The Ingredients

Several weeks ago w/purpose Founder Wil Marquez had an opportunity to travel to Tuskegee University in Alabama to speak to architecture students and faculty about w/purpose, its advocacy, and practice.  Needing time to focus and prep his talk, Marquez stopped in our Nation’s Capital – Washington D.C. Afterall, he thought, “it’s the right spot to start if you’re going to consider the bigger themes behind democracy, new knowledge, and change.”

Walking from Union Station to the National Mall, Marquez observed construction of a beautiful metal tapestry and luminary by architect David Adjaye. The National Museum of African American History and Culture will open its doors the public next year. “Its purpose, culture, and meaning are elegant and legible,” Marquez noted. Curious about the projects background and architecture, Marquez read an interview with Architecture Lab, where Adjaye positions the building’s advocacy and public ambition.

“What’s interesting to me is this idea of fabric and weaving as a kind of abstraction of making places that people come together in,” – David Adjaye

“I felt that same way when I walked around Tuskegee’s Campus…it very much is a place that people come together in,” Marquez expressed.  His message to students was to consider the value behind an “advocacy” specialization that brings people along or positions design professionals as expert citizens, community educators, systems strategists, or savvy entrepreneurs.  Earlier last month, Marquez shared a similar message at a Young Architects Forum event in Indianapolis. He joined a platform including Archinect Contributor Donna Sink, AIA, and Ball State Professors Josh Cogishall, RA and Janice Shimizu, RA to discuss larger social -ish goals and norms that “activist” or “alternative” architects often contemplate.  The event ended with talk around the need for architecture to include multiple points of entry and how to educate the public about its contribution.

It is a topic that is personal for Marquez. His public design studio celebrated its fifth year in business this October and prides itself as a novel option for young architects seeking a higher purpose and do good style of practice.

Marquez is seeing a lot of movement around these ideas of new practice, design, advocacy, and knowledge. He applauds efforts like AIA’s recent lobby around student loan forgiveness as a step in recognizing those book of deeds and design efforts that keep the profession relevant in our society.

A recent article by Dominic Mercier for Architect MagazineArchitect Mattia Flabiano III, AIA  commented on this trend to bring the profession along:

I believe architects need to boost their advocacy efforts. Flabiano continues, “Advocacy has a huge impact on the business of architecture, but I don’t think that all architects understand that,” he says.

“We’re trained to be good listeners, we work collaboratively in groups, we look at all ideas, and we’re problem-solvers. We have not been as loud in the communities because we’re too busy practicing our trade, as opposed to advocating for our profession and what we do to enhance people’s lives.”

After 15 years in the field of architecture, Wil Marquez wants design professionals to take more action towards organizing and designing systems that bind people together.  He hopes students and practitioners consider an attitude that makes meaning from public knowledge. A courageous position that invites design professionals to avoid “fountainheading” tactics that only value individual /professional advancements ahead of the needs of citizens and communities. “It can’t always be about flashy forms and buildings – but building something inclusive and just that brings design closer to its inhabitants”, explained Marquez. Sometimes it is just about the right ingredients for bringing people together.

What are those ingredients you asked?

Inspired by Big Democracy project, they are simple:

<Equity>

<Movement>

<Trust>

<Love>

<Courage>

<Voice>

Many thanks to Tuskegee professors Rod Fluker, Jack Ames, Tom Kaufmann, and the Alabama State Board of Architects for the invitation and opportunity.