Wednesday, December 26, 2007

31. Get The Publicity You Need

Claire Whitaker spent five years as president of The Kreisberg Group, a New York P.R. firm whose clients were architects, as well as institutions with architectural ambitions. But in December, she closed the doors to the firm founded by Luisa Kreisberg in 1984, choosing to go to work for Santiago Calatrava, one of the firm's star clients. Since Calatrava hardly needs help gaining name recognition, Whitaker will be able to focus on managing his image and helping to run his business (now largely based in Manhattan). Which means that tips for getting young architects press are no longer her stock in trade. So on her last day at Kreisberg's offices in Chelsea, she sat down (on the only thing left, a computer) to talk about how architects without Pritzker Prizes on their résumés can become better known.

One thing young architects can't do, of course, is hire firms like Kreisberg, which can charge $5,000 per month or more for representation. That's the catch-22: Only the most successful architects can afford the publicists whose job is to help them become successful.

Over the years, I've met with many architects who I knew couldn't afford to hire me. I'd give them lots of free advice.

The first thing I'd say is, send out regular mailings, maybe two or three a year, with photos of your work. And I don't mean e-mails. For one thing, the color has to be perfect— you're trying to make your work look really good. Your list should include every journalist you can think of—you can get their names o. magazine mastheads—and anybody you've already done a project for. You want your former clients to know you're still open for business.

It's OK to publicize losing competition entries. In the architecture world, everybody understands that losing a competition is no great shame.

In fact, entering a lot of competitions is another way to get your name out. Someone may remember that you lost, but had a good idea.

Try to do as many public projects as you can. Restaurants, in particular, are a good way to become known. First, all of the customers will see your work. Second, lots of publications that don't cover architecture do cover restaurant openings. And third, restaurants have P.R. budgets. And the best way to get P.R., if you don't have a lot of money, is to piggyback on your client's budget. I've represented some very well-known architects—not Calatrava—who have never spent a penny on P.R.; the client always paid the bill.

Whatever kind of project you're doing, it's a good idea to talk to the client in advance about whether you'll be allowed to publish. Otherwise, you may have a hard time publishing residential projects—homeowners may have privacy concerns—or even jobs for corporate clients who don't necessarily want shareholders to see how much money they've spent. Still, at the end of the day, you have to accept your client's decision. One sure way to lose a reference is to publish behind a client's back.

Word of mouth is the most important thing in landing clients, but publicity can spark it. People have short memories, and when they're putting together a list of architects for a project, it's going to be the ones whose names they've seen or heard in the last few weeks or months.

Get friendly with journalists but don't plague them. Journalists need information, and they rely on people coming to them, as long as you don't overdo it.

2. Use stratagies of a publicist to get in the news
17. Blow your own horn!
28. Say you are an architect

Source: ARCHITECT MagazinePublication date: February 1, 2007
By Fred Bernstein

Sunday, December 23, 2007

30. Who will define "good architecture" in your work?

This post is based on the premise that what the client and general public's view of what is good architecture, is often times not the same as what the famous architect view of what is good architecture.

In becoming a famous architect you will inevitable have to make a choice in which constituent your design will pander to. Otherwise you can place your design somewhere between these two polarities.

Daniel Lebiskind tends to side with the idea of making architecture that communicates with the public, while Peter Eisenman tends towards communicating to the architectural elite.

This debate played out between the two at the end of the World Trade Center competition which Lebiskind won.

Eisenman's team, was a member of one of seven semi-finalist in the competition. His team, which included Richard Meier & Partners, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates and Steven Holl Architects, proposed creating a five-building matrix arranged at a 90-degree angle and connected by three aerial bridges.

"The project was doomed from the start," Mr. Eisenman told 100 students and faculty in Princeton University's McCosh Hall. "We submitted our credentials and truly we never thought we'd be selected."

Mr. Eisenman blamed New York City officials for turning a serious architectural competition into a popularity contest based on public opinion, and he criticized the media for oversimplifying each team's plan.

"The biggest mistake the city made was asking anyone to vote on such a project," he said. "The media condenses projects and doesn't show anything but images."

Believing his team had developed the most creative, meaningful plan but disappointed it did not reach the final round of competition, Mr. Eisenman hopes to continue promoting its original concepts.

Most of all, Mr. Eisenman laments what he described as the overall failure of the World Trade Center competition. "I think it's sad for New York and sad for the country because the idea posed a lot of hope and not a lot of answers," he said.

