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Distinguishing Profession From Business

Recently, I was reminded of a good article by Richard Farson, a former AIA Public Director, from arcCA, the journal of the AIA California Council.

The paragraph that resonated most with me – and should with any professional – is (emphasis is mine):

“(The AIA) has to make a distinction as to whether architecture is a business or a profession. Not that it can’t be both, but they are not the same. Business serves “wants,” professions serve “needs.” If architects intend to serve great public interests, they must be able to exercise professional judgment. They cannot commoditize themselves, serve only market interests, or become subordinate to their clients. The AIA could be immensely helpful in supporting such a professional posture, even when architects are serving business. Lawyers, physicians, professors, accountants all serve businesses, but as professionals. Indeed, it is their professional judgment that business needs most.”

And, he concludes:

“The future of our democracy, indeed the future of our nation, is deeply threatened. Our infrastructure, both physical and social, needs to be completely redesigned. Yes, redesigned. Architects have our future in their hands. Will they answer that calling?

Let’s keep reminding them that they still have that secret weapon, that beautiful and reliable mystique.