Por
1

‘To the Young Man in Architecture’: published in Wright F. LL. 1931, Two lectures on architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.

2

See Frank Lloyd Wright’s fourteen articles at: https://books.google.es

Never Enter an Architecture Competition

‘Enter no architectural competition under any circumstances except as a novice. No competition ever gave to the world anything worth having in architecture.  The jury itself is a picked average. The first thing done by the jury is to go through all the designs and throw out the best and the worst ones, as an average, it can average upon an average. The net result of any competition is an average by the average of averages1.

No, my architect friend, never under any circumstances enter an architecture competition. 88 years have passed since Frank Lloyd Wright reflected on architectural practice and argued against architecture competitions in a lecture he gave at the Art Institute of Chicago2. Is his advice still valid, or is it now buried beneath almost a century of dust?

Analysing the present situation, we’ve seen a large number of interesting challenges over the years, few or none of which were ever successfully resolved. We’re talking about competitions, usually non-paying, with specifications that aspire to create castles in the air:  competitions with prizes that are often also modest, and which require numerous teams to work flat out, even during the summer months. (How can an entry be delivered in mid-August and the results not declared until late November?).

And then, after the competition – after the typical three first prizes and the obligatory couple of special mentions – what real chances are there that the proposals will actually be built?  Apparently, the answer to that is usually zero.

Regardless of whether a project is an ambitious urban redevelopment of Madrid’s main traffic thoroughfares, a sun-filled city centre square, a unique listed building, an infrastructure hub or maybe some small-scale municipal cultural facilities, the whistles and bells that accompanied the competition’s announcement suddenly go quiet when the time comes to “lay the first stone”, turning the whole thing into a mere showcase of unfulfilled intentions. What went wrong? Was the competition organised just as a publicity stunt? Or was it that not enough effort was put in to allow the winning projects to materialise?

Unfortunately, it seems like Frank Lloyd Wright was right, although we shouldn’t overlook his own exception to the rule:except as a novice’. Those of us who are still young can, therefore, still nurture a hope of entering the profession by means of a Trojan horse custom-designed to meet competition specifications and please competition juries. To do so, we should remember Wright’s first and most important piece of advice, the validity of which is irrefutable: ‘Do none of you go into architecture to get a living unless you love architecture as a principle at work, for its own sake – prepared to be as true to it as to your mother, your comrade, or yourself.’


Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor

Notas de página
1

‘To the Young Man in Architecture’: published in Wright F. LL. 1931, Two lectures on architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.

2

See Frank Lloyd Wright’s fourteen articles at: https://books.google.es

Autor:
(Madrid, 1990) Arquitecto por la Escuela de Arquitectura de la UAH, 2015, y Máster en Proyectos Arquitectónicos Avanzados por la ETSAM, 2016. Arquitecto en Foster+Partners desde 2016, donde accede tras ganar la Beca Arquia 2015. También realiza la Beca Santander 2013 en METALOCUS y colabora con José Juan Barba Arquitectos y José María Sánchez García.

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