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Is the profession of architecture corrupt? According to the definition of “institutional corruption” currently in use at the Center for Ethics at Harvard University, yes.

The Center’s new director, renowned attorney Lawrence Lessig, has defined as “corrupt” organizations that have tragic structural flaws that undermine their own purposes for being. He has recently re-focused the Center’s resources on studying these ineffectual institutions and their corrosive effects.

Now, apply this descriptive framework to the architectural profession. Its purpose for being is to create architecture — that is, to make art out of the science of building. The purpose of this art, if there is one, is often debated but most agree it should engage, if not uplift, the individual mind and body as well as human culture as a whole. What kinds of structural features might be holding back the profession from consistently achieving these results?

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