Is it cool being an architect?

Yes. Extremely. I wanted to write a short article on this topic just for fun (and for the comedic value!). When people think of architects I think they immediately think of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Fountainhead, and famous movies where the “cool” leading man happens to be an architect. All of these images are of course, well…cool. Granted some people think of George Costanza but let’s remember people…he only wanted to be an architect!  I have always wanted to become an architect and have always romanticized the notion of what it meant to become an architect. To me it means creating things that aren’t there. Creating places that didn’t exist. Drawing a sketch on a piece of paper and then watching it grow from the earth via the collaboration, passion and skill of others. It is an amazing thing (in my mind’s eye at least) to nurse these doodles, sketches, and quick ideas into full-fledged buildings.

cool smileI gave the title of this blog a funny twist because “cool” is obviously subjective. My sons think I’m cool…but then again what kid doesn’t think their dad is cool? That isn’t really saying much. I do, however, get a kick out of it when I see a movie and the lead dude is an architect. What I personally think is cool about architects is that we can be famous (not that I am by any means) and still nobody would know who we were except architecture freaks. It’s like that old Ratt song from the 80s, “can’t have the money without the fame…” architects can actually; therein lies the aura to me. It is an under-the-radar cool.

From a personal standpoint I think it’s cool just because it lets me feel like a kid that can draw something and have grownups take me seriously. What I mean is that if an 8-year-old were to draw a house with windows everywhere and crazy rooflines, the only adults that would take the drawing semi-seriously would be the parents who would reluctantly say something to the effect of, “that’s great bud…I love it!”. Whereas if I were to draw that same crazy sketch, I would have well-educated adults with solid financial security asking me questions like, “now how much would a roofline like that cost?”…I mean how cool is that?

As a young musician I thought a lot about taking music seriously as a career. My dad told me I could do whatever I wanted in life…the only caveat was that I had to be willing to deal with the very worst of the dream if it didn’t work out. So in my example, if I didn’t make it as a musician…I mean REALLY didn’t make it…I would have had to have dealt with playing in bars with five people watching me while they complained about the chicken fingers being cold and having beer bottles thrown at me. As an aside I actually went to a bar once many years ago and actually saw a chain link fence around the stage. I asked the manager about it and he said it was to prevent sharp objects from hitting the band. That pretty much sealed the deal. I mean give me a break: if I didn’t “make it” as an architect the worst that would happen would be I would be working 9-5 in an air-conditioned room for a firm designing bathroom details for the rest of my life. That downside was a lot easier to handle – luckily I am at a point where I design more than bathroom details…but I was mentally prepared for that fate.

I think lots of jobs are cool…but the coolest thing to me is loving what you do. I think so many people base so much of their self-worth on how much money they make. To me there is so much more to life than money. If you wake up every day and laugh that people pay you to do what you do, then you are cool. Period. I hope that one day more people will realize this and will pursue their dreams just because it is their dream and not because they want a nicer car.

In all seriousness I obviously think being an architect is cool but I am extremely biased. The idea of imagining something and then having it built has always been damn sexy to me even from a very young age. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love music…music is just different. It is a lot more surreal in that you experience it by closing your eyes and letting it take you wherever your mind lets it. Architecture is a bit more blunt about it…it literally surrounds you in the physical realm.