This month's #architalks series asks the question “Why am I am Architect”? As I thought about this subject I had a hard time deciding whether I should be talk about why I became an architect or why I remain to be an architect. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that those reasons are very much the same.
Scene One: Discovering Architecture
Many of my architect friends have known they were going to be an architect from the time they were little. That was not the case for me. I grew up in rural Utah in a rather blue collar type environment. I spent my childhood designing and testing the next “big” bike jump in the street by my house. It is amazing all of the different materials that can be used for purpose of creating a simple ramp. As I got to be high school age I worked on a local cattle ranch. It had all of the things that I could have hoped for; being outside, working with my hands, being outside, using my brain (to “outsmart” cows), and being outside.
When I got ready to go to college I was convinced I was going to be a wildlife biologist. But then I took my first college level biology class. It was apparent that I could not handle another 4 years of that. In order to pay for college I had a number of odd jobs but the one that stuck was being a painting contractor. While painting it became fairly apparent that some buildings are just more enjoyable to be in than others. And I don’t mean just slightly. My wife would tell me how my attitude toward life would shift depending on the building I was working in. I also felt like I was among “my people”. Growing up in a working class family I really enjoyed my being surrounded by contractors. This led me to the drafting program at UVSC. In these architectural drafting classes is where I decided I should become an architect.
Scene Two: Becoming an Architect
While at architecture school I gained an understanding that the way buildings (or anything) is designed affects the way humans feel. I learned the "why" of why I had felt happier in some of the buildings I was painting. More importantly I learned how to make great space. It is not an accident that some buildings fell better than others. It is through the hard work of designers who carefully think through all the details to make sure everything works together as a unified project. The longer I am in the profession the more I discover why it is easy for bad buildings to get built. Designing and Constructing good buildings is hard work.
Scene Three: Why Stay
Since I have been practicing I have worked mostly on k-12 schools and multi-family residential. I LOVE working on these project types. I love the egalitarian nature of this work. I get to design projects where people (who may not have the opportunity to hire an architect) spend large portions of their life. A big saying among school designers is that the true clients are the kids. The same thing holds true in multi-family projects. In both cases I work for and get paid by the building owner, but it is the building dwellers who are most affected by the design. It is an honor to be able to be part of the process of make quality spaces for people to live. I can’t imagine enjoying any other type of work as much as I enjoying sitting down with a blank piece of paper and a list of problems to solve.
I get still get to do most of this things that I loved about my work on the cattle ranch; be outside (I love site visits), use my hands (I draw something nearly everyday), be outside (I love SHORT site visits in the winter), use my brain (there are so many problems to solve), and be inside (did I mention that I like to be able to be inside when it is really hot or cold).
My path into architecture has not been as straightforward as some of my colleagues, but I am so glad to have found my way here. At di’velept we are passionate about doing design that is rooting in rural sensibilities. We are committed to getting more out of less, listening more than we talk, and helping those around us.
This post has been part of the #architalks blog series. Each month a group of bloggers write on the same topic. It is wonderful to see the diversity of thought on each subject. Below are links to some of the others.
Why I am an Architect (and not an Astronaut) The Agrarian Pantheon
Why I Am an Architect Why am I an architect?
why i am an architect #ArchiTalks: Why I am an architect
Purpose in the Profession “why i am an architect…”
Architalks: Why I am an Architect Why did you become an Architect?
I like to make and create. I am what I am…
Why I am an Architect, when I could have been a Mathematician #ArchiTalks