Lost passion

As I look through the forum and randomly click on posts, I have noticed a lot of not so much anger towards Architecture but a fustration. It seems maybe a little resentment of every becoming an architect. Now I do not know if this is true or not just a thought/feeling that I see from comments.

Now my question is, how many of you may have lost your passion for architecture? And what is something you wish you did differently while studying architecture in college etc.?
Jul 6, 14 4:58 pm

Architecture is like loving someone who doesn't love you back.  

Jul 6, 14 5:36 pm

In my estimation, "lost passion" (which I believe to be fairly widespread) results primarily from the profound disconnect between the academy and the realities of professional practice. Schools (and the faculty therein) tend not to provide their students a clear picture of everyday office life. They build up some dreamy, unrealistic world that suggests post-degree work is all about "grand design" and, quite frankly, that's simply inappropriate given what actually goes on in most offices day-to-day. The real world is considerably more mundane.

I think it important for students to come to grips with this disconnect long before they approach graduation. Talk to practitioners and take summer internships (if available) to really study what the "typical" recent graduate does during the first 5-10 years of post-degree work. If what you find is disagreeable or disappointing, make a change before you have too much time (and money) invested in an architectural education.

Life's way too short to become trapped in a profession you grow to hate.

Now, having said that, I also can say that I love professional practice. I enjoy working with clients and consultants and contractors and colleagues in my firm. I revel in the challenges of making program, budget and schedule work for my clients. I make a good living and I enjoy what I do. But, what I do is totally different from what my "ivory tower" college education led me to expect.

Jul 6, 14 7:54 pm

No, I haven't lost passion for architecture.... just lost passion to CAD washroom elevations and be a slave.

Jul 6, 14 11:57 pm

Lost passion comes from shitty clients and bad contractors. Municipal officials don't help, either. 

Jul 7, 14 9:22 am

Yeah Stone,

I don't think that you are correct. Perhaps some of my fellow peers that I graduated with have/had the profound disconnect with academia and the real world. I remember those students that would wear the goofy 1970's glasses and wear a blazer every studio session. The professors would caudle them, and make them feel like a starichtect in the making.

I was not one of those students.

What got me was the bouncing around from one contract job to another, no sense of steady work, no sense of stability in the industry, and no sense of respect. I just felt like I was there to flip another hamburger w/o the job security. I remember every place that I worked for, and not much changed form one to another. They always did performance assessments, only to say "what can you do for me other than draft?", only to question them what they wanted me to do. "oh no, that is your job, but you don't need a raise from your $15 an hour".

Then all I see are Revit openings. The firms didn't care if you had 8,15,25 years under your belt as a project manager. If you were not super proficient in Revit, goodbye. Is Revit really that magical of a program that you don't need to know header heights, platelines, how flashing should work, how a podium slab works....etc...or really anything about architecture.

Losing passion for the architecture field was easy for me. As Jla-x said, it never loved me back. But what really made my decision to leave architecture was I was about to be 30 and still couldn't make more than $20 an hour. I had a fear that I would just keep hoping that architecture would start to love me (aka provide a future), and in another 3-5 years another money bubble would pop, and instead of being 28 and living at mommies house, I would be 38 and living at mommies house.

So to conclude me feelings, it was the lack of stability as a career, and the lack of money!!! Not some stupid feeling that I will never be a starchitect. lol Perhaps that is your fears stone.

Jul 7, 14 10:48 am

Ha. I never wanted to be a starchitect either, but you kinda have to do that to get good grades I thought. Nobody wants a fully detailed suburban dentist office with specs in studio. They want the sweetest thing they've never seen.

For me, it was the awkward workflow and lack of good feelings, I couldn't stare at a computer that much, working holidays and unpaid overtime to make some rich guy richer. 

I do think I was paid well, when I wasn't laid off that is. 

Jul 7, 14 10:56 am

DeTwan / tint: in an odd and indirect way, I think you both are reinforcing my point.

The academy makes little to no effort to inform their students about the realities you describe. They don't help them develop the skills needed to adapt and cope.

The profession is what it is. It's so fragmented and decentralized - and populated by so many who simply don't have a clue about how to run an organization - that no sweeping change for the better is likely to occur in the foreseeable future.

