Christian Johnson, Bronze Medal Nominee (2018)

Reflection on “Access”

Access can envelop an array of avenues for discussion. But, access has arrived at a specific attribute for me throughout my education. The idea of access transcends the typical thought of “a means of approaching a place.” Architecture encourages the “means” and the “means” becomes a direct responsibility of the users’ experience. Responsibility for this access (for this approach) is out heavily on the architect and it can show the human heart and its sensitivity to all. Here may lie the key word: all. All transcends a simple approach and turns it into an offering that shows human empathy, sensitivity, and intentional crafting.

If creating architecture for all, access has to be fair to all, which requires no prejudice to any. Architecture then turns into a social issue, rather than strictly design. Design as a tool for social responsibility is an idea that I have begun to learn in my education.

Should access be easy? Obvious? Perhaps access should be purposeful; showing purpose in every aspect of the architecture proves that the architect is truly thinking about the user. It isn’t an afterthought, or something tacked on. Rather, it is a starting point that dictates the trajectory of the design. Access encourages design.

Practically, access is an impression for the user. First impression deserves thought. The sensitivity to each person’s potential impression in the design is crucial and can then enhance and encourage how he or she will interact with others, and the entirety of the architecture.

If architectural education were to be reduced to a single thought, I would suggest that architecture is more human than perceived. And that human isn’t myself. Humanity is a whole. This is why I continue to love architecture and why I am excited to start a career that cares about humans’ interaction and experiences. Through my education and projects, I have been sensitive to access, although, perhaps until now, have not fully articulated it. These thoughts are only an exploration of an ambiguous topic. Hopefully these thoughts create new room in our minds for thoughtful design.

Exhibits of Coursework (click to expand)

Paper on The Neighborhood Church

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