how you started, where you're at and where you think you're going?


Hi Everyone, 

I was recently asked the age old review question this week..."where do i see myself in 5 years" and that got me thinking about career progression across our industry. It's weird for a company that I've been with for so long to ask me this question. 

Feeling introspective at the moment and for me the future is cloudy. I've been with my current firm for over a decade and am actively interviewing with others and just received my first offer today!. I've progressed but I feel like I have to move on to grow more.  

So I wanted to reach out to my fellow archinectors and understand how you started, where you're at and where you think you're going? Seeing your paths would be extremely interesting for someone who is about the finally take the leap of faith. 

May 13, 23 2:57 pm

Graduated in 09 into the recession. Fought for years to get a "proper" architecture job. Over a decade grinding to get to Project Architect, Project Leader on significant projects at a "starchitect" exploitation-heavy firm on prominent public projects. Realized one day this is all bullshit. Sold everything and now I live in a van down by the river. It's way better. In 5 years? Hope I'm still in my van. I talk to former coworkers sometimes and their experiences are sickening (as our my own past experiences) when you have a bit of distance.

May 13, 23 3:48 pm  · 
9  · 

thanks, jla. 

I don't literally live in a van down by the river, but it is a useful metaphor for what I'm doing right now. It's amazing how much more clearly I am seeing and thinking about the built world now that I'm not depressed, overworked, and struggling all the time. And of course I'm working on a contract part-time basis here and there, wish I had a trust fund to support my van life, alas, I still need to bring in some money.

May 15, 23 1:37 am  · 
2  · 
Wood Guy

arch, I just realized that I might know you IRL? Or maybe it's another architect who lives in a semi-metaphorical van by a river...

May 15, 23 8:49 am  · 

I don't think I know anyone in Maine. As much as moving my "van" there and working part time on the kind of projects you do sounds super appealing.

May 16, 23 6:39 am  · 
1  · 
Wood Guy

I'm actually talking about a virtual friend, on the US west coast. But I'm sure there are other architects with similar goals. It's occasionally one of my goals, as a matter of fact. Wherever you are, come on up--there is a ton of demand for high performance work. I turned down two projects this morning, in fact.

May 16, 23 1:48 pm  · 

Got started in 2017 working as a designer but not before taking real estate development courses for my electives. Decided to become architect/developer like Jonathan Segal.
Got a job at an office in Seattle and took all my money that I was making (no retirement contribution) and stuck it into real estate, buying up foreclosures and BRRRRing them on the weekends and after work during the summer.

Got laid off during Covid, pissed off at my firm and quit architecture. Took it as a sign to start something else real estate related and became a realtor - hoping to learn new things, meet new people, and of course make more money than the poverty wage I was receiving. 

Being a realtor was a phenomenal learning experience because you are your own business. You are completely focused on building up a book of business and not being distracted by “Design.” I was able to learn so much about business development I am confident in my next chapter. 

I’m now liquidating my and my mom’s brokerage portfolios and starting my first multi-family development. The stock market is poised to do f$&@-all for the foreseeable future so this is a much better use of my money during this high interest monetary cycle. I’m using the backyard of one of my properties to build what is essentially a sixplex. 

During the initial design phase of this sixplex I enlisted the help of a home designer with 30 years of exp to get me through permitting since he has the connections and the details (I’ve only done higher ed and healthcare). He will also help me project manage this build and get trust worthy subs involved.

During our short time together we’ve decided to team up and start a design build (plus acquisition and sale) practice by the time construction starts (Sept/Oct). So I decided it’s time to pass the last 3 of my AREs to get licensed. 

I’ve finally managed to plan 5 years ahead. And hopefully by then I’ll have a profitable company, and an 8 unit multi family building and 9 townhomes. Debt will probably be around $3M with an NOI of $400K. 

Once I get these projects done I will focus on creating more beautiful projects - where ROI is less important. 

