A Day in the Life of: An Almost Architect

Note: This is the fourth 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: A Day in the Life of [your name here].

As you can see, I’ve already broken the rules. It was supposed to be “A Day in the Life of Lora Teagarden”…but that sounds quite boring. Us “almost-architects”, we’re rebels. We use the term “architect” (illegally) with friends and family to describe who we are and what we do…because it’s easier than explaining the process of school + internships + dealing with NCARB + 7 tests (or was it 9? but soon 6? see: dealing with NCARB). We fall somewhere between Gen X and Millennials, who if you’ve listened to the Archispeak podcast about them, are known to not want to follow the mold (for better or for worse).

I know what you’re thinking. An Almost Architect? So you do redlines all day and study all night, right? You’re paid practically nothing (if you have a job) and work 80-hr weeks? While that last part might be true, it’s of my own doing. Why? Partially because I’m masochistic, as are most Architects. But also partially because I’m energized to give back. And that’s thanks to this group. Yes, I both blame them (silently) when I’m getting little to no sleep trying to keep up with their pace, and I thank them (on the interwebs or in person) when I hit each next step in the process for helping me along the way.

So without further ado, here’s what it’s like to work at a firm, study for the ARE, be active in the AIA, fix up a 125 year old house, take care of a #gorillapup, and try to have a social life (that last part may or may not be a joke). If you follow along on Twitter or Instagram, you might have seen some of these highlights.

Date: November 19th, 2014


Mornings of late start with ARE studying. Not because I study best in the mornings. I actually loathe mornings (though I’m trying to change that). But because that’s when I have to set aside time to study to get $#!+ done. I’m on my last test (editor’s note: as of this blog publishing, the last test has been taken and I’m calmly impatiently awaiting my results) and I need to keep the momentum going or it won’t get done until next year. There are too many other things calling for my attention, this is one of those moments where you learn the meaning of the word “priorities”. Today it means: no sleep. time to study.




Around 8:30, after about 2hrs of studying, I head into work. Our work hours are 9-6 and I’m lucky enough to work at an office on the circle. So while it’s 2 miles door to door for me, I try to give myself ample time to fight morning downtown traffic. I get in, pour my second cup of coffee for the day, and then check emails for project updates and make sure there’s no pressing issues. As a graduate architect (the typical title used in Indiana for those with a degree en route to licensure) but also the Sustainability and Marketing Manager, I’m juggling 3 projects plus a proposal right now. In a small firm, this means every day reminds you of the meaning of the word “priorities”. In a small firm, this also means you learn on the fly and sometimes it’s up to you to prioritize. At the end of the day (or the deadline) it just needs to be done.


Lunch? Who needs lunch?

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I know today is going to be a long one, so I head home around 11 to let out Madeleine, my standard poodle puppy. While letting her out and tossing the ball, I’m taking notes on ideas for my home renovations underway, which you can find on here, twitter, and instagram as “#thisoldhouse“. I’m currently dealing with some issues with the bathroom renovations, namely how to lay the tile in the master bath and I find that sketching out my options seems to give me the best clarity for decisions. It also helps those helping me if they can see the vision in my head. Ergo: Sketching is good for everyone!



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I leave around 11:45 to head over to the Dallara IndyCar Factory where today’s 5th Annual AIA Indiana Technology Symposium is being held. With major effort by the folks at Design 27, I’m wearing my AIA Indy PR Chair hat for the remainder of the day to help make sure this event goes off without a hitch. Part of that means lending some muscle to help finish setting up, aiding the AIA Indiana Executive Director with making sure the presentations by our guest speakers are ready to go, and working the registration table as the event starts to greet people and get them signed in for the day. Just as the first event is about to start, I need to head to the airport to pick up our keynote, Stephen Chung, an Architect from Boston who’s coming to talk about his development of Cool Spaces, a tv show highlighting the interesting new things happening in architecture. Jeff Echols, a good friend and fellow #ArchiTalks member, was slated to pick him up, but got tapped to emcee for the symposium, so I offered to help out.


Dinner Conversation

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The symposium went very well, but lest you think Architects are all work and no play, let me assure you, we had fun! Stephen and Jeff raced simulators and we took Stephen out for drinks and dinner downtown to show him a “cool space” in Indy.


My Takeaway

Much like my experience at AIA National this year (with what would become the #ArchiTalks crew), I sat at dinner and tried to soak in as much information from minds smarter than my own. These conversations, although sometimes about frustrating things happening in our profession, remind me why I want to go from “Almost Architect” to “Architect”. I want to keep getting out in the world and helping our profession. Designing wonderful things that help our clients solve problems. And help the world solve problems. I want to be a positive role model so that when I use the word “Architect”, I use it proudly, and those I meet know that we’re here to help impact something bigger than ourselves for the better.

