Leadership begins with a question that emerges from instinct, inspiration, insight, education, experience or talent. The question can be elusive when momentum resists adaptation and instinct escapes definition.
One of the questions before architecture is: Can it help build a sustainable future, and if so, to what extent? We don’t have an answer because this question has not emerged from instinct to become an issue for national debate. Energy efficiency is simply a tree in a forest of concern. It is, however, a noble effort to contribute within the limited power of current practice. “Sprawl” is shorthand for the greater threat sensed by many who are beginning to raise their heads and look over the land. We’re nibbling at the green edges, but have yet to make a commitment of adequate scope.
I’ve already covered this ground with my essays on city design and civil architecture, but a core piece of the puzzle in architecture is the concept of talent. Talent is not just a result in architecture. It is a process defined by the questions asked, the decisions taken, the knowledge accumulated and the leadership provided. Fine art is an exceptional expression of the process. The focus on fine art has been too narrow and the issues are too great. Architecture is a profession with the instinct and intelligence to adapt. In fact, this is the mute testimony it conveys for entire cultures of the past. In my opinion, it already senses the need to adapt again, and fine art will symbolize the mobilization achieved.