What is an Accident? How does that relate to Architecture & Urban Design?

What really happens when two people collide? Was it truly unavoidable as in a ‘pure accident’, or was one party, perhaps both parties acting in a negligent manner?

Accidents typically happen when someone is doing something they shouldn’t do. Perhaps it is both parties that are each doing something that they shouldn’t do. But fundamentally when accidents occur it is because a series of circumstances have built up to a point where a collision is unavoidable.

While we in this example talk about real world accident, understand that it is that sort of attitude, of ‘lazy conscientiousness’, that evolves into other areas of real professions, like Architecture. Believe me when I say do not take anything for granted, like a detail a structural engineers says will do the trick, because I have been around enough world class Engineers that have admitted on many occasions that while thinking they had the right solution, given time they were able to see the problem from a different perspective which warranted quick action to fix potential problems. Citicorp tower being one, in which the Engineer and Owners rushed to add new welds and strengthening steel to prevent the tower from falling over, all while tenants sat in their chairs working (actually the work was done on weekends and nights).

If you’re negligent, it means that ‘you should of known better.’ But most often the ‘know better’ really translates into ‘I was too lazy to worry about doing the right thing.’ Too lazy, and ‘to worry about it’ is really the main point. The person doing the wrong thing typically knows they are taking a chance, but goes ahead and takes that chance anyway. The real kicker here is that they decided that they shouldn’t worry about it. Think about that. If something takes too much effort or time, and you decide to take a chance, your mind is confronted with the possibility of danger, but in an odd twist your mind allows you to not worry about that danger.

And there are plenty of examples of people acting reckless with their children, themselves and consequently others. Certainly, as children are taught bad behavior by their parents, when they grow up they will be less likely to even consider the actual danger they’re putting themselves in. This also increases their probability of being in a serious accident or act in a negligent manner.

Remember, when you ‘take a short cut’ in order to save you the effort of doing something correctly, you could cause someone to swerve to avoid you and inadvertently put someone who’s innocent at risk. It’s not just about you and whether you ‘made it through a situation safely.’ It’s about all of us and the influence of behavior you have on others, and that goes for real world ‘accidents’ and those circumstances we face as professionals.



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