The Sawyer Retort

 The Sawyer Retort

Los Angeles CA based architect Robert Sawyer, AIA is the founder of Architectural Business Magazine, which is the home of the Edaburi Awards. ABM is, among other things, the first desktop publication to be printed commercially (Garner News, 1986.)  The publication which originated in Raleigh, NC is now a member of Cision Media, and permanently online to a global audience.

(Edaburi is a Japanese term which means the “formative arrangement of the patterns of the branches of a tree.” There is no such word for this in the English language.)

Online at

© 2021 Edaburi, Inc.


It’s Already Happening


The emails keep coming. “Send another political contribution to help save the country.” I decline only to be bombarded with more every day. Today, the radio had an interview with a nice young man about eliminating student debt. He said it would really help to jump-start the economy. Think about all the houses young graduates could build! (All I could think about was all of the institutions of higher learning who wouldn’t get paid.) Not that they aren’t overcharging but, this is an article of comparison contrast; education as a parlance to architecture, and construction.

Now, I know there’s a need to reduce future costs of higher education. But, when it comes to GIANT LEAPS OF FAITH like eliminating student debt to increase housing starts, I’m not really convinced. Maybe someone with a recently defaulted student loan could also be given good credit to prove they can handle an agreement to pay back a rather large sum of money as previously agreed. Maybe, and sounding likely day by day – they’ll ask BIG GOVERNMENT to assuage their housing debt when they feel like it’s more important to buy a new car. And so on and so forth.

Unfortunately, the business of building houses doesn’t come from a petition of a million students with a hand out for a free leg up. It’s messy and complicated. You need things like Permits, and inspections. And, at the risk of sounding like my parents (and a prepositional phrase.) What has this world come to? Mark my words, Joe Biden (and politicians of any calibre) will not pay your student debts, buy you a new house, make your credit card payments, fix your credit, call your mom to tell her what a great citizen you are, or otherwise have much, if any, effect on your ability to succeed as an adult, student, hypo-allergenic, dust collector or anything else you may have in store for your life.

What the politicians and the socialites don’t want you to know is: it’s all about the money. Sure, they want to give us handouts. Because their handouts are laden with PORK for themselves. That, my friends is the only reason for the generosity. CASH. Ok, well maybe not all socialites…and certainly not all politicians…

It’s not about giving you (us) anything. If you (us maybe we) want to jump-start the economy you (we) reduce governmental spending, balance the budget, reduce taxes, and stop giving money away. Much like building a house, there has to be a fixed fee, upfront and focused. Detailed and prescriptive. Much like well, student loans. Jumping in to a construction budget, or going to school, hoping that your costs will be forgiven is callously unforgiving (to teachers, that is.) There’s always another side of the coin…

I believe that’s why the licensure process is very important. Not only does it regulate and keep professionals and tradesman alike accountable, it proffers a proscription for redeemable accountability. The responsibility of saying I am accountable. Both to my debts and actions, but also to the promises to the people who educated me. The side of the coin that wants to push for government regulated education however, is saying that the capable institutions we already have are incapable. They are saying that we need to be held in check by the government.

Show me a case study that has redeemable free education. I believe that the free market will serve us better. We have better universal education which is merit – based. When students are not having to pay for their education on any level, there is a lasting loss of respect. How far does that get you in life when you really need the resolve that is required to say wait in line at In & Out? Where will you go in life if you aren’t ever stressed out about how many times you can eat Ramen? These are just college level preludes to what it’s really like to be responsible for something that is bigger than yourself. Bigger than the company that you work for. I would even go as far as to say – it’s bigger than the political landscape at any time.

Building and designing is really hard. None of it comes for free. And, if you work really hard, like getting up at 5am to pursue it, you might just be lucky enough to be involved in something worth showing the world. If you are then drop me a line and we’ll see. (That’s what my Mom always said and it never happened, so… Please take a moment to look at both sides of the equation before supporting all of these to – help – everyone (T.H.E. Clinic for Women in Los Angeles excluded, of course) and government sponsored bailout schemes. They aren’t what you think you need. Unless, of course there’s some pork in that ramen. Then I’m in.

Recently, I read a news article about Legacy Wealth Buildings. These are presumably projects geared to making their owners examples of Kindness and Benevolence. Presumably, or so I’ve been told, certain individuals (or trusts, or whatever) want to make a change in the social fabric of our lives, or justice as they say. They act privately to fund the projects of their choosing then shrink away (I don’t know this to be true, it just works for the editorial) when the going gets rough, moods change, finances reverse, etc. My previous proposal (see Philanthropy magazine online sometime during Covid induced mind numb 2020) to enrich peoples lives through construction constitutes education in the trades, in construction, and has little to do in any way with leaving a legacy of any kind. More, it has to do with creating opportunities to create real lasting change through education.

Hoping that you find your sun and are generating positivity every day, and storing enough energy for use at night. More on my ongoing solar trauma later, when I find a new winter spot for my panels. Did the trees grow or does the sun really move 30 degrees lower in the winter?!!!

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