✱ Eleven questions about a career in architecture / by Evan Troxel

The following Q & A is my take on 11 questions that are commonly asked of us in the field of architecture. This is a fun and informative post, and the charge came from Bob Borson over at Life of an Architect (thanks Bob!). Lots of other bloggers are answering the same questions from their point of view today as well. I'll have links to them at the bottom of this article so once you've read mine, you can go along to another to get their perspective.

You can also follow along on Twitter by searching the hash tag #ArchiTalks.


Q: What kind of projects were you doing when you first started as an architect?

I started interning in the same firm I work for now, although I did move to several other places over 12 years between my 2 stints. When I first started working at HMC Architects, I was not working directly on projects. Instead, I was working with the group that helped our school clients secure state funds to build their facilities.

Right after I graduated I was offered a permament position and I eventually moved into working for the studio that was responsible for K-12 schools. I was mostly working on details in the beginning. It was through that process that I began my career and have eventually ended up as a school designer, among doing other public building types.

Q: How many projects can you expect to be working on at once?

I work on as many as 3 or 4 projects at once, typically touching 2 or 3 lightly while spending the majority of my time on one. Right now I am working on one new K-12 school project while doing marketing and interviews here and there to help the office get new work.

Beyond my day job, I'm studying for and taking my licensing exams, co-hosting a podcast about all things architecture, running a tutorial site for architectural designers, and raising 4 kids with my amazing wife who has her own company.

Q: How often did/do you work in a team?

I am almost always working within a team. Very rarely do we have projects that only require one person. I think this is just the nature of public work... it's pretty complicated dealing with the various entities involved in moving projects forward and getting approvals.

Q: How important is an innovative mind to the company?

I love this question. An innovative mind, to me, is required. The architectural industry as a whole has suffered because of what I would consider a lack of an entrepreneurial spirit. We all should be getting out of our comfort zones and getting our hand dirty constantly trying new things, having a safe place to do it, and learning from failed attempts while trying. This is how we get better.

Oh, and always be learning.

Q: What key things do you look for in potential new hires?

I look for a few things, but above all the main one is passion. I want to work with architects who are passionate about doing great work for the people that hire us. We have an opportunity to change people's lives for the better with each and every project, and that is only going to happen if we really care about what we do. If you're just looking for a job, I won't be interested.

Q: How important is diversity to your company?

I can't speak for my company on this one, but for myself it's a big deal. Simply put, the more diverse the team, the better our projects are going to be. Creativity and problem solving come from experiences. Wider experience comes from diverse backgrounds, origins, upbringing, education, etc. 

Q: How big of a role does HR play in your company?

I stay away from that department as much as possible, but they really have our best interests at heart. They are our advocates, and we have quite a few people in our firm. I would say they are very busy people.

Q: Would you say Architecture is a field for everyone?

Absolutely not. When we went through school, there was a weeding-out process. It works for the most part. If you are not a good fit for architecture, why would you torture yourself and continue in it? That sounds miserable to me. My advice it to only do it if you love it. 

Q: What is the best asset in your company?

Someone with vision who can inspire others to do their best work.

Q: Describe your best employee in one word?

Passionate.

Q: What style architecture do you love most?

Googie - pay attention to the spelling because it's not the search engine. Check out John Lautner.