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81 Reasons Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Architect February 17, 2010

Posted by randydeutsch in architect types, books, career, collaboration, employment, optimism, possibility, reading, technology, the economy.
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I am an out of work architect. And the prospects for attaining full-time employment doing what I have had the privilege to do on a daily basis for the past 25 years aren’t promising. But despite the grim statistics I can still wholeheartedly say with conviction – and some knowledge of architectural practice and history – that there is no better time than right now to be an architect. Period. Employed, underemployed or unemployed.

How can I possibly say that? Because 1. Today, while architects may not ever again be so-called Master Builders, an individual architect working alone, if necessary, can virtually do the work of an entire firm. It is because of this that there has never been a better time than today when an architect – with imagination, dedication, discipline and hard work – can do whatever she dreams up, virtually anywhere in the world. It is for this reason – and the 80 other reasons that follow – that I am convinced that there is no better time in history for an architect to be alive than right now.

How this works: I gave myself an hour – in lieu of writing in my gratitude journal. Any such list is going to be personal, partial and impartial, and inevitably idiosyncratic – but that’s what makes it unique and why you ought to give yourself an hour to see what you come up with. Create your own list of 81 Reasons Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Architect. Once you do, feel free to share it. Because right now more of us need a reason.

2. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter has made staying informed and connected with those who matter most to you never-easier but also edifying, entertaining and contagious.

3. Aggregate sites such as Alltop (“aggregation without the aggravation”) and Google Reader allow you to simply and easily create your own miniature version of the internet that matches your interests, preferences and needs – and best of all, does the hard work of gathering all the pertinent data and waits for you when you have time. With Alltop you have the proto-creative and mercurial Guy Kawasaki to thank. You can almost live at ArchNewsNow.

4. Architects today have a rare opportunity to use the skills – transferable skills – that they have picked-up in their education to put to use not only in practicing architecture but in any number of related and even non-traditional fields.

5. Severely underappreciated Andy (Andrew) Pressman FAIA has done more over the years to elucidate the intricacies of architectural practice than just about anyone. No one writes more clearly and expertly.

6. Blogging – writing an online journal – especially on sites such as WordPress, has never been easier to learn and master. One more great creative and expressive outlet for the architect, especially in times when the opportunity to design and built is lessened, such as now.

7. http://archinect.com/ Need I say more?

8. Architects today have an opportunity to get involved and redefine their profession – what the AIA means for them. Heated comments and discussions on this very subject are occurring at this very moment in LinkedIn group discussions.

9. To know that you are alive, living and working at a time when Ava J. Abramowitz and her quint-essential latest edition of her Architect’s Essentials of Contract Negotiation is just sitting there waiting to be read and re-read – is almost enough.

10. The world of technology has never been less about the hard fact of technology than right now – and more about human factors such as improved interfaces. A balance is being struck today between technology and emotion – especially in the world of design. High tech – but also high touch.

11. Architects really don’t need that much food to live on. I am a long time practitioner of what is called Calorie Restriction or CR. Also a vegan – you can live quite well and deliciously on 1200 calories a day.

12. There has never been a time where more professionals are willing and able – and have multiple means – to share their insights and experience with others.

13. Books on every conceivable subject are available for mere pennies with a click of a mouse or the touch of a button.

14. Where we live, north of Chicago, you can head into the yard anytime in winter and build a snow shelter – like the one in Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are.

15. Architect, educator, all-round inspiration for all those whose lives he touches and miraculously changes on a regular basis, Dan Wheeler FAIA.

16. The 2010 winter Olympics gets the competitive juices going; the feeling of closeness with all humanity; the vast indoor spaces of the winter olympics, the expressive architecture.

17. Designing mobile apps  for the apple tablet, ipad iphone itablet such as Revit Keys mobile apps that can be found at many app stores.

18. The fact that you can design a building – any building – out of thin air, everyday, in 3D – using a free downloadable program such as SketchUp, and with a few simple clicks – voila – you have an animation.

19. Architectural reference books covering the entire range of experience an architect needs to know are available, for free, in your firm’s library, waiting to be opened and perused.

20. We have a president, barack obama, who wanted to be an architect  watch obama on this youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNOp2VaUoQ4

21. Every week The Sunday NY Times business  section is available to you for free – learn what your future bosses look for in a candidate during a job interview

22. Trailblazing architect Jeanne Gang and her see-it-to-believe-it Aqua. When her name comes up I am proud to say that I am in the same profession as her.

23. Bookstores such as barnes noble with comfortable chairs to sit with a cup of coffee and open pad of paper and reinvent yourself – or design a strategy for your next career stage.

