Dwelling on… What it takes to make a great architect.


Future Architects via fotosearch.com

Future Architects via fotosearch.com

Another post in the #ArchiTalks blogging series.  #ArchiTalks is organized by Bob Borson at Life of an Architect.  A group of architects writes blog posts around a single theme or subject and posts them all at the same time, ensuring a good range of various takes on the subject or theme. Last time we wrote a post on the theme of Architecture and…, I chose Architecture and Gaming.  This time we write on the theme of Dear Future Architect,.  I hope you enjoy this as well as the other #ArchiTalks posts. Be sure to check out all the links below and search #ArchiTalks on Twitter and other social media.


The “Listen Here” title is kind of a joke. The initial Architalks post was back in July 2014 with the theme Ask the Architect. It was similar to this one, as it led to posts in the “advice” vein. The “Dear Future Architect,” theme, brought up the same sort of  idea for me – advice of a father, grandfather, or otherwise… well, WISE mentor figure. My mother and grandmothers all shared their wisdom as well but I don’t remember them using the words “Listen Here” like ,my male role models did. The male role models had not perfected the non verbal looks like Mom, Mema, and Granny had.  So, here is some Architalks advice. I’ll try and share it without sounding like motivational poster slogans, or your Dad. Even though you Dad is probably a cool guy. Please do not take any of this as condescending or holier-than-thou because everything I share here comes from my own personal experience, or experience with someone that taught me the same lessons. These are, of course beyond the obvious, like wear cool glasses and loud colored socks while always carrying a pen.


Loud Colored Socks

Loud Colored Socks

Attitude 101

Your mission, as a professional, should be to constantly exude confidence through an easy going and jocular demeanor. This light attitude goes a long way in setting those with which you work at ease.  Just because you are learning to be an architect, doesn’t mean that you are not a professional. Introduce yourself as an architect, unless of course, you are in a position that could be construed as offering professional services. Then you should follow applicable State Laws and include appropriate modifiers before “architect.”


You will loose professional status the moment you begin to try and impress anyone with fancy jargon, technical facts, and a cocky attitude. Remember the easy going and jocular demeanor? Be pleasant to be around. Getting too serious in your interactions comes across as insecurity, and no one wants an insecure professional on the job.


A last note on the subject of attitude, remember  Wheaton’s Law and don’t be a dick. This goes especially for those times when you are on a job site, wielding your newfound architectural powers.


Just Say Yes via singlelife.com.au

Just Say Yes via singlelife.com.au


“Yes” is always the answer. DO NOT FORGET THIS. Say “Yes.” When you are with your professor,  boss, client, colleague, etc. and someone asks “Hey, do you know how to ______?” Or they ask “Could you do ______by ______… or before ______? Or “Can you ______?” Or Have you ever ______?”  Even if you have never heard of the words that fill in any of these blanks, or you HAVE heard of them and you know for a fact, that they are a on a parallel with rocket science, theoretical physics, and graduate level calculus for mathematics PhD level scholars, you will say… C’mon… “YES!” The answer is “Yes.” Leave that meeting with the impression that you are going to kill it, what ever it is. If you have to do ANY learning, that can happen behind the scenes, with your confidential mentors and close team members.


You should know what people are asking about. You are the professional. If you get into one of those lawyer type conversations, where someone asks the questions and already know the answers, be careful and remember that you can always retreat to “I’ll have to check the [insert the appropriate reference material here] when I get back to my office.” Do NOT pull out your smart phone and try to look it up on the spot. No need for explanation.


This approach shouldn’t be mistaken with the “fake it till you make it”, because you are not faking anything, when you deliver the goods. You may have to do some learning on the fly, but the impression people get depends on the end product. When they receive the goods, that little bead of sweat on your brow, when you said “Yes, I can do that!” will be long forgotten.


Keep in mind that you will earn the privilege to say “No.” Saying no and referring work to other architects will come when your reputation is built on years of service, and clients begin seeking you out to do their architecture. As a matter of good business, you will learn that sometimes, there is more to gain by saying “no” to some potential clients.


Make Some Friends via plus.google.com

Make Some Friends via plus.google.com

Make Friends

Make an effort to make, develop, and keep close friends that are in the building and design industry. Joining your local chapter of the American Institute of Architects can go a long way in this pursuit.. Take your face away from the screen. Call someone and schedule some face-to-face-realtime-in-person meetings with your colleagues, mentors, and make friends with them. Make friends to the point to where this becomes a regular occurrence and it will help you stay in touch with the community outside of your studio, firm, home office.




There are few pieces of advice for future architects. I could go on, with some nuggets like, focus, learn to read well and read a lot, do not settle, draw, draw, draw, and then some. However, I’d like to leave some advices for my morning Periscope broadcast : : Ride with MODarchitect : : I invite all those interested in architecture to download the app and join me for a live Periscope broadcast between 7:00 and 7:15 Monday through Friday mornings, weather and traffic permitting. Also, send content contributions related to the : : Ride with MODarchitect : : broadcast using the tag #AskTheArchitect on Instagram and Twitter.


Architecture attracts some awesome people, so it is an honor to have this opportunity to share these bits of advice. Here’s to wishing all the best to the next generation of architects.


Here are all the posts, in no particular order, from my bloggeratti architect friends that write for #Architalks. Check them out, tweet, share, comment, etc.


Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch) Dear Future Architects: A Confession

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson) http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/dear-future-architects-you-need-to-hear-this/

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM) Dear Future Architects: 4 Perspectives

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti) dear future architects

Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL (@etroxel) Dear Future Architects

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC) Dear Future Architects: 3 letters

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect) future architects: #architalks

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel) “Dear Future Architects,”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA) Dear Future Architects..

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX) Dear Future Young Architects… Please Quit Screwing Around!?!!

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC) Dear Future Architects: Don’t makes these 4 Mistakes

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA) Dear Boy in the Plastic Bubble,

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz) Dear Future Architects

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley) Dear Future Architects, Be Authentic

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia) Dear Future Architects…

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@anth_rich) Dear Future Anthony

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell) Dear Future Architects, Do Your Thing

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory) Dear Future Architect,

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum) Dear Future Architects, Don’t Forget to Treat Your Clients with Respect

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu) Dear Future Architects…

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL) Dear Future Architects…

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong) Dear future architects, never lose your optimism

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign) Dear future architects, are you credible?

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign) Dear future architects, are you credible?

Adam Denais – Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch) Dear Future Architect, a Letter to My Younger Self

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey) Dear Future Architects…

Ken Saginario – Twelfth Street Studio () Dear Future Architects…