With an intended touch of irony, the Congress of Residential Architecture gathered over 60 people to let the day fall on the second presidential debate and created its own version called “The Great Debate” at Residential Architect magazine’s Reinvention Symposium on October 18, 2012.
Moderator Curtis B. Wayne, a Cooper Union & Harvard educated architect and radio provocateur on his show Burning Down the House, coordinated a series of civil discourses on whether the following statements were either true (yea) or false (ney) as related to the profession of residential architecture:
1) The future of residential architecture should be as public servants and not as private entrepreneurs.
2) Residential Architects should be aesthetes rather than be trained as technicians.
3) The American Dream of “A House and a Car” is unsustainable, and portends the end of the Residential Architect.
4) Only Architects should design single-family residences.
Over a dozen people got up and gave contrasting and conflicting interpretations of these statements. In contrast to the preceding night’s Presidential Debate, there was no snark, no defensiveness and no posturing. Unlike any number of online forums, there were no “trolls” who “flame” people with different opinions, ideas and perspectives. Instead it was a tight one hour set of contrasting opinions, perspectives and outlooks where people listened, responded and gave both anecdotal and cultural evidence of their perspective.
This is just the sort of event that the Congress of Residential Architecture has promulgated during its almost 9 years of existence. Last year its 60 Words gathered the thoughts of over 60 residential architects about the state of their profession. In addition, CORA's Position Paper outlined a series of central issues in the profession of architecture which put in stark relief some of the more problematic aspects of the profession.
The Great Debate has been conceptualized by:
Ross Chapin, John Connell, John DeForest, Duo Dickinson, Shawn Glen Pierson, Patrick Pinnell, Curtis Wayne