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September 27, 2014

As noted in this piece: I , like a lot of pretentious architects submit work to be judged by their “peers” in design competitions, and I have perhaps one of the worst records in recent history at winning them.

Judged by a few others of my ilk, I know that there are virtually religious differences (think Suni/Shia), and my work is not viewed as following the most recent Canon of the most popular archi-theology: But when propitiously heretical jurors are chosen, I enter more, when the State Religion of Millenial Modernism has packed the jury box, I offer up fewer projects for judgment.

So when a few like minds decided to judge unbuilt housing projects last year, I entered many and won a lot:

Similarly this winter when an awards program had folk who I knew grokked my vibe, I entered and won Big (well, I won highest honors in the largest category)

A rejected project was a rock star this year when architects were not judging my work, but the public voted on it: rejected the week before the very same project won an international award as a “Sacred Landscape”. In short, if the projects are “competitive” the awards given or lost have little to do with merit, and everything to do with the jurors and judging criteria.

I know how this works because I have been a jurist many, many times – and this spring sat on a jury of heretics who had fun picking some heresies (even for a “preservation” focused program).

This year I saw one out of the 3 juror’s in a CT competition was quirky enough to, maybe, “get” me. So I entered a buncha stuff – but AFTER submitting, 2 out of the 3 jurists changed, including my presumed like mind, and I knew I was cooked: I won, as usual, Zilch: and as usual, except for some tiny and preservation projects safe, defendable, familiar Modernist work was celebrated (deservedly – but predictably).

Others of a non-flat-roof/plate glass/sculpted sensibility mostly lost too: – and many submitted many more losers than me: schadenfruede!

This phenomenon is well-known and has even spawned a “make-up call” of a popularity contest alternative where civilians are allowed to vote project awards: – even someone as hungry for validation as me finds this pander too transparent…

That said: here are my losers:

sidstairSidorenko 082713Sidorenko-Cabinet-Handles

sunshine Schoolofrock incar episco


Why do I submit to these competitions, knowing I will, more often than not, lose? Why do I write this? Why do I want to build for people, instead of design for myself? Because I am incomplete without being in a greater venue: a recipe for never-ending discontent.

As magazines winnow to a few, as books become oddities, as conventions become for the very few devoted acolytes, venues in the 20th century model of public recognition become exclusive, predictable and defensive: the recession that is strangling them has, as its abettor, the technology that affords the alternative of an open-ended spew of everything, good, bad or indifferent. There are now infinite opportunities for professional selfies – just like this: unvetted, unmediated, but available to billions who may (or may not) bump into yet another byte of data…

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