I just discovered something I wrote down in an Architectural theory book that I read while I was in school:
"Architectural theory is a dialectical relationship; it grows out of ideology and at the same time is opposed to it."
The thought is not mine, it is paraphrased from an essay by Diana Agrest and Mario Gandelsonas in 1973. It does, however, represent the kind of things that I was thinking about in my spare time back then.
Today, I know exponentially more about the practice of Architecture than I did then. I can not, however, help but feel like I am somehow less intelligent than I was back then. It is an interesting thought, one that I find myself thinking often: By practicing, am I somehow becoming less of an "architect" than I was when my head was just full of thoughts about Architecture?
The answer, of course, is no. No, just because I occasionally stumble when trying to remember the name of a famous architect that I would have undoubtedly had roll off of my tongue in college does not mean that I am somehow less of an architect. The person writing those deep thoughts about Architectural theory years ago is the person that now may not have as deep of thoughts regarding Architectural theory but is developing substantially more refined thoughts regarding Architectural practice nearly every day. Theory vs. Practice. The age old battle.
Back then, Theory seemed like this magical place in which one could think about the most pure ideas of Architecture free from all of the nonsense that Practice led to. Practice was the thing that architects did to produce terrible work. Today, I am fortunate to be able to say that, while Practicing, Theory drives everything that we do. I suppose that the only real difference is that we do not write it down very much, but it nonetheless forms the thoughts that become the concepts that eventually have to be worked out in the details of what we do. Back in college, I could not have possibly had an idea about the unbelievable complexities associated with the practice of Architecture. The act was pure, so it really required no more than lines on paper and thoughts about them. Today, understanding all of the forces that come together to produce an act of Architecture drives an acceptance that the act is inherently not pure. The ideas that form into the concepts that eventually become the details that produce an act of Architecture live in this realm of Theory vs. Practice, and that is the way that it should be because that it the most likely way that a building can be produced.
So am I dumber[er] for now being a practicing architect? It recently took me a whole day to recall Santiago Calatrava's name. I could have googled it but I chose, instead, to pry it from the depth's of my memory. How could I forget that? Where the hell was my brain? Maybe it was just overwhelmed thinking about the 1000 thoughts that are bouncing around about the current project that I am working on; and I am ok with that.