I’ve also moved my family back in with my mom to make ends meet. One step back, two steps forward. 

Bonus: for anyone struggling with 5 years please look up “Jim Rohn Design Your Life” look for the 1 hour version. Then get lost in all things Jim Rohn and Earl Nightengale. 

May 14, 23 2:27 am  · 
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Oh nice. We should talk after that first one is complete for:

May 15, 23 8:36 am  · 

This is a good topic as I’m also at a lot of crossroads at the moment. Hope to see more contributions on this thread. 

I graduated at the tail end of the 2008 crash and put my dues in during a time where the mentality was “just be happy you have a job at all.” The cruddy projects that never seemed to get built, sense of hopelessness of senior coworkers and really cruddy pay and job prospects got me looking outside of architecture. Luckily I decided to bear it out until I got my license. What was a very lowly valued accomplishment within the profession all of a sudden threw doors wide open outside of it. Real estate firms and contractors were really willing to interview an architect vs a drafter. I chose working with a GC and man, what a ride that has been. I got more site time and made more creative decisions in my first 3 months than I had in 7 years of architecture. The pay was a huge bump and it felt good to work at a place where your work was really valuable to the industry and the mentality was that the job was hard work so you should get PAID not that you were so passionate that you shouldn’t be in it for the money. The dark side of the GC world is the stress. After working my way up and being the PM on a few jobs, I side stepped into a junior role again to avoid the burnout I so commonly see in other PM’s. 

Now for the future. I HAVE NO IDEA. I’ve worked really hard in my first decade and a half of my career, getting my license during the much harder 4.0, working my way up to PM in the GC world, working on-site through COVID and all of its procurement issues, a cancer diagnosis that I worked through to keep insurance (I’ve got one last MRI follow up this summer before my oncologist and I hopefully become rare buddies, wish me luck.) But after taking my foot off the gas pedal for this junior role, I don’t think I have it in me for another round of a promotion or new role. I know I can’t turn 40 and still be in a junior role because ageism will start creeping in. And sadly, showing up and doing your job for 8 hours and taking your full PTO while getting promotions is a pretty rare place in the US. The real estate positions sound pretty brutal. You don’t have the same constant fire fighting of the day to day of a GC but it sounds like you are cut if your projects go south (There’s plenty of GC PM’s who’d love the opportunity to get out of the trenches and take your place). I also just don’t have the heart to lie awake at night trying to get an office TI built as fast as possible so a tenant with billionaire execs can save a month on rent. With my experience I’ve thought about maybe starting some small stuff on the side as I think I’ve got great experience to be a really good architect. I just, kinda want a break. Maybe disappear a few years down in Lombok and pretend to be Rob Machado for bit. 

May 14, 23 6:23 pm  · 
6  · 

Do it. It's amazing what opportunities and experiences happen when you stop being a wage slave. Good luck.

May 14, 23 10:23 pm  · 
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Graduated in 2018, moved around a bit, and got licensed in December of '20, just after covid really hit my little area of the world. Ended up transferring to a job down in Florida with a boss I used to intern with years ago in school, who was eager to grab me since I had a license.

Since then things have been mixed. On the one hand, I've nabbed tons of experience in my new role wearing a variety of hats from PA to de-facto BIM manager (since our office is so small, and I'm the most experienced with the software). On the other hand, my age doesn't align with my position or professional knowledge, so some things like pay or position are harder to negotiate, since I'm seen as the "kid with the license" instead of the young titled professional with knowledge and passion.

Because of the small size and location of our company, we end up doing primarily high-end vacation homes, as well as full-time AirBNBs (which, according to an older code expert friend, should still be designed as R-3 because "the house doesn't know it's an AirBNB"). I don't know, I'm far more passionate about using my professional knowledge to help my community, even if it means not raking in high-budget projects (not that those of us who are employees really see a large cut from those fees anyway). I've been pushing our firm to try to take on more socially-conscious projects (like affordable housing etc.), but idk I guess I'll see where that goes in the next few years.

