14 May 2019

Theory — If Apple Practiced Architecture

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The Architecture business model is an ancient model built on inquiry, whimsy, creativity and criteria. I’ve practiced architecture in six different offices, including my own, and there are certain axioms that pervade every corporate philosophy. I’ve often wondered if this old, tired profession could benefit from a fresh, hybrid business model from an unrelated industry — maybe the computer industry… theoretically maybe Apple Computer could invent an architecture business model.

I scheduled my phone for battery-replacement service at an Apple Store last week. It was the first time I solicited Apple support services and I was astonished to discover how UN-service-oriented the Apple service process is.

It began simple enough. I scheduled the appointment online and arrived 25 minutes early hoping to start my phone repair early. I walked into the store to the sound of alarms and three identically-clad Apple-clones rushed me; each scanning me with their iPads. They spouted my vitals, my appointment details, a few childhood indiscretions and advised me to wait in the penalty queue until my designated appointment time. Dazed, slightly embarrassed & wetter than when I first arrived, I waited in the corner.

Apple markets this repair as a “service” so I expected the Apple employee (colloquially the Apployee) to explain what they would do for me to provide the most comfortable battery replacement experience EVER. However, the Apployee launched into a rapid-fire disclaimer and demanded I waive all my rights as a phone owner and a human being.

In order to touch my phone, Apple made me:

  • waive the right to my data and information.
  • waive the right to have a working phone if they broke it
  • waive the right to complain for the inconvenience
  • waive the right to eat non-GMO produce
  • waive the right to an attorney
  • waive the right to vote

Being the self-proclaimed Apple hardware experts, I wrongly assumed Apple would joyfully over-promise a speedy repair and surprisingly upgrade features while serving me their branded Jobs Kool-Aid. Wrong! Apple has changed.

While waiting and worrying about my phone, including all the appointments I would miss and contacts I would lose if Apple-Techs botched the repair, I theorized how Apple would operate an architecture business.

The Arch-iShop — Apple Does Architecture:
You enter the Apple Arch-iShop but cannot advance beyond the vestibule. A faceless voice confronts you and reports, “We know you and why you are here, but you are 10 minutes early. Remain in the vestibule for inspection.”

A decontamination mist blasts you from all directions while a team of faceless drones dressed in black examines you through the glass.

Satisfied you are minimally acceptable, one drone escorts you to a small windowless room furnished with a single chair and a 10,000 lumen pendant light directly over it. Smoke rises from the singed chair fabric.

The escort hands you a miniature, empty Dixie cup, because you haven’t passed the test to receive a beverage yet.

Now for the waiver parade:

  • You waive the right to provide feedback
  • You waive the right to request any features
  • You waive the right to establish a budget you can afford
  • You waive the right review finishes
  • You waive the right to review design decisions until the Apple hands you the building key

The theory is you get the project Apple wants you to have. Luckily, Apple doesn’t operate an architecture business and the best Architecture business practices (however, old and tired) celebrate the client, the site and the planet. The fresh, hybrid model …
–encourages your involvement virtually and personally
–embraces your budget financially and creatively, and
–addresses your needs holistically and completely

Architecture, not as an service, but as a practice!

You’ve read my theory. Now follow the links below to learn about other architects’ theory of architecture practice!

Architalks Entries

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
You Can Do Better

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
the architecture of theory and how it is evidenced in my practice

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Theory — If Apple Practiced Architecture

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
In Theory / In Practice

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Theory and Practice

Larry Lucas – Lucas Sustainable, PLLC (@LarryLucasArch)
The Theory and Practice of Full-circle Architecture

Architalks Credits
This is another entry in Bob Borson’s blogging brain-child titled, “ArchiTalks”. The #ArchiTalks goal is to inspire blogging architects with similar educational and professional requirements to opine on the same topic and simulpost their response so other architects and a broader audience can enjoy the rampant thought-diversity within the architecture profession Select the links in “Architalks Entries” above to read how architects responded to the “Theory/Practice” topic. image/video credits:

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About the Author


Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 29 years experience in design, construction observation and life.