Architecture 5¢ Becomes A Movement and a Lightning Rod

I loved John Morefield's wonderful idea of setting up a booth like Lucy in Peanuts, engaging with people to tell them what an architect does, and building a career for himself. He should be a role model for these hard times, another light at the end of the tunnel.

He has even turned it into a movement, licencing the idea across the country, trying to"Bring architecture to the people, get Architects off unemployment, and out on their streets engaging their communities."

There was an interview of him in Architectural Record which is worth reading, but I was shocked to see him vilified, almost crucified, by other architects in the comments.

From a TreeHugger point of view Morefield says all the right things, like promoting the use of architects for even the smallest jobs:

Many people find architects unapproachable, or they think that their house in nowhere near requiring an architect, or that their project is too small. But a lot of architects, like myself, we'll answer questions, most of us are approachable, and a lot of the people we talk to here have small projects that just need a little bit of guidance.

He talks about the benefits of working in the community:

I've been preaching the ripple effect. One nickel turns into one conversation, which turns into one local design job, which is billed by a local contractor who hires a local painter who buys from a local supplier. So, every local dollar that's spent in a neighborhood is worth three-fold in the economy. If I can start as many ripples as possible in Seattle and assist others, like me, in starting other ripples in other cities in the U.S., we can start a wave of opportunity to carry us through this.

Video from 2News

Here he is, being innovative and entrepreneurial, bringing architecture to a larger audience, and what do his peers say?

Give cheap garbage away for nothing. Hurt real small business owners. Give the public the sense that they can get something for nothing. Drive down prices.

But you don't care, as long as it gets you work. That's all that matters. You'd think that you'd be more aware if you're coming from the markets in Seattle. You're surrounded by people who actually understand what community means but you don't seem to have any sense of being part of a community of working professionals. You really don't seem to get it.

You're a stain on the profession in my opinion.

Now it does appear after reading six pages of comments that most of the negativity might be coming from one crazed anonymous commenter, and John addresses this issue:

BJB: Because you only charge a nickel, have other architects criticized you for devaluing the profession?

JM: Yeah, the impression they get is that I'm only charging 5 cents for architecture. But I'm not issuing legal drawings from this booth or from my Web site. The nickel is just my way of starting conversations with potential clients. Every architect has had those times at parties where a friend of a friend comes up and says, "Oh, you're the architect. I have a question for you." I'm doing the same thing, only I'm collecting a nickel for it and donating it to the local food bank. At the end of the day that nickel will hopefully turn into a client that will be on a normal, billable rate.

It is an attention-getter. It is great marketing. It is teaching the public about architecture. When you read articles like Scott Van Voorhis's in the Boston Globe, who did a renovation without an architect, essentially saying that Architects are incompetent:

So I say ditch the architect and save several thousand dollars — not to mention a good amount of unneeded stress as well.

Then you know that we need John Morefields in every farmers market in North America.

More on Morefield: The Architect is In- 5 Cents per Consultation

Tags: Architects


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