As Independence Day nears, we’ll all likely hear about American heroes — as we should.
Military, first-responders, teachers, farmers — these are all people who have helped make our country something special — often in the face of great odds and at significant personal sacrifice.
Two others you don’t hear much about when the talk turns to “heroes,” but who I think merit at least some consideration — architects and contractors.
Being in the construction industry myself, you might say I’m biased. I’m ok with that.
If you’re reading this, thank a teacher.
If you’re reading this indoors, thank the people who designed your building and then built it according to the design.
Our built environment is so omnipresent, I’m not sure we even see it half the time. But when you consider all the products, procedures, codes, schedules, client whims and requirements, budgets, personalities and more involved in constructing even the most modest building — it’s a marvel to me that anything ever gets built.
My hat is off to the people who are willing to tackle that, and do it right.
Because every facet of our lives, birth to death, is framed by our built environment. Hospitals, schools, factories, offices, stores, churches, homes; yes, and even prisons, barracks, cutting-edge scientific research facilities — all designed and built by architects and contractors.
Sure, just like our other heroes they get paid. And if something goes wrong, they get sued.
Design and construction are professions not without risk, and definitely not for the faint of heart.
Many an architect starts with a vision of something fine and beautiful, only to be forced to watch as others hammer away at it in the name of budgets, schedules, politics and who-knows-what-else, until it’s almost unrecognizable.
They may be the lucky ones. Architectural Record reports thousands of architects lost their jobs, and even left the profession during the recession and its aftermath.
Construction firms suffered, too. Even many who stayed in business had to let people go — old and valued employees in some cases. The “tool belt recession,” they called it.
Sure, things are tough all over, not just in the construction business. But in my humble opinion, construction pros got more than their share of grief during our recent economic problems, considering what they’ve done for this country.
Just look at any city skyline, New York City to Dallas to Denver to Los Angeles. Or check out this great AIA slideshow of Americans’ 150 favorite buildings — they are something to see.
All of us together — paper-pushers like me, lawyers, grocers, doctors, politicians, engineers, athletes, entertainers and everyone else you can think of — we all do our part to make this country what it is.
But when we talk about people who built this nation — literally built it — we’re talking architects and contractors.
In my opinion, we’re talking heroes.
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