Why reconsider Wikipedia's entries for “architecture,” “landscape architecture,” and similar terms?
If you type “architecture” in Google, what's the first thing that comes up? The Wikipedia page. There are straight-out errors in facts in there. And there's an insistence on attaching a certain kind of cuteness to architecture, and this gets into an internal conversation we've been having for the past 100 years about decoration. I'm left with the sensation that architecture is something of the past, not something that is moving forward constantly.
Credit: Jim Flynn
Why is it so important that architects control Wikipedia's descriptions of architecture?
These pages have the culture's view, whether we like it or not. Are we going to continue to let other people define who we are? Or are we going to take that bull by the horns and say: We are this, this, and this; and this is the value of having an architect; and this is the value of design in an urban environment. So maybe it's to break some of those stereotypes. It won't be a world-changing thing. But in the few areas that we have power, why not?
Has Archinect ever undertaken any comparable projects that involve online group collaboration?
I would point you to MAPA [Modern Architecture Protection Agency] and the work they did for the Grosse Pointe Library by Marcel Breuer. Someone posted a news item [on Archinect about the library's possible demolition], then someone put a thread in the forum. The conversation grew, and they were able to save the building. It was a controversial project, but it was good for Archinect to undertake. It was the first time that something grew out of Archinect and became real.
Do you feel a responsibility to represent the profession of architecture and design?
I do feel responsibility because it's my chosen profession. And I feel like it's my job to bring a certain expertise to the larger world. Or maybe I just don't feel comfortable with letting other people define what I do. The AIA does a good job, but their mission is different. I hope they're doing a good job going to Capitol Hill and lobbying for us. I don't have the time or expertise. And I don't have the organization to do that. But I can change a Wikipedia page.
Gideon Fink Shapiro is a freelance writer based in New York City.