Pursuing my passion for architecture was definitely the best decision I have ever made in my life. I discovered I wanted to become an architect when I was 21 and it amazes me how after all these years I continue to be just as excited about the subject and the profession as I was before and after college.
There are a million great reasons to become an architect; I could have easily made a list of 100. Looking back, I think one thing that Architecture has done for me is that it feeds upon several of my strengths that I had naturally going for me before I ever decided to become an architect.
Here is my list of reasons on why YOU should become an Architect
1. You love Projects
You naturally organize everything under the phases: a beginning, a middle and an end. You take pride in the process and thoroughly enjoy each phase of the project. You constantly go back and forth between thinking, the details and the bigger picture of the project.
Projects could materialize as simple things like: making a dinner, building a website, fixing a bike, or even learning a new skill. Some projects go on for years, others may die a quick or slow death.
A well done completed project brings you extreme feelings of satisfaction.
The dark side to being obsessed with projects is that there are soooo many projects going on in your life that you can become overwhelmed.
2. You have preferences…. Lots of them…
Many people don’t have any preferences about the stuff you have preferences about.
Maybe you over think things. That’s OK.
You can usually provide concrete evidence for your preferences. The validity of that evidence doesn’t really matter as long as it makes sense to you.
3. You stink at math and don’t care
A lot of people say…
“…I always wanted to become an architect, but I’m not very good at math.”
I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me. The reality is that most many Architects really aren’t that great at math either. The ones that are, use those skills to become engineers.
Honestly, the math thing is actually the first test of becoming an Architect.
Everyone who shouldn’t be an architect says:
“…I stink at math, I can’t do that.”
And stops the process right there.
The aspiring successful Architect says;
“…I know I stink at math and I don’t know how I will do it, but I will figure out how to hack my way through math, calculus, physics and structures. I’ll create the best support team to help me understand and get past all these tough classes.”
Math is only one of the many hurdles. I stink at math and looking back it wasn’t that hard.
4. You have a passion for people, just as much as environments
You love learning about human beings, their cultures and differences. It is a never ending topic of fascination:
How are people different? How do they live differently? How are people affected by geography and climate? How do religion, economics and personal beliefs change how people interact with their environments?
…and then you look at how the architecture is affected.
How do poor people live vs rich people?
How do people in LA or NYC live vs the rest of America?
How do Americans live vs Europeans, Asians or the rest of the world?
How do disabled people live and interact with the environment?
How the human element interacts with Architecture is often the most exciting. My passion for this idea has forced me to explore all over the globe, learning about people and their environments.
The majority of an architect’s career is providing a service of creating a functional environment for clients with a variety of needs and wants. Having a passion for understanding about different types of people and cultures helps fuel the process.
5. You have a passion for space and environments, just like you do for people
You’re highly affected by your environments. You can see, feel and understand the energy in the environment. You may have relationships with objects, buildings, and spaces similar to the relationships you have with people. Some environments can even elicit an emotional response from you. You may not even know why.
You also have an impeccable memory for most places and environments that you have visited or experienced.
6. You can be both a Generalist and a Specialist
Architecture is such a broad subject you could never learn it all. My professor who once said:
“Architecture is a reference profession. Architects shouldn’t try to memorize everything, they only really need to know where to go to reference the information they are looking for.”
All architects are Generalists by default. Being a generalist is beaten into them, every step of the way. It’s the point of architecture school and the licensing process. They generally know a little bit about many different subjects to be able to guide their support team of specialists.
Being a specialist is something that comes naturally. Architects all have a handful of subjects that are near and dear to their hearts, which they have chosen to become a specialist about. Some of those subjects are: sustainability, accessibility, design, teaching, detailing, rendering, building envelopes, history, engineering systems, business, politics, solar, building materials and the list can go on forever.
When I took the Architect Registration Exam, it forced me to become a specialist in many many subjects I had very little experieince in, atleast for the time taking the exams. Looking back this allowed me to become an even better Generalist.
7. You actively design everything
Design is about making decisions. Designers actively enjoy the decision making process in all areas of their lives.
Everything is designed, or shall I say goes through a similar decision making process.
Every decision that presents itself provides an opportunity to practice the decision making design process.
8. You are willing to sacrifice something
Everyone sacrifices something to become an Architect at some point.
Maybe it’s a relationship, their social life, being in college for a long time, graduating with an enormous amount of student debt, or your mental and physical health.
Time will always be the biggest sacrifice. It’s not such a big deal if you know what you are getting into or even really a sacrifice.
Your loved ones will also be affected by your sacrifices, but they love you and are understanding and supportive of your decisions.
9. You are inspired by creating something great
You are competitive, resilient, disciplined, motivated and you actually love to work.
You look for opportunities to get ahead and are ready to seize them. If working all night while everyone is sleeping is what it takes, you are OK with that.
The ability to hustle (when needed) is the most important skill an architect could have.
10. Your Teachers and Mentors will be an open book on how to do it
Most architects who are further down the path than you are, will be completely transparent with how they did it. They want to help you succeed and can be the very best guide to becoming an architect.
Showing a commitment towards becoming an architect, a passion for the subject and a love for the profession, is the key to accessing this information.
Architecture is an amazing profession
My list tends to be focused inward more than other similar lists. What other characteristics aside from the obvious do you think an architect should embody? Leave me a comment
When I was in the process of becoming an architect one resource that I found tremendously helpful was the book Architect? A Candid Guide to the Profession by Roger Lewis. This book paints a very realistic, “this is what you need to know” picture for anyone considering going to architecture school or a career in architecture.
Next week I will consider: