The architect has much to learn from the trades.  Until recent history, those advancing the design of buildings – master masons, carpenters, and sculptors – were trained directly with its materials.  We must revive our partnership with the craftsperson to develop beautiful cities, sustainability, and daring structural innovation.

Several moments in my education awakened me to this truth – architecture is a craft.  Studying abroad, I visited some of the world’s finest spaces.  Gothic cathedrals, whose daring lacework of stone could only be imagined by a skilled mason.  They needed no Architect, only a master builder.  I was awed by Gaudi’s works, where the skill of Catalan craftsmen took center stage.  Stunningly intricate geometry enriches every vault, window, and wall of Islamic Caliphate buildings.  In all beautiful architecture, I witnessed the joyful imagination of its artisan.

We cannot rely on theory, drawing, and books alone.  To elevate architecture, we need builders who work with the passion of an artist.  Designing is not enough; we must again teach the skills of craft to a new generation searching for purpose.

This foundation in South Bend, Indiana will provide cross-disciplinary training for architecture students and building arts apprentices.  Each will gain a richer knowledge of their vocation, both practical and theoretical.  A renewed apprenticeship system will restore our vernacular building tradition, and a path to meaningful employment for young people.

LINK to Design Sketches