As I read your posts, I infer that you both wish you had understood this reality long before you completed your degree.

Jul 7, 14 12:47 pm

Sure, but you inferred that the disconnect was from the expectations of becoming a starchitect. When you pay that kind of money and time to go to school, you expect that you will at least be able to support yourself. I would probably be strung along at some company still if I had a livable wage. A $2000-3000 paycheck may work when your single and don't mind romen noodles here and there. Once you have a family, children, a car payment, mortgage, etc, the expectations of becoming a starchitect are out the window. If the livable wage isn't there you gotta go.

Jul 7, 14 1:29 pm
pale shelter

stone: very good points. bravo; i completely agree...

Unfortunately myself along with 3 other of my close friends/classmates - of who I believed to be near the top of our graduating class in 2008 - have left or are in the middle of leaving the profession. Granted, we have left to related fields in: campus mgmt for major corporation; design/build firm for more money; real estate development, and furniture design. 3/4 left to pursue higher earnings potential and more responsibility or self-employment as the road to 'success' in architecture is a long, grueling waiting game of shit pay and long hours with incompetent non-business savy firm leaders... I'm currently working on a $50M housing project of which our firm 'rakes in' 1.9 percent of the construction budget. LOL ... We will squander the hell out of that fee ... and have to give any profits away to other money losing projects. We have no incentives in place to work more efficient for potential bonuses, or any incentives at all to work effectively in managing our time and fee.....

My observation is; working in 'well recognized' firms in the midwest both small and large... 1:9 architects do well; 1:99 architects do very well.... granted; after many years of service. Age 42 is the youngest principal we have. I will not wait 12 more years to bend over and give everything I have to this career in waiting to eventually make $100k/year in a big a Principal!! lol Life's too short to 'love something that doesn't love you back' ....

Jul 7, 14 1:31 pm
pale shelter

A 2-3k paycheck? lol Try a take-home pay of $1500 every 2 weeks.. .that's what you should expect... or about $3500/month as a registered architect with 5 years (take-home). You will get take home $2500 each paycheck when you are making $82k with 15 years experience (avg architect pay mid-career) ... by then you are probably 38; married; kids,,and a small home... (my 'principal' architect boss lives in a 800SF home ... granted his wife doens't work - but you cannot be an architect and expect to have an even moderate lifestyle without a working spouse!!)

How many architects drive 15 year old volvos ?! It's fascinating how often it occurs and very revealing! lol

Jul 7, 14 1:38 pm

I was talking monthly btw. I was working at my 5th architecture firm at 29 and my monthly paycheck was $2000. I paid $750 for a 420sqft apt in Denver. Half my paycheck vanished the second it hit my hand.

I made more money at my fist job than my last... it was sad. =(

Jul 7, 14 1:46 pm

but I said I didn't want to do starchitecture, and yet I'm the one who should have been more informed of the reality. Then I thought I expressed that it was the work place environment that did me in. I realize I need to elaborate on what I meant by that: hostile work environments, non-existent leadership, awkward work loads, clumsy workflow, and most of all the poor reputation architects have with contractors, engineers, planners, owners, etc. Care to comment on any of those things, stone? Do you think any of those things are worth leaving the profession for? 

Jul 7, 14 1:57 pm

DeTwan, no offense but I live in Denver and I don't know any architects that made that little and had an apartment that expensive. I think you're doing something wrong. 

Jul 7, 14 2:01 pm


WELL said. Architecture = Unrequited love.

Jul 7, 14 2:42 pm

I think an architectural degree should be a one year ad-on for people with a degree in construction management or civil engineering. I also think The coursework should be taught in the evening as many MBA courses are. Why should a whole class of students have to put their employment life on hold so a professor can lecture at 10 am rather than 7 pm? Colleges like to say "It's all about the students", when, in reality, it's about everyone except the students.

Jul 7, 14 4:31 pm

No I agree tint,

I definitely was doing something wrong. I never should have taken that job in the first place. But openings and opportunities are so far and few between I ignored all the red flags. First being his starting offer of $14. I was able to bump it up to $16 an hour, with the premonitions that if I proved my worth I would get a decent raise. Then the goof had the gull to tell me that he didn't pay anyone of $17 an hour. That flag I wasn't able to ignore.

