The following are my responses to Bob Borson’s #Life of an Architect questions he has posed to all architects. Each of us has our unique story of how we became and how we are – architects.
1. When did you know you wanted to be an architect?
In the eight grade the school I was attending built a major addition. I got to see, what seemed to be very complex, construction drawings and became fascinated. When construction began I watched the process from outside the hoarding. One day as I was watching the architect arrived on site. He took control, everyone on site was at his beckon and command. His interpretation of the drawings was final. From that day on I set the course for my life’s work – architecture.
2. Where did you go to college? Is there anything about the architectural education experience that you have fond memories of?
Upon completing high school, I attended a technical school – architectural technology (draftsman). I began working in an architect’s office and became the best that I could be without being an architect. By that time, I was married and had two children. Saving, begging and borrowing, I managed to return to school to study architecture. In the four years I spent studying transformed me, realizing once one becomes an architect one can never return to the world before architecture.
3. How do you spend your time at the office? Where do you turn for inspiration? How do you find it?
I spent 50 years in an architectural office – as a student, as a technician, as a working architect and as an owner architect. I always enjoyed office life, as it was where the seeds of architecture were started and nourished. Of course my role in the office changed as I went from one phase of my career to another.
My inspiration comes from travel, nature, observation, my own living experiences and my clients, especially the ones who want something special. To find inspiration sometimes seems difficult, however if given time and diligent preparation the sub-conscious most often delivers.
4. How do you spend your time when you aren’t working?
When I’m not working, doing life’s errands and travelling, I spend my time on hobbies that I can enjoy because of my skills learned studying architecture – photography, digital graphics, wood working and experimentation with materials and ideas applied to my own living environment.
5. Are you always an architect?
As I responded in answer 2 – once one becomes an architect one can never go back to the world before architecture. Yes once I became, I am always an architect.
6. Do you have a favorite City?
Berlin – which I have visited numerous times. Time spent there helped me better understand my ancestral roots.
And, the excitement of Berliners rebuilding the city into the great city it once was.
7. Do you have a favorite building?
I have many favorite buildings. However the Reichstag reconstruction in Berlin does so many things in so many ways to this historical center of all the ‘reichs’ - historically respecting the past glory and giving it a new face in today’s times.
8. If you weren’t an architect, what do you think you would be doing?
From my earliest recollection always had an affinity for the arts – had it not been architecture, it would have been music or some other visual art form.
9. Do you have a particular sort or brand pen that you prefer over all others?
In today’s times there are so many good pens and drawing devices to choose from. I usually defer to the old fashioned fountain pen. It is messy, requires maintenance and a good one is expensive by comparison. Can’t tell you how many shirts I wrecked due to the fountain pen. However, it is my choice both for writing and sketching.
10. Do you still sketch? Do you think it’s a valuable skill in today’s marketplace considering the proliferation of digital renderings?
Being from the old school I have a natural propensity for sketching and it is a part of my daily routine, ie, diagraming and developing ideas. Many of my conversations are augmented by sketching my ideas.
Though I learned digital drawing, I never became as accomplished as I would have liked. I am amazed how the digital drawing tools can quickly and realistically develop and illustrate complex design ideas. However, to begin with conceptual ideas, are best developed in sketch form – the first time any idea is expressed is most effectively born as a sketch.