The architect is a Renaissance Man

The 27th instalment in a series of lessons learned over the years. What do I know now that I didn’t then? What wisdom would I impart to my younger self, given the opportunity?

This lesson also formed part of a lecture given for the May Process forum, The Jump, exploring the challenges faced when setting up a practice. Process is a monthly information sharing series curated by the Victorian Young Architects and Graduates network.

27. The architect is a Renaissance Man

renaissance man

The daily life of an architect is far from linear. We must multitask across many activities, zigzagging between projects, project phases, skills and languages. I have never understood the interest in working for a large architecture practice, where each project is assigned a team, where teams are often restricted to single project phases, where individuals are employed to execute the same task over and over and over again.

Leonardo da Vinci was a Renaissance Man, an architect and urban designer and sculptor and painter and poet and inventor and builder. What an era and country in which to have lived, when the world’s artists were able to apply their abilities across so many media! The modern architect working in a small practice is no different. We are problem solvers and creative thinkers and craftspeople and scholars and leaders and businesspeople and politicians and polyglots.

The job is exciting, every element of it multifaceted. We draw by hand and in the computer, make physical and digital models, write fee proposals, town planning applications and specifications. We sit at a desk, visit showrooms and factories, and inspect construction sites. Some tasks are more enjoyable than others, but the discordant rhythm of them all keeps our minds engaged and our spirits fulfilled.

The architect is a Renaissance Man.

Image source:

  1. Vitruvian Man. Hal Robert Myers Photography, copyright Leonardo da Vinci.

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