The Architect’s Oath

Posted on December 15, 2011

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I solemnly swear....

Sounds Pretty Serious

The other day, I was reading a blog associated with my alma mater, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, written by current students. One post mentioned the need for architecture to have an overarching moral code. I argued that it would be difficult for architecture to have such a code, citing constantly shifting modern culture. Instead, I proposed architects taking an oath similar to the Hippocratic Oath that doctor’s take, which basically states they will do no harm and other statements to treat the patient and not the disease, etc, etc. It wouldn’t be a strict set of can’s and cannot’s for architects, but a statement of intent to always do good.

I did find the popular Oath for Architects, but it is equal parts joke and seriousness. Mine is a genuine attempt at an oath, but there are some shared themes between the two.

Anywho, here’s my version of the Hippocratic Oath…

The Architect’s Oath

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

I will respect the hard-won gains of those architects in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of everyone, all measures that are required, avoiding the twin traps of over-designing and narrow-mindedness.

I will remember that there is art to architecture as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the architects pen or the engineer’s scale.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a holistic solution.

I will remember that I do not design a single building. Every element of architecture is connected to the world as a whole. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to provide adequately for people’s needs.

I will remember to preserve and help regenerate the environment, both natural and built.

I will not waste materials, preferring to reuse what I can and recycle what I can’t. Above all, I will use quality materials and superior craftsmanship.

I will spread my knowledge whenever I can, for preventing problems is preferable to fixing failures.

I will not build to make a name for myself, but to make the world a better place to live in.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the handicapped.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of improving the lives those who seek my help.

*the Architect’s Oath has been created from the 1964 version of the Hippocratic Oath written by Dr. Louis Lasagna (via).

This is my first try at the oath. What do you think should be added or changed?

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Posted in: Architects