May 15, 23 7:38 am  · 
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Wood Guy

For once I'll skip over telling my story, but in five years I expect to be doing pretty much the same thing, designing houses and renovations for people who prioritize health, comfort, resilience and minimal environmental impact. It's what I set out to do ten years ago and demand has only increased since then. I expect the economy to slow down, possibly significantly, with fewer new homes and more renovations, serving the wealthy instead of the middle class which is rapidly shrinking. Depending on how fast and heavily climate change affects things I am also considering focusing on homes and compounds that allow survival in disasters. I don't think there's enough demand yet for it to be a full-time gig but it's coming and I'm in a decent position to serve that market--basically wealthy preppers. 

May 15, 23 8:55 am  · 
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I started in Santiago, Chile,35 yrs ago- been in Aspen,Colorado for the last 20 and trying to be in Sardegna,Italy in 8 years.

May 15, 23 10:39 am  · 
5  · 

Oye weon, que chevere! A mi me adoro Santiago.... but it's really suffering these last few years. Has taken a lot of the brunt of the Venezuelan and Haitian refugee crisis. But damn what a beautiful city and people, and great architecture. I'm trying to move my van to Italy, too.

May 15, 23 11:30 am  · 
1  · 

Have not been back, only 2 one week trips to say goodbye to family. The immigrant situation is critical right now, Venezuelans don't like to accommodate their habits to their new countries (to put it politely). To the OP, I know it's not the answer you were looking for, you are thinking of your "career" and it's normal, but sometimes life develops in non-linear increments and you surf through waves the best you can. I started in my university physical plant dept., learned everything about detailing and construction, costs and programming - but it was low pay. Moved to a urban design firm, never understood where the designs came from, it was more doing what the developers wanted than real ideas and progression, kept doing that in the US for 5 years until 2008, moved into a custom residential boutique and I 've been happy since. I don't have a "career" to show, but only my work in those particular phases. The factors to move between those phases have been externals and not sought by me, and not always nice.

May 15, 23 12:40 pm  · 


May 15, 23 1:00 pm  · 

No. Chile has (had in 2016ish) a population of 17 million. Estimates are that they have received between 3-4 million Haitian and Venezuelan immigrants since then fleeing dire economic and security conditions . You
do the math.

May 15, 23 2:47 pm  · 

AND there's only 4 cities in Chile where ALL the migrants have landed. the right wing political utilization of the migrants is similar to the US if that's what you meant.

May 15, 23 3:02 pm  · 

JLAX please take your anti immigrant banter elsewhere.

May 15, 23 11:43 pm  · 
3  ·  1
Wood Guy


May 16, 23 9:51 am  · 
Wood Guy

Let's all pretend that you are not being disingenuous. If a large, monolithic group of immigrants land in one city at about the same time, of course it's going to be a challenge, especially if both the local population and immigrant groups have strong, monolithic cultures and don't like change.

Things in the US are much different; we're almost entirely derived from immigrants and the concomitant mix of cultures, and even if we do have more immigrants than other places, by percentage it's not that different than other places. And in the US, immigrants are not landing in just a few cities, they are spread out all over the country. We get right-wing complaints about the "large" influx of Somali refugees here in Maine but they number around 6,000, or less than 0.5% of our state's population. They are largely settled in a few communities of perhaps 100,000 people, but they are still well below 10% of the local population.

May 16, 23 1:45 pm  · 
2  · 

JLAX, if you dont want retorts, then how about not say triggering shit?

May 16, 23 5:53 pm  · 
1  · 

The triggering shit you implied is that the US is like Chile - hence implying that Immigrants in the US are like those emigrating to Chile from Venezuala. Sure, they are all immigrants, but in vastly different circumstances.

