The Road Ahead

by Maurice Levitch, AIA

I have heard that the first thing Italian race car drivers do when they get in the car is to remove the rear view mirror.

While this seems exciting and carefree, as architects and builders committed to the industry for the long term we know that we cannot afford to think the same way. Instead we must appreciate and learn from the past and keep an eye on what is ahead of us.

Change can be a slow process but change for the sake of change is not always a good thing. As they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There are times, however, when we continue doing something the same way. We accept the results only because they are what we expect, even though they may not be the best we can get. In many cases if we were more aware of options that would contribute to a better result, we could improve with only a small change.

Creating awareness of the alternatives and implementing change to improve the building industry is a huge task. Product manufacturers have taken on the lion’s share of promoting awareness. They introduce and advertise new products to the industry so excessively that sometimes one must just tune out. On many occasions I have learned of something that I didn’t even know I needed just at the time I “needed” it thanks to advertising.

Having the opportunity to visit my older brother (a pizza business entrepreneur / career Life Flight Paramedic / start-up General Contractor) in Boise, Idaho for Thanksgiving I had an opportunity to see what is going on someplace other than “here”. It was a breath of fresh air for both of us. Getting out of my world and seeing his parallel world helped me to gain perspective, to step back and see what I could be doing better.

You may be surprised that even in Boise there is an awareness of green building. After all, their climate is much more extreme than ours and energy efficiency and comfort are more difficult to achieve than in our mild weather. We are so lucky to be living in an area where our clients are equally if not more informed than we are about the methods and materials available.

Taking the time to keep informed and look forward through travel, professional training programs, building industry conventions, trade shows, and reading (if only the ads) is critical to improving ourselves, our businesses, and the quality of our buildings.

Staying the course may seem easier but you can only win the race when you know what lies ahead. Beware: Boise is not far behind. Look ahead while checking the rear view mirror.

This article was originally published in the January 2007 issue of Builder/Architect magazine and updated in August 2018.