Ethics and Architectural Copyright
|LEFT: Photography of Sokol Blosser winery by Allied Works Architecture (completed July 2013). RIGHT: Rendering by Anonymous Firm A (published November 2014)|
Can you copyright the design of a building? According to this article on ArchDaily.com, yes you can (http://www.archdaily.com/328870/the-10-things-you-must-know-about-architectural-copyrights/). Recently there have been some relatively high profile news stories about architecture being copied. It happened to a Zaha Hadid project in China, and also a high rise project in Miami. Over the past few days I've surprisingly come across a series of designs that make me think something similar is happening in Portland, Oregon. The images below compare projects in Portland that have been designed by some of the leading firms in town on the left, juxtaposed on the right by renderings of proposed projects all by the same firm.*
*I have decided to leave their name off this post so as not to draw attention to the specific actions of this one firm, but rather have this be a conversation about the larger theme of design ethics and architectural copyright. For the captions I have replaced the firm's name with Anonymous Firm A.
|LEFT + CENTER: Photography of The Tower House by Ben Waechter (completed October 2013). RIGHT: Rendering by Anonymous Firm A (taken from their website in Nov. 2014)|
You could give the benefit of the doubt to a firm if one of their designs resembles that of another project. It happens. No one designs in a vacuum and often many people could distill down their ideas into similar results. However, when a single act becomes a pattern, benefit of the doubt fades into disrespect.
My question is why a firm would risk their reputation emulating other people's work so closely, and more importantly who is commissioning them to do so? Shouldn't a client want a unique project that specifically responds to their needs and the context of their building? Shouldn't the Code of Ethics that comes with Architectural Licensure and AIA membership hold people accountable for the quality of their own designs and respecting the work of others? Finally, if you are going to closely replicate the styles of other architects, why do it in your own backyard where the design community can easily identify what is happening?
Copying can be thought of as a form of flattery. It can also reveal a lack of creativity. When repeated over and over by the same firm, I tend to lean towards the latter. What do you think? Do you have other examples of copyright infringement in Architecture? What should our profession do to combat this issue? Should the AIA enforce ethical design issues like this, perhaps revoking membership? Should our state licensure boards?
|LEFT + CENTER: Photography of The Skyline Residence by Skylab Architecture (completed 2011). RIGHT: Rendering by Anonymous Firm A (taken from their website in Nov. 2014)|
|LEFT: Rendering of The Radiator by Path Architecture (Under Construction 2014). RIGHT: Rendering by Anonymous Firm A (published November 2014).|