What will you build?

2-20

Taboo

April 6, 2017

GENTLEY SMITH, M.Arch ’18

What will you build? Prisons, abortion clinics, barracks, worship-houses? Will you replace trees with a house, houses with a stadium? How about weapon facilities or parking lots? Is there a moral imperative to your work?

Unlike doctors and lawyers, architects don’t always stick to well-defined ethical codes. Some of us focus on community building or intellectual production. Others work on space-planning or technical innovation. Architecture is neither black nor white, but usually an awkward shade of collaborative grey. Where do you stand?

When we face controversial clients and a stubborn industry, we can look the other way or we can try to change a few minds. Rather than merely insisting on change, we can work hard with good intentions. Or we can say no, even if it means watching a lower bidder do worse. Bold actions have ripple effects in contentious spaces. Will you work or will you walk?