Are blueprints and t-squares the first things you think of when hearing the term "architect"? While these are common icons of the profession, neither have been prevalent in offices for nearly two decades and this is the only place in the exhibition where you'll find them mentioned. And though architects still often do carry rolls of drawings, they now come from a plotter, not a blueprint machine, and many don't carry anything more than a laptop and digital projector.
What has defined the image of architects? Take a look at the icons and stereotypes that have represented architects in film over the past half-century beginning with the most famous character, Howard Roarke of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, played in the 1949 film by Gary Cooper. Roarke was a strong-willed man determined to project his vision for the future at all costs.
Since the 1950s, however, the role of the architect has transitioned from a hero struggling valiantly with idealism to an everyman (mostly male but not always), white-collar worker struggling with family balance or personal ethics. Architects in film are still mostly shown as on their own, yet somehow working on big urban projects. In the more recent examples, Hollywood has used the profession almost as short-hand for "s/he is smart, well-paid, and hard-working, yet artistic and sensitive." This type appears as characters played by Robert Downey Jr. in Due Date, Adam Sandler in Click, Woody Harrelson in Indecent Proposal, Liam Neeson in Love Actually, Wesley Snipes in Jungle Fever, Matt Dillon in There's Something About Mary and You, Me And Dupree, Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle, and Michelle Pfeiffer in One Fine Day. As if to establish their professional status, architects in films are almost always shown alongside rolls of drawings and models, and wearing hard hats.
While these stereotypes aren't completely inaccurate, they show a very small sliver of the range of what architects look like, how they work in the context of an office, or overall what they do. This exhibit is intended to help fill out that larger view of what being an architect is all about...