All in all, my experience in architecture has been a lot of hot air, and bullshit. Especially after 2008, anyone that is operating a business in architecture and is not a moron is padding their pillow for the next downturn.

On top of that you have the colleges that don't even teach architecture right, like volunteer mentioned. The architecture colleges are stuffed with ancient professors riding high on tenure, and want to teach all about theory of design... then you have NCARB, and all the BS test. It is a never ending headache, and the clients aren't even involved yet, if you can secure clients that are actually truly ready to build.

We live in a climate of fear as a nation, and it is most evident in the architectural field.

Plain and simple FEAR! 

Also, when was the last time you worked in Denver tint... times change rapidly nowadays...we ain't in the late 90's no more.

Jul 7, 14 4:50 pm

DeTwan, I wasn't here in the 90's, I moved here in 2005 when the condo market was roaring. Haven't been employed in architecture since 2009. 

Jul 7, 14 6:17 pm

Architecture has become like all other fields! Its all about Class Struggle !  Society has become polarized and rich are getting richer on the back of the new Laborers. Now this could be Architects, Engineers, Lawyers, does not matter.  Lawyers are not doing much better, starting salaries in the 40's range!  Engineers are the same except maybe electrical!  Agreed, Architects are worst off.  One reason is so many of them competing for the same projects and low-balling each other on Fees leading to less profitable firms and lower pays for employees!  I remember when we use to quote fees to clients at 5-6% of construction cost, these days you are lucky to get 1-2%..this I feel is the main reason that the salaries have not gone up in this field! Cost of construction has risen but the percentages have gone down !  The last factor and reason for Low wages is is the idealization and love of star Architects by younger graduates which automatically entitles the Star architect to exploit this love and get something for basically nothing out of them  and wasting their time and energy is making themselves lots of money !!  So, its 2/3's our own fault!!

Jul 7, 14 7:40 pm

tint - I'm curious what are you doing now instead of architecture?

Jul 7, 14 7:44 pm
accesskb  came across this site today...   will such a concept where you can buy plans and permits of unbuilt work affect wages in our industry even further?

Jul 7, 14 8:36 pm

Several professions seem to be doing quite well: construction managers, civil engineers/structural engineers, mechanical engineers, naval architects, marine engineers, petroleum engineers, physicians assistants, accountants. The idea is to find a job that you like, that you can do, and that someone will pay you to do. It is insane to pay exorbitant tuition and spend years of your life to get a worthless degree when you could be having a substantial career in a related field

Jul 7, 14 9:41 pm

choresi, I partnered with my husband and we bought the educational therapy company that he used to work for. I help run the company doing whatever - stuff like managing the accounts, writing reports, writing proposals, writing lesson plans and homework, research, training, student advocacy, marketing, provide paperwork for audits :/ I used to work directly with students too, but haven't since I had a baby.    

Jul 7, 14 9:53 pm

I'm curious if there are any who lost their love for the business of architecture, only to find it again in another form. I was fortunate enough to land a decent job at a firm on the rise, and still decided to leave it for an adjunct teaching position (supplementing my income with paid photography gigs. One wedding day paycheck >  two weeks of work in architecture, in case you're wondering. It can be good money if you have an eye for design and the technical ability to improve, which most architects do).

I have to say that it's not so much the business of architecture that got me either, it's the pursuit of projects that can literally beat you down at times. It might be good for those who enjoy showing their battle scars (there's always the "I once stayed up for 4 days straight on Revit while eating only dog food" guy), but for those with an expectation of sustainable lives as well as buildings, it's grueling.

So far at least, getting paid to teach, research, and photograph architecture is far more fulfilling to me than spending two weeks on flashing details or renderings for projects that will never be built. I might not have the safety net I once had, but I'm learning more.

Jul 8, 14 12:44 pm

Like everything else you will lose passion for after a while. It doesn't mean you won't find the passion back later in life. Maybe you need a break. For me it's on and off. Sometimes I find myself mechanically practicing architecture but my mind is somewhere else. Other times I really have the heart and passion for what I do.

Jul 9, 14 8:07 am

Mattk2:  "One wedding day paycheck >  two weeks of work in architecture.."  Really? Did you count the hours/days you spend post processing all the photos you've taken, putting them into a package, printing and everything else involved?

