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How to make friends and . . . that’s all

July 18 2005

By Liam Ross, Archirpix nominee

It was last Thursday, standing next to the de-spectacled Donald Dewar, that I realized my career had reached it’s dizzied, perhaps pre-mature, peak. 70 fellow Archiprix International nominees and workshop participants might have shared my sentiments, their every secret design become a high street name thanks to the Lighthouse and the Video-Wall on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street . 6 would have been mistaken, as Friday saw them launched further still, before the eyes of 600 anonymous architects - and 3 more nomynous - to become the Best Graduate Architects in the World.
However, there were no hard feelings, because by this point, we all knew each other. Yes, the organisation of the Archiprix International and its accompanying workshops were truly impressive: the parts working together like the masonry of Plymouth Harbour. The precision was such that, even before it had begun its organizer, Henk, admitted that it was the best one yet. Henk was a heart-warming man and could remember every student’s project just from their first name. This was no mean feat in a competition where 11 entrants went by the name of Hans.
There were good times: Once you got over the aristocratic whiff, it was really great to work with a group of students you knew had worked hard - a whole bunch of nerves suddenly relaxed.
There were also disappointments. The city councillor’s response to the work presented was generally a grim silence and a polite clap. Worlds at loggerhead were meeting, perhaps both as willfull as each other. Who would find the cash for these international fancies? The only attempt to bridge the gap came from an American architect, crying in local tones, “UND HOO MUCH AR YOO PAYIN’ FAR THA RECLAMATION UF YAR GADFARSAKEN EMBANKMENTS!” It was a hand, if not the most helpful one.
Some may have left knowing what they knew before; architects can get on without the city, the city can get on without architects, and exhibition designers can design exhibitions. However, along with many, I left feeling a little more tolerant about the work of others, and a little more humble about my own.

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