May 16, 23 7:29 pm  · 
1  · 

It would be fantastic if a thread wasn’t derailed by nonsense…

May 16, 23 7:54 pm  · 
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Wood Guy

XJLA, Maine is in fact a border town, with Canada, and not just regular Canada, but Quebec, which is French-speaking. As you get close to the border with Quebec, many people speak only French. Even where I grew up in central/southern Maine, I had friends whose parents only spoke French. I understand that it's somewhat different on the southern border but it's not completely different, other than Canadians generally aren't eager to move to the US because their living and working conditions are better than ours.

May 24, 23 9:13 am  · 

Graduated in 2012 and went to work for a firm that specializes in affordable housing. Spent 6 years there and reached Project Architect, but due to the structure of the firm at that time it was the ceiling. I ended up on the market-rate side of things for a few years at another firm that had good culture and was very much sink or swim by giving a lot of responsibility if they think you can handle it (but also had your back when needed).

Pandemic hit, had gastric bypass, and really started questioning how I wanted to live my life and how I wanted to practice architecture. The first thing was to get back to affordable housing and community based design projects, which fit with my core values. Was at another firm for a little under a year but very much a grind 60-80 hr work weeks, which I wasn't a fan of and it burned me out (see the Architect Mag and Arch Newspaper articles). Went to another firm that had great projects, but the owner and I did not see eye to eye at all. After a year of that, I decided to leave.

Now - have hung out my shingle to see if I can make how I want to practice architecture work. It's in the beginning stages but super exciting and scary as hell at the same time.

May 15, 23 2:08 pm  · 
7  · 

I started in my mother's womb, I'm commenting on an Archinect post at the moment and I think I'm going to die in the end. 

May 15, 23 2:39 pm  · 
3  · 

Big picture.

May 18, 23 7:55 am  · 

Graduated with an undergrad in 2012. Thought architecture was stupid. Did a 6 year gap doing carpentry, teaching abroad, travelling. As I was gearing up to send out M.Arch applications read an interview with a firm who's ethos really resonated with me. Applied to the school they taught at, got in, did a work term with them, and they asked me to come back after completing my Masters. Been there for a bit over a year now and loving the firm, my job, and the projects I'm on. In 5 years I hope to still be working there running my own projects. Just hope yearly pay bumps stay reasonable because I really don't want to switch jobs just for more $$$

May 16, 23 8:41 am  · 
3  · 

Good question, I like seeing posts like this as I think we need to be better admitting what in the career works for us, and what doesn't. I think I had been in a mid life crisis for the past year or so and I've been really focused on shifting my life into a path that makes me truly happy.

I graduated architecture school in 2010. I had 6 months in a firm that I always dreamt of working for. In fact as a 13 year old I visited the office for a career day to see if I'd like it. When I asked to step up from the temporary status of my employment to full time, I was actually laid off instead. My dream of being an architect since age 8 or so, pretty much died right then.

A year went by while I tried to find local work in a small to midsized city. We were still really feeling the '08 recession and no one was hiring.

In 2012 I made the switch to construction management with the government. It was bureaucratic but gave me some stability and a more solid salary. 

After a few years I learned of an opportunity with a thrill ride manufacturer who needed design help to integrate rides into buildings. I absolutely loved the work, however I lost my job when the company ran into financial difficulties.

I returned to my old government job, and while I believed I'd only do it for a few months before finding something more creative, I ended up spending 4.5 years there. I was comfortable with the salary, benefits and loved my coworkers, but felt I was loosing my mind with the nonsense of blowing tax dollars, and undertaking new initiatives dreamt up by upper management who were out of touch. 

While working the government job I pursued a few small freelance gigs in my evenings, weekends and a bit during my vacation time. I got into some design work in aviation and loved it.

About 6 months ago, the client I was working with in aviation asked if I would be able to commit full time, after doing gig work for little more than a year. I took a leap and haven't looked back.

These days I'm doing seat and amenity planning for airline interiors, along with some rendering and video production. I'm absolutely loving it. The downside is my schedule is a little too loose and I'm often working until 2am, and not getting started until noon. However I feel little to no stress, I'm learning, pushing the envelope and doing something that's currently making me very happy. I frequently have to tell myself to stop and rest, but it's a great feeling to be doing something I truly feel engaged with.