Jul 9, 14 12:22 pm

One of my archi-school acquaintances just put this on the facebook. Why the Millennial Architect Won't be your CAD Monkey. 

"Give us 6-8 hours of homogenous low-level work per day such as model building, drafting, or spec sheets and our highly educated, talented, and skilled selves are out of there. " 

Jul 9, 14 8:31 pm

@tint, Good post. However easy said then done. If all grads have the experience, ability, client contacts, knowledge to start their own firm and be successful then I'm sure they all will do that.  

Jul 9, 14 8:43 pm

snoopy, Not all of them, just the ones that are educated and talented enough to do so. That is kinda the point, that you are going to lose them. I'm technically a young gen-xer (pretty close to gen y) and several of my classmates have started their own business. Most are in other fields though, myself included! There is a gen y architect in my hometown that started his own firm and he is totally rocking the boat there, changing the way architecture is done, shifting paradigms, out with the old and in with the new. The old guys are all upset. Waaa.

Jul 9, 14 8:58 pm

One of the smartest kids in my class started a business 2 years out of school, today the company has 67 employees. It is related to architecture, but he never got licensed. 

Jul 9, 14 9:11 pm

@tint, yes I agree in that sense. I guess the successful one's always end up with the right contacts and client base. Have good clients with money to spend, give you the freedom to express your design skills then it's all good and happy days. They also attract other good clients from their net work. Have bad clients who are cheap, and like to cut corners and screw the Architect and it will be a different story.

Jul 9, 14 9:24 pm

Where do I start? I am the old fart you guys are chatting about…40 years as an owner/architect with offices in 4 cities, retired now. Yesterday I connected with an old friend who was an employee of mine. He was never able to license and at 50 something he still calls himself a “CadJocky”. He went on to lament about his job/career and how at this age he’s looking for a way out. It made me really sad to here his story. In my career I saw many good talented people drop out for all the reasons you guys state. That is why I came to this site today to try to reach out to the pain. This is a shitty business.

After 40 years I just didn’t have any fight left. For 2 years I sat home and just stared at the TV. I was shell shocked and pissed. Since college I went through 6 recessions. What I’m pissed about is that no one ever even mentioned recessions to me in school. No one mentioned RFP’s, law suites, liability insurance, not getting paid, how to deal with ass-holes, how to run a business and the like. Schools create unrealistic expectations about the business of architecture. All they taught was space relationships and such and to this day do not teach anyone how to cope and survive in life. Where else are we to learn this?

To be an architect at any level you need to be engaging, be involved with community, speak publicly about the profession and teach architecture to community. The profession has failed miserably at this. If communities were better educated there would be better clients, architecture and commissions. This kind of thing floats all boats, including yours. Most owner/architects I know are terrible at this. Most are terrible at business. They have no sense of community activism, ability to engage people properly, terrible social skills, yet they stand at the helm driving the lives of hundreds of people and their families.

Students too need to be taught social skills, coping skills and be taught how to climb the ladder and what to expect along the way. I am a big fan of co-op programs, giving students a chance to test the waters before they pull the trigger.

With regard to all the lamentation over salary maybe you can now see the other side of the coin. Owner/architects came from the same place you did. They don’t know what to do anymore than you do. These recessions are a cancer on our society, they cost practices millions. The ebb and flow of the waters is why you’re not being paid adequately. This part is not the professions fault. This kind of thing sucks the life out of a practice and it trickles down.

If architecture is a dream of yours please do not give up. Find ways to cope, seek out a life coach, seek out a mentor and keep talking about it. Keep Architecture (with a capital A) on your mind, go to lectures, read the mags and by all means network. It’s not the Architecture it’s the job and no matter where you go you’ll pick up the smell. Also, be active in the community, have hobbies and stay close to family and friends….after all, they will be the only ones there at the finish line.

As for me I am practicing what I preach and doing much better, its done wonders just to write this. I’m going back to school in the fall and I’m going to engage the faculty and Dean to try to talk some sense into these people. I hope this has been of help.

