Saturday, October 8, 2011

80. Why be famous?

One of the most popular question I get from my readers is: Why do you want to be famous anyway? To me, I always thought the reasons were self evident. Its like the question "why would you want to sit in first class anyway? In fact I often wondered who wouldn't want to be famous? But it is a good question and well worth pondering. So below are 22 reasons (not in any particular order):

  • People will respect you. For all the drawbacks of being famous people tend to generally respect famous people. Becoming famous is a tremendous accomplishment and it is universally respected in most parts of the world.
  • Even though architecture is a team sport and the work that comes out of your office is a product of the many talented people who work for you, it is you that gets all the credit. You can pretend to be gracious all you want by showing a picture of you staff and saying “oh, this is my team, and I show them to let you know that it is a team effort. bla, bla, bla...” hogwash! If you are the head of he firm and you are clearly the leader and spokesman, it is you who gets the credit.
  • You will get asked for your autograph. That alone is reason enough.
  • People (esp. architectural critics) will stop really questioning you. They just assume that everything you do and say makes sense and is just wonderful.
  • Even when the hair on top of your head have migrated down to your back, members of the opposite sex will still find you attractive.
  • You may get to have a retrospective at a major museum before you die
  • You don’t chase down magazine editors to get your work published, magazine editors chase you down to get your work published.

  •  You and your image will be such a hot commodity journalists will want to feature you in their magazines, even if its is not an architecture journal. This one below of Zaha Hadid was found while browsing though an inflight magazine:
  • You don’t need to wait till you have something important to say to get heard. What ever bull-shit you think of and say is listened to with the full attention of the architecture world.
  • You get credit for things that lesser known architects have already invented long before you stole...ahem, I mean borrowed it from them.
  • You get to meet other famous people. Why is this so great?  You can take pictures of yourself with them and put it on your facebook profile. You will be the envy of all your friends.
I am hanging with Tutu, top that suckers!!!
  • Even better than just meeting other famous people you get to work with them. 
Me and Pharrell are buddies like that!
  • You get to work for autocrats and dictators. Why is this an advantage? These are the types that have the good sense to put great architecture in its rightful place: above the concerns of uncultured people who have no taste what-so-ever in architecture. With a supreme leader behind you, your design visions can be realized unmitigated; without all the nonsensical layers of regulations and bureaucracy commonly found in democratic countries. 
  • You get invited to competitions that are closed off to regular architects.- imagine offered the opportunity to design some of the most exciting and important buildings of our times. There is real opportunity in that to flex your design muscles and show off your talents, but you don't even get considered if you are sitting in the economy section of the architectural class.
  • Freebies. Oh my God! the freeking freebies. People will just give you stuff for nothing. You will get discounts at hotels, restaurants, get bumped up to first class, etc.

  • You don’t need to prove your-self anymore. You can just sit back on your laurels and regurgitate your same old shtick and everyone will say “oh he is such a genius.” Just look at Zaha and Lebiskind.
  • Like Norman Foster, when your name becomes so famous and valuable you can arrange it so that your own company basically pays you just to keep your name on their stationary. Then you can buy a ranch in the french countryside and come in to the office once or twice a month just to show your face and sign autographs for your star-stuck employees.
  • Also from the Norman Foster play-book: When a financial crisis hits and most of your employees either have to take a pink-slip or a pay cut, you can have your-self a nice pay raise and a hefty bonus. You deserve it!
    • The most talented people will want to come and work for you and what’s more they are willing to do it for free or very little. Even more, they will work much, much, harder for you than they would at an average office. I think Frank Lloyd Wright once had the children of his rich clients actually pay him money to work for him. Now that's what I call "Big Pimpin"

    • Contractors don’t argue with you, and clients?... well clients will be clients. Sorry!
    • Just the thought of groupies. If you are famous you will no doubt have a bunch of superficial friends and loyal devotees that will follow you around like secret service agents just because you are famous.
    • People will drop your name to make themselves look important; "Oh I was having dinner with Conrad Newel yesterday darling, who were you dining with again?"
    • People will call you a genius - for most famous people i.e. movie stars, singers, etc, when they are famous people say oh they are fantastic, etc. but architects? when architects are famous people tend to say "well he is a genius!". Just think about that for a second: Conrad Newel a Genius! - I kind of like the sound of that. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
    • You will be memorialized simulntaniously for about a week on facebook when you die. People will replace their profile picture with a flattering picture of you. All the vicious and tyrannical things that you have done throughout your career will be forgotten or forgiven. They will say nice things about you, write quotes of all the wonderful things that you said on their statuses, and every website and news articles will be all about you. Although you won’t be around to basque in all the adoration, I think that's much better than silently slipping off the planet with not a mention in the press.
    • People will actually want to read your autobiography
    Tribute to Oscar Niemeyer, after his death by Brazilian artist Kobra (Thanks Vinícius Vitoriano!)