What will I do in the next five years? No idea, I didn't see myself doing this five years ago, but I can't wait to see how this develops. 

May 18, 23 3:45 am  · 
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I'm 56 so my path is long and very twisty:

I was laughed at by all my undergrad architecture pals because while they were speculating over who would be the first among us to be on the cover of Record I was like "I don't care about being famous, I just want to move to my favorite city Chicago and work for SOM."

Then I had a weird two-year turn in grad school when I thought I *did* want to be a self-expressive artiste in my work!

Then I graduated and focused on being licensed and got a job at a lovely firm doing work that was culture- and community-based: historic church additions, museum renovations, some schools for ten years. And I found that the work I most enjoyed was with nonprofit and community groups trying to make the world better (and I got licensed).

I had a baby, which prompted a move to the Midwest, where my husband grew up, to work with a friend from grad school doing residential remodel. I enjoyed the freedom but the work didn't quite fulfill me...then 2008 hit and everything fell apart anyway. I ended up teaching as an adjunct just to bring in $5,000 every 15 weeks LOL. 

As the recession lifted I had a few freelance jobs, one of which was being architect-of-record for a large outdoor installation designed by a Swedish firm at the local art museum.  I got along so well with the Facilities and Curatorial departments there that they hired me fulltime.

Five years at the Museum was both interesting and stable, but I itched to get back to the world of architecture, so I joined a medium-sized interiors and architecture firm. I worked on a lot of different kinds of projects, some very high-dollar and glamorous, but found that, again, the work I most enjoyed was with the "underdogs" - the nonprofits and shoestring organizations trying to make the world a better place.

So two years ago I moved to work where I do now, We are a CDFI that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations on facilities consulting and lending for capital projects. And I freaking LOVE IT. I get to be around and think about buildings all day, I get to see the vast impact that nonprofits have in their communities, I help people who are all truly passionate about their work, and I never, ever have to open Revit. I'm blissed out.

There's lots of time in this career to move all over. I encourage exploration.

May 18, 23 12:11 pm  · 
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This is great to read Donna, and I'm happy to see people doing work they love. I found in architecture school the studio projects were often socially minded, yet we praised these starchitects that designed for governments with horrendous human rights violations, or mega corporations. Then most students finish school and end up working in firms to design formulaic condo towers that are just bought up by investors and turned to airbnbs. It's an amazing thing to be doing work you believe in and that you know is truly making a difference.

May 19, 23 5:14 pm  · 
1  · 

Started out building tree forts and watching the Brady Bunch! True! but seriously grew up in an area that had a lot of west coast modern home homes by a number of very well known iconic Architects ( Arthur Erickson / Ron Thom / Barry Downs etc ) so I was inspired at an early age, I walked past them daily on my way to school.

Started out at University thinking I was going to do a degree in Engineering before getting into Architecture.  Dropped Calculus after two weeks ( that shit was hard ) Took some general arts courses and then applied to Landscape Architecture, didn't get in my first year so doubled down on my portfolio and spent year educating myself on the profession.  Got in after the second application and then applied to Architecture school just as I was the graduating from Landscape Arch.  Completed the Architecture degree and worked at multiple offices and never had difficulty finding work ( good skills and experiences with intern jobs allowed me to be pretty capable employee ) worked in a few larger offices but gravitated to smaller firms where I could get more of a significant role in projects and eventually ran projects start to finish.

Realized I wasn't going to be made an associate in the small office I was at  ( downside of being in a small firm, no career advancement opportunities ) so left town and moved to a public planning office in a small community with my new wife. Starting moon lighting with a few small renovation projects and slowly started to take on more work before being asked to build a couple home for clients.  Left the security of the public office and started my own one man show and did some contract work for a local Resort Planning firm to give myself a few extra hours and month when times were slow, that was 29 years ago.  Grew the office to about 6-8 staff and advanced the project types as well to where we are now.

