M.I.T. (SMArchS, Faculty Colloquium: Frontiers in Architecture and Engineering)
Harvard (Anthropology 104, Language and Culture), Jan 2004
This paper began with a question raised about the notorious and inevitable relationship between
Architects and Engineers: How do these professions work together in the overlapping worlds of
building and design, and more importantly, how should they?
It seemed at first that ‘answers’ would have to be constructed in a form other than an academic
paper. A novel, for instance, or a TV program (say a follow-up to Law and Order called Form and
Function.) Maybe a morning radio talk-show, or an advice column in the New York Times––a
place where the two professions could confront one another and vent their frustrations and hopes in
glorious public anonymity––gossip on the airwaves, or in print. The self-help book might also have
been a workable genre, perhaps: “Architects are from Jupiter, Engineers are from Voyager-II”.
Surely I could have written, directed or produced any one of these instead of a paper. After all,
don’t we each have our fantasies of stepping out of ourselves, and the parts we are asked to
play? But in the end we must all return to our prescribed roles, and tow the line of ‘professional
expectations’, as I will shortly as an ‘academic’. Or do we?