    Le Corbusier immortalized on Swiss currency
    • You will have a place in History. People will write about you, and continue to be inspired by you long after you are dead. Just think about this. Hundreds of years after you are dead, architecture students will be visiting your grave with flowers.

    Conrad Newel

    Liberating Minds Since August 2007


      Solo said...

      Im doing it mostly for the last part of this list. Immortality.

      Which kind of explains my fascination with vampires.

      Conrad Newel said...

      Now that explains why famous architects wear black.

      The question then is why are the rest of us doing it too.

      Solo said...

      To emulate the masters and hopefully that this act of copying their idols would translate into attention, maybe.

      Anonymous said...

      Conrad please speak a bit about Dubai, thats a subjet to post a few things i think... All the stararchitects with their own ideas supporte by arab money throwing buildings like animals in a zoo, come on ! I need to know what you thing about that.

      From Argentina. ( Yeah, really really far away )

      Don said...

      Hey Mark,

      Thanks, I like requests. I will look into it but I have to dig around for a bit first. I like to do some research to make sure that what I am saying is correct. In other words, It's comming for sure but don't expect it any time soon. :)



      Anonymous said...

      My question is who keeps the actual award - the client or the architect?

      I as the client have recently won a number of design/architect awards and the architect is claiming they keep the galssware and the client keeps the certificates (we have duplicate certificates so he has a set too) whereas I am arguing as the client I paid the architect to do a job for me and as client the work/the award is mine - he gets the accolades and the payment but not the award - your thoughts please

      Anonymous said...

      Amazing how race finds its way into everything.

      Zaha Hadid 2010 and 2004 Pritzker Prize Winner

      Richard said...

      Great tongue and cheek post that I will pass on to my daughters friend who is an architect major and my daughter who is a CPA and could use the same philosophy as most of us could.

      Richard said...

      I will pass this on to my daughters friend who is an architect major at USC. I will bet they don't teach a course in why you should be famous.

      Conrad Newel said...

      Re: who keeps the actual award - the client or the architect?

      That's a very interesting question. Thanks! The short answer is "It depends". Who keeps the actual award depends on a lot of things. Firstly, what was the award was given for. For eg. the Pritzker is for "honoring a living architect" among other things. Although the award committee cites several buildings when he or she receives the prize (and therefore serves as the basis of him/her receiving the prize) the award belongs to the architect. It is recognizing his/her talent. If the award however is given in recognition of the building's energy efficiency and greenness for eg and the architect, engineers, client were all participants then ethicly speaking, the award should be shared among all of the people participating in the decision making and creative process.

      Additionally, I would say that the architect have a lot more control and power over the finished building than one may normally think. This is because legally he/she is ultimately responsible for any failure of integrity of the building over the course of its permitted use.

      But even more, (...and this is where it gets hairy) the architect can also claim the design of your building as his/her "intellectual property" even though you own and live in it. One controversial case you may have heard of is the bridge designed by Santiago Calitrava for the city of Barcelona.

      see this link here:

      As I don't know the specifics of your case or of the award, this is all I can really give. Hope that helps some.

      All the best.


      Conrad Newel said...

      Thanks Anonymous for the link and thanks for the comment Richard, I will keep that in mind when I am writing.



      LandscapeArchitectureStudent said...


      From the time I discovered this blog up until now, I have absolutely devoured it.

      Your musings and insights have proved to be an invaluable resource for self-reflection and accelerating my development.

      I would like to extend my gratitude with hopes that you continue to write on the subject as you see fit.

      Thank you.

      Anonymous said...

      I just discovered your blog yesterday and it's so addicting, I can't stop reading it! You are such an insightful person, Conrad. Keep it up!

      Anonymous said...

      Hey Conrad,

      I think you couldn't be more correct. i am currently an architecture student whilst doing a placement year in a 'starchitecture' firm. I believe the only reason I got the job was because I had previous experience in another 'starchitecture' firm and got an interview through a former boss. I mean I'm okay at my work but its all about talking the architecture talk and just learning how to play the game.

      I'm sure you've read fountainhead...if you haven't I suggest you do because you could probably write a thesis and architecture stardom based on the novel. It good insight into the 1920s New York society and its really funny how in architecture circles not much has changed (even though the characters are fictional themes are clearly based on society trends at the time).

      as marge simpson would say; just keep on truckin'

      Unknown said...

      Thanks Conrad,

      Fortunately we had won so many awards that we shared the 'gongs' and so the architect kept a couple and we kept a few..

      Jay Buckley said...

      I've always thought being a celebrity was one of the worst deals in the world. Far better to be rich and anonymous. You'll have your privacy.

      Conrad Newel said...

      True. But famous architects get the best of both worlds: Lets face it, they are not and will never be famous as movie stars or rock stars. They are only famous among other architects and such. Thus they have their privacy and get to be anonymus when they are among "civilians" and they get to be adored by grupies when they go to architecture events.

      That's a pretty sweet deal.

      Ruth. said...

      Hilarious post. Newel.