Architects Without Architectural Degrees
It is obvious that every country is concerned about creating a specific system that should be followed and strictly applied in order to create an architect. But do school of architecture create architects or do they merely prepare them to be architects. Yesterday I have attended a very insightful presentation about the history of education of architecture and the different education systems worldwide. One interesting point in the presentation was that we need about 22 years to educate the architect and feed him/her with all the necessary information.
However, this may refer to the fact that what we are doing in the various styles of education in the architecture schools is only preparing prospective young students to face the real life of building industry and that they are responsible about gaining experience and follow the rapid growing techniques of all aspects of the profession. This is not to say that, schools of architecture are useless or to diminish its educational role, but to consider it as the first step through which one can be introduced to the world of architecture. However, the second step in an architect career is to continually gain the necessary information and knowledge from executing real projects.
In fact, this assumption reminded me with the fact that many of the renowned pioneers of modern architecture did not gain any credited professional degree in architecture, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. They were very passionate to learn architecture, but in the meantime they may did not want to waste their time in a daily-basis attendance in a college. Their thoughts and ideas about creating buildings were the outcome of their gifted talent and that they preferred to work in architectural professional practices to gain experience and sharpen their talents. Their unprecedented enthusiasm towards architecture made them proactive in the search for information and building techniques.
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) attended the Madison High School, which he left it in 1885 without finishing his degree. Although, Wright studied civil engineering in the University of Wisconsin's for two years, he also did not finish his degree and left to Chicago in 1887, where he worked for architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee. After one year, Wright worked in the office of the prominent architect, Louis Sullivan, where he gained experience, developed and elaborated his knowledge and views about theory and history of architecture. In 1893, Wright established his architectural practice in Chicago without any formal degree in architecture.
Like Wright, Le Corbusier, a Swiss / French architect, also left his primary school at the age of 13 in order to learn engraving and goldsmith at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs at La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. There, he was also taught art history and drawing, and the naturalist aesthetics of Art Nouveau. In 1907, Le Corbusier traveled to Paris, where he worked in the office of the eminent architect Auguste Perret. In 1910 he practiced architecture in the office of the renowned German architect Peter Behrens. From 1911, Le Corbusier travelled extensively to many countries where he sketched numerous famous buildings. When he 30 years old, Le Corbusier settled down in Paris, where he developed his ideas and architectural theories, which he also published them in his book ‘Towards a New Architecture, 1923.
The previous discussion does not mean that, one should not join a school of architecture to become an architect, but it showed the importance of the practical side in formulating and shaping the identity of an architect. It also refers to the significance of having more talent, dedication and a passion towards learning architecture, than being in a school of architecture.