February 26, 2021

Is Architecture Valuable?

Ready for a pop quiz?

Great! It’s just two questions.

Here we go...

Q1: Is architecture valuable?

Q2: Have you ever spent any money on architecture?

If you’re like me, you answered “Heck yes!” to the first question and “Zero dollars!” to the second.

What gives? If architecture is so valuable why don’t I spend any money on it? Is this some kind of paradox?

Nope. It’s the difference between objective and subjective value.

Architecture is valuable to me in an objective sense. I think it’s cool and I’m glad that some people spend money on it.

But it’s not valuable enough to me in a subjective consumer sense for me to spend my own money on it.

It’s kind of like a mint ’76 Corvette. I’m glad it exists but I’m never going to buy it.

Okay, so... why does any of this objective/subjective architecture stuff matter?

It matters if you are an architect.

If you’re an architect - who presumably hopes to sell architecture services to actual humans at some point - it’s not a good idea to rely on people’s abstract sense of the objective value of architecture.

“Somebody needs to hire me because otherwise architecture will eventually die and then you’ll be sorry!” is not a compelling sales pitch.

You need to know precisely who subjectively values architecture enough to write you big fat checks to do some architecting for them.

And of course, this isn’t limited to architecture.

Whether you build apps or design logos or write white papers or take pictures or bake wedding cakes or choreograph fight scenes or do sound design or whatever...

It applies to you, too.