Interior vs. exterior.

Over the weekend, I’d gotten an IM from Jay (Maynard, not Reeder) linking me to a letter published in a Minneapolis paper following the announcement of this year’s Pritzker Prize award.

Although I’ve been to Minneapolis (at length, even. 9 weeks isn’t exactly an overnight stay), I’d never seen the original theater, designed by Ralph Rapson, who died just a week ago at the age of 93. The new one, if you haven’t connected the dots already was designed by this year’s PP recipient, Jean Nouvel.

I have no particular dog in this fight, as I find both designs, at least on the exterior, to be quite pleasant. They’re just very different.

Old:

New:

And whichever one you like is whichever one you like. Believe it or not, that’s actually not the question I want to ask with this post.  What I personally found to be more interesting in the letter to the paper was this excerpt:

“the proscenium theatre is uninspired with rows so close together that there is hardly room for your feet and entire rows must stand to allow anyone to enter. Even the parking is a disappointment, forcing patrons to cross the street in winter when Nouvel had the opportunity to include a skyway. Apparently Nouvel had not visited Minneapolis in winter or noticed all the tall northern European stock here.”

I began to wonder if there was a connection between that and the strange disconnect in all the job ads that say they’re looking for designers, but then go on to say they want architects.  Last I checked, these words were not synonymous(also this particular thing pisses me off because it feels like a bait and switch.)  Over the weekend I had a talk with Jack (practicing architect, who teaches interior design at two different schools) about this and have come up with some questions that I want to throw out there to perhaps inspire dialogue.

1. Are interiors really within the scope of training and expertise of architects?  (From all accounts, the answer to this is no, but I’m more than happy to hear about other experiences.)

2. Why is this bait and switch thing going on when writing up job postings, especially if the answer to #1 is no?

3. Why aren’t the architectural and design communities coming together to make that clear?

4. Or (and this is my most cynical response, born of another thing that happened last week) are architects under the pervasive delusion that interior designers are decorators?

Don’t get me wrong. Some of my very favorite people on the whole planet are practicing architects.  I still have plans to go back under the academic rock and get my M*Arch myself, but I am not under the delusion that interior design and architecture have the same focus or do the same jobs equally.

I do know that any decent designer *I* know would have made sure the spacing between the rows in the theater were the appropriate distance apart, because we do that sort of research as part of a programmatic process.  I don’t fault (at all) any architect for not doing the same, because I just don’t think that’s their job.  I just want to know why they’re essentially being asked to do *my* job, and what can we do to change that.

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