#ArchiTalks: Why I am an architect

Note: This is the eleventh post in a group series called #ArchiTalks in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect gives a group of us architects a theme or a set of questions and we all have to post our response… this month’s theme: why I am an architect.

I must say, when I first heard of the topic for this month’s #ArchiTalks, I was pumped. I love being an architect so it seemed like it would be very easy to talk about why I decided to become one – in this far off distant sense of talking about it…sometime. And now it’s time to put pen to paper, or letters into words on the keyboard…and I’m drawing a blank. I keep revolving back to “Because I am”, and then a scene similar to this runs through my mind.

Other kid: Hey Lora! Want to go play barbies?

Me: *looks up* No. *goes back to drawing/coloring with crayons*

Other kid: Why not?

Me: Because. *slightly exasperated*

Other kid: Because why?

Me: Because I am coloring. *holds up drawing as evidence*

Other kid: But barbies are more fun. We can dress them up and play princess.

Me: No thanks. *why doesn’t this crazy kid get this?!*

Other kid: Why not?

Me: Because I am happy doing this. 

I am an architect because…I am. Because I literally can’t imagine doing anything else…and that’s saying something because architects are known for having really, really good imaginations.  I’ve tried thinking in a sense of nature vs nurture – was I truly always destined to be an architect? Or did my upbringing cause it? And I just keep coming up with “Because I am”.

I am an architect because I wake up thinking about design. And I think about it when I brush my teeth, when I walk my dog, and when I dream at night. I love my profession. I’ve not always loved my different work settings, but architecture? That rocks my world every day better than KISS in their prime.

I am an architect because I am most at ease when I’m drawing. Or talking about a drawing. Or a building. Or any design whatsoever. Even better if it is a lack of design that multiple architects are critiquing, probably with a drink in hand. (Either coffee or bourbon)

I am an architect because I can’t imagine not coming home with boatloads of pictures from vacations…all of buildings. And unlike your Aunt Sue who takes her pictures to Walgreens to have them printed and kept forever in a vinyl album that she will drag out from time to time because she wants to relive something or, more likely, has forgotten what’s in it…my pictures serve as a backup library. I see information in pictures, and I remember things about buildings based on their visual details. So when we’re sitting around, drinking bourbon (see above), talking about something related to architecture (see below), there’s a high likelihood that I’m picturing elements and details from a trip…from a building…from a picture I took.

I am an architect because everything comes back to architecture. Both in my ability to explain why “because…architecture”, and in the inherent form of what architecture is. What other profession touches both the political economics of a city and how it funds infrastructure, as well as the understanding of what bolt to use in what geography based on what load and material factors? Knows the history behind a culture and it’s socio-economic conditions, as well as how changing one tiny detail on a building in a neighborhood could affect the future growth of the same culture? Learns about the impact of farming in the area and how it affects the livelihood of the residents and what that means for the needs and functions of their spaces, movements, and patterns? Architecture is the hub that holds it all together.

I am an architect because I love learning. I love finding out more about my city and what makes it tick. Or your city. Or a place I’m considering visiting. What happened in its history that caused the layout or neighborhoods or building styles? What’s going on now in the city that is helping continue to shape the environment? Don’t kid yourself – cities are always changing. Be happy for it. If they aren’t, look around. You’re stuck in Disney World.

I am an architect because I am a caring steward of this earth. What I design impacts the earth, not just in the materials used (though they are very important), but in the users and the community. How did the people come to the building? Is it out of the way or centrally located? If it’s out of the way, is there a sustainable reason for it (location to certain resources)? People work there (probably) so how did they get there? Have I burdened their ability to participate in their community because they now commute long hours in an area without public transit infrastructure? Can we build public transit? The list is undending, but the point is the same: We have this one earth. And we have to be good to it and to the people on it.

I am an architect because I feel called to help. To share my abilities. And to make this place better than it was. I will never be a doctor, or a teacher, or a politician. I have a hard enough time keeping eye contact when I’m talking to people one-on-one because I’m always looking around at my surroundings or thinking about ideas (don’t worry, I’m actually listening to you too), so there’s no future in public speaking for me. But what I can do? Is share my skills of creativity and problem solving. Work next to the doctor or teacher to make his or her operating room or classroom the best function for what they need, with really wonderful aesthetics, so that it’s a joy to be in and helps create healthy bodies or shape the young minds of future generations.

I grew up being taught that everyone’s path is different and everyone has a unique skill that needs to be shared with the world. The analogy being: all of the Christians/Jews/Muslims/Buddhists/etc believe greatly in their journey and what they are called to do, but they can’t all be Pastors/Rabbis/etc because that’s not everyone’s journey. Not everyone is uniquely capable to do the same thing, or we wouldn’t be unique. Someone has to teach. Someone has to heal and mend people.

And someone has to design.

What about you? Why do you do what you do?



To see the take on “why I am an architect” from other Architects, follow the links to the others in the #ArchiTalks group who are posting today on the theme:
Bob Borson – Life of an Architect (@bobborson) Why I am an Architect (and not an Astronaut)
Jeff Echols – Architect of the Internet (@jeff_echols) 
Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect) 
Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM) Why am I an architect?”
Lee Calisti – Lee CALISTI architecture+design (@leecalisti) why i am an architect”
Matthew Stanfield – FIELD 9 Architecture (@FIELD9arch) 
Evan Troxel – Archispeak (@etroxel) 
Cormac Phalen – Archispeak (@archy_type) 
Andrew Hawkins – Hawkins Architecture, Inc (@hawkinsarch) 
Jeremiah Russell – Rogue Architecture (@hawkinsarch) 
Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect) Purpose in the Profession”
Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch) 
Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX) Why did you become an Architect?”
Michele Grace Hottel – Architect (@mghottel) “why i am an architect…”
Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA) Architalks: Why I am an Architect”
Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@Missing32Percent)
Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC) I like to make and create.”
Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz) I am what I am…”
Jonathan Brown – Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man
Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w) 
Brady Ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA) The Agrarian Pantheon”
Sharon George –Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge) Why I am an Architect, when I could have been a Mathematician #ArchiTalks”
Emily Grandstaff-Rice – (@egraia) Why I Am an Architect”

Related posts