Built a bunch of houses, had some kids / dogs / gerbils and currently looking to retire in the next 5 years. I still plan to work a bit / consult just need to work on finding the right balance.

May 23, 23 8:21 pm  · 
4  · 
Wood Guy

Funny, I found calculus easy--I hardly attended class for the three semesters I took it, or for differential equations; I taught myself from the textbooks. But I can't manage people, which is a much more valuable skill!

May 24, 23 9:30 am  · 
1  · 

gerbils are gross. i had a few as a child and i think the experience of seeing the mother eat her stunted babies turned me off of pets for life. otherwise admire your story. you make it sound easy!

May 24, 23 9:32 am  · 
1  · 

The other thing that I have found to be mentally and emotionally critical is knowing when to say no!. No to bad clients, bad projects and look for work that can take you to the next tier in either design, technical experience or building type.... garage additions are not going to cut it even though Morphosis and Eric Owen Moss etc all started out that way and seemed to do alright!

May 24, 23 12:13 pm  · 
2  · 

I feel like I am pretty much going nowhere, just churning endless, meaningless shit for shit clients, in an OK-OK office. Gotta pay the bills.

May 24, 23 2:01 am  · 
1  · 


May 24, 23 7:23 am  · 

i've changed jobs 5 times now in 16 years and finally feel like i've found my thing doing fun work with people i respect. my only regret has been staying too long at jobs once i felt boredom becoming routine

there really is no reward for sticking it out - be nimble and keep looking for something that fascinates you. change quickly when you know you need to. what i do no is nothing i ever considered as a career starting out - but i absolutely love what i do and am much happier than i ever was working in a traditional design firm. you don't need a plan or a clear picture where you're going, just the good sense to react to your instincts and better understand what motivates you.

May 24, 23 9:45 am  · 
4  · 

Graduated back in 2012, and worked for a few years for an architectural firm. From 2012 worked out on the field as an assistant pm, PM, today I am a superintendent and work for a General contractor. I'm getting tired of the field, it is stressing and hard, im thinking to go back and work as an owner repo or back to an architectural firm, with all the architectural and field experience i think i can do whatever i want now. we will see. 

May 24, 23 11:42 am  · 
1  · 

2002 - graduated with a Bachelor's of architecture. 

I was lucky and got my first full time job at a firm that was a great role model for how architecture and firms should operate.  I became the firms lead conceptual designer.  I discovered my love for backpacking, rock climbing, sea kayaking, and the wild places in general. 

2011 - laid off due to the economy 

2011 to 2014 - did contract work, acted as a facility manager for a children's museum, and even tried my hand at starting a small residential firm.  I learned that I'm good at design work - not so good at project management or construction admin. 

2014 - moved out of state to pursue a job opportunity at a small firm that I thought would be a good fit.  Turns out the firm wasn't a good fit but the area was.  I gained experience in the areas of architecture that I was deficient in.  Discovered canyoneering, white water rafting, fly fishing, and traditional archery.

2015 - started at the firm I'm with now. I'm the firms lead conceptual designer but now with a better technical and managerial understanding.  Project management is still not something I have a great deal to improve upon.  

Over the next five years I fear that I'll be moving into a managing partner position.  Who knows though. 

May 24, 23 1:52 pm  · 
4  · 
Wood Guy

That sounds like a good "fear." Do you have ideas of how to improve your skills in that area? (I struggle with the same, which isn't good for a self-employed, full-service designer!)

May 24, 23 7:56 pm  · 

That's what causes me fear. I really don't know. Also finding work is basically voodoo for me.

May 25, 23 9:54 am  · 
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Wood Guy

I know I promote them here perhaps too often, but have you looked into They are growing and have mastermind groups just for this kind of thing. I wish I could join one but they're for architects only. They exist solely to help architects be better at running businesses, and they have a lot of success stories.

