This week is National Architecture Week. And while every week is Architecture Week for me, I thought this would be a great time to reflect on the profession and why it matters so much to me. I was destined for architecture before I even knew it. At an early age, I often preferred trading cartoons for watching Tom Silva and Norm Abram frame a house on This Old House. I dreamed of one day designing my own home. In high school, it clicked that I could do this as a career by combining my interest in art and my detail-oriented mentality through architecture. From there, I was hooked.
In 2009, I began studying architecture at Ball State University. In the first few years, it felt as if a veil had been removed from my eyes. I was taught how to see the built environment in a totally different way despite the fact that it existed as it always had. I learned that a successful architecture project is only possible if its interior is valued in design as much as its exterior, and that its engineered systems are designed with equal significance to support the spaces I envision. I learned to value context – be it physical or not – and the important role urban design and landscape architecture plays in positioning an architectural space to thrive. I learned how to abstract an idea as a way to provide conceptual grounding for the creation of everything, between the form of a building to the tiniest of details (and that a duck does not have to be a duck). Last but not least, I learned that you can appear presentable in just about any clothing, so long as it’s all black.
Through graduate school, I was immersed in my passion for architecture and the opportunities it could provide the world. I explored digital fabrication – or the practice of realizing designs through the use of digital tools that speak directly to fabrication machines such as laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC routers, and robotic arms – as a method of positioning the designer to once again also act as the maker or, at the very least, have greater control over the process of realizing a design. I became infatuated with the exploration of new materials and their ability to render complete artistic freedom without concern for the structural conditions we must design for with the materials we use in construction today. In thesis, my partner and I questioned how dynamic (rather than static) architecture would provide the built environment the ability to continually respond to ever-changing forces such as climate, physical context, and socioeconomic conditions and how the architect could create a framework to permit users to “author” how and how much a space reacts to those forces.
Nearly three years ago, I started my career in architecture at Design Collaborative. Today, my feet rest firmly on the ground, but I am continually looking for opportunities to make the next project different and implement the many things I gained expertise with in school. Because architecture is more than a career to me, I believe architecture is the medium through which the future is realized. I aspire to create architecture that assists in solving everyday nuisances to world issues, that creates strong reactions rather than no reaction at all, that respects history but speaks more to where we should go, and that improves people’s worlds.
In the spirit of National Architecture Week, I encourage anyone who would like to see their built environment improved to speak to an architect. If you have anything that could use some critical thinking, considering speaking to an architect. Like a muscle, we exercise design-thinking and must think outside-the-box every day. You might be surprised how much we can help. And if you see someone walking around downtown Fort Wayne in all black during the lunch hour, there’s a good chance it’s me so please feel free to stop me to ask what architects can do to help.
Steven Putt Assoc. AIA
Associate, Graduate Architect