Is Architecture Becoming Mainstream? / by Michelle Linden

Lately, it seems like there has been definite increase in architectural awareness of the general public. Magazines like Dwell have been becoming more and more popular with every year. Brad Pitt espouses the virtues of architecture in between making movies and collecting children. Companies such as Banana Republic and Special K (see their current commercial on tv) have been using architects in some of their more recent ads...

Americans have always been impressed by architects; impressed, but completely disinterested in Architecture. Is is possible that this is changing? It sure seems like I've been seeing an increase in exposure of architects and architecture in mainstream media, both ads and magazines.

Home fix-it and 'design' shows have been extremely popular over the last few years (or decade). Unfortunately these shows like Trading Spaces seem to have devalued architecture for the average American. Everyone seems to think that they can do it just as well as the next guy, so why would we need architects? I think the real problem is a lack of education... As a culture, we don't tend to value good design and architecture as much as we can and should and we certainly don't make any effort to educate the public about the importance of good design. We take ceramics, drawing, and music classes in school. Why not study architecture/urban planning/design, too? After all, its the art form that we most often experience and arguably the one that effects our lives most often and most significantly.

Seeing architectural references in mainstream magazines (and other media) excites me. The reference can be serious (the fashion editorial in Men's Vogue featuring prominent architects in the Glass House), tongue in cheek (see Gehry on the Simpsons), or casual (a short reference to the Herzog and deMeuron Olympic Stadium in Vanity Fair), but at least we are seeing some sort of attention paid to architecture. I've also seen recent articles on Frank Gehry in Martha Stewart and various architectural features in GQ's design section... I'd like to think that this increase in exposure is linked to an increase in awareness. Maybe that's a little hopeful, but the more knowledgeable the public is on the importance of good design, the easier our jobs will be (and the more productive).

Here's hoping that we continue to see an interest in architecture!