Is there a “best” in architecture?

Most industries apart from the arts have a way of evaluating growth and performance in companies and people. In basketball, you can measure wins & loss or efficiency; In business, you can measure sales; even in workout, you can count the number of sit-ups you can make.

Numbers Game

The use of numbers to quantify results have always been able to establish a clear goal. Whether you’re a leader or a follower working to improve your performance, there’s always a clear direction to strive, a better number to hit. This allows companies to set up very concrete milestones and clear agendas. In basketball, players will come out faster and stronger at the end of the season; In insurance, agents would probably be better hustlers; In architecture… what will architects come out as?

Architecture’s Game?

In architecture it is extremely difficult to measure. If you look at the largest companies in the field (who are probably putting up big numbers in revenue): Aedas, Gensler, SOM and ask yourself — are they doing the best architecture? You wouldn’t be too sure. The next direction of looking, you’re probably eyeing the “starchitects” in the field: OMA, Zaha, BIG, Zumthor, Ando…etc. Again, how can you choose? What criteria would you use to evaluate?

You couldn’t.

The Problem of the “Unmeasurable”

In practices that are difficult to measure results, there is almost no guarantee that the direction you’re heading is the right one — because there is no right direction. It is only “an opportunity for something different”, which can be frustrating in a business sense because you never know how well the next cycle is going to go. You cannot communicate clear goals and definitions of growth to your team. And the entire company would possibly stagnate. (Please educate me if I’m wrong).

As a company, it may be torn between making a decision that would allow you to do interesting work but shitty pay or good pay but boring work — especially when there are more levels of evaluation.

What is worse is knowing at the back of your mind that you are never good enough, but again — why can’t we be little more greedy to wanna have it all?

Screenshot from Rem Koolhaas Presentation on Progress
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