Hypothesis: Architects and Scientists Have a lot in Common

Growing up in a house with a research chemist and designing laboratories for the last 15 years I have observed firsthand that  we share many similarities in what we do and our process.    I guess that my initial predisposition to the above hypothesis starts with a belief that architecture is the marriage between artistry and science.  Architects are trained to manipulate and coordinate materials and technology to creatively design space that is informed by people.  Scientists are trained to symmetrically study and acquire knowledge which leads to solving a problem.

I’m not blind to the differences but I feel we share many similarities.

So what makes us similar?

Vision:  whether it’s designing a building or developing a new compound that will be the active ingredient in the next wonder drug.  Architects and Scientists start with a vision, an abstract idea and develop it into something tangible.

Creativity: both solve problems by thinking out of the box or from a different perspective. We both have the tendency to generate alternatives/possibilities to solve a particular problem.   

The process: our tools that we use are different but we both have a time tested processes that we follow to achieve our solution.  Scientists use the scientific method which consist of stating the problem, gathering information, creating a hypothesis, preforming the experiment, analyze and interpret data, and finally publish results and getting recognized by their peers. Architects utilize a building delivery system.  In a traditional design, bid, build method the process consists of the following phases programming, schematic design, design development, construction documentation, and finally construction administration. 

Architects use the programming phase to define the problem, develop a clear vision and gather data. We test these ideas out during the schematic phase where we prepare studies to demonstrate a design approach or strategy to solve our client’s needs; our hypothesis. Once these ideas have been approved we go through a series of refinements in the design development and construction document phase. The construction documentation phase results in a limited publication to a contractor that instructs them on how to assemble a building.  During the construction administration phase we observer the construction to make sure the vision and quality of the design is maintained. 

Even though our processes may differ we both end up creating a solution that solves a problem.

Finally, Problem Solvers: I would surmise that the reason Architects and Scientist come to work each day is for the money.  No! It’s to solve problems. 

We both typically solve these problems in a very linear fashion taking known elements and bonding them together either by covalent or ionic bonds or in an Architect’s case nails and screws.  We both need to have the ability to view spaces or compounds in three dimensions.  In a conversation with a researcher he felt that one of the biggest reason people struggle with organic chemistry is that they do not have the ability to visualize the compound and its structure in three dimensions.  

Scientist and Architects are continually reinventing/ retesting age old ideas and I conclude that both professions use different tools and processes to achieve the ultimate goal to modify human existence for the betterment of mankind.