Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Me? Egotistical?! NEVER!

Miss Janis points me to an excellent article by Colby Cosh, ostensibly on the opening of the new Hyde Park fountain commemorating (somehow) Princess Diana. Mr. Cosh decides to also go on a tear about contemporary architecture in general, which is mostly spot on. There is one part that might need a bit of adjustment, however:

[...]The egomania of architects is well past the point of cliche: They have to live with endless jokes about it, the way lawyers do about greed. But lawyers can at least claim that some of them strive, by working pro bono or full-time in the public interest, to dispel the japes. Why is it seemingly impossible for an architect to admit simple failure? Have you ever heard one come out and say "I blew it"? In the case at hand, Product X (the fountain) was meant to be used for Y (facilitating splasheriffic behaviour); X doesn't do Y, or, worse, does it unsafely. How can X reasonably be considered a success?[...]

It's probably not that well known, to our discredit, that architects, too, engage in large amounts of pro bono work, just as our legal brethren do, as well as serve in positions of public advocacy for good design. It is both expected and encouraged.

But following the logic of that paragraph, you might also be tempted to ask, "Why is it seemingly impossible for a lawyer to admit simple failure?" I hear many complaints about biased juries and judges and malfeasance on the part of law enforcement, but I can't think of a case where a lawyer blew it for his client and said, "Hey, I'm a moron--I just didn't see that coming."

I know legal malpractice as a concept DOES exist, but the incidence of cases being prosecuted for it seem to be relatively tiny compared to...oh, say, architects. One reason ANY professional is seemingly inable to admit error, is that we have all been made VERY aware that any such admission is more than a simple admission of human foible, but is, rather, actionable in a court of law.

Sure, it would be nice for EVERYone to be able to admit mistakes in judgement on matters both aesthetic or technical, but doing so is a quick way to wind up in the poorhouse. Meaning, the simple refusal to admit mistakes in the design process doesn't necessarily indicate an outsized ego.

Of course, it doesn't rule it out, either. Few attain the international level of the profession without a healthy dose of self-import and self-promotion. Based on this companion article Miss Janis sent, it seems there's enough of that to go around.

For those of us of more humble outlook, it's amazing that the folks in charge forgot that public fountains attract bums, drunks, garbage, vandals, and children. And that parents will sue your butt off if their kid gets hurt.

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