Past Monday Morning Musings


Every Monday morning, team members in the Philadelphia and Princeton offices gather together via video-conference to discuss firm news and upcoming events and projects. Since 2003, founding partner Allan Kehrt, FAIA, had delivered his Monday Morning Musings, weekly slices of personal insight into the design profession, to the firm. Now an emeritus partner, we'd still like to share Allan's insight. Please enjoy this collection of Monday Morning Musings. To comment on any of his posts, send an email to us. We look forward to hearing from you.

April 30, 2012

Change
Somewhere in the twentieth century the purpose of architecture became a little fuzzy. Perhaps it was the introduction of the modern movement, which freed architects from some understood rules, or the introduction of the computer that allowed them to do unimaginably difficult calculations and spatial manipulations. Perhaps it was when our society became wealthy enough that the line between architecture and art began to blur, permitting some buildings to become isolated works of art, where the human habitation and usage for which they were originally conceived became secondary to artistic expression. Or perhaps it was the influence of non-representational art that influenced architecture, freeing us further from preconceived form and style. It was surely all these things, which came together at a period of great societal change, in which architecture played a small part. It has been a wild architectural ride through the twentieth century, and the ride is probably not over yet. Buildings began as shelter, evolved into architecture, then a union of architecture and art, and sometimes almost art exclusively; perhaps they will become something else still. Our architectural roots of building for people, for function, and for human joy should continue to remain a focus. Firmness, commodity and delight should still hold true.

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April 23, 2012

Business
All companies need a continual flow of work to survive. Whether the business sells heart surgery, or diapers, or services, or chickens, if they don't have customers, they eventually will have to close the doors and send everyone home. For most of us architecture is not only our work, but also our passion, and in that we are more fortunate than most. But we sometimes feel it is solely the responsibility of others to bring in the work. Attitudes like that will eventually weaken a firm, because only a small minority is taking ownership of generating business. Securing work for the firm is the single most important activity we undertake. We would like to think it is designing, but it is difficult to design if there is nothing to design. Taking ownership of this responsibility is also the quickest way to other kinds of ownership. Marketing shouldn't be a department; it should be a primary activity of us all.

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April 2, 2012

Clients
What we do is not what our clients do. What we think about is not what our clients think about. Yet we do their work, and part of what we must do is to tell them what we are doing with their work. Sometimes problems arise in the communication of that information, and it is generally because we do not adequately prepare; we do not put ourselves in their shoes, and we do not think of our work from their perspective. All day long our clients think of things other than our work, and all day long we think only of our work, and what we are doing for them. Sometimes we think they must know what we are thinking; how could they not know? But they have most likely thought little of our work for them until the time comes for us to explain it to them. We must always remember that. It is important for us to always consider their point of view before we begin our presentations to them. It is important to always begin at the beginning at each and every presentation. It is important to remind them of where we have been, of what decisions have been made and why we have made them, and of the defensible position we are in because of a thoughtful and carefully considered process. It is not that they are uninterested in our work that they have not thought of it; they are most likely very interested, but they are doing other work, their work, and we have been doing our work…… for them.

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