The Oath for Architects


    I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

    I will respect the hard-won gains of those great architects in whose steps I walk.
    I will apply, for the benefit of all, all measures which are required, avoiding the traps of overbuilding and blocking too much sunlight and fresh air.

    I will remember that there is art to architecture and cities, as well as profit,
    and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh an extra story or two in a project.

    I will insist on using quality materials and seek quality craftmanship, I build for the ages.

    Most especially must I tread with care in matters of tall buildings, for these have great effect and are seen by all; and in civic buildings, for these are for all the people.

    I will not be ashamed to say "I don't think we should build there," or "I don't think we should tear that down," or, "wouldn't that be better as a public square or a park?," nor will I fail to call my colleagues on the carpet when they accept a commission that shows disrespect to tradition or to the citizenry.

    I will not fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a project.

    If I've not clear ideas or strong talents, let me not obfuscate truth with "archi-speak." Those who do should only teach, and never build.

    If it is given me to build a private residence for a wealthy person, all thanks, may I resist the urge to soak 'em. May I also resist the urge to involve my friends in the profits.

    It may also be within my power to help the less fortunate. I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those of pure mind and body as well as those with political connections.

    Above all, I must not do like many in my profession - you've seen the Modernists? the Brutalists? Do not play at god!

    May I resist temptation to design or put my name on, tea-kettles, bird houses, and pasta spoons.

    I will remember that I do not build a single building, but that the landscape and the lighting and the space around the building, indeed the polis as a whole - is connected. My responsibility includes all related issues, such as transportation, and sustainability, if I am to care adequately for the population.

    I will preserve and ennoble nature whenever I can, for I think that I shall never see a steel and glass skyscraper lovely as a tree.

    May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of those in my buildings, even when they can't find parking nearby, or the elevators break, the plumbing leaks, property taxes or heating costs go up, or an esteemed colleague builds something next door and blocks their beautiful view.

    May I have the right to not have to live in one of my own buildings.

    Were I given good fortune to live to 98 years, may I know when to stop designing.

    If I do not violate this oath, may I be respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I design my own tomb (if no one else will.)

    Until then, may I enjoy life, art, dry martinis, designer eyeglasses and Italian shoes.


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