In the words of Hennessy Youngman, Whattup Internet.
As Im sure is the same with many of you, I have wanted to run my own firm/studio/practice since my beginning in the profession. To hang the proverbial shingle out. Andrew Zientek, Landscape Architect. And now, as of this summer, I am making a run at it. Now that it seems like a real thing or at least a real possibility, its kind of a weird mix of exciting and terrifying. I've had (and probably will continue to have) thoughts of tucking tail and looking for a job with some firm. But, seize the unemployment, or whatever that phrase is. This new blog here on architect (I've been here since the Pimpin Architecture days) will be a series of "letters" from the field chronicling my missteps and successes. The title, Letters to a Young Professional, is an homage to Rilke's book, but the writing will be worse. I hope there will be lively discussions in the comments section, drawing on the collective wisdom and opinions of The Archinect.
A brief background: I am a registered landscape architect, and although I have left the profession a couple times, I keep coming back. I did my undergrad at University of Wisconsin, Madison which I remember fondly. Though I will say I don't think I learned how to design at all there. After graduation I worked at a mid-size firm in Baltimore for 18 months which is what my professional practice teacher said was the average length of employment for a first job. I moved from there to Shenzhen, China to work for EDAW (now AECOM). This was a random opportunity that came about at an ASLA conference where I just started chatting with Sean Chiao, who was EDAW's Asia Regional Manger, in the hallway and was basically offered a job on the spot. Mind you, this was 2004 and the height of the boom there. I was there for just over a year in what was both a horrible and amazing experience. I was thrown in over my head in terms of design ability and managerial experience and everything else, and because of that I learned more in that year than in my 4 years of education and previous employment combined. And because of the insanity of design/construction projects in China, I saw two substantial projects built before I left. But I got burnt out. Eighty hours weeks for months on end (on salary) and endless deadlines one immediately after the other has the capacity to suck years from your life. So I left and returned to school for an MFA degree (furniture design) but only lasted three semesters (of six) before dropping out. (im sure this will come back as a topic) From there I ran the design and construction operations for a property development company in Baltimore which focused on rehabbing industrial properties into office and retail space. I was, again, woefully under-qualified or experienced. And again, learned a lot. This time about how shit gets done after design drawings are handed off. I was there for two years but missed being a designer. When I had to fire the sub-contractor that installed toilet partitions for doing a shitty job I knew it was time to leave. So I went back to graduate school. Two years at Harvard's GSD in the MLA II program and a lot of student loan debt later here I am. Now what?
Time to hustle.
Now that the introduction is out of the way, Ill have more pointed posts shortly. But, please say hi.
Warm Internet Regards,
Landscape Architecture + Integrated Art
The dream has always been to open up shop and hang the proverbial shingle out. Andrew Zientek, Landscape Architect. So I left a good job, took on a lot of student loan debt, spent two years in graduate school and here I am. Now what? This blog will be a series of letters from the field as I navigate my way to fame and fortune. Or at least mild profitability and a built project or three. I hope the blog is a place of advice (to and from), discussion, shared grief and possibilities.