24. You can easily get lost spending hours perusing informative – and entertaining – discussion sites such as a forum at www.areforum.org on any number of topics critical to your understanding and education no matter where you are in your career.

25. There is no better use of your time right now than to brand you or re-brand your firm. The application of a business marketing concept – branding – on (link to www.di.net for branding articles) see Tom Peters, The Brand Called You in Fast Company.

26. Architects have multiple ways to have an influence on the built environment. Architects have the opportunity today to work for their clients – as well as contractors in a construction role.

27. BIM technology allows architects to create virtual versions of their buildings before they get built. This would have been simply inconceivable at any other age – and has been in the minds and dreams of some theorists for several decades.

28. Architects have an opportunity today – unlike that of any other time – to define and redefine their role and identity – their place within the profession – who you are and who you want to be and how you want to best serve your profession, community and world.

29. When there’s a blow-up in business, even on TV, such as the recent conan o brien  escapade, you can bet within 24 hours it will be turned into a business case study with lessons learned at HBR online that even an architect can appreciate and learn from.

30. Architects have greater opportunities today than at any other time to have their voice heard in government. Start by learning how to lobby your congressman. Here are some tips.

31. There is nothing positive about climate change global warming energy except the fact that architects are among those that can do something about it – is many different way. Just apply your design thinking abilities to come up with solution and ways to address these and other environmental issues. Architects can start by coming up with the electric cars equivalent  of buildings.

32. It is a great time to be an architect, but admittedly, having a working spouse helps.

33. There has never been a better or more important time for design – the term, the subject, the act, the activity has never been more popular, with more people aware and appreciative

34. This is the year of Design Thinking. Architects have the chance right now to apply the design process that they use to design places and buildings on the very businesses that they run and work with – whether for themselves or for others.

35. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) promises to help architects and others in the design and build process and team accomplish all of the goals they have dreamed about but up to now have frustratingly been unable to achieve.

36. Architects can perhaps have the greatest influence by running for office. Look at the example of Richard Swett. Read his inspiring story, Leadership by Design: Creating and Architecture of Trust.

37. This is the year of Building Information Modeling (BIM) – make or break for architects. No better time to prove ourselves and what we can accomplish – together.

38. Architects have the opportunity through the application of BIM and IPD to regain their status as master builders

39. Today it has never been easier to be a subject area expert. Have Google Alerts send you the latest information as it is created – or on a daily basis – on the area or subject of your choice.

40. Today’s workplace offers greater flexibility for working architects in terms of location, time, schedule, role, titles and variety of work.

41. It is good to know that in these difficult times architect, technologist, writer, educator Phil Bernstein FAIA is around to clearly, articulately, cogently and without pulling any punches, explains IT ALL for you.

42. Architect Frank Heitzman who has selflessly devoted much of his life to openly, collaboratively, assisting and promoting all who will listen to become viable, responsible architects

43. No better time than now to work collaboratively, cooperatively – especially with the tools we’ve been given.

44. That there are so many spectacularly different and innovative ways to practice architecture today.

45. When natural disaster occurs – like the recent earthquake or new orleans – architects are the canaries in the coal mine, often the first ones to gather, form a coalition such as http://architectureforhumanity.org/, and apply their thinking like architects to help solve seemingly unsolvable problems

46. Like doctors without borders , architects of late have started working – and thinking – globally. The world is truly their oyster. With such successful and influential organizations as Architecture for Humanity, there really ought to be an Architects without Borders.

47. Out of work or even underemployed, architects understand more about the economy and economics now than at any other time in history. unemployment means there is more information at their disposal – and fingertips – they can no longer be singled out for not having a grasp of business, as so many like to complain.

48. Google Earth, Google maps. Need I say more?

49. The internet. It is quite possible we’re taking this miracle for granted.

50. Lachmi Khemlani Founder and Editor of http://www.aecbytes.com/ where you are always assured you are in the company of genius, innovators and intelligence.

51. The search for jobs has architects thinking creatively, out of the box – as frustrating as it is – a job search in this recession and economy is truly a challenging design assignment

52. Two words. Maybe one. DesignIntelligence. www.di.net A true gift to all those who visit and spend time in their rarified and thought-leaderly environs.