To see how other Architects spend their days, follow the links to the others in the #ArchiTalks group who are posting today on the theme:
Bob Borson – Life of an Architect (@bobborson) “A Day in the Life of an Architect”
Jeff Echols – Architect of the Internet (@jeff_echols) “What To Do When You Lose Your Job In Architecture: A Day In The Life”
Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect) “EA054: A Day in the Life of Mark LePage”
Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM) “A Day in the Life of a Small Firm Residential Architect”
Lee Calisti – Lee CALISTI architecture+design (@leecalisti) “a day in the life…part 2”
Evan TroxelTRXL (@etroxel) “A Day in My Life”
Matthew Stanfield – FIELD 9 Architecture (@FIELD9arch) “A Day in the Life of FiELD9: architecture”
Nicholas Renard – Cote Renard Architecture (@coterenard) “Another Day of Living the Dream”
Jeremiah Russell – ROGUE architecture (@rogue_architect) “a day in the life of a rogue architect”
Collier Ward  Thousand Story Studio (@BuildingContent) “A Day in the Life of an Architect”
Andrew Hawkins – Hawkins Architecture, Inc (@HawkinsArch) “Day in the Life of a Small Firm Owner”
Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect) “A Day in the Life of MODarchitect
Cormac Phalen – Archispeak Podcast (@archy-type) “Life in a Day of Panic”

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  • I, for one, am glad that you broke the rules. While I am not advocating anarchy, sometimes the message to share needs to be determined by person bringing the message. I particularly like that your post included an acknowledgement of professional service involvement as well as a priority shown towards obtaining licensure.

    Nicely done!

    • Lora

      Thanks, Bob! Thanks for being a good mentor and role model as I go through this process.

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  • Lora, your post presents the motivation, determination and excitement that’s important for anyone who wants to get **** done! You’re an inspiration for the rest of us to get out there and do just that! and I love your sketches and your #gorillapup! 🙂

    • Lora

      Thanks, Marica! Thanks again for all the help you’ve provided thus far.

  • Matthew Stanfield

    Sounds like you have a full plate. Balancing working on home renovations and an office job can be especially difficult. And to throw exams and AIA in on top of that. I applaud your dedication.

    • Lora

      Thanks, Matthew. Definitely burning the candle at both ends – and in the middle. Hopefully exams will be a non-issue soon!

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  • Cormac Phalen

    Better dedication then me my fellow “almost” – I can’t wait for that house warming party with all the other twittertects (i’ll bring the dip).

    • Lora

      Ha, thanks Cormac. I’ll hold you to that dip!

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  • I need this kind of energy…studying, working, renovating a house, evening out for AIA and a dog. For someone that is stoic about the title architect, I find it “legal” to use it at parties and similar situations where people don’t want to hear a sermon. The way you’re attacking your studies, it won’t be long.

    • Lora

      Thanks, Lee! We can have an #ArchiTalks twitter party when it happens.

  • I am glad that you are getting your ARE done. That is great for you! Keep up that dedication. And soon it will be behind you and you can move on to other levels of dedication. With all that you have going on, it will pay off for you in major ways. Great day!

    • Lora

      Thanks Andrew. I’m hoping it will soon!

  • Jeff Echols

    Keep up the hard work. I know it’s all consuming but you’ll come out the other end with the experience and options to make it all worth it somehow. (And thanks for letting me be a part of your Day in the Life!) – Jeff

    • Lora

      Thanks, Jeff. It was a fun day, wasn’t it? Good job emceeing!

  • Evan Troxel

    I think your day sounds eerily similar to mine with a few small differences… I hope you’ve passed that last one so you can continue to crush it with your drive.

    • Lora

      Thanks, Evan!

  • Great day there, Lora. It’s cool that you got to spend time with Stephen Chung. He’s quite a spokesman for our profession. – Collier P.S: Best wishes on your ARE efforts!

    • Lora

      Thanks, Collier! One left!

  • Eric Wittman

    Just discovered your blog and enjoying it very much. As this comment is 2 months late, I hope your ARE studying paid off. – Eric

    • Lora

      Thanks Eric! Still 6/7. Sadly I guess I pushed the studying timeline with all I was trying to do in November and failed the last test. Getting ready to take it again soon, though.

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  • Heri Andrean

    I think your day sounds eerily similar to mine with a few small
    differences… I hope you’ve passed that last one so you can continue to
    crush it with your drive.hammer of thor