Over the course of the last decade, many of you have likely noticed the broad (and often erroneous) application of the term “Architect.” The tech industry may very well be the greatest manipulator of the term. With titles like “Software Architect,” “Network Architect,” “Infrastructure Architect” and “Solutions Architect,” there is hardly a position in Silicon Valley onto which you cannot tack the label “Architect” to give it that extra dash of credibility and creativity. While it’s not uncommon to find job listings for obscure titles like “Senior Solutions Architect,” actual* Architects will just assume that this position involves the design of retirement housing. Of all the industries, shouldn’t the brilliant and innovative minds of the hi-tech world have the imagination to come up with better job titles? Or at least drop a vowel or three? (Isn’t there an app for this?)
Advertising agencies (presumably full of Market Optimization Architects) are also culpable and have eagerly plastered the term across glossy magazine ads. Perhaps the best example is the well-known Architects of Time campaign for the Swiss watch company Ebel. Popular media outlets and politicians, too, have exploited the professional title with terms like the “Architects of Democracy” or “Architects of American Foreign Policy,” and most recently with “Architects of Obamacare.”
As a quick refresher, Wikipedia’s definition of Architect is as follows:
a person who plans, designs, and oversees the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design and construction of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings, that have as their principal purpose human occupancy or use.
The entry is even supplemented with a folky rendering of a dapper gentleman reviewing plans of a building (not software) on a drafting table (not a laptop):
Until recently, the misrepresentations weren’t really much of a problem. For a while there, after the burst of the dot-com bubble and through the great recession, we Architects had other things to worry about. Our focus shifted to landing the last second-story addition in town, selling-off our coveted design books to pay student loans, and figuring out what we were going to do next if the profession didn’t rebound. To be honest, it was looking like us actual* Architects might become extinct. But things have changed; the economy is back, the design and construction industries are booming, and architects couldn’t be in more demand. Subsequently, it’s more important than ever for us actual* Architects to stake out our property. We don’t mind that a variety of industries took our professional title out for a spin, but we need it back now.
Let’s face it, the lease is up on “Architect” as a title, anyway. This isn’t to say that the architectural community isn’t willing to share, but using “Architect” as the caboose to an unremarkable job title will come at a price from here on out (pricing schedule in process). Once we re-stock the BUILD Bar these proceeds will be divided equally among the community of actual* Architects.
In the event that tech companies, ad agencies, politicians, and the media opt out of what will be an incredibly attractive (and lucrative) payment program, we’re happy to offer up the Official BUILD LLC ARCHITECT Job Title Conversion ChartTM. This chart lists several flawed uses of the title “Architect” and what they should be changed to. Feel free to add additional conversions to the comments section.
*To determine whether you are an actual Architect, please take the following quiz:
Answer TRUE or FALSE to the following 5 questions:
1. I have one of these:
2. I know what Drafting Dots are and could identify them in an office supply store.
3. The term ‘demo’ stands for demolition (and not the demonstration of software).
4. I spent the better part of my 20’s picking-up redlines.
5. I own a book on Carlo Scarpa.
If you answered TRUE to 4+ questions, proceed to the next question.
If you answered FALSE to 2+ questions, you are not an actual Architect.
TRUE or FALSE: This is what the daily life of an Architect looks like:
If you answered FALSE, you are the real deal and may add the term ‘Architect’ to your title. (It’s a trick question — generally it’s the non-architects who think architecture is a glamorous profession.)
Cheers from BUILD LLC, Architects