May 25, 23 10:17 am  · 
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Wilma Buttfit

I started out at age 16 working at the hardware store. Then worked for a structural/civil engineer as an intern. Graduated B Arch. Got my first job at a respectable 100+-year old ABC firm in a small city in the Midwest. Learned a ton. Hated most every second of it but it was good and broad experience. Worked a lot of overtime and had enough money to move out of state to a state where everyone else goes for vacation. Thought I landed my dream job after arriving. Later realized it wasn’t what they made it out to be. I was the oldest of several young people in the studio. Very few actual built projects, lots of theory plus some bread and butter work. Started testing. Economy turned sour and saw all my coworkers get laid off, then I was too, the firm closed up shop. Was unemployed for a year. Started a new career, started an unrelated business, left architecture forever! Had a kid. Got back into architecture working as a freelancer for other architects, all remote. Got licensed. Felt empowered! Had another kid. Started a firm, started out with small jobs with low fees. Then started getting more desirable jobs with higher fees. Alternated rapidly between feeling euphoric and miserable. Now, plateauing again. I have interviewed with some firms but nothing catches my interest enough to pursue. Taking it day by day while contemplating a career change to work in a garden center or nursery or maybe one of those people who sells pretty rocks and jewelry at art festivals. 

May 24, 23 7:52 pm  · 
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Tramatized by a Walt Disney cartoon at age 1.

Autism at 2.

Fascinated by architecture at 10.

The dynamic of the terror of the cartoon and beauty of architecture within the envelope of autism formed the driver of my imagination.

Flunked out of school. Went into the military. Got a degree in another discipline.

Consumed 2 plates of Japanese vegetables and had an acid dream and woke up and realized I should follow my dream. 

Found a 4+3 Masters program. Excelled following my own star.

Had 2 jobs. Fired from both. Hated. Every. Fucking. Second. I. Was. There. Fact was I was unemployable. It was a total joke to me. Stupid shit for chump change.

Sitting outside a library I was pissed off I had gone all the way through school made good grades, never cheated on an exam, wrote all my papers, did all my own projects and realized I didn't know anything.

Ok. I will do it my way now.

Went back into the library and started picking books at random eventually gravitating to art and architecture. Took a series of jobs to pay the bills that gave me time to think while at work. Worked 2nd shift. 2-10. Came home worked till 8 or 9. Slept. Woke up. Went to work. 8 years. Taught me humility among other things.

Stopped at a pizza place and as soon as I walked in I knew an answer was there. Ordered a pizza and beer and a job application.

I came to work one day and someone had made a mistake and ordered an inordinate number of pizza boxes of different sizes. I made a habit of listening to jazz before coming to work. I had Boo Boos Birthday in my head. Symmetrical rhythms inside of symmetrical rhythms resolved with a horn. I was trying to imagine how many color field paintings I could see putting sauce on the dough. They had recently gotten one of those conveyor belt ovens and it reminded me of the 4 alphabets on the printer chain of the old IBM 360 main frame computer which reminded me of a fluid dynamics simulation using a pointer vector program for the graphic output. Space is like a fluid. I think I know something. I don't know what but the sound of the truth has a particular ring and I just heard it.

Introspective experiments are inherently confounded. Fuck it. I never got anywhere doing things listening to the way things have been done. What am I looking for? Sheets the beat out of me. All I know is the sound of the truth when I hear it. When inspiration fails use logic.
Ok what is the most abstract process I can think of? Computing an integral calculus problem backwards in my head. What would be the graphic equilivent on the same level of abstraction. The lost jockey by Magritte. Ok I happened to find an enclosed mall that would work. I will focus my mind computing and then concentrating on that painting and see what I might find walking around. I got to radio shack and I lost concentration. After the 4th time I started asking myself what in the blue fuck was I doing. I beat myself up for the better part of an hour. What am I looking for? Wait a minute, maybe there is something down at radio shack. I went down there. Fuck. Ok stimulus conditions. I have to walk all the way around so I can eliminate it. On the way back on the other side of radio shack I stopped and realized something was there I couldn't see. I was looking around and then I saw it at the base of the wall. There was a double wall made of the same material. A security hallway.
I couldn't see it from the other side. 
Epiphany. I felt it. My autism makes me hypersensitive. Combining Malevich and Schlemmer proved interesting and different.