Jul 16, 14 9:32 pm

Carrera, you made some good points there. Educating people is a big key. Gotta start them early like during middle school would be good. Also are you meaning to say that you are one of those old school architects who feel that you are lacking business skills? I like to know at what point in your career that you have realized this. Could you have done anything different if you can turn back time? Like take on a management/ business course or even marketing. Thanks for the in sight. 

Jul 17, 14 5:50 pm

Snoopy316, thank you for your reply. No it’s not “old school” so much. I was in fact good at the business part, it consumed me is my point. To do over? I would defiantly have hired a business manger/CFO, earlier than you might think. The firms that I know around here that did soared and the architects that ran them had a much easier time. Another thing I would have done (sounds corny) would be to have taken a Dale Carnie Course. Later in my career I hired a marketing manager and she would arrange events for me to go to and fill my calendar with community functions/networking….then she would go with me and hold my hand a bit…I should have done that from the start.

I wrote a little bit more on this subject today somewhere expanding on architectural schools. As I said they need to teach students how to live, cope and manage life. I made that observation 30 years ago and still no change. You see the pain threaded throughout this forum….I told one lady this morning (sophomore) not to end up in a Rabbit Hole after graduation, told her to find ways to learn “the business” of architecture (understand it is enough), try to co-op or intern along the way and try to find networking opportunities. I told her to sharpen her coping skills and people skills for that is essential when she goes to cross the finish line. Learning what to expect and how to climb the ladder is not taught in our architectural schools, students need to supplement. Those are the things I wish someone would have at least told me about, and those are the things I would change if I did it all again.

Thank you for your interest

Jul 17, 14 8:57 pm

Carrera, thank you for your insights, they are valued. It seems like these boards skew to a young-ish or inexperienced demographic (myself included), and your perspective is equal parts enlightening and frightening. We all make compromises but it's hard to know what to expect and when/if to bail out of this profession before it's too late. Thanks again.

Jul 17, 14 10:42 pm


Yes, what Bowling said. I have recently completed a continuing professional development course about the topic "Why great design is not enough for success". It covers some of what you have mentioned above and also internal staff management etc. I truly believe Architecture school should incorporate more business/ professional practice into the program. But of course something's got to give as we don't want to end up with a 7 year course. If I was to select an area to swap for more professional practice with, it would be history and theory. Yes they are the fundamentals but not much use to me in my opinion.

Jul 18, 14 12:02 am

Bowling-ball, I really appreciate your support. Seems there should be a place for someone like me to help. It’s hopeful to see some take advantage if it. In my journey I always tried to surround myself with more senior professionals, most all my friends were much older than me….sadly all are gone now. I do not think that jumping ship should be the path. New professionals should first consider lateral moves. Check out the posts, many are sliding over into development. Our built environment is the biggest industry in our society; there are tons of places to fit in. Sadly only a tiny few in your class make the dream happen. Schools need to open the door wider so students can see wider opportunities. An architect in my state became a state senator and is our greatest advocate for our profession. Architecture is a cause as much as it is an enterprise and one can contribute to this cause from many platforms, and make a good living.

Snoopy316, thank you too for your support…the reason these things I advocate are not taught is they are not “academic” and you are correct we can’t go 7 years, hell 5 is too much. What I am promoting is supplemental education that could be taught off-credit in discussion groups or forums. This site is a good example. I think mentoring is a necessity; every 5th year student should be assigned a mentor. I think I could go on all day about curriculum. In many ways it’s all off. Someone in this country decided to create this capitalistic society we all have to live with. Learning about architecture and how to create it is essential but that is not enough. You need to be taught how to apply it, how to make a living at it. They don’t need to create more curriculums they need to modify their existing curriculums to include these aspects. Schools around my home are small and they hire local architects to teach their classes, this is a good pattern. I’m going back to school in the fall and I’m going to check out what they are teaching and speak up if it still smells.

Jul 18, 14 12:14 pm
pale shelter

this post is really going in a great direction... in terms of coming to reality that our education is so disconnected from real practice, is wayyy too much time in school, is extremely limited and narrowly scoped esp. in business although we're there for 6-7 years!! ... I believe our generation (I'm 30) is coming to understand the value proposition of the architecture degree has turned negative on return... but I'm optimistic that once we take over more the teaching positions, more of the leadership positions in firms, and move into similar careers (like construction, development)... the paradigm will flip... but we need more common sense business minded, entrepreneurial architects in those positions.

