He Speaks: A Lecture at Norwich University
Mike Lee was Invited to Kickoff Norwich University's School of Architecture + Art 2018-19 Lecture Series
The town still has just one traffic light.
The valley still echoes of barking Rooks (first year military students).
The innards of our dear Chaplin Hall are still the best kind of messy.
This is where we learned to question, to make and above all - to believe.
I was honored to be invited to give keynote lecture at the first event in Norwich University's School of Architecture + Art 2018-19 Lecture Series.
I remember some of the most influential lectures I experienced as a student. I was awed by the expertise of alumni Michael Kilkelly, emboldened by the entrepreneurial ventures of west coast architect Jennifer Segal and inspired by the research of Neri Oxman - all lecturers when I was a student. I certainly couldn't match the industry experience that these lecturers shared in their talks, not yet anyway. What value could I add?
Well, I could be honest.
So I spoke a bit about my backstory and I walked the audience through my portfolio of work (very typical, I know). I took some time to explain some of the design intent and risk drivers for each project. I probably got a little for into the weeds preaching about MEP coordination but hey, it was something a little different than the theory-heavy student experience. I wanted to show them a profession that was based on pragmatic and humanistic challenges.
After the portfolio walk-through I wrapped up with a "day in the life" video - a 3 minute long documentation of a busy day's activities as a working professional. I feel like this really humanized the presentation, put all that work into context and energized the audience.
I spoke a little about the practice related issues that weigh on my mind and where I think my work is headed. I spoke about my explorations with innovative business models - 355's schtick. And then I circled back to point of it all.
"What is design? Design is a journey whereby we augment the environment around us to support the lifestyle, the workflow, the people we wish to be."
And so I ended on a note that I hope will challenge the students to think about design not as a job, an art, or a status, but as a belief that tomorrow can be better than today and that our roll is make sure that happens in whatever form it might take whether our title is Project Architect, Designer, Artist, Neighbor, Dad, or Student.
Side note: I really can't talk about architecture without getting a little deep - sorry, not sorry, but it's honest.