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Reading 7 "The Profession and Discipline of Architecture: Practice and Education" by Stanford Anderson

profession, discipline

In his essay, Stanford Anderson examines how architecture as a discipline and architecture as a profession intersect and create the field as a whole. By "discipline," Anderson means a collective body of knowledge that is unique to architecture that is not delimited in time or space. In order to distinguish between the realms of the architecture, he suggests thinking of it as a diagram in which the profession of architecture extends horizontally and is vertically intersected by the discipline of architecture. "Thus the two realms of activity intersect; they are partially but not wholly coincident," writes Anderson. Professional practice, he notes, is primarily concerned with fulfilling commissions to the highest standards; in other words, operating the most successful business. Academic discipline, on the other hand, is projective (highly imaginitive, historical, and creative). The problem, Anderson argues, is that numerous conditions and activities in academic practice and discipline are increasingly moving apart from one another, no longer intersecting at as many points on the diagram. Aspects of architectural tradition survive in discipline but are neglected by practice. By the same token, activities and conditions necessary to the operation of successful professional practice are nowhere to be seen in architectural discipline. "Thus, from the point of view of the profession, we see an appropriate inclusion of concerns that are not intrinsically those of architecture while certain forms of architectural knowledge are strategically excluded," writes Anderson. From a disciplinary standpoint, Anderson states that much of the elements of architectural practice does not result from the unique knowledge pool of architectural discipline. In defining and then discussing the distinct realms of architectural discipline and profession, Anderson is arguing that the intersection of profession and discipline should not be emphasized to the extend of undermining the synthetic activities of the profession that must reach outside the discipline, or, on the other hand, honoring the discipline only if it is of immediate applicability to the practice of architecture. The two must coexist peacefully, in respect for one another's basic principles.


1) Anderson sees discipline as "that which fosters participation in the field by nonprofessionals," such as preservationists, historians, engineers, builders, advocacy groups, and citizens. How important is the contribution of nonprofessionals to the future of architectural discipline (defined as "a collective body of knowledge that is unique to architecture that is not delimited in time or space") and, consequently its effects on professional practice?

2) Anderson cites Julia Robinson's different understanding of "discipline" that "The field of architecture is in the process of evolving from what has been a practice, informed by other disciplines, into a discipline with its own body of knowledge." Do you agree with Robinson's assessment that the field of architecture is naturally becoming more self-sufficient, or do you find that it is becoming more dependent upon other fields?