What is the role of architecture in today’s society? How often do we in the design profession really think about this? What should our role really be about? I’ve really seen two methods put into practice. Designers either dictate the environment or they respond to it.

Over the past half century, architecture and design has been about dictating, i.e. how people should live, work, play, learn, etc… However, what we are finding out now, is that it may be better for designers to respond to a situation rather than force it. That is what the “green movement” of the past 10-15 years has really been about. Designers need to respond to the environment rather than manipulating for our needs.
This strategy is not strictly limited to the environmental realm. This idea can also be implemented when dealing with clients and individuals. Designers so often take the “we know best” approach. However, when dealing with a client, like a school, the people involved often know a lot more about how their space should function than we ever could. Imagine what the design community could learn about different spaces if we actually took the time to really listen to the needs of clients rather than dictating how we believe it should be.