The Introvert as Architect?


Any introverts here?  Interested in hearing your experiences from the academic setting to the professional setting.  

I started my Masters a month ago and from what I can tell, many in my class are moderately to very extroverted.  While I value my introverted traits, I tend to be on the more extreme side of introversion and it has proved especially difficult in the school setting.  From the loud, bustling "studio culture", to the presentations/reviews, group discussions... it's a lot for me take in sometimes, and many times I feel completely out of my element.  

I need a lot of ALONE time to gather my thoughts and reflect on concepts before I can draw and share opinions on them, but in school there are so many instances where we're expected to immediately draw conclusions and share them in a group setting, or formulate ideas in groups of 4-6.  I and many introverts process things in a slower, more detailed manner (hence the delayed responses)... not because we're "slow", but because we're looking at things from different angles.  Instead of going from A-B, we go from A-Z and then eventually find our way back to B.  As a more soft-spoken, contemplative person, I (and others, I've noticed) end up completely overrun by the more vocal, domineering students.  Not that their ideas are any better, they just have an easier time imposing their will on their environment.

I'm finding myself more and more frustrated.... is this just unique to the (my?) university setting, or does anyone here find that architecture as a profession is better-suited to extroverts in general?  

Oct 7, 13 11:15 pm
chatter of clouds


i was both an introvert and pretty vocal :) its a doable combo. not  social/able but but pretty vocal and didn't mind being critical. of course i was a snotty kid as well.

anyway, i would like to be again snotty here and take you up on this: "Not that their ideas are any better, they just have an easier time imposing their will on their environment."

i think this is your understanding of their behaviour and probably conflicts with theirs. they are probably excited by reaching (and maybe overreaching) ideas and this excitement might come across as brash or imposing to you, a possibly more demure less excitable kind of person. you've made quite an overarching negative judgement that can't be true and its evident that its not true because its overarching. have you asked them whether they all feel that their ideas are better than everyone else's? perhaps a few might...but do they all do, as you suggest? perhaps this is a provocation...but could it be that you need to classify them suchlike as a form of a defense mechanism? and would it not be the case, therefore, that by subjecting them to such an overarching generalization, you yourself are guarding for yourself some aloof and superior position (as opposed to the other way around)? 

well, just a provocation there. my advice is that you are more generous in your assessment and i think once you feel more at ease with the people, you might find yourself being able to think and exchange ideas more intuitively. you know its not bad at all. these are just ideas; ideas are like toilet be used. sometimes the first one is full of shit but then after a while, one wiping after the other,  your bum is rendered clean. isn't that the purpose? 

Oct 7, 13 11:53 pm

right on,  t a m m u z

Oct 8, 13 12:19 am

"more vocal, domineering students" and "imposing their will on their environment." doesn't come across as a negative sentiment to me. i think the op is just saying that those personality traits are common in more extroverted people, and not so common for him.  i do not think he is saying those people think they are better or that their ideas are better.  they're just heard more, and they control the discussion more.

a lot of what is being taught in studio is process.  the professor probably wants you to communicate your process so they can help guide it.  so, when you go from A to Z to B, the professor is interested in getting you to talk about Z and the other perspectives and iterations you thought about.  in most studios, it's not so much the end project your professor is concerned with, but the process that leads to your end project. it would be best for you to identify and be able to communicate your process, instead of just thinking you should be alone until you've worked out whatever it is that needs worked out.

in real life, you work in groups a lot. you will often need to include your input in meetings, or worse, on conference calls.  the architect provides one perspective while engineers, clients, developers, contractors, etc. all provide other equally valid opinions from sometimes very different perspectives. you need to be able to understand your role in that team, and be able to communicate your opinion to be effective, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.  also, there will be contractors who try to bully you.  you need to be confident in your opinion, and the only way to do that is to practice communicating.  start now.  join toastmasters or something.

Oct 8, 13 7:44 am

OP: "I'm finding myself more and more frustrated.... is this just unique to the (my?) university setting, or does anyone here find that architecture as a profession is better-suited to extroverts in general?"

It might be a mistake to make a judgement about the professional experience based on an educational experience.

Oct 8, 13 7:45 pm

I'm highly introverted, but I don't feel it has held me back in the academic setting. I'll elaborate on this...

Like you, I need quiet, alone time to organize and process my thoughts. I find this nearly impossible to do in my studio. Usually, my studio is filled with people talking about non related subjects. We do have a quiet printing room around the corner I use to read and think. This usually suffices.

In regards to working in a group. It helps if I work in a group for more than one project. This way, other members of the group (mostly extroverts) can get to know me better and therefore create a better working relationship. But gosh, extroverts can talk and next thing I know, hours have gone by with zero evidence of work done. Usually, I find myself being the one to keeping our group on task. As a side note: I tend to make friends with fellow introverts quite easily.

The professional setting helps in that, depending on the firm, you will be working with the same people who have already had the time to get to know you. At least this is how it was for me. In a larger firm, I can easily imagine a situation where you might have rotating group members, therefore never giving them the opportunity to get to know you.

Of course, a common trait among introverts is that you have to peel back layers to get to know them. I'm not going to spill my guts out for someone right when I meet them or be the fuel of conversation...I'm fine with it.

Oct 8, 13 8:45 pm

I don't know anyone who can successfully design a studio project sitting in studio socializing with everyone. Everyone needs their alone time. Alone doesn't have to be away, however. I like to pop in headphones, turn off my phone, and get in my productive atmosphere for a few hours. You can be in studio for this, just make sure you don't seat yourself next to the clowns.