Carrera:  very insightful and inspiring posts; I hope you continue to be part of the many discussions on this website. We need more wisdom (real life experience and stories) vs. all the theoretical arguments many students post on here...

as you said: "...many are sliding over into development. Our built environment is the biggest industry in our society; there are tons of places to fit in. Sadly only a tiny few in your class make the dream happen. Schools need to open the door wider so students can see wider opportunities..."

I agree. I am currently studying my own purchased text books on reDEV finance and construction mgmt. (Since I have no knowledge on finance, loans for construction, or anything related to the business of building = because my 5 year b.arch. all focused on Design Design Design LOL !!! )....  If architects believe we create value in great design and mgmt in construction as master builders .... then why don't more of us realize that value for ourselves... and become architect/developers. This is my goal - and I hope to get started asap. (Plus, of course the money is horrible in architecture)

Jul 18, 14 3:07 pm

pale shelter... you should look for a MOOC (mass open online course) in finance or real estate. Tell us how it goes if you do.

Jul 18, 14 3:13 pm

MOOC Revolution - Get an MBA for free “The next MBA degree may not be a degree but a portfolio of certificates.”

Jul 18, 14 3:20 pm

Graduatedlicensure, not teach more on top of what's already being teached. But substituting all the useless subjects over more useful and practical ones. If we filter all the rubbish we need to study and only keep all the good ones and also adding more good ones it can stay at 5-6 years or even less. I'm sure any decent person will know what are all the rubbish subjects I am talking about. I can make a list if unsure. Those not so important subjects don't benefit anyone but the school making money. 

Jul 18, 14 7:09 pm

This thread is hitting home on just about every level.  

I'm 3+ years out of school (M.Arch) and I teach in the architecture faculty at my old university where there's been a lot of change the last five years.  I have absolutely no solutions but everybody - EVERYBODY - in academia acknowledges the shortcomings of education in regards to traditional practice. Believe it or not, most of us (professors) really care a great deal about preparing students for the 'real world.'  But just as it is within the profession, there's an incredible amount of inertia in academia, and without a lot of trial and error and failure, changes to curricula aren't going to help. We aren't engineers - there's no single solution for any one problem. I agree that more time should be spent learning "the basics" but that has to be balanced against the fact that we aren't drafting technicians, which I feel a lot of new graduates (and principals) forget. 

Jul 18, 14 9:00 pm
Wow this post blew up. But besides that I'm loving the feed back.
Jul 19, 14 1:18 am

GraduatedLicensure, I respect your point of view. You sound savvy with an entrepreneurial spirit. Sound like me when I was 30. I was the president of a medium sized development company when I was 24. A millionaire at 30. Of course a life long Republican that believed that everyone should be able to find their way and make-it, hell I did. But as life went on I found that this is not true for everybody. People with Great Spirit and drive really do not need much school as you suggest. Look to a list of great successes and you will find that most all did not go to college; Frank Lloyd Wright never attended high school. I hated school. My attitude was “get the hell out of my way!” I was cranking out little projects for builders before I graduated! But GL some birds can’t fly and need more time to develop. So many can not find their way and that is were schools, formal education and mentoring come in. You are not suggesting we line everybody up at the high school prom and pull the good ones out and cast the rest off to Wal-Mart. As a society we can’t do that. It’s OK right now, turn your back and soar, but when you get to where you are going please remember to turn around and put out a hand.

Pale Shelter, I have seen the word Master Builder a couple of times here, interesting subject. Master Builders were architects building buildings, now it is the contractors designing buildings. Over the last half century architects saw this coming and did nothing about it. I see a new trend here. With all the interest and slide over hopefully over time young architects will slide back with the knowledge and confidence they garner and recapture the title.

Jul 19, 14 11:11 am

^ that is a very long read indeed. Most made sense. I practiced architecture for many years  before I became licensed. Now that I am licensed for 10 years I still support your second point. Qualified people who practice architecture should in fact be allowed to refer themself as an architect. This restriction only came abouts when the system was put in place. Architects exist thousands of years ago before "the system". 

Jul 20, 14 5:50 pm

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