COD And Lifelong Learning by Mark Simon, FAIA

marksimonAn article in Connection Magazine’s Edification issue published in December, 2016 highlighted thoughts from a selection of active COD members on the relationship between COD and life-long learning. The magazine’s space limitations wouldn’t allow for the full text of each contributor so we’re presenting them here in their totality.

When I was a student, I was pretty cocky about my abilities, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be an architect.  My favorite professor at the Yale School of Architecture, Peter Millard, told me that architecture was something that you learned slowly and that, in fact, it took a lifetime to approach mastering it.  He said that there were so many different elements and skills to absorb that it took years of practice to harmonize them into coherent buildings.  To see your designs realized well, you need to understand the business of architecture, the world of contracting, the codes and rules, the process of manufacturing building elements, and most of all, how clients work and what they care about.  Recognizing all that, my cockiness abated and I saw a lifetime of effort, and that convinced me to become an architect.

I got involved with the AIA’s Committee on Design relatively early in my career and I have been grateful ever since.  It helped me immensely in my lifelong quest to make cohesive places.  First of all, I got to know many national design leaders and heard about their practices, how they ran them to make great buildings.  Then I got to see wonderful architecture with them and gain their insights about real places in real time, noting how things were built and made, asking how a place functioned, and seeing how parts become a whole.  And we often found ourselves listening to talks together and discussing topics after, an education in itself.  We served on juries and heard other opinions, learning the priorities of our peers.  Despite the Committee’s supposed focus on ‘Design’, it made real for me what Peter had said, that it takes a lifetime to learn the profession, and that is what makes it exciting.

The COD article appears on pages 28-31.


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