“Architects often make the mistake of believing that everybody thinks about architecture the way we do,” explains Jeff Murray in his new piece for AIA Pittsburgh on the meaning of architecture before suggesting that architects might be better served to focus on others’ views of the profession. He then outlines five key definitions of architecture he’s defined throughout his career, including:

  • Architecture as real estate – Architecture is viewed as an investment product (embraced by real estate brokers, developers, investors, business media, and most building owners).
  • Architecture as useful tool – Architecture is seen as a minimal functional shelter (embraced by many builders, engineers, and facility managers).
  • Architecture as consumer product – Architecture is about style, fashion and entertainment (embraced by most media, and most media influenced public).
  • Architecture as societal express – Architecture is about creating artistic cultural artifacts (embraced by architectural critics, theorists, historians, and mostly wealthy patrons of the arts).
  • Architecture as experiential setting – Architecture is about impacting human well begin (embraced by social scientists, and some leaders)

Since its 2009 redesign, and supported by event programming, Market Square in Pittsburgh has successfully transformed a previously bleak urban experience and has driven real estate investment.

Jeff’s full piece can be viewed on the AIA Pittsburgh website. Here’s a key excerpt:

“For me, the most important meaning is “architecture as experiential setting… nobody really realizes the impact our surroundings have on our quality of life, so it is not seen as extremely relevant. The common view is that architecture is a luxury, not a necessity. (I choose) not to believe this, believing that architecture is for everyone and every building – that it can make a difference in anybody’s quality of life and that what architects do is socially relevant.