Economy got you down?
Well quit your bitching and be more like Seattle-architect John Morefield.
Morefield (pictured above) has fallen victim to crap economy twice already. He has been laid of from two separate firms in his young career but he took his shit-luck and got creative. He went down to the Pike Place Market and set up a booth selling architecture advice for a nickel like a kid with a lemonade stand. For 5-cents you can get at least a few minutes of architectural know-how. He even designed a tree house for a young “client.” You also get Morefield’s card and contact information. It’s a clever plan to bring business his way in the future when people can afford more than a nickel-architect. I have to say I love this guy; he’s got moxie. You can read more about him in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which is, appropriately enough, also a victim of the awful financial climate.
For those of you who are less enterprising than Mr. Morefield, you might want to try and mooch some money off the man. Architectural record has responded to the layoffs and work shortages plaguing the industry by posting a list of architectural grants. Is this a desperate attempt to keep broke archies in the chips and buying their overpriced magazine? Probably. In any event some of the grants they’ve noted are quite lucrative. Your interest in architecture could help you weather the storm.
The AIA thinks architecture could be the savior for the entire nation. They’ve countered Washington’s bailouts with their own plan for stimulus*. Their Rebuild and Renew program calls for 100’s of billions to be spent on infrastructure and other building projects. It calls for $12 billion to create competitive grade schools (and competent architects?), a $30-billion green make over for the nation and even more on transit. There is even a tax-relief element to help out the firms doing their proposed work. The program even offers a relatively small pittance ($100-million or so) toward historic preservation. Specifically, they demand a bailout of the terminally-under-funded Save America’s Treasures program and grants for Tribal and State Historic Preservation Offices. I think this is a well-timed, brilliant idea.
When businesses start failing, wrecking-balls stop razing. By freezing up competition from mass development, the financial crisis could be a boon for the not-for-profit world of preservation. Hopefully the new Obama administration and congress will heed the call of the AIA’s architectural New Deal. If they do we could see a massive expansion of preservation activities and renewed interest in our nation’s architectural heritage. It took the unchecked construction of a boom-time in the 1960’s to initially spark government action to protect the built environment. Maybe with the entropy of a near-depression they’ll be spurred to see that work through.
While the financial holocaust may be good for preservationists it is certainly terrible for everyone else. We’re all going to have to cowboy-up like John Morefield and get creative to make it through to the end of this. Hopefully when things finally do improve, when Morefield gets a new job and there is money to be made in building once again, we’ll also see the fruits of our protected, restored and rehabilitated architectural heritage.
*I cannot say the word stimulus without giggling.