Architecture Lab

The Death of Architecture

The last few years haven’t been kind to architects. The once-booming construction sector has been brought to a near-standstill by the housing bubble’s burst and the economic downturn that followed.
The Death of Architecture

Drawing courtesy of Moh'd Bilbeisi

“New study shows architecture, arts degrees yield highest unemployment,” a Washington Post headline announced in January. Based on 2009 and 2010 Census Bureau data, the Georgetown University study showed a nearly 14 percent unemployment rate among architecture school graduates. Skeptics questioned if the numbers were too high or too low, but the damage was done.

How did a noble, still-romanticized profession—purportedly licensed to “protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public”—fall so far? The myriad reasons are reminiscent of the problems that have plagued medicine for a century and a half and paved the way for the creation of the public health field—which aims to take a more systemic approach to health care than traditional medicine, focusing on policy and broad-scale community engagement.

Public health may provide a viable model for those who became architects in order to make people’s lives better, not just cater to the proverbial 1 percent.