Invented a form and space language robust enough to withstand a seemingly infinite number of transformations by combining 3 disciplines. Created a series of collages and sent images of them to a gallery that turned out to be the biggest art dealer in NYC. Said I was in the top 2% of artists in the world but also not commercial enough to sell. 3 years and 450+ rejections 25% came back from a gallery I didn't send it to. I got a show and didn't sell anything.

Ok, I get it. Great architecture that doesn't sell.

Moved across the country. Worked construction after 3 years got a job drafting 80 hours week 40 unpaid overtime but learned a computer program with real world experience leveraged to a better job leveraged to a starchitect firm leveraged to pm doing schools and 2 licenses. Taught me that just because a building isn't architecture doesn't mean it has no value.

Started my own firm with a small inheritance met the love of my life lost her to prescription drugs and narcolepsy. Taught me acceptance.

Met the love of the rest of my life. Inspired me to create my best work. Taught me how to love.

Finished my oeuvre. I am not doing any architecture now nor do I intend to do anything more. It is a respectable body of work 800+ pieces. That's enough. FLW designed 600 and built 500 and maybe 5 are architecture. Taught me how to enjoy the moment.

I still work but not in architecture. Funny I am making more money than I ever did in architecture.

Architecture is a wonderful discipline and a terrible profession.

I spent most of my life alone pursuing my dream and now I just want to help my partner achieve her dream. 

I don't miss architecture one fucking bit. I still keep my licences because I call my work architecture and the boards require it. 

I undoubtedly won't sell any in my lifetime. After 45 years I get it. It is still out there. Who knows reflecting on my life I have been lucky when I needed to be.

May 25, 23 6:03 pm  · 
2  · 

I want to respond to this because a lot of it resonates with me, but our paths have diverged quite a bit despite our similarities. Maybe later tonight, we'll see

May 25, 23 6:22 pm  · 

"I've been lucky when I needed to be",
so true.

May 26, 23 9:03 am  · 
1  · 

I've written a full response and deleted it for being too verbose, so I'm trying something different. 

how you started   skatepunk

where you're at   country club

where do you think you're going   to the dispensary

PS I've already been to the dispensary

May 25, 23 9:25 pm  · 
5  · 

I've met several architects who the first thing they personally built was skate ramps. Me - I was building my own downhill skateboards in my father's workshop (journeyman carpenter) when I was 14 and ripping down mountains at 60mph.

May 26, 23 3:20 am  · 
2  · 

After hours at industrial design school, I used the shop to build an absolute ton of skate ramps, which had to be modular to fit in my tiny car. I briefly explored the idea of starting a company, but by then (mid-2000s) the X-Games were big and a bunch of folks had the same idea - and they all had more money and resources than I did. I'm still looking to design my first park

May 26, 23 12:40 pm  · 
3  · 

OP Update:

Thank you all for sharing your stories. The range of experiences is truly fascinating and speaks to the diversity archinectors. It's clear that change is often a good thing and you should also listen to your gut.  

I ended up receiving some solid offers and plan to resign towards the end of June so I can get over the hump on a couple projects. 

I've also referred a few colleagues who are equally disillusioned and one just got an offer from the same firm I'm moving to and another two are interviewing there next week. Relived to be done with the interview process and moving on to new opportunities. 

So that's where I'm headed :)

May 27, 23 5:37 pm  · 
3  · 

Many architects graze around here where the “black is the color and none is the number.”

May 27, 23 6:44 pm  · 

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