53. Being an architect in itself is pretty amazing. But sometimes having a dog helps.

54. Paul F. Aubin makes learning Revit almost easy and always enjoyable. I keep a copy of his handy-dandy plastic-coated coursenotes in my car to read when exercising at the gym. Find his books and services at his site or right at your fingertips discounted on Amazon

55. You live at a time when you are free to choose the lifestyle you wish to lead and are unlikely now more than any other time to be punished for it

56. There are so many different ways to read a book today, kindle just to name one

57. Professor, Pianist, Renaissance man, NYC architect William Gati singlehandedly proves you can do it ALL. An absolute inspiration, he makes you proud to be an architect.

58. You can take your work with you and go mobile almost anywhere with all you need to be productive

59. We live in a time when you have to be savvy about marketing – of yourself, and your firm – and need to be cognizant at all times on the lookout for opportunities to promote

60. Finith E. Jernigan AIA and his concept of BIG BIM little bim is more than a book. It’s a way of life.

61. Tocci’s Virtual Construction Manager Laura Handler and her public musings at Bim(x)

62. meditation is available to you for free almost anywhere at any time – even for 3 minutes a day – what a difference it makes. A reminder of silence, stillness, the sacred amidst our daily lives

63. Being an architect is a thoroughly fulfilling experience. But not sharing a house with teens helps.

64. Yoga (self-explanatory to those who partake)

65. We have a better understanding today of what motivation means (see Dan Pink’s Drive) what really drives us to perform and compete and excel and get up in the morning

66. mac os x

67. Billy Joel said it best in New York State of Mind: It was so easy living day by day, Out of touch with the rhythm and the blues, But now I need a little give and take, The new york times, the daily news… The wall street journal ain’t so bad either, even if you can’t sing to it.

68. Listen to music or podcasts or audio books on your iPods

69. Opportunities for personal development are legion, are everywhere, are ubiquitous.

70. The recent Toyota recall proves that no one is perfect and that Perfectionism is no longer a realistic, healthy or even necessary goal. The Toyota recall proves we’re all human.

71. Technology is becoming more widespread and at the same time never easier to use. Technology’s user interface has never been friendlier or more accessible to more people.

72. The touchscreen makes your life – and work – so much easier, more fluid and enjoyable.

73. It has never been easier to be informed about a topic of interest, breaking news or of crucial importance to you. Have Google alert you of the latest information as it arises.

74. Travel as always been important to architects. Going places has never been easier and user-friendly – or less expensive – than it is now.

75. It has never been easier for architects to draw attention to their work – or to their thoughts and ideas. Sites and online services such as Technorati – which has supplied tags (keyword or short phrase that writers assign to articles to describe or identify the content) planted throughout this post to draw attention in a very loud and busy internet and world and more importantly for you, helps people searching for a particular type of content to find articles using those tags.

76. Architects can spend available downtime – or free time – learning any number of new skills by way of watching video tutorials.

77. There is no better way to learn how to present information clearly, powerfully and impactfully than to watch a pro do it. TED Conference videos are certainly great to watch for their subject matter. But they are also great to watch to pick upsome needed presenting tips.

78. Information has never been freer – and more readily available. Learn the The TED Commandments here.

79. Wireless  networks – slip into a Caribou café iTouch in hand and voila –– instant email messages

80. You can create a website featuring yourself, your interests, your work, your area of focus – your sole place in the world you can control and call your own

81. An architect today needs to know a lot. For starters, building codes, materials, emerging green technologies, zoning, site planning, passive heating/cooling, LEED, structures, MEP, day-lighting, construction methods, Lighting, Estimating, Fire protection, place-making and as always, design. Admittedly a lot for any one individual to learn let alone master – it has never been easier to learn it, and with the dedication – and help readily available from others – to master it. It is only up to you.

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Comments»

1. Cameron Sinclair - February 17, 2010

well we are hiring right now
Cheers
Cameron/Architecture for Humanity

2. Are You a Perfectionist? Read this Story of a Perfectionist at Work - February 17, 2010

[…] […]

3. Nathan English - February 17, 2010

Awesome Post! Love all your posts haha.

4. Architect - February 18, 2010

Good Post! Very informative, glad that you are going to continue writing things like this!

Regards.
http://www.cooperburns.co.uk

5. Being Green – Social Networking « M&M's Musings - February 19, 2010

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6. John Akamatsu - February 21, 2010

Great post–first bit of optimism I have seen in a long time for the profession. Start up costs, overhead, and additional resources have never been so inexpensive as you point out. And social media and smart phones allow us to not feel disconnected,especially those of us who like the camaraderie of a large firm–I mean studio.

7. infill - February 22, 2010

Great Post! I’m working on my list of 81 tonight. Keep up that positive energy & keep the conversation of how we rebuild going. Architect can and should lead that discussion, don’t you think?

