Citizen Architect – Form out of Time

Image via Forgemind ArchiMedia on Flickr

This post is part of a coalition of architects posting on a single topic, each interpreting it in their own way, known as Architalks. This month the topic is your “Citizen Architect”

The AIA has staunchly promoted the constructed notion of a Citizen Architect a sort of paragon within the profession who, by their definition, “…uses his/her insights, talents, training, and experience to contribute meaningfully, beyond self, to the improvement of the community and human condition.”   I’m generally not a fan of this distinction, as I feel every architect should conduct their practice in this way.  To elevate a certain constituency simply because they sit on local boards or get elected to office I think misses the point of the profession.  The value of the architect isn’t as a legislative tool or a cocktail party fundraiser, the value of the architect is in their power to see what the world can be, and help craft that world from  the trenches, not atop an ivory tower.

Architects help humanity in so many ways, from very practical local ways like the Rural Studio and Studio 804, to very ambitious worldwide organizations like Architecture for Humanity (unfortunately now closed), but what I’d like to focus on are the cataclysmic…the earth shattering.  Here are 15 (in no particular order) of my favorite architectural interventions that have either directly, or by extension and influence, forced the betterment of the human condition.

1. Cedric Price – Fun Palace


2. Walt Disney – Epcot Center

3. Lebbeus Wood – Scab Architecture


4. Wes Jones – Cargo Container Architecture


5. Antonio Sant’Elia – Futurist Architecture


6. Paul Rudolph – Lower Manhattan Expressway


7. Archigram – A Walking City


8. Rem Koolhaas – City of the Captive Globe


9. Iakov Chernikhov – Futurist Fantasies

10. Ron Herron – Suburban Sets [Suburban Illusionism]


11.  Paolo Soleri – Archology


12.  Fritz Lang – Metropolis


13.  Lionel Feininger – Crystal Cathedral

14. Arata Isozaki – Clusters in the Air


15. Christopher Alexander – A Pattern Language



+   +   +

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Citizen Architect … Seems Redundant
Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Citizen Architect
Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Good Citizen Architect
Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
What Does it Mean to be a Citizen Architect?
Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
small town citizen architect
Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
#ArchiTalks: The everyday citizen architect
Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
Citizen Architect: #architalks
Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect)
Architect as Citizen
Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
My Hero – Citizen Architect
Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
We are the Champions – Citizen Architects
Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Meet Jane Doe, Citizen Architect
Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
Architalks #13: How Can I Be But Just What I Am?
Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
Help with South Carolina’s Recovery Efforts
brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Senior Citizen, Architect
Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Citizen Architect
Tara Imani – Tara Imani Designs, LLC (@Parthenon1)
Citizen Starchitect’ is not an Oxymoron
Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[cake decorating] to [citizen architect]
Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Citizen Architect #ArchiTalks
Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Citizen of Architecture
Daniel Beck – The Architect’s Checklist (@archchecklist)
Protecting the Client – 3 Ways to be a Citizen Architect
Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Citizen Developer??
Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
Citizen Architect
Courtney Casburn Brett – Casburn Brett (@CasburnBrett)
“Citizen Architect” + Four Other Practice Models Changing Architecture
Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
How Architects Can Be Model Citizens
Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Citizen Architect: The Last Responder
Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Inspiring a Citizen Architect


10 2015
  • Lee Calisti, AIA

    Nice take on the subject. I’ve always felt there’s no award given for doing what one ought to do in the first place.

  • Jonathan Brown

    Agreed. The very nature of what we do, as a profession, engages the citizenry, local municipalities, and community groups in ways that few others do inherently.