Many years ago, I was watching TV after another long day at my job, working on yet another project deadline, when I heard Charles Barclay said in a loud voice; “I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”. I didn’t give it much taught then, but I do today. Is it really true that “Sir Charles” as he was sometimes called, is not a role model? I couldn’t agree more that it is not his job to raise “your kids” as he puts it but how can he says that he is not a role model? How can a Basketball all star player, hall of fame, Olympic gold medalist, and the list could be long affirmed that he is not a role model? Why would big companies like Nike spend millions of dollars to endorse him if he didn’t have, at least at the time, some influence on “your kids”, on our kids?
Why am I thinking about Charles Barclay and his somewhat stoning statement today? Because I had a long discussion with another Architect friend of mine who swears that his children will never become Architects. We work long hours, we do not get paid as we should, and we have many people with less education and training than us doing our jobs and making even more money than we do?
Sounds familiar? How many time have we heard architects complaining about the profession, complaining about our AIA National and local organizations for not doing much for us. If our profession sucks that much why would the government, companies and everyday people spend so much money on buildings designed by Architects? I suspect that “Sir Charles” used to get paid millions of dollars in endorsement deals because his success made him a de-facto role model. He could deny it all he wants, but the truth is that kids looked up to him and he simply chose the easy way out by refusing to bear some responsibility on what those kids aspire to become as they grow. Whether we like it or not, as an adult, successful or not so successful, we are role models. Somewhere somehow a child is watching us and emulating us. Therefore, our behavior has consequences on children and we have the responsibility to behave properly so that we can have a positive influence on the children who are certainly watching us.
By the same token, Architects who have gone thru the rigor of education, training and examination to earn the title of “Architect”, should be proud of their achievement and project an image of confidence and success so that they can have a positive impact on young people, inspiring them to be become Architects and assure the future of our beloved profession. How can we sell what we do not believe in? How can we encourage “your kids” our kids, to join the profession if we cannot and do not let our own children become Architects? How can we expect our AIA national and local organizations to succeed in working on our behalf if we do not participate in Advocacy events? How can we advance our agenda with legislators when only a fraction of Architects show up for ‘the day at capitol” to meet our elected officials and discuss matters dear to Architects. How can we spend more time complaining about “encroachments’ in our profession, when we do not show the same passion in pushing to pass legislations that will ensure the prime role of Architects in the build environment.
Architects are trained to be leaders in the profession, we cannot claim leadership by hiding behind our computers, drawing and complaining, there is a time to draw and there is a time to advocate. The time to advocate is now, It’s time to wear our pin all the time with pride, it’s time to let people know that yes, “good design does matter” and we are better prepared to provide it and get adequately compensated for it.. Of course, we are all role models, and Architects are advocate of the profession, they may just not fully know it.
— MICHAEL TCHOUAFFÉ