My current firm does not allow the use of headphones, nor does it let anyone play music. We only have 9 people and most are mature, experienced architects (I'm the lone intern). A lot of them are introverts, and everyone minds their own business, and knows what times are appropriate to socialize.

Oct 8, 13 10:57 pm

If I look at my personal position: I'm quite an introvert up until the moment I've seen the complete situation and options, made an (in my opinion) weighted decision. After that (most of the times "too late") I join the discussion. Anyway, fun thing is: my best friend at the academy is an extreme version of the extrovert. He can talk about anything he doesn't know squat about for hours (and make sense!) Same goes for my boss, though he knows a lot about a lot, he is still the extrovert that can talk to anyone about anything. I also have some introverted friends of course, but these two I spend the most time with and influence me the most, which is quite fun to see. It has helped me a lot. Just see if you can "borrow" some things they do that you like, that might help you get better at what you do. 

I also read somewhere that introverts don't try to be extroverted because they think it doesn't help them, while it could.

Oct 9, 13 4:46 am

Nothing to fear as long as you believe in your work and its of quality.  I've been in your shoes and have been named 'quiet guy' and given other titles behind my back by students and professors alike.  Its never bothered me. I believe that actions and your work speaks louder than words.  I'd rather be that student that talks only when required but produces exceptional work than that student who can't stop talking and seem to have a million ideas but fails miserably when its time to show work. 


Remember, some of the greatest artists, writers and creative types are introverts and cherish every moment they have to themselves.

Oct 9, 13 7:32 am

Needing your alone time to gather your thoughts is one thing, but Architecture and Construction are social professions and interaction between people is very necessary. I have worked with some architects who seem to play the "quiet genius" role and it is an absolute nightmare. Successful architects need to be able to communicate their intentions to a wide range of people. That being said, when I started in college I was an introvert but as I gained more and more confidence in myself, I have definitely shifted over towards extrovert which has helped me greatly.

Oct 9, 13 7:41 am

in my experience at many offices, extroverts become designers and the introverts remain as BIM/drafting/modeling types - the extroverts are the ones that become architects and principals. You have to be able to talk if you want to make it in this profession - introverts tend to end up as drones and never make it.

Oct 9, 13 12:16 pm

...seems a bit of a generalization no?
Oct 9, 13 12:29 pm


To me he seems dead on, to succeed in this profession, introverts need to be able to become more outgoing and be able to communicate.

Oct 9, 13 1:16 pm

I'm an introvert designer working in architecture. You, paintitblack, should let the work speak for itself. If you are good, your introversion (seen as a weakness by extroverts) becomes an excusable eccentricity. You can be a designer as an introvert if you are good.


 about working in studios.: Invest in a very excellent pair of headphones and a back saving ergonomically designed chair. 


read Susan Cain's book, “QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking”


Best of luck


Make friends. and good luck.

Oct 12, 13 12:19 am

Often i find extroverts can't design as well, or not well at all even though some of them think they do, but i think aboove is right many of them become designers as they promote themselves, introverts often don't. While good work speaks for itself i think it has to be so much better than just good for the introvert to avoid becoming stuck in CAD monkey work. A real shame that many introverts don't get to the design position they should, but i guess sometimes looking the part is important. Having someone quietly dribbling on about manufacturers products isn't likley to help portray that person as a good designer type which they may well be.

Oct 12, 13 8:11 am

You really need to be an extrovert to make it as an architect, otherwise you will remain a "back of house" mouse picking up redlines and doing strictly production work - where I work, 95% of the office is extroverts. 

go to toastmasters or something 

Jul 17, 19 1:34 pm

That's just not really true. It's not introversion that will hold you back, it's being shy. As an introvert myself (and quite shy compared to most), I've had to learn from the extroverts around me. It makes sense that those who can converse easily with others are going to be invited to events, taken seriously, and just generally be easier to be around and work with, even if the work isn't perfect.


As somebody entering partnership negotiations, and an introvert, I can say that you don't have to be an extrovert, but you do have to be easy to work with and open to working with others.


IOW, you're either an extrovert or someone who works for an extrovert

Jul 17, 19 2:58 pm

False, many of the folks who own brilliant firms in the PNW are extreme introverts, just depends on the culture you're in.

Non Sequitur

You probably need some sort of reference or citations enfaite making such grand statements. Good thing it’s just as boring and bland as your now nuked massive spam post.

Non Sequitur

*before. Stupid French keyboard.


i've found working and getting involved in things in outside organizations has really changed my attitude, so that i've adjusted from extreme introversion to moderately open and approachable. 

if you feel any aspect of your affect or personal presentation is holding you back, change it. personality is not a permanent feature unless you want it to be. it's not a simple thing and takes much patience, but will help, and can be very beneficial in many parts of life.

Jul 18, 19 8:52 pm
Stew Dent

^100% Agreed. Part time jobs in the service industry can also help this when you're younger. I first learned my people skills from being a barista, and used to joke that's where I got my personality. I learned to enjoy conversations with anyone. Networking has never been daunting to me because of that experience. ( Architecture is a service industry, after-all. )

Wood Guy


Jul 20, 19 10:35 am

typical introvert response

Wood Guy

LOL. I had typed out something about introverts having the capacity to be good, thoughtful leaders and not necessarily anti-social, just recharged by alone time rather than being around people. And extroverts not necessarily being good leaders, in fact often quite the opposite. But then I realized it was a necro thread, my points had been made previously, and I wouldn't add anything to the conversation. So yes, typical introvert--being thoughtful of others' time and not looking for attention. ;-)


meetings where people spend an hour talking about their kid's softball team is the best

Good luck with not promoting yourself.

Jul 21, 19 1:43 pm

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