laid Back…the economy won’t allow that to happen anyway. But then, for those of you that know me…I’m really not the laid back type.

Go for it Gramps!!!

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