Although money is often seen as a taboo topic in art schools, a group of Yale alumni is urging professional architects to place more value on the relationship between money and architecture.
The Yale Architectural Journal’s latest edition, titled “Money,” discusses the controversial role of money in the field of architecture. With articles written by a diverse group of professional architects ranging from Frank Gehry to Yale School of Architecture Professor Keller Easterling, the issue urges architects to reconsider the financial side of their work. Yale Architectural Journal Editor Marcus Addison Hooks ARC ’12 noted that many architects choose to avoid thinking about money in their work and do not view the topic as a serious area of inquiry.
“It’s a big question that the other editors and I discussed about three years ago,” Hooks said. “Architects don’t talk about money a lot, but in every work of architecture you need to find what the economic system can allow.”
When compared to other forms of art, Hooks explained, the large scale of architectural projects makes them significantly more expensive than other artistic works. Hooks added that while contractors and developers typically contribute substantial amounts of money to these projects, architects must still work within budgetary restrictions. Architects have to consider both the aesthetic appeal and monetary viability of their projects, he noted.
Addison said that while artists in other fields can maintain control over the materials that they work with throughout the creative process, architects must design their work around their budgets.
“No matter what financial model that you’re practicing on, it doesn’t change your passion for the design aspect,” Addison said. “Taking on a more active financial role can only help the design aspect and is not at all against the tradition of wanting to create something beautiful.”
Yale Architectural Journal Editor Avi Forman ARC ’12 said that while contractors and carpenters may prioritize monetary concerns above other factors, architects focus more on the artistic aspects of their projects.
Forman said he thinks it is impossible for architects to ignore the financial side of their work, adding that professional architects are consultants to some of the most expensive industries in the world, including real estate and construction.
“Even if you say it’s an art, architecture is connected more closely to money than any other art field,” Yale Architectural Journal author James Andrachuk ARC ’12 said. “It’s important that architects understand how their financial imperatives, needs and designs tie into a much larger picture.”
Andrachuk said the same financial principle is not limited to commercial real estate development but also applies to other areas, such as designing houses and school districts. By having both an economic and design justification, clients are more likely to give architects increased control over their proposals, he said.
Yale Architectural Journal Editor Christos Bolos ARC ’12 said few prioritize monetary concerns in planning out their work. Andrachuk added that the financial aspect of architecture is commonly not taught in professional schools. He explained that in school, architects mostly face topographical or environmental, rather than monetary, restraints in their designs.
“When we were in school we were taught different principles regarding this subject, some more successfully than others,” Bolos said. “Now that we’re out of school it’s been a great learning experience.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for an architect was $73,090 in 2012.