23 May 2009

Why do architects talk funny?

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QuestionWhy do architects talk funny?

AnswerYou’re referring to the affliction called archispeak. It is the architect’s dialect peppered with phrases such as functional hierarchy, concept continuity, urban fabric, structural rhythm and juxtaposition to name a few. We don’t talk that way to impress or intimidate others. Archispeak is a byproduct of education, strategy and passion.

  • Education — Our architecture professors, design critics and project jurors talk that way because those words communicate important concepts that teach us to think about architecture as it relates to man and nature — a responsive and beautiful solution.
  • The Big-Picture — Those fancy words remind us to think strategically about the entire solution inside and out so we can integrate the complicated structural, mechanical, electrical systems that comprise your home or building with the unpredictable forces of nature wind, water, sun and lifestyle.
  • Passion — Passion is the innate drama that inspires us to do what we do and spend hours discussing minutia such as a deer path, a family ritual or water runoff and it’s solution potential with child-like fervor and sleddog endurance.

This speech impediment is an architect’s weakness and strength. So, I plead for your tolerance when we inadvertently drift into archispeak and hope you’ll remember it’s just your egghead, dramatic, head-in-the-clouds architect being himself.

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About the Author


Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 27 years experience in design, construction observation and life.