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Palomar Medical Center

Palomar Medical Center

I have never been so excited to see a relite in my life.  Daylight spilling into an operating room from a lightwell beyond in the staff corridor?  I suddenly have a little more confidence that good things can happen in this field.

Image (c) 2015 CO Architects, available here.

On Taking an Oath

On Taking an Oath

When I became an architect I didn’t take an oath.  I didn’t stand up and publicly swear to protect the health, safety, and welfare of for those whom I design.  I didn’t promise to uphold the tenants of my profession so long as I practice the craft.   After a decade of academic and practical study, the moment that signified my professional status was an email from my state board followed up with a certificate in the mail.   I told my immediate family personally and shared the news with my greater social circle by posting a photo of my license online.  In hindsight, my proclamation was no different than those who share an engagement, new baby, or house purchase.  We live in an era where momentous news is circulated quickly and digitally, soon to be pushed down the line to make room for the next announcement.

Those of us in the industry understand what it means to become an architect, it’s a huge milestone in one’s professional career.  Finally receiving my license mattered a hell of a lot to me and I know that this new phase I’m entering is not something to take lightly.  New titles lead to new responsibilities be they ethical or performance related.  And yet as I celebrated the news, the question that often surfaced was an iteration of the following:

“So what’s that mean?  Do you get a raise or something?”

It’s had my brain whirling and my gut churning.  If being an architect is such a big deal to us within the profession, why don’t we do a better job of expressing it to those who aren’t?   If we want the general public to value architects perhaps the first step is publicly expressing how much we value them.

For years there have been writings and discussions of an architect’s Hippocratic Oath, a variation of the pledge many medical professionals take to ethically practice medicine.   The AIA Code of Ethics and Bylaws  address the responsibilities members hold to the public they serve, and the high level of standards to continue to build upon their knowledge in architecture, and the dedication to show competence and care through the decisions they make.

Bottom line, we will strive to do the best we can for the good of the project and for the betterment of the world around it.   What client or stakeholder doesn’t want to hear that?

Maybe that’s the key we need to take to get the general population to understand what we do.  That becoming an architect is so much more than an occasion to drop the term “intern” (or whatever title it may be) from our introductions and signatures.   That what we do matters and that we’re here to look out for mankind.

Becoming an architect should be an opportunity to make a pledge to give a damn from here on out.

I’m ready to stand up.

Firehouse Clinics

Firehouse Clinics


I recently learned about  the Firehouse Clinic project during a talk about social outcomes to architecture by John Peterson of Public Architecture.

The story is that there is a critical need for primary care services in Alameda County near San Francisco.  Too many of the low income residents rely on emergency department visits and services for care given the lack of other available options.  The initial concept was to put clinics near public schools, but hours and security restraints for both stopped that.  The team realized they could leverage the trust that firefighters have with their communities as they typically are perceived more favorably than other public servants (i.e. law enforcement and the conflicts that tends to arise with them). A firefighter’s mission generally is to do good in the community without much of an extra agenda.  Stations are plentiful and dispersed throughout the county, even in neighborhoods that don’t have other services.  And fire personal are typically trained EMT’s who are responding to medical issues as a big portion of their job anyway.  They’re an ideal partner.

All images (c) WRNS Studio, available here.