8. 81 Reasons to be an Architect, Now | AMNP - February 22, 2010

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9. Henry A. Vásquez - February 22, 2010

love it, and it will be a read and re-read for me, thank you for this great boost! posted this link on my website if you dont mind

Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP - February 22, 2010

Henry – I don’t mind at all if you’d like to link. Thank you for the feedback and for visiting the site! Best to you in 2010, Randy

10. yk - February 22, 2010

this is a joke, right?

11. Brian Dolan - February 23, 2010

Randy,

Thanks for posting this one. I read it on my train ride into the city this morning & it energized me far more than my Dunkin Donuts coffee could! I’ve been trying to get back into the arch profession for almost 18 months now & I’ve found that I typically hit a wall about every 3-4 months in my job hunt. Going forward, this article will serve as not only a source of inspiration for my daily toils, but also a way to re-concentrate my efforts on what’s important.

12. O' Sullivan Architects - February 23, 2010

This is inspiring! I really appreciate this broad approach to your argument about the potential of the present. The wide range of points from general to specific, and anecdotal to practical, makes it very clear that opportunities (and challenges) are everywhere, we just need to keep our eyes open. Good luck to everyone, and thanks for posting this, Randy.

13. Timothy Dickerson - February 24, 2010

Randy-

I am a 32 yr old Intern Architect who graduated a little over a year ago from a pretty decent Masters program in Washington State. I was very optimistic after graduation then fell into a pretty good bout of depression once I realized that things weren’t going as planned. I was able to find a job as a hotel night concierge which allowed me a lot of free time to think about how to market myself and get myself out there. I still had several days a week where I felt like giving up. I wish I could have had this list to read over every day. Though I don’t know you beyond this list, you are an inspiration to all of us struggling to find a way in this awesome but struggling career. I am employed with a small Design/Build company for now, but as I have learned there are never any certainties, just the possible next opportunity. Thank you again for this great list and the morale boost that many of us need.

14. randydeutsch - February 24, 2010

Hi Timothy –
I have never been happier to moderate and approve a comment in my life. It means a lot to me that you found some value in this list – really a simple exercise that anyone with a pad of paper and pen or laptop can do in a matter of minutes. Even the most curmudgeonly – and distraught – amongst us will undoubtedly positively surprise themselves when they reread their list – and realize, for the first time, that they have so much available to them even in these otherwise stingy times. Thank you for leaving your comment – and also for sharing your story – which I am certain will bring hope to those who are feeling that they are about to give up in their search. While no two economic downturns are alike, they do end eventually, and the better prepared we are – in mind, attitude and spirit – the better able we’ll adjust when things pick up. I hope 2010 continues to be a rewarding and prosperous one for you! Best to you,
Randy

15. KH - February 26, 2010

Feel good fluff.

James G - April 12, 2010

Totally agree. Real Architects are too busy being Architects to even know what the hell most the things referred to in this article are!!!

16. Ellen Leop - February 26, 2010

Having a dog is a great reason to be an Architect? Looks like most of the things on this list are just reasons to get out of bed in the morning if you are unemployed, not necessarily good reasons to be an Architect. Great list for YOU. But I’m confused as to why is an AIA article……

17. Ellen Leop - February 26, 2010

oh, nevermind. I see. It isn’t an AIA article. They just linked here. My bad.

18. michael - February 26, 2010

Articles like this don’t really address the issue of how little value our society places on the practice of architecture. The new computer technologies that you site, is only going to make matters worse. What a bunch of fluff.

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20. Jerry - March 3, 2010

I guess I must be that curmudgeonly – and distraught Architect who has been in private practice for 27 years and an Intern 15 years prior to that. Your 81 reasons to be an Architect are based on inexperience. I work everyday to scratch out a living in a profession that I should probably have changed from years ago. Any profession with a consistent hourly rate of pay, benefits, insurance and retirement would be better than this one. Any profession without a recession every seven to nine years to weed out the weak or increase the competition because the brand new firms principal could not cut it in the real world of Architecture would be better than this one. Any profession other than one guided by protecting your liability first and compromising your design to “the standard of care” or “why you fee so high” tests would be better than this one. 81 REASONS NOT TO BE AN ARCHITECT is my learned goal as soon as I can get my head above the rising disillusioned tide of young new unemployed Architects and less than qualified, good test taker / bad production oriented Architect want-to-bes when they go to work at some local hardware store. Hell I may even go home tonight and kick my dog!