Eisenman won't discuss Libeskind by name, but there is no love lost there. He says the New York competition was set up with too much public input -- from families of the victims, the Port Authority, the trade center leaseholder and from the man in the street.

"You can talk to the public, but I don't think they should say what is good art or music" Eisenman says. He has seen the designs sent to him by "Joe Everyman," and they're as heavy-handed as the artwork after Sept. 11 that depicted a crying Statue of Liberty, a reminder of why you should "never pander to popular taste."

"You're dealing with an important memorial," Eisenman says. "How do you make those decisions so you don't get kitsch banality?"

It's a dig at Libeskind, of course, who has made himself accessible to everyone, and who has said, "The public is always right."

Lebiskind's response is "Architecture is a public art, it's not something done in private for private reasons, it has to reach the public, and part of the art of architecture is also language. it's not just some sort of container, some abstract piece of glass and concrete, it is part of communicative system, and we understand old traditional buildings because they signal to us, things about our culture. The same thing is true for new museums, they have to signal the connection between that past and in the future."

In an interview he was asked " You say that, but it is easy for me to think of architects as people who cater to private indulgences and the fetishes of the rich."

Lebiskind's response "Well I was not one of those architects, I have no aspirations to do that kind of architecture because really architecture is what is common between people, and what a contribution it makes to the viability of a city, and to civic space. After all, the pleasures and the celebratory dreams that we have, have to do with the environment we live in, and we might as well make an inspiring environment, an environment that is more than just a shallow façade of something inauthentic, and deal with the problems that we have."

Interviewer: Now what about this common image we have of the architect as a kind of solo visionary. What's the role of the collaborator, of the client, or of the community as a collaborator in these projects, should they just go away and wait until the architect who knows what he's doing has finished the drawings?

Daniel Libeskind: That's a very old-fashioned and very nostalgic view of the old architect, the master who's sort of sitting contemplating and making some models and imposing things on a society. I think the contemporary architect is an architect who is able to be engaged with a client, with the public. Certainly architecture is a communal art, no one person can build a building, you need teams, you need workers, you need people, you need engagement, and of course the building is not built for its own sake, it's built finally for the life that will take place in it. I often point out to my clients that the building is not finished when the building is finished, it's only beginning its life. For the next 30, 40, 50, 100, 150 years, which is what will be exciting and vital for the people who will use it. So yes, it's a collaborative art, it's an art of teams, but that doesn't mean it's a mediocre art, that doesn't mean that it's diluted to the lowest common denominator, it's to raise the art form of architecture, so that it is communicating to our deepest aspirations.

Friday, December 14, 2007

29. Take a lesson from Thom Mayne


  • Architecture is a public act: What is architecture really? It is taking our world view, how we exist, how we deal with each other in a civil society, and it concretizes it, it makes it permanent, It makes it evident. The social act and the aesthetic act comes together
  • Architecture can only finally be about our social space: connections between people, a public space, the connective tissue.
  • The development of a young architect as you mature moves from something that is conceptual to something that is more connected to the realities of our political, cultural, social, economic world. As it (projects) increases in scale specifically your strategies your tactics your methodologies has to become more resilient more compatible with the vast contingencies that all architects have to deal with.
  • Architecture as an art form is different from painting, sculpture, literature, and music in that it is inescapably connected to reality; it requires huge investments and includes an agreement with a client.
  • Film and architecture share quit a bit; the same economic and development forces that push the main stream film industry would be parallel to what takes place in architecture.
  • The films that I am interested in are just about only on the outside of the system in a way. For years I thought I could only work as an outsider, outside the main stream, outside the traditional notions of the larger architectural forces that come outside of large firms.
  • The Transition to Fame: First you are published, ( I did a project for a school in 1972) someone else looks at it and you exist. Someone goes "oh, more of these exists". Slowly people begin to see you as representative of something that exist in Los Angeles. Someone else comes along and say "thats the LA school!". They group 6 of us and that gets published. All of a sudden now you are part of the LA school. 10 years later you done a few more things, and you are known clearly among the academic world and in the architecture world as an innovative office that is providing ideas for the rest of the profession. Then something else happens; a certain building and then things take off.
  • I like architects, I am proud of my profession, I am honored to be in this group of people
  • Produce something that demand inquires, that is not status quo. It doesn't mater if people like it or dislike it. The question is does it stimulate you. The horror is to do something neutral. Thats the failure.

Saturday, December 8, 2007