21. randydeutsch - March 3, 2010

Jerry – Thanks for sharing what sound like some tough experiences you’ve been through. I am sorry that you feel this way toward the profession and practice of architecture. No doubt – architecture is hard work and we are often compensated intrinsically and not always monetarily (although even to this there are exceptions.) And to your reference concerning inexperience – I’m at 25 years and counting – so these reasons have been put to the test! As I mentioned at the top of the post, my reasons aren’t your reasons – they’re necessarily idiosyncratic and personal – as would any list of this sort.

You might be interested in reading a contrasting post by someone else? A somewhat similar list of objections was made recently, entitled 10 Reasons Not To Become An Architect
http://www.youngarchitect.net/10-reasons-not-to-become-an-architect/ – less diatribe-like, less of a rant, but perhaps you’ll find this list – and the accompanying chorus of comments – more to your liking? Oh, and please, please don’t kick your dog – tonight or any other night. It’s not her fault. And we need them, especially now. Randy

22. Sean Catherall - March 3, 2010

I’d trade all 81 reasons for work.

23. Anonymous - March 5, 2010

Never been a better time to be an unemployed architect. You get to slow down, appreciate life, relax, do fun things, and never have to worry about deadlines or working 70 hours weeks.

It’s never been a worse time to be an employed architect. None of us have gotten a raise in years, they’re doing more with less, squeezing the last drops of productivity out of the desiccated shells of our frail bodies.

Architecture seems to be a career that will eat you alive if you let it, until you can’t even remember what you used to do for fun before you started taking endless tests and working until midnight.

24. archichic - March 5, 2010

Good list, however, I disagree that it’s 81 things. Sounds like about 10 repeated over and over with different words that mean the same thing. Personally, I prefer less words that are more concise. I have been among the fortunate who have had plenty of work for years now.

Perhaps there is a correlation.

25. archichic - March 5, 2010

Pontification has never been a part of the profession that I have liked .

26. John O'Neil - March 8, 2010

I feel the same way you do about architecture, Randy. I learn something new every day in this profession, as they say on Northern Public Radio.

But my optimism and satisfaction arise out of the fact that I fell into the narrow specialty of spec writing almost 40 years ago, rather than having to compete in the overcrowded mainstream of architectural practice. I get to work on almost every project in the office so I never get bored. I’ve worked on everything from a turtle pond to high-rise office buildings, and almost everything in between.

I definitely haven’t gotten rich, but I’ve never been unemployed, either (Not yet, anyway. Knock on wood).

I can’t wait to get into linking specs and BIM!

Thanks for writing the 81 reasons.

27. Letter to a Discontented Architect « Architects 2Zebras - March 9, 2010

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28. Randy Deutsch - March 10, 2010

Hi John – Thank you for your comment. You have addressed the age old question of whether to specialize or remain a generalist practitioner head-on and in doing so have benefitted in a way that most would not expect. You have specialized and in doing so you have found that your horizons have widened, not narrowed, due to the exposure you have working on most of the projects that pass before you, and, form the sounds of it, to great variety and success. Congratulations and thank you again for your support. Randy

29. Ted Pratt AIA LEED AP - March 23, 2010

@Timothy Dickerson your attitude of perseverance will aid you greatly in your career. My experience upon graduating from the University of idaho was similar to yours. I too graduated during a recession and my career options seemed limited but I could read and write well thanks to my great education and I found a job at an attorney. Little did I know at that time that working for the attorney would open the door to an opportunity in an architect’s office but that’s what happened.

That was 1981 in 1991 I opened my own office in San Francisco and have been thankful I accepted the law office job ever since.

30. Brooklyn Attorney - June 21, 2010

Very intriguing article. Thanks for posting these convincing reasons to learn more about architecture.

31. Old Codger - July 30, 2010

It’s never been a better time?
That’s a comparative staement!
How many decades (or centuries) have you been practicing architecture?
It may be a great time to be an architect, if you say so, but I’m certain it is not the best time, like, ever.

32. Dan Yellbirnam - August 2, 2010

Fantastic list. Success in any endeavor is a complex recipe, but failure is easy – just add pessimism. I suspect that if any of the above disgruntled and frustrated architects had pursued other professions they would be just as frustrated and disgruntled. Whenever I talk to people who are successful in architecture (even now) they don’t cast themselves as victims, they don’t hate the profession, they want their children and friends to be architects, they just love what they do. I believe there’s something telling in that. People posting lists like this now are the people that we will all be working for in five years.

“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.” ~Robert Jarvik

33. Out-of-Work Architect Speaks « Architects 2